Cetyl Alcohol/Cetearyl Alcohol

Cetyl Alcohol is a fatty alcohol that has an appearance of white, waxy solids or flakes. It originally came from sperm whale oil but now mainly derives from plants like palm and coconut oil. This fatty alcohol found in a number of cosmetics such as skin creams, lotions, shampoos and conditioners as it acts as an emollient, emulsifier and thickener. These qualities are ideal for hair products because it moisturises and softens, prevents the separation of water and oil and increases the viscosity of product. Products with Cetyl Alcohol also benefit from being more spreadable and are good at producing foam in shampoos. 

The term alcohol is misleading as Cetyl Alcohol does not have the same effect as regular alcohol as in moisturises and softens the hair as opposed to drying it out. Cetyl Alcohols are also in Cetearyl Alcohol, which also consists of Stearyl Alcohols.