Monday, August 3, 2009

Adding slip to conditioners with fatty alcohols

You can add slip and glide to your conditioners using fatty alcohols - like cetyl alcohol - which will offer extra oomph to the cationic quaternary compound. Fatty alcohols offer what oils offer - slip, lubricity, moisturizing, and a thin film over the hair strands to keep them from rubbing together.

There are a number of fatty alcohols you can choose from, but these are the ones most available to home crafters.
  • cetyl alcohol - 16 carbon atoms
  • stearyl alcohol - 18 carbon atoms
  • cetearyl alcohol (also known as cetereath-20) - a combination of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol - an ethoxylated alcohol
Adding a fatty alcohol to a conditioner is beneficial to your hair. A study found adding cetyl alcohol to cetrimonium bromide nearly doubled the reduction of wet combing forces, and another study found adding cetyl alcohol to a behentrimonium chloride (like BTMS) reduced the surface friction in hair.

You'll want to add the fatty alcohol or ethoxylated alcohol to your conditioner at 1/2 the amount of the cationic quat. Most of the cationic quats you buy are going to have a fatty alcohol included, but you can add more as it does thicken the mixture and will make your hair more moisturized.

If you have frizzy prone hair, you might want to hold off on the fatty alcohols; it can make your hair a little frizzier due to the moisturizing action!

Here are a few conditioner recipes that include fatty alcohols! (Scroll down to see the various recipes I've created or click on "hair products" in the labels section to see more).
Have fun formulating!


Snowbaby said...

I have a commercial conditioner rinse and after it gets on my hands I can barely hold the bottle because it's so slippery! It has cetyl alcohol as the second ingredient

suzanne said...

hi, dont your hair gets better (less frizz )with btms 25 instead btms 50?? so fatty alcohols are good for frizz, dont?? moisture retention or the barrier that they made isnt what fight frizz?? thank u

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Suzanne. Are you asking if fatty alcohols are better for frizz? If they help with moisture retention or create a barrier on the hair that fights frizz? Fatty alcohols are good for moisturizing hair without oils and they increase the conditioning abilities of our cationic conditioning ingredient by up to 50%. Are they good at fighting frizz? I guess it depends on your hair type. If you have oily hair, you're probably better off using something like dimethicone because it won't make your hair get greasy faster. If you have dry hair, fatty alcohols are a great way to moisturize, which could reduce frizz. If you have fine hair, fatty alcohols are not your friend. They will weigh down your hair and make it feel limp. BTMS-25 has cetearyl alcohol, which can make one's hair feel weighed down and waxy. But this is all your personal preference. If you like it, use it.

Having said all of this, I would disagree with the idea that BTMS-25 is better choice for those with frizzy hair. I won't say it won't work for frizzy hair, but I would go with 2% dimethicone in a conditioner or an anti-frizz spray with dimethicone rather than using fatty alcohols for that purpose.