Monday, October 11, 2010

Cationic polymers: Polyquaterniums

I've written about polyquat 7 and honeyquat before, but let's take a look at those polyquaternium ingredients along with a few others!

So what is a cationic polymer? A polymer is "Any of numerous natural and synthetic compounds of usually high molecular weight consisting of up to millions of repeated linked units, each a relatively light and simple molecule." (From Acompound is something produced or created by combining two or more ingredients. A compound would be heterogeneous - not completely uniform, like a rocky road bar - and a polymer is homogeneous - where you can't tell each part from another. So our polymers are homogeneous and uniform; the BTMS, for instance, is a compound made up of various ingredients to make a product.

So a cationic polymer is a positively charged or cationic polymer that we use in hair and body care products to increase conditioning and film forming. Because it's cationic, it will be substantive and adsorb to our hair our skin to increase lubricity and moisturizing. In hair care products, cationic polymers will help our cuticle scales resist uplift when stressed, which keeps our hair in better condition. Adding a cationic polymer like honeyquat to our products will increase the mildness of our surfactant based products.

You can find all kinds of different cationic polymers at our suppliers' shops, but what's the difference between them? Cationic polymers generally have a number attached to them - polyquat 7, polyquat 4, and so on - and this number indicates what they're made from. Polyquat 7 is a co-polymer of diallylmethyl ammonium chloride whereas polyquat 10 is a quaternized hydroxyethylcellulose polymer. (Click here to see a list of all the various polyquaterniums!) All of them will be substantive to your negatively charged hair and skin, but some have different qualities and usage levels.

Polyquat 4 (aka Celquat H-100) comes in a powdered format with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0. Its usage is suggested at 0.5% to 1% in the heated water phase of your product, and I suggest you don't go over this amount as it is a great gelling ingredient that can thicken your surfactant mixes incredibly well. It can be used in hair gels and other holding products as both the thickener and conditioner. I like to use this one in body washes, shampoos, and leave in conditioners as 0.5% really does thicken it dramatically.

Polyquat 7 (aka Condition-eze 7) comes in a liquid format with about 8.5% to 9.5% active ingredients. It's a conditioning agent and humectant and can be used at up to 5% in the water phase of your products. I've written an entire post on this ingredient, so click on the name for more information!

Polyquat 10 comes in a powdered format and is suggested for usage in the water phase at 0.25% to 0.5%, although usage at up to 2% is just fine. (At 5% it can be considered very mildly irritating.) It will help to thicken your products and when included an emulsified product, it thickens well when used with xanthan gum. It is removed well from your hair with water and surfactants (anionic, like those found in shampoo, or cationic, like those found conditioners), whereas polyquats 4 and 7 can build up slightly if you don't wash your hair well with an anionic surfactant based product like a shampoo. (So if you're conditioner only washing, polyquats 4 and 7 will build up over time.)

Polyquat 44 comes in a liquid form of about 6% to 7% active ingredient. It should be used at 0.1% to 0.2% for fine to normal hair and up to 0.5% for damaged hair in the water phase of your product. Polyquat 44 was found to produce the least build up and best conditioning on hair when tested against polyquat 7, 10, 11, and cationic guar gum (click here for the abstract).

Honeyquat is also known as polyquat 50 and is derived from honey. It behaves as a humectant and cationic polymer on our hair. It can be used at up to 5% in the water phase of our products, although you'll want to add it during the cool down phase at lower than 55˚C or it can change colour and get a slightly weird smell. Click on the honeyquat link above for a longer post on this topic.

All of these products will reduce combing and electrostatic forces, and increase lubricity of our hair, leaving it easier to comb, less likely to tangle, and less likely to break. Remember - friction is not your friend, and reducing it means less damage to our hair from daily life! For your skin, polyquats offer moisturizing and conditioning, so you can include them in pretty much any product containing water, as long as you aren't using something like Tinosan, which can be de-activated by cationic ingredients.

You can use these polyquats in any surfactant based product - shampoo, body wash, and so on - to increase moisturizing and conditioning. And you can include them in conditioners as they play well with cationic ingredients like BTMS-50, Incroquat CR, cetrimonium bromide, and so on. Use them wherever you feel you need the qualities they offer!

Join me tomorrow for some more fun with cationic polymers as I continue my experiments in the workshop with syndet liquid soap!


p said...

Great post! Question for you about polyquat 10... you wrote:

It is removed well from your hair with water and surfactants (like those found in shampoos or conditioners), whereas polyquats 4 and 7 can build up slightly if you don't wash your hair well with a surfactant based product like a shampoo.

So polyquat 10 is removed by surfactants, whereas Polyquats 4 and 7 can built up if not removed by surfactants? I don't see the distinction... is the difference that hair has to be washed well with surfactants to avoid buildup with polyquats 4 and 7, whereas polyquat 10 is removed really easily by surfactants?

Naomi said...

On the Personal Formulator's poly44 page, it says, "Polyquaternium-44...for use in a variety of cleansing products to improve the wet combability of the hair and prevent electrostatic charging when the hair is dry...The lather creaminess is significantly improved..." It recommends adding to a shampoo base. You added to your conditioner and it was okay?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi p. I've altered the sentence in the post - what I meant was that you need to wash your hair with shampoo to remove the polyquat 4 or 7, whereas you could remove the polyquat 10 with any surfactants, like those found in shampoo or conditioner.

