Sunday, December 2, 2012

Using different emulsifiers in conditioners

I regularly get questions about using emulsifiers like Polawax or Ritamulse SCG in our conditioners, and the general answer is no, you can't use those emulsifiers to make conditioners. We use ingredients like Incroquat BTMS-50, Rita BTMS-225, and cetrimonium bromide to create conditioners and they are emulsifiers, but that isn't their only feature: We're using them because they are cationic or positively charged emulsifiers.

Here's the chemistry. Your hair is negatively charged. A conditioner is positively charged. Positive and negative attract each other, and the conditioner is left behind on your hair when you rinse thanks to a concept called adsorption.

If you want to learn more, click here for a lengthy post on the topic. Click here for more information on the charges we find in our ingredients. 

If you use an ingredient that is neutrally charged - like Polawax - you aren't going to get that adsorption. The oils you use will moisturize your hair and the humectants will offer hydration, the silicones will help repel moisture and the proteins will help moisturize, but you do not have a conditioner without the adsorption. We need to have that positive charge so our hair is conditioned as well as moisturized and hydrated. (Click here to learn what "conditioning" really means!)

I know there are products that are marketed as hair moisturizers that contain these emulsifiers and a whole lotta oil and butter, but those are not conditioners. They are hair moisturizers. They are lotions that you put on your hair. They will rinse out and leave behind a feeling of moisturization and hydration, but they aren't conditioning your hair. I know this might seem like a matter of semantics - if my hair feels conditioned, isn't it conditioned? - but it's an important matter. Only a positively charged ingredient can offer conditioning. This isn't to say that you don't like the product and that it doesn't work to moisturize your hair, but what you are getting from a product that doesn't contain a positively charged ingredient is not - by definition - conditioning. 

There are dozens of emulsifiers out there and we can create many more combinations using the HLB system, but adding a moisturizer to water and oil doesn't create a conditioner - it creates a lotion. If you want to use a lotion in your hair, that's perfectly fine, but it isn't a conditioner. (I think about people who have used polysorbate 20 or 80 or other liquidy type emulsfiers as conditioning agents. EEK! So sticky!)

HAVING SAID ALL THIS...I know some of you are using Ritamulse SCG as an emulsifier for conditioners. It's anionic or negatively charged, so I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing (a) where did you see that you could use it in this way?, (b) how are you using it (for instance, without shampoo, in a solid bar, once a week, and so on), (c) how long have you been using it?, and (d) how does your hair feel after using it? I'm really confused from a chemistry perspective as to why this would work, so if those of you who really love this emulsifier in a conditioner could share your thoughts, I'd be so grateful!


WS said...

I'm not using Ritamulse yet because I'm telling myself I don't need to buy Another New Ingredient, but I make a daily "non-conditioner" with cetyl alcohol and emulsifying wax and a lot of glycine betaine (humectant). I have the sort of slippery, fine, silky (and wavy/curly) hair that is easily weighed down and this conditioner is just enough to get out the tangles and leave it light and fluffy and soft. It's definitely not going to please somebody with dry, thick or tangly hair. For actual conditioning, I like something light like Cetrimonium chloride with Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine. Anything heavier and I get droopy curls and dull, funky hair. I was thrilled to read this (its a pdf) because it answered a lot of questions for me about formulating conditioners for volume (or not).

Mychelle said...

Ooh, good topic. I do use Ritamulse SCG in my solid conditioner and shampoo. I first heard about it for conditioning purposes on the Dish. I read in the Rita product catalog that it is great for "conditioners" and cream rinses (I'll have to hunt that down). So I threw some in and...

I love it! In the conditioner bar it adds incredible softness to my hair, and it got rave reviews from my friends and family. I use it in conjunction with BTMS and Incroquat CR, and there was a noticeable difference for the better with the addition of the Ritamulse. I don't make conditioner bars without it now.

I've also really come to love it in shampoo bars in place of/in addition to BTMS. I read (again the Dish) that this would give a little more rinse off and add softness and body, and I figured glyceral stearate and cetearyl alcohol are used so often in shampoos. And I love it here too! It does leave my hair feeling lighter than with BTMS (I tend towards oily hair) and my hair feels silky soft. Maybe too much rinse off for a dry haired person without some BTMS added, but it's definitely worth a try.

Liquid shampoo is still a big WIP for me, but I recently added Ritamulse to an emulsified cream shampoo I was working on. The overall formula needs adjusting, but my hair was again very, very soft and shiny. Still, I'm not going there in my liquid conditioner. I don't want to ditch my quats and I see major compatibility issues there. And I want my conditioner to condition properly, as you taught me it should. :)

Mychelle said...

