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Thread: Alcohol-Free Conditioning?

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    Member Array chrissy-b's Avatar
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    Default Alcohol-Free Conditioning?

    Hi All!

    I wasn't sure what forum to post this in because it's a multi-layered question. I hope this location is okay!

    I have trichotillomania (for those of you who don't know: it's a disorder that makes me compulsively pull out my hair). Part of this disorder, for me, involves a nasty scalp itch. I find that my scalp does best with a mixture of shampoo bars and conventional (SLS, ALS) shampoos.

    BUT -- The alcohols (cetearyl, cetostearyl, cetyl stearyl, stearyl, and cetyl alcohol) found in most conditioners make my scalp itching (and pulling) much, much worse. I find that if I don't use conditioner my hair is terribly dry, even at pixie-length. Because of the itchy scalp, I also can't go than more than one day without washing my scalp (believe me -- I've been trying to stretch washes since 2007 - it's not going to happen). CO of any kind is out of the question.

    Right now I'm washing with a shampoo bar (neem and lavender) which I follow up with jojoba oil and sometimes aloe when my hair is still dripping wet.

    So the problem is: without conditioner my hair is too dry, with it, itchy scalp and hair pulling.

    ON TO THE QUESTION -- Can anyone recommend a conditioner without these alcohols? A shampoo bar that is ultra moisturizing so I can forget about conditioner altogether? A recipe for a homemade conditioner? Anything else I haven't thought of that could help both the dryness of my hair and the itchiness of my scalp?

    Any advice or ideas will be greatly appreciated.
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    that's where I'm goin' to Array Catmandu's Avatar
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    Are you sure it is the fatty alcohols that are causing the itching? I ask because I am sensitive to the formaldehyde releasing preservatives (Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin, methylisothiazolinone, and methylchloroisothiazolinone) and they cause my scalp to itch. A good friend of mine is sensitive to propylene glycol.
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    I was going to ask the same thing as Catmandu.....those fatty alcohols aren't drying and are good for the hair and scalp. Now I'm not saying you CAN'T be sensitive to them....you can be sensitive to ANYTHING (take if from one who knows LOL)....but it's more common for ingredients like preservatives or fragrances to cause that.

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    Member Array chrissy-b's Avatar
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    Yes, I am sure. I don't doubt that other chemicals can cause irritation, but for my specific issue, those alcohols increase the itching (and not because they dry out my scalp, quite the opposite, actually).
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    that's where I'm goin' to Array Catmandu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrissy-b View Post
    Yes, I am sure. I don't doubt that other chemicals can cause irritation, but for my specific issue, those alcohols increase the itching (and not because they dry out my scalp, quite the opposite, actually).
    OK, since you know for sure that it is the fatty alcohols, you might want to investigate the quaternary compounds like Cetrimonium Chloride, guar conditioner, honeyquat, polyquat-7, etc. Here is a good list of ingredients and what they do: Ingredients Commonly Found in Hair Care Products I would specifically look at the amines and the emollient esters

    You will probably have to formulate your own conditioner but some places to start for ingredients:

    Premium ingredients at less than premium prices... Lotioncrafter
    Ingredients To Die For
    Home-Blending Nature and Science - Innovative Natural Products for Cosmetics and Toiletries
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    Wow! Thanks for the info Catmandu!
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    If you're looking for shampoo bars that are moisturizing, have you tried any of Chagrin Valley's bars? I know the reviews on them are mixed, but I've had a nice reaction to them and I know they make a butter conditioner bar and also a coconut milk conditioner bar. For that matter, Praireland Herbs or any other shampoo bar makers should have options of ultra condish.

    The other thing I thought of is have you tried to do a pre-wash oil treatment with an oil your hair favors? Would you be able to leave it on for an hour/several hours/while you sleep and then wash your hair after you get up? This might help with the hair retaining moisture better.

    Good luck.
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    Member Array chrissy-b's Avatar
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    Thanks Oraien for the info! The CV butter bar is one I'm considering. I've only tried the Summer Sunshine, Ayurvedic and nettle but those were all a little drying but much better than conventional shampoo. I have been doing heavy oiling with coconut oil, but might move to EVOO since that seems to be more moisturizing. I just wasn't sure if I could get away with not using a standard conditioner at all.
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    know what retains moisture? oatmeal! not saying one should dump their child's leftover breakfast on their head, but.. well.. maybe?.


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    I just finished making my own conditioner and it was actually really easy to do, I'd wound it up to be more difficult than it truly was. I used behentrimonium methosulfate, and you could melt that, add heated distilled water, and the preservative of your choice. you can even make it as thin or as thick as you like, and add things to it if you wanted to. I added cetyl alcohol to mine, but it was optional.

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