In a previous post we discussed the importance of conditioners to your hair care regimen. It is, in my opinion, the most important part. Given the role this product has in maintaining the health of our hair, we need to examine what we’ll likely find in conditioners that make them so important.
The main conditioning agent in conditioner is what’s called a cationic surfactant. Cations are positively charged particles and they are attracted to our negatively charged strands. They adsorb onto our hair meaning that they sit on our hair; they don’t penetrate. Additionally, they resist being washed off by water alone. They improve the hair’s softness, aid in detangling, help to seal the cuticle and make the hair more manageable.
Common cationic surfactants include:
• Behentrimonium methosulfate
• Cetrimonium chloride
• Cetrimonium bromide
• Stearalkonium Chloride
Other cationic ingredients include the polymers. A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. A cationic polymer therefore is a positively charged polymer used in skincare and haircare to increase conditioning and softness. Due to the positive charge these types of polymers will adsorb to our skin and hair, forming films and resulting in the following to the hair after the product is rinsed from the hair:
• Increased moisture
• Enhanced softness
• More flattened (as opposed to lifted) cuticles
• Increased shine
Some cationic polymers are:
• Polyquaternium 7
• Polyquaternium 10
• Polyquaternium 4
• Polyquat 44
How does your hair look and feel after you use them?
Secrets to Super Slippery Conditioners
This article was originally published in July 2013 and has recently been updated for grammar and clarity.