Google Header -->
Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

Ingredients Commonly Found in Hair Products

By January 27th, 2021No Comments
Ingredients Commonly Found in Hair Products
Compiled by Tonya McKay

This is a dynamic list; I’ll update and amend as necessary.

CN Says:
-Grab your favorite bottle of conditioner or styler… I’ll wait. 

 -Flip it over to review the ingredients.

-Do a ‘ctrl +f” (or control + find, or a command + f, or the like) and type in the ingredients that are too long to pronounce. You’ll be amazed at which ones are emulsifiers, detergents, preservatives, etc. Cool stuff. You’ll never be in the dark again!  You’ll also be more prepared the next time you hit the hair care aisle.  Be especially mindful of the first 5 ingredients (the only ones that truly matter) in each of your favorite products (take note!) so you know what to look for when selecting new products.  

Anionic Surfactants
Detergency, foaming:
Alkylbenzene sulfonates
Ammonium laureth sulfate: can be drying to the hair
Ammonium lauryl sulfate: can be very drying to the hair
Ammonium Xylenesulfonate
Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
Sodium cocoyl sarcosinate
Sodium laureth sulfate: can be drying to the hair
Sodium lauryl sulfate: can be especially drying to the hair
Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
Sodium myreth sulfate
Sodium Xylenesulfonate
Ethyl PEG-15 cocamine sulfate
Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate

Amphoteric Surfactants
Used to provide mild cleansing, as well as some aid in foaming:
Cocamidopropyl betaine
Coco betaine
Disodium cocoamphodiacetate
Disodium cocoamphodipropionate
Sodium cocoyl isethionate

Open to View Full List>>>
Cationic Surfactants
Quaternary Ammonium compounds:used to provide conditioning, some detergency, emulsion stabilization:
Behentrimonium chloride
Behentrimonium methosulfate (gentler)
Benzalkonium chloride
Cetrimonium chloride
Cinnamidopropyltrimonium chloride
Cocotrimonium chloride
Dicetyldimonium chloride
Dicocodimonium chloride
Dihydrogenated tallow dimethylammonium chloride
Hydrogenated Palm Trimethylammonium chloride
Laurtrimonium chloride
Quaternium-18 Bentonite
Quaternium-18 Hectonite
Stearalkonium chloride
Tallowtrimonium chloride
Tricetyldimonium chloride

Nonionic Surfactants
Used for gentle cleansing and for emulsion stabilization:
Decyl glucoside
Laureth-10 (lauryl ether 10)
PEG-10 Sorbitan Laurate
Polysorbate- (20, 21, 40, 60, 61, 65, 80, 81)
PPG-1 Trideceth-6
Steareth- (2, 10, 15, 20)
C11-21 Pareth- (number between 3 and 30, the higher the number, the more water soluble and higher the hydrophilic portion)
C12-20 Acid PEG-8 Ester

Larger surfactants used to stabilize emulsions (droplets of oils in water):
Caprylic/capric/diglyceryl succinate
C10-15 Pareth-(2,4,6,8) Phosphate
C14-16 Glycol Palmitate
C18-20 Glycol Isostearate
Cocamidopropyl lauryl ether
DIPA-hydrogenated cocoate
Dipentaerythrityl hydroxystearate
Dipentaerythrityl hydroxyisostearate
Dipentaerythrityl hexacaprate/caprylate
Palm kernel glycerides

Butyl paraben
Diazolidinyl urea
DMDM Hydantoin
Ethyl paraben
Imidazolidinyl Urea
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Isobutyl paraben
Methyl paraben
Propyl paraben
Sodium benzoate

Aluminum stearates/isostearates/myristates/laurates/palmitates — any mixture thereof
Glycol distearate
Hydrogenated castor oil
Hydrogenated castor oil hydroxystearate
Hydrogenated castor oil isostearate
Hydrogenated castor oil stearate
Hydrogenated castor PEG-8 esters
PEG150 distearate

Naturally derived polymers
Used for thickening of the product:
Carboxymethyl hydroxyethyl cellulose
Carboxymethyl hydroxypropyl guar
Ethyl cellulose
Hydroxybutyl methylcellulose
Lauryl Polyglucose

Attract water to the hair to keep the moisture content high:
1,2,6 hexanetriol
Dipropylene glycol
Hexylene Glycol
Phytantriol — enhances moisture-retention, increases absorption of vitamins, panthenol, and amino acids into hair shaft, imparts gloss
Propylene glycol
Sodium PCA
Triethylene glycol
Polyglyceryl sorbitol
Potassium PCA
Hydrogenated Honey
Hyaluronic Acid
Hexanediol beeswax
Hexanetriol Beeswax
Hydrolyzed Elastin
Hydrolyzed Collagen
Hydrolyzed Silk
Hydrolyzed Keratin
Capryl glycol
Isoceteth-(3-10, 20, 30)
Isolaureth-(3-10, 20, 30)

