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Alcohol in Personal Care Products: What To Know

There are different types of alcohol in personal care products, and they all do different things. Some types of alcohol are harmless. Others should be completely avoided. From hair care to skin care, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about alcohol in your products.

Why is Alcohol Used in Hair Care?

There are many reasons why you might find alcohol in personal care products. Depending on the type of alcohol, they can offer different things for different products. Alcohols that evaporate quickly are used in hairsprays. Other types of alcohols are used to lock in moisture. Some products also use alcohol as an “emulsifier” which helps to prevent the oil and water in the formula from separating. The key difference in these alcohols lies in the molecular structure.

Long vs. Short Chain Alcohol

Long-chain alcohols (also known as “fatty”) are the good guys: they’re derived from natural sources like coconut oil, and they help lubricate and hydrate your hair while locking in moisture.
Examples of Long Long Chain Alcohols include:
Laurel alcohol, Cetyl alcohol, Myristyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, Behenyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol.
Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol can be found in Plaine Products Conditioner. Cetearyl alcohol is an ingredient in the Deep Conditioner. 

Hair care products with short-chain alcohols should be avoided. Short-chain alcohols don’t have as many carbon atoms, which makes them lighter and evaporate faster. This quick evaporation causes the product to also whisk away the moisture that your hair needs, leading to damaged, dry, and frizzy hair. It’s especially important for those with curly hair types to avoid these types of alcohols.

Examples of Short Chain Alcohols include:
Ethanol, SD alcohol, Alcohol decant, Propanol, Propyl alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol.

You’ll never find a short-chain alcohol in a Plaine Products vegan ingredient list!

Why is Alcohol Used in Skin Care?

Alcohol isn’t only used in hair care. It’s also commonly used in skin care products across the world. Just like in hair care, some alcohols are beneficial for your skin and others are not. Brands will commonly use “bad” alcohols in their toner and moisturizer formulas because of the drying effect that can make your skin feel tighter and cleaner…for a moment. These alcohols end up stripping away the natural oils in your skin, and can lead to dryness, irritation, and even enlarged pores.

When choosing skin care products, stick to the same idea as haircare: long-chain (or fatty) alcohols are good, short-chain alcohols are bad. You can rest easy using our entire facial care line, as it doesn’t contain any short-chain alcohols. Instead, we use cetyl alcohol as an emulsifier in our products, which is derived from coconut oil and helps us achieve a moisturizing, creamy consistency that will nourish your skin.

Bad (aka short-chain alcohols) are used in some of the most popular products on the shelves, but that doesn’t mean you should use them. Make sure to check the label of any product you’re putting on your hair or skin, and choose products with long-chain/fatty alcohols. Your hair and skin will thank you!

When considering your skincare and hair routine, it’s also wise to consult with a dermatologist or visit a medical aesthetics clinic for personalized advice tailored to your skin’s unique needs. These professionals can provide valuable insights and recommend suitable products free from harmful alcohols, ensuring your skin stays healthy and radiant.



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