Hi Naomi. The cationic polymers are compatible with the anionic surfactants, so they can be used in shampoos, or they can be used in conditioners. You can use them in lotions if you want as well, as long as you aren't using Tinosan as your preservative!

kontakt said...

Hi Susan,

do you know anything about dicetyldimonium chloride? It's not really a quat (because the nitrogens shouldn't be quaternery, unless I'm totally wrong) but something similar - right? And wheat germamidopropyl ethyldimonium ethosulfate should be somewhat similar in function? Have you ever heard about these things - do you have a clue if they can be bought from someplace? expecially the dicetyldimonium chloride. Sooner or later I'll have to try and imitate my favourite conditioner, MOP Extreme Moisture. Dicetyldimonium chloride is third in the ingredients list, after water and fatty alcohols. Where's the place to go to which carries what others don't... Personal Formulator?

This is pretty exciting, really. When I first examined that ingredients list less than a year and a half ago, it was pretty daunting - I was an ingredients list reader, but it contained so many things that I didn't know about and didn't think I'd find equivalents of. Now it feels like I'm almost there :) You and your blog is fair part of what's behind my better understanding of hair cair ingredients.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I recently purchased Polyquat-44 and was wondering when you said it can be added to the water phase, does it have to be at 40c or can it be at 70c ?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Aesthete. It goes into the heated water phase, although putting it in the cool down phase isn't the end of the world!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Susan!!!!!!! I'm gonna make conditioner now!

KC said...

Hi Susan,
I replaced Poly 7 with Poly 44 in my liquid shampoo and it had an adverse affect on my hair so I came here to figure out why. Lo and behold, I learned that Poly 44is not a 1:1 replacement for Poly 7. Thank you (again) for such an informative blog. You always help me save time, money and energy.

Patricia said...

Hi! I'd like to try using polyquat 44, but it's hard to measure half a gram accurately. Could I dilute some in boiled water, add preservative, and measure that instead?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Patricia. Sure you could...I guess I'm just wondering if it isn't easier to spend $15 at your local jewellery or drug paraphrenalia store to get a smaller scale that measures down to 0.5 grams.

lim said...

Hi Susan, my question doesn't have any relation with cosmetic. In paper process we need to improve the adhesion of starch into fiber by adding cationic polymer. One of the patent mentioned using copolymer of dadmac and acrylamide. Is it possible to use Polyquaternium 7?

Jutono, Indonesia

Tammy said...

Hi Susan,

Where do you buy your polyquat 4? I'm having trouble finding it and I'd like to try it.

tawni said...

Hi Susan,

I recently purchased some Honeyquat off of Lotioncrafters, and it smells terrible. My skin also becomes irritated from it. Is this normal?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tawni. I find honeyquat can have a fishy smell. How do you know it's the honeyquat irritating your skin? are you using it neat? If so, stop using it neat as it should be used at no more than 5% of the product.

Chris Carney said...

Hi! Is there any way to temper the smell of honeyquat? I use it in my detangler, but would love to make it smell better. Thank you! Chris

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Chris. The only way I've found is to mask it with enough fragrance oil, say 1% to 2%. Otherwise, there's nothing else that can be done with it. You aren't heating it, right?

Chris Carney said...

I can def up my fragrance amount. No, I'm not heating it. I love how it works, hate how it smells! Thank you!

res ipsa loquitur said...

Hi Susan,

what are your thoughts on using a mixture of cationic polymers, specifically a mixture of polyquats? Are there certain ones that play well together and other combos that should be avoided? I noticed that Polyquat 4 is really expensive in the US (double the price of Polyquat 10) but it's review on Personal Formulator says it is a great one. Is there a synergy of some polymers with others?

second question, I currently dont use any polyquats in my surfactant systems. Should I be for added combability? if so, which ones behave in anionic/amphoteric systems?

thanks and Happy New Year


Camirra Williamson said...

i tried polyquat 10 (ordered from making cosmetics etsy shop) and i love it!!! so i tried to use 1% in a conditioner recipe, WAY too much. it become a thick gel. so i thinned down the mixture and preceeded to make a deep conditioner with 6% btms 50 and an 12% oil phase and 2%wheat protein. it was really thick still with the thinning down, but i tried it and loved it! I have african hair and it made it so easy to detangle while wet, better than centrimonium chloride alone to me. the best part is that it made my curls pop like crazy. i got great definintion and a slight reduction in frizz. im going to try it again with .5% polyquat 10 and tell you my results.

but you really could try to make a hair gel with polyquat 10. it would need to be combine with something that can offer more hold though. i am still triying that out. i ordered polyquat 4 (known to make a firm holding gel) and i will try it out together; maybe also with aloe juice and a ws shea butter.

E.D. said...

Is there any way to to make honeyquat yourself? All I can find or understand is that it does have something to do with cationic polymers, but I'm finding very little information as to whether or not honeyquat or honey extract can be made. Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi E.D. No, there's no way to make it at home as it's a complicated process that requires turning honey into a positively charged compound with a bunch of nitrogen attached.