Here is the link: It says "These mixtures of ethoxylated fatty alcohols are....excellent hair conditioners recommended for use in cream rinses and relaxers." I've often wondered as to this as well, as it is not technically a hair conditioner.

Carlos said...

As a person with an EXTREMELY dry scalp and dry, brittle hair, I "shampoo and condition" with an O/W emulsion using a stearate+lactylate+lecithin emulsification system - I guess this is sort of similar to Ritamulse SCG's INCI mix of ingredients (G. Stearate+SSLactylate+Ctryl Alc). Oils I use in the mix are Coconut oil, Sunflower Oil and Pumpkin Seed Oil.

I don't feel that using an Anionic emulsifier is really getting in the way of cleaning/conditioning my hair. My scalp and hair benefit from the oils in the emulsion and O/W emulsions are very easy to wash out. My hair feels 'fluffy' after using this emulsion and rinsing it out. This emulsion has been a great way for me to "oil-up" my hair without using just plain old oil, resulting in the "Crisco" hair feeling that you carry all day. And the emulsion does do a good bit of cleansing too. I can see myself using this emulsion everyday because it's gentle enough for me to use.

Cationic emulsifiers don't really do much for me in terms of cost effectiveness because I can only see myself using Cationic emulsifiers in conditioning products. I probably just haven't thought outside of the box enough to really find more inventive ways to use a cationic emulsifier, and thus justify my purchase of it.

Evik said...

Hi Susan,

funny you posted about this, as recently I have made a small comparative experiment. I did not have tried the Ritamulse, but if anyone interested, I did try Olivem 1000, compared with BTMS (the very same recipe, only the emulsifier is different) on my hair and posted all on my blog:

Might help to someone (for impatient - no, Olivem 1000 really does not work!)

APM said...

I use e-wax ( Cetostearyl Alcohol & Polysorbate 60) in my conditionner along with CETAB. CETAB does the conditionning and e-wax keeps emulsion stable. I always have separation using CETAB and cetearyl alcohol, that's fine for a leave in conditionner, because I shake before using, but it's a pain for something you have to apply in the shower.

Anonymous said...

Well, a lot of good info going around here. I have tried Btms 25 and ewax to create a leave in conditioner, but i did not like it, i don't remember why right now. So i decided to create a leave in lotion as Susan said. I use cetearyl, wax, cetac, glycerin and mineral oil and it does work on my hair, it was hard though, to create a stable lotion but i finally did. It is a thick lotion and i apply a lot, almost if i was giving my hair a hair massage, but once it dries it keeps my hair down and curly, not fluffy, not funky and not dull. I get it wet every single day if i am going out and if i want a perfect curl and to dry faster i use a hair drier (difuser). Yes, it is a pain to get hair wet every single day, but that's the price that i, as a biracial girl am glad to pay.I lived many years being the slave of a ponytail and never had the freedom to have my hair loose, not any more, ponytail only at home. By the way, i used a lotion with this same effect many years ago,i got online found this blog, substituted some of the ingredintes and now i can make my own, thanks to Susan.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan

Actually, it's not strictly true that Polawax can't be used in conditioner formulas and I've found this to be a fairly common misconception - understandably so, since it's very difficult to find any information without heading directly into the horse's mouth.

I contacted Croda myself, given that my supplier knew nothing about it's use in hair conditioners, nor did her Croda representative in Australia (not surprising).

Croda replied with a hair conditioner formula for men using Polawax, which was most generous of them, I thought:

"Ancrine Conditioner for Men C2030.

This rich conditioner combines the anti-hair loss complex Ancrine. Ancrine affords plantderived substrate for transglutaminase, thus promoting the reticulation of structural proteins of the scalp. It helps reduce hair loss by improving anchoring and implantation of the hair."


NCROQUAT BEHENYL BDQ/P (Propylene Glycol (and) Behenalkonium Chloride) - 4.5 % by wt

POLAWAX GP200 (Nonionic Emulsifying Wax) - 3.5% by wt

CITHROL EGDS (Glycol Distearate) - 1.0% by wt.

Dow Corning 200 Fluid 100cS (Dimethicone) - 0.5 % by wt

Water Deionised (Aqua) to 100%

ANCRINE (Aqua (and) Glycerin (and) PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (and) Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein (and) Caprylyl
Butyrate) - 3.0% by wt

Lactic Acid - to pH 4.0-4.5

Perfume, Preservative, Colour qs

Heat oil phase and water phase separately to 65-70°C. Add water phase to oil phase with stirring.

Stir to cool.

Add Ancrine and perfume at 35-40°C.

Adjust pH to 4.0-4.5 with lactic

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Evik! I finally read your blog and the experiments were great! What wonderful posts! (I'm sorry it took me so long, but I missed the link!) And thanks for the kind words about the blog. I love these kinds of tests and I love your openness to new ingredients. Great blog!