The ingredients that I see most frequently in products include Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, and Cetearyl Alcohol. When I see these on ingredients lists they are usually third or fourth on the lists. All three of these are natural fatty alcohols derived from coconut oil. They are widely used as emollients and stabilizing agents in conditioning and moisturizing treatments. These fatty alcohols give back that soft feeling into the hair by helping the cuticle to lie flat on the surface of the hair. They give our hair a soft feeling and manageability! Other good alcohols include Behenyl alcohol, Lauryl alcohol, and Isocetyl alcohol. These are also fatty alcohols that provide softening effects to the hair.
The alcohols you do want to watch out for include SD Alcohol 40, Ethanol, SD Alcohol, Propyl, Propanol, and Isopropyl. These alcohols are used as solvent and they cause products to evaporate quickly. Because of this quality, these ingredients can be very drying to the hair. They can be the culprits of breakage and frizzy hair.
So before you decide to stay clear of products with alcohol in it, try and become familiar with the alcohols that are good and those that are bad. Once I became familiar with these names there were so many more products that I could try out (like i need any more products...). I like to keep a list of ingredients commonly found in hair products handy so that when I am out looking for new things to try out I can make sense of ingredients I do not recognize. The list that I keep bookmarked can be found here.
The products that you are avoiding may be the products that your hair loves!