Occasionally drinking alcohol is not bad for hair. However, regularly drinking alcohol or using certain alcohol-containing hair products may have negative effects on the hair.

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Alcohol is a chemical substance in liquor, wine, and beer. A person who consumes it in excessive amounts may not be getting enough nutrients to maintain the health of their hair. Overconsumption of alcohol may also lead to damaged hair and hair loss.

Some hair care and household products contain alcohol that may also damage the hair with excessive use.

Continue reading to learn about alcohol, when alcohol is bad for the hair, the effects of alcohol on hair and other body systems, and how to promote hair health.

Alcohol is a broad term for a variety of chemicals, and it has different names and effects on hair.

Short chain-alcohols

Short-chain alcohols include regular ethanol and denatured alcohols. The structure of this alcohol type allows it to evaporate quickly. This alcohol type may be too drying and harmful for hair.


Ethanol is also called ethyl and grain alcohol. It is the type of alcohol within beer, spirits, and wine. Drinking modest amounts of alcohol may not harm overall hair health.

Denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol is ethanol with an added denaturant substance that makes it undrinkable. This alcohol is an ingredient in many hair care products and cosmetics.

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) list of denatured alcohols includes:

  • specially denatured (SD) alcohol 23-A
  • SD alcohol 40
  • SD alcohol 40-B

Drinking in moderation

In adults who drink alcohol, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend drinking in moderation by limiting daily alcohol intake to two standard drinks or under for men and one drink or under for women.

In the United States, a standard drink is:

  • 12 ounces (oz) of beer with 5% alcohol, or approximately one beer
  • 5 oz of wine with 12% alcohol, or one standard glass of wine
  • 8 oz of malt liquor with 7% alcohol, or one standard glass of malt liquor
  • 1.5 oz of distilled spirits or liquor, such as gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey, with 40% alcohol, or a standard shot glass of spirit

Ethanol acts as a diuretic, which pulls water out of a person’s body through sweating and urination. This diuretic effect can make an individual and their hair dehydrated.

Damage easily occurs with dehydrated hair. Examples of hair damage include:

  • overly dry hair
  • split ends
  • hair breakage
  • hair loss
  • dandruff
  • grease

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can harm hair, which requires adequate amounts of nutrients to grow and stay healthy. According to a 2018 review, chronic alcohol consumption can increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies.

Alcohol is an empty-calorie liquid, meaning it has no or little nutritional value. A person may feel full from drinking and not be able to eat nutritious meals.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, not getting enoughbiotin, iron, or zinc can lead to noticeable hair loss.

  • Biotin: It is a B vitamin, and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can inhibit its absorption. Biotin is an essential nutrient that comes from:
  • Iron: People need this mineral for energy-making hormones and proper immune system functioning. Individuals who drink heavily are at risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia. Food sources of iron include:
    • fortified foods and cereals
    • seafood
    • poultry
    • white beans
    • dark chocolate
  • Zinc: An essential trace mineral that supports the immune system. The major food sources of zinc are fish, meat, and fortified products.

According to a 2017 research article, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to absorption issues or a high loss of zinc.

People who drink may also smoke. A 2021 research article links tobacco smoke to baldness, as it damages hair follicles and can interrupt the hair growth cycle.

Some alcohol types might harm hair health because they are overly drying. Dry hair can develop split ends and look frizzy. These types of alcohol include:

  • ethanol
  • methanol
  • propanol
  • ethyl alcohol
  • denatured alcohol
  • propyl alcohol
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • SD alcohol
  • benzyl alcohol

According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use can lead to both short- and long-term health problems.

Excessive drinking includes:

  • excessive drinking — four or more drinks during a single occasion for women or five or more drinks for men
  • heavy drinking — eight or more drinks per week for women or 15 or more drinks per week for men
  • drinking during pregnancy
  • underage drinking

The CDC adds that as alcohol affects every system in the body, it can lead to both short- and long-term health risks.

Read more about the risks of chronic drinking.

Short-term health risks

Short-term health risks of alcohol consumption include:

Long-term health risks

Long-term health risks of alcohol include:

By reducing the amount of alcohol a person consumes, they can lower the risk of developing alcohol-related health. People can also consult their doctor about support groups or sessions to help cut back or give up drinking.

Find out what are the best alcohol support groups.

To further reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 recommend that adults of legal drinking age choose not to drink or drink in moderation. Men should limit their intake to no more than two drinks daily, while women should aim to drink no more than one drink daily.

However, the CDC does not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason. Drinking less or no alcohol is better for hair health and promotes hair growth.

Additional things a person can do to preserve hair health include:

There are certain types of alcohol that can help maintain hair health. Fatty alcohols, also known as lipid or long-chain alcohols, can help moisturize hair. Products, such as leave-in conditioners and deep conditioners, usually contain these fatty lipids.

The types of alcohols present in these products are:

Some individuals may also apply beer directly to the hair as a conditioner to make their hair smooth and shiny. Read on about the use of beer on hair.

However, there is limited scientific evidence to support applying beer or other forms of ethanol to hair.

Consuming a modest amount of alcohol is generally safe for a person’s hair. However, drinking minimal or no alcohol is best for maintaining hair health and promoting hair growth.

Certain types of alcohol in hair care products may either harm or help hair health.

The overconsumption of alcohol can have negative effects on the hair. Losing vital nutrients from dehydration and consuming empty calories can lead to hair damage, hair thinning, and baldness.

Being aware of what types of alcohol are in their hair care products can help a person avoid using harmful varieties for their hair.