I got so much positive feedback on the Demystifying Cholesterol post that i'm considering doing a "Demystifying" series on various ingredients or products people want more information on. This week i'm taking a look at fatty alcohols.
When purchasing products we are often warned to avoid alcohols as they are drying to your hair. However alcohols can be categorised into two sections, good alcohols and bad alcohols. I want to elaborate more on the good kind you want in your products; fatty alcohols.
What are fatty alcohols?
Fatty alcohols are chemical compounds consisting of chains of carbon, hydrogen and hydroxide. They usually stem from plants, animals and can be synthetically produced. They are distinct from all there other alcohols ( and the bad ones in particular) because are composed of 12 or more carbon atoms which makes these compounds oilier, hence the term "fatty".
|cetyl alcohol in its physical form|
What do fatty alcohols do?
The nature of the fatty alcohols allows the oil and water in products to mix, and are thus known as emollients. This is why they are placed in conditioners and moisturisers to ensure the water and oils do not separate while in the bottle and can be applied to your hair smoothly. They also give the products that silky, creamy composition. The next thing they do is add moisture to your hair, and create the smooth and soft feeling you are left with after deep conditioning or applying a moisturiser. Another one of their functions is to help the cuticle to lie flat (which adds to the soft feeling). The oily nature of fatty alcohols is what makes them great for slip. Slip reduces friction and enables the hair strands to glide past each other easily. We all know that major slip equals major hassle-free detangling. Additionally they help the product (deep conditioners in particular) to stick to your strands after it has been rinsed out.
How do I know I have fatty alcohols in my product?
Always check the ingredients list. It is the key to getting a good idea of how good a product can be for you.
Behenyl alcohol, C30-50 alcohols, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, isocetyl alcohol, isostearyl alcohol, lanolin alcohol, lauryl alcohol, and myristyl alcohol are all wonderful for your strands.
The good news is that almost all instant conditioners, deep conditioners, moisturisers and detanglers on the market have them.
Any products or ingredients you want demystified? Comment below.