Thursday, June 17, 2010

Conditioners: Cetrimonium bromide - basic recipes

Cetrimonium bromide isn't used a lot by homecrafters as it isn't easy to get, but it is a great cationic quaternary compound for really damaged hair, especially hair with gaps in the cuticle. It isn't as lubricating as BTMS, so you'll want to include some oils or silicones or cetyl alcohol to ensure you are reducing the combing forces and friction enough to prevent further damage.

Okay, this sentence seems to imply that cetab will hurt your hair. I don't mean it that way. My thought is that this...if you have hair so damaged you have gaps in the cuticle, then you probably need tons of lubrication to reduce the friction and combing forces that might arise when your hair is tangled. So you'll want to ensure you increase the emollients in the conditioner!

If you don't have seriously damaged hair, then cetrimonium bromide is still a good conditioner for all hair types. Again, it's not the most lubricating cationic quat - BTMS has a longer fatty acid chain - but it's still a great conditioning agent that has a place in making excellent conditioners.

If you want to make a basic conditioner with cetrimonium bromide, start with 7% cetrimonium bromide, 0.5% to 1% preservative, and 92% to 92.5% water. As I suggested, you might want to include up to 3.5% cetyl alcohol (more lubricity and more substantivity) or oils (up to 5% in a regular conditioner, or 10% in an intense conditioner). If you have damaged hair, I'd suggest using up to 2% panthenol in the cool down phase as well because it's a great humectant and film former. (And if you're an oily girl, leave out the butters and/or oils.)

In case you're wondering why I'm behaving as if we've never made a conditioner before, it's because I figure the best way to learn how to use a new ingredient is to make a basic recipe to get an idea of how our hair reacts to it, then add the other ingredients to see how they affect the consistency, stability, and feel of the product. I'm also trying to come up with variations on products according to the questions I am asked. Since silicones seem to be considered - by some - to be a tool of evil, I'm leaving those out of some of the recipes. In honesty, I can't understand why people with really damaged, curly, or frizzy hair would leave silicones out of their conditioners and try to find something that works as well, but I'm doing my best to create recipes that everyone can enjoy. 

7% cetrimonium bromide
90.5% water

2% panthenol
0.5% to 1% preservative

This would be suitable for someone with normal to oily hair. If you'd like a little more moisturization, you can include cetyl alcohol and/or oils and butters.

7% cetrimonium bromide
3.5% cetyl alcohol
5% oils or butters
82% water

2% panthenol
0.5% to 1% preservative

You can use the general or alternate instructions for these recipes.

If you are someone with really dry hair and/or damaged hair, you might want to consider including a hydrolyzed protein - probably silk - to increase the moisturization to your hair. I'd also suggest using a humectant - glycerin is good, but something like honeyquat will behave as a cationic conditioner and humectant, so it's a double bonus!

For any conditioner, I think a few things are essential - have we covered those bases?
  • Conditioning - cetrimonium bromide (essential) - cationic polymer (optional)
  • Humectant - glycerin or honeyquat
  • Moisturizing - oils or butters, or cetyl alcohol and panthenol for oil free moisturizing
  • Film forming - hydrolyzed protein, panthenol
There are other things we can add to a conditioner, so let's take a a look at creating more complicated cetrimonium bromide based conditioners tomorrow.


kontakt said...

As I understand it, the only difference between centrimonium bromide and cetrimonium chloride is the negatively charged ion: chloride or bromide. What differs between these two compounds in effects, and why? In solutions, the ions should be free from each other so unless the chloride/bromide ion does something in itself, I fail to see what the difference should be. Similar things are true for many pairs of related compounds, SLS/ALS for instance. Sodium or ammonium. As long as you adjust pH, is there really any major difference?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

This is a great question. I've written a post about it here. Thanks for giving me great, challenging questions!

Mya Symons said...

Is Cetrimonium Bromide actually an emulsifier? It is listed as a conditioner on the