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Why is there isopropyl alcohol in my conditioner?

Katemonster asks…I was looking at the new Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Conditioner and noticed it contained isopropyl alcohol. Curious, I tried to figure out why this was as it’s a drying agent rather than a conditioning agent. I have read that if the amount is low enough, it probably evaporates during manufacturing, and that is possibly used to dissolve other ingredients however I am unable to find anything definitive. Any ideas? 

The Beauty Brains respond:

You’re correct, KM, in assuming that you should avoid saturating your hair with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) because it can be drying. So why the heck is Garnier adding to their conditioner?

Why add alcohol?

As you suspected it’s there to help dissolve another ingredient. Specifically the ingredient Behentrimonium Chloride (which is a GREAT conditioner) is sold as an 85% slurry in isopropyl alcohol. (That means the ingredient itself contains 15% IPA.) The advantages of using this ingredient mixed with IPA instead of as a solid are related to simplifying the manufacturing process:

1. It’s easier to pump a slurry than it is to add a solid material.

2. A solid requires heating while A slurry can be added at lower temperature. Being able to cold process a conditioner saves both time and money. (If they’re using cold processing the IPA may not evaporate.)

Is alcohol bad for hair?

The mixture of Behentrimonium Chloride and IPA is in the final formula at a level somewhere around 2-5% so the most IPA you’d find in your conditioner is probably less than 0.75%. That level is so low and it’s on your hair for such a short period of time that there’s nothing really to worry about in terms of damaging your hair.

Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Conditioner ingredients

Aqua/Water/Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Paraffinum Liquidum/Mineral Oil/Huile Minerale, Behentrimonium Chloride, Isopropyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Glycerin, Parfum/Fragrance, Pyrus Malus Extract/Apple Fruit Extract, Linalool, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine HCI, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Citric Acid, Benzyl Salicylate, Cocos Nucifera Oil/Coconut Oil, Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed Butter, Saccharum Officinarum Extract/Sugar Cane Extract/Extrait de Canne a Sucre, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Cl 19140/Yellow 5, Cl 15985/Yellow 6, Citrus Medica Limonum Peel Extract/Lemon Peel Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Hina April 17, 2014, 1:35 pm

    The first thing I did was go and check my conditioner. Shocked to see IA mentioned in the list :(

    http://makeupbyhina.com

  • jeannie April 18, 2014, 2:43 pm

    What about Alcohol Denat. ? It’s the first ingredient listed in bumble and bumble’s thickening serum: http://www.sephora.com/thickening-serum-P280574

    Some people say that it thickens hair by drying hair out with alcohol. Is that true?

    • admin April 19, 2014, 8:29 am

      No, that’s not true at all, alcohol is typically used in styling products as a solvent and quick drying agent.

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