We've all been conditioned to believe alcohol is a detrimental ingredient in our beauty products—and, for the most part, that's true. Though, there are some natural and otherwise nontoxic ingredients that have alcohol in the name. Case in point: cetearyl alcohol. This type of alcohol is an emollient, emulsifier, and thickener made to add a creaminess to formulas and stop the oil and water from separating. For example, coconut oil falls under this umbrella. And you know all the helpful, hydrating benefits that come from coconut oil.
But that doesn't mean all alcohols in your products fall into that category. Shampoos, for example, can contain alcohol that will strip your hair of its necessary nutrients and, ultimately, lead to more bad than good. These alcohols are ethanol or ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol. These are the types you want to look out for.
Below, we list our favorite shampoos that are free from "bad" alcohols and why you'll love using them.
This natural cleanser is derived from coconut oil (and is a Byrdie HQ favorite). It cleanses gently, wafting scents of palo santo, and uses quinoa to promote healing and moisture retention as well as coconut and shea butter to remove oil, dirt, and bacteria without stripping nutrients from your hair.
Use this blend of coconut milk, coconut oil, and whipped egg white protein to add strength, elasticity, hydration, and balance to your hair. It smells incredible to boot.
This shampoo from Carol's Daughter includes no silicones, parabens, mineral oil, artificial colors, or petroleum—and certainly none of the bad alcohols. It cleanses and restores your natural moisture without adding weight to your hair, courtesy of a mix of aloe leaf juice, sweet clovers, and rose extract.
A favorite of our editorial director, Faith, this gentle cleanser is chock-full of sweet almond nut oil, pink grapefruit, and neroli—all the while omitting lauryl sulfate, glycols, petrochemicals, artificial fragrance, animal derivatives, and synthetic colors.
Neutrogena Triple Moisture Cream Lather Shampoo uses oils (rather than alcohols) to properly (and gently) clean your hair. Olive oil penetrates the center follicle, meadow-foam seed oil helps moisturize the middle, and sweet almond oil wraps the surface to deliver a super-soft, healthy wash each time.
Another great option recommended by Faith is this everyday shampoo that works to remove impurities while preserving your hair's natural oils. The coconut water hydrates, sugar beet extracts stimulate the root to promote volume, and there's no alcohol in the formula.