It’s confusing. One article claims alcohol is bad while another states it is a good thing. Fatty alcohols are good for the hair and skin. Non-fatty alcohols are not good for the hair and skin. Simple enough but for a more in depth information as to why fatty alcohols are okay for you just read below.
Fatty alcohol is very beneficial for the hair and skin in a variety of ways. Cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, and stearyl alcohol are popular fatty alcohols used in many products. Fatty alcohol sources can be obtained from animals, plants, or a completely synthetic process. Fatty alcohols help to give and enhance that silky/soft feeling we like for our hair and skin. These alcohols help to comb through wet hair and enhance benefits of the primary conditioning ingredient of a product.
Fatty alcohols are different from non-fatty alcohols, the big difference between fatty and non-fatty alcohols are the number of carbons in the molecules. A non-fatty alcohol has a lower number of carbons such as one through nine which makes this ingredient a drying substance. Non-fatty alcohols are found in facial products as astringents. Yet, non-fatty alcohols are used in some hair care products since hair can dry quicker by using this ingredient. These alcohols do help to dry hair more quickly but can increase breakage and weaken hair strands.
Fatty alcohols contain a high number of carbons that give the moisturizing quality that are often used to add moisture to the hair or skin. Some fatty alcohols can also add a little bit of thickness to the product as well. Below is a list of fatty alcohols.
Here is a link to a much longer list of fatty alcohols: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatty_alcohol.