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Does alcohol affect your hair?

January is the time to give up the sauce, sign up to the gym and live your best life for a whole month until you realise you’d rather pizza than a six pack. Cutting out alcohol will make a huge difference to your skin and your waistline but it’s actually going to do wonders for your hair too.

As alcohol is dehydrating (hello hangover) you often feel like your skin is super dehydrated the next day and your hair will be too. This is what makes your locks more prone to breakage and they’ll also start to look a bit dull. It’s worth avoiding heavy heat styling after a night out and trying to keep dry shampoo to a minimum as well. Being hydrated is really important for your hair so topping up on water when hitting the sauce will not only help to keep your hair healthy but it’ll also make you feel better in the morning…

Both zinc and iron are important for maintaining healthy hair and promoting hair growth but alcohol can increase your risk of being deficient in both of these. A deficiency in zinc and iron is linked to hair loss as it can trigger the rest stage of your hair follicles quicker than normal. It would take more than one or two glasses before you have anything to worry about though. So, unless you’re knocking them back like Patsy Stone you can skip this one but it’s definitely an important thing to mention.

You may be wondering then, why some of your favourite hair care products contain alcohol but it’s actually because not all alcohols are created equally. There are two types: fatty alcohols and short chain alcohols. Fatty alcohols are often used in moisturisers and can help to nourish your hair and skin whereas short chain alcohols are stripping and can dehydrate you.

Hair products contain fatty alcohols such as cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl, myristyl, behenyl and lauryl. These are fatty alcohols that are derived from plants or natural sources and will help to moisturise and thicken your strands. The alcohol we drink is ethanol which is fermented from fruits and grains and is a short chain alcohol which is why it’s so dehydrating.

So now that you’re in the know maybe dry January won’t seem like such a bad idea… swap that killer glass of wine for a hair mask full of fatty alcohol instead and you’ll be looking like Rapunzel in no time.

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