Cationic Polymers
Positively charged polymers that provide silkening and smoothing effects by adhering to the surface of the hair due to the hair’s overall negative charge:
Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride

Used to add shine and gloss to hair, decrease combing friction and tangling, provide conditioning, and act as anti-humectants:
Amodimethicone not soluble in water by itself
Amodimethicone (and) Trideceth-12 (and) Cetrimonium
Chloride mixture that is soluble in water in the bottle
Behenoxy Dimethicone Sparingly soluble in water
Cetearyl methicone not soluble in water
Cetyl Dimethicone not soluble in water
Cyclomethicone not soluble in water
Cyclopentasiloxane not soluble in water
Dimethicone not soluble in water
Dimethicone Copolyol water soluble
Dimethicone copolyol water soluble
Dimethiconol not soluble in water
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane – water soluble
Stearoxy Dimethicone Sparingly soluble in water
Stearyl Dimethicone not soluble in water
Trimethylsilylamodimethicone not soluble in water
Lauryl methicone copolyol water soluble

Organic oils
Emollient effects, conditioning:
Mineral oil

Humectants, conditioners:
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed casein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed hair keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed rice protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed silk
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids
Cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin
Hydrolyzed keratin
Hydrolyzed oat flour
Hydrolyzed silk
Hydrolyzed silk protein
Hydrolyzed soy protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Potassium cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein

Retinol, Retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A)
Tocopherol acetate (Vitamin E)

Emollient Esters
Provide conditioning to the hair and give a soft, smooth feel:
Butyl myristate
Butyl stearate
C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate
Caprylic/capric triglyceride
Cetyl octanoate
Cetyl stearate
Cetearyl stearate
Decyl oleate
Dimethyl Lauramine Isostearate
Glyceryl Stearate
Glyceryl adipate
Glyceryl arachidate
Glyceryl arachidonate
Glyceryl behenate
Glyceryl caprate
Glyceryl caprylate
Glyceryl caprylate / caprate
Glyceryl citrate / lactate / linoleate / oleate
Glyceryl cocoate
Glyceryl Diarachidate
Glyceryl Dibehenate
Glyceryl Dierucate
Glyceryl Dihydroxystearate
Glyceryl Diisopalmitate
Glyceryl Diisostearate
Glyceryl Dilaurate
Glyceryl Dilinoleate
Glyceryl Dimyristate
Glyceryl Dioleate
Glyceryl Dipalmitate
Glyceryl Dipalmitoleate
Glyceryl Diricinoleate
Glyceryl Distearate
Glyceryl Erucate
Glycol stearate
Isocetyl stearate
Isopropyl Myristate
Isopropyl palmitate
Isopropyl stearate
Isostearyl stearate
Octyl palmitate
Octyl stearate
Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate
Sorbitan benzoate
Sorbitan caprylate
Sorbitan isostearate
Sorbitan laurate
Sorbitan Tristearate
Stearyl stearate
Tocopheryl linoleate

Emulsifying agents / emulsion stabilisers / surfactants / viscosity controlling agents:
Acetamide MEA
Cocamide DEA
Cocamide MEA
Lactamide MEA
Lauramide DEA
Lauramide DEA & Propylene Glycol
Lauramide MEA
Lecithinamide DEA
Linoleamide DEA
Linoleamide MEA
Linoleamide MIPA
Myristamide DEA
Myristamide MEA
Myristamide MIPA
Oleamide DEA
Oleamide DEA
Oleamide MEA
Oleamide MIPA
Soyamide DEA
Stearamide MEA

Emulsifiers and conditioning agents:
Behentamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Isostearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Lauramidopropyl Dimethylamine
Myristamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Oleamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Palmitamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Tallamidopropyl Dimethylamine

Used in very small amounts:
Ascorbic acid
Citric acid
Sodium hydroxide

Often used to enhance thickness (viscosity) of the product:
Calcium chloride
Magnesium chloride
Magnesium sulfate: has been found to add volume to hair, used to enhance curls
Potassium chloride
Potassium glycol sulfate
Sodium Chloride

Fatty Alcohols
Provide emollient effect, lubricity, emulsion stabilization:
Behenyl alcohol
Cetearyl alcohol
Cetyl alcohol
Isocetyl alcohol
Isostearyl alcohol
Lauryl alcohol
Myristyl alcohol
Stearyl alcohol
C30-50 Alcohols
Lanolin alcohol

