Not All Alcohols Are Created Equal

liquid being poured from a beaker

We recently started a Tik Tok account and are opening a Tik Tok shop.

This involves completing the inevitable many many many online forms, with their drop-down menus and tick boxes.

One of the drop down menus we encountered particularly flummoxed us:

Let me explain:

In this example, the menu the options are:

  • Contains Alcohol
  • Contains Aerosol
  • Contains Both
  • Contains Neither

On one hand this is hard to argue with, your product will fit into one of the above 4 categories. However, by implication, alcohol is branded as bad as it is in the same box as aerosol, which a lot of people (rightly) avoid because of the environmental impact. Why are all alcohols tarred with the same brush as aerosols?

Alcohol is not one chemical; it is a generic term for a family of chemicals of which there are multiple types. One type of well-known alcohol is ethanol, this is the type you drink. 

There are other non-consumable alcohols that the beauty industry uses a lot. These can broadly be split into two:

  • Short chain alcohols
  • Long chain fatty alcohols

As a rule of thumb, when it comes to skin and hair care, short chain = bad alcohols and long chain = good alcohols.

Why are short-chain alcohols considered ‘bad’? – well they consist of only a few carbon atoms, meaning that they evaporate quickly, and as such have a quick drying effect. They are often used in dry shampoos, good at soaking up the excess grease and sweat on your scalp, the downside being that they can leave your scalp feeling dry, itchy, and flaky and the hair cuticle becomes brittle (causing frizz).The same with the skin, it can leave your skin feeling dry and itchy.

With this piece of knowledge, it’s not hard to see why people avoid all alcohols in products.

 Common ‘bad’ alcohols to avoid are Ethanol, Propanol,Propyl Alcohol, and Isopropyl Alcohol.

However, there is another type of alcohol used in the beauty industry, that is the long chain (also known as fatty acid alcohols), which work very differently from short chain alcohols.

Fatty alcohols are highly nourishing, and are often specifically used because of their hydrating, soothing and moisturizing effect.

Popular ‘good’ alcohols include Lauryl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol and Brassica Alcohol.

An’du uses two types of wonderful, hydrating, soothing long chain fatty alcohols, they are Cetearyl Alcohol – made from vegetable oil, this alcohol is a mixture of fatty alcohols derived from plant sources. It is readily biodegradable and used as an emulsifier creating a good consistency, important for retaining moisture in our bars.

The other alcohol that we use is Brassica Alcohol, this wonderful ingredient derived solely from bio-fermentation of plant materials using sustainable, green chemistry is a conditioning agent, giving your hair a beautiful shine and fluidity.

Both the alcohols we use contribute to our bars giving your hair and scalp a wonderful glossy healthy look and feel.

So, you can see why we feel frustrated with the straight jacket tyranny of the drop-down box menu.

Yes, we contain alcohols, but we contain the good ones!

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