Thursday, November 17, 2022

Conditioner Bases - Where The Fun Starts

November, 2022 

A lot of time we focus on active ingredients or “featured” ingredients in conditioners. Oils, herbal extracts, butters, proteins. Or on promised benefits like anti-frizz or smoothing or volumizing. Which is fine when that works for you. 

Those are the chocolate chips in the cookie, or the icing on the cake. The marketing device to grab the customer's attention.


But you know how a less-than-tasty or unpleasantly-textured background of cookie or cake, can make the cookie or cake a lot less enjoyable.The same applies to hair conditioners. The base, that simple, creamy-textured, boring background into which the splashier, featured, active ingredients are added, can make or break a product’s suitability for your hair, or your goals for a particular product.


A conditioner base usually consists of two things:

1) A fatty alcohol - which are opaque, oil-derived solids as raw ingredients and when blended into a conditioner, add softness, thicken a product’s texture, and can create different after-feel in the hair, such as “powdery-soft” or “helps pull hairs together.”

2) Cationic conditioner - the anti-static ingredient that can bond (temporarily) to hair to reduce friction and create lots of different results, depending on the ingredient.


I hope by understanding how much the “base” of the product determines how it performs in your hair, you’ll be better informed to understand why a product does what it does.


Fatty Alcohols and other creamy softeners/thickeners: These ingredients are not drying alcohols, the word “alcohol” is a result of how chemists name the ingredient based on how the molecule is structured. 

Examples: 

Cetyl alcohol

Cetearyl alcohol

Stearyl alcohol 

Myristyl alcohol

Behenyl alcohol

Lauryl alcohol

Cetyl palmitate

Cetearyl (or Cetyl) ethylhexanoate


I love tables - so I’m giving you a table with some ingredients that are common conditioner bases. Mostly common - and some less-common - cationic conditioners or combination ingredients. Along the top are featured characteristics of those ingredients. This is based on data provided by ingredient manufacturers. They’re marketing a product - which implies bias. But they do conduct testing to assure the ingredients have the desired effect in a standard product. There is quite a lot of research and development behind hair-care product development.


I think if you know the product-base and it’s essential character - what it’s good at doing and what it isn’t - it’s easier to understand a product.


For example, if you have thin or fine/silky hair, you might love Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine-based conditioners. They help detangle, but also add some “grip” to dry hair and some volumizing. If you have thick or coarse hair - the same product-base (especially as a leave-in conditioner) might make hair feel dry, coated or dirty.


Cationic conditioning ingredient

Detangling: Wet hair

Detangling: Dry hair

Volume

Shine

Grip (keeps curls from “sliding out”)

Static control/Flyaways

Smooth/stay straight, add weight

Preserve color

Anti-frizz

Behentrimonium chloride

X

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

Behentrimonium methosulfate

X

 

x

 

 

X

X

 

 

Behentrimonium methosulfate and Quaternium-71

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Cetrimonium bromide

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Cetrimonium chloride

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Cocodimoniumhydroxypropyl     
hydrolyzed wheat (barley, vegetable, etc., protein

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Dicetyldimonium chloride

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

Dipalmitoylethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate 

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

Distearyldimonium chloride

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

Disunfloweroylethyl Dimonium Chloride, Sunflower Seed Oil Glycerides, Lauryl Lactyl Lactate

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

Methoxy PEG/PPG-7/3 Aminopropyl Dimethicone 

X

 

X

X

 

 

X

 

 

Polyquaternium-55

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Palmitamidopropyltrimonium chloride

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Polyquaternium-10 and PG Hydroxyethylcellulose Cocodimonium Chloride

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

Stearamidopripyl dimethylamine, Babassuamidopropyl Dimethylamine,

Brassicamidopropyl Dimethylamine

 

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

Quaternium-87

 

 

X

 

X

X

 

X

 

Quaternium-88

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Quaternium-91,  Cetrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 


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