UV Filters/sunscreens
Benzophenone-2, ( or 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Benzyl salicylate
Benzylidene camphor sulfonic acid
Ethyl cinnamate
Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (octyl methoxycinnamate)
Octoxynol-40, -20
Octyl methoxycinnamate
Octyl Salicylate
Phenyl ketone
Polyacrylamidomethyl benzylidene camphor

Natural Oils
Provide emolliency, conditioning, add shine:
Coconut oil
Jojoba oil
Olive oil
Palm Oil
Safflower Oil
Sesame seed oil
Shea butter
Sweet almond oil
Wheat germ oil

Amine Oxides
Used to help disperse dyes in product
Cocamine oxide
Lauramine oxide

Chelating agents
Used in small amounts to react with metal ions present in the product or in the water, in order to improve stability or performance of the product:
Diiospropyl oxalate
Disodium EDTA
Disodium EDTA-copper
Oxalic acid
Potassium or sodium citrate
Sodium oxalate
Tetrasodium EDTA
Trisodium EDTA
Trisodium HEDTA

Fatty Acids
Used as emulsifying agents, emulsion stabilizers:
Arichidonic acid
Capric Acid
Coconut Fatty Acid
Lauric acid
Linoleic acid
Linolenic acid
Myristic Acid
Palmitic acid
Pantothenic acid
Stearic acid
Caproic acid
Capryleth-(4,6,9) carboxylic acid
Isostearic acid

Anti-Microbials/ Antibacterial

PEG-Modified materials
Used as emulsifiers, surfactants, humectants, and to make non-wter soluble molecules more water soluble (There are thousands of these approved for use):
PEG-150 Pentaerythirtyl Tetrastearate
PEG- 2, -3, -4, -6, -8, -12, -20, -32, -50, -150, -175 Distearate – also used to thicken the product
PEG-10 castor oil
PEG-10 cocamine
PEG-10 cocoate
PEG-10 coconut oil esters
PEG-10 glyceryl oleate
PEG-10 glyceryl pibsa tallate
PEG-10 glyceryl stearate
PEG-10 hydrogenated lanolin
PEG-10 hydrogenated tallow amine
PEG-10 isolauryl thioether
PEG-10 isostearate
PEG-10 lanolate
PEG-10 lanolin
PEG-10 laurate
PEG-10 oleate
PEG-10 olive glycerides
PEG-10 polyglyceryl-2 laurate
PEG-10 propylene glycol
PEG-10 sorbitan laurate
PEG-10 soya sterol
PEG-10 soyamine
PEG-10 stearamine
PEG-10 stearate
PEG-10 stearyl benzonium chloride
PEG-10 tallate
PEG-10 tallow aminopropylamine
PEG-100 castor oil
PEG-100 hydrogenated castor oil
PEG-100 lanolin
PEG-100 stearate
PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-60..etc.
PEG-55 Propylene glycol Distearate

Miscellaneous Polymers
There are many, and they are used for a variety of purposes:
Carbomer: Polymer used to provide thickening
Dodecanedioic acid/cetearyl alcohol/glycol copolymer: Polymer used to provide thickening
Hydrogenated C6-14 olefin polymers: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
Hydrogenated ethylene/propylene/styrene copolymer: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
Polyacrylic acid: Polymer used to provide thickening, emulsification, binding, and film forming on hair
Polymethyl methacrylate: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
Polyvinyl acetate: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
Polyvinyl alcohol: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
PPG: Polymer used to provide thickening and to stabilize emulsions
PPG-25-Laureth-25: Polymer used to provide thickening and to stabilize emulsions
PPG-5 Pentaerithrityl ether: Polymer used to provide thickening and to stabilize emulsions
PPG-75-PEG-300-hexylene glycol: Polymer used to provide thickening
PVP (Polyvinylpyrrolidone): Polymer used to provide thickening
PVP/VA (polyvinylpyrrolidone/vinyl acetate copolymer): Polymer used to provide thickening
Sodium carbomer: Polymer used to provide thickening
TEA-carbomer: Polymer used to provide thickening
Poloxamer (100-407): Polymers used as emulsifiers (emulsion stabilizers) and surfactants (detergents)
Poloxamine (followed by a number): Polymers used as emulsifiers (emulsion stabilizers) and surfactants (detergents)
Polyacrylamidomethylpropane sulfonic acid: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
Polyethylene terephthalate: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products

Anti-static agents
Reduce static charge build-up and fly-away hair:
Apricotamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
Apricotamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
Cocamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
Cocamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
Lauramidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
Lauramidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
Linoleamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
Linoleamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
Myristamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
Myristamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
Oleamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
Oleamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
Stearamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
Stearamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate

Used a solvent, can be drying to the hair:
SD alcohol 40
Witch hazel

Leave a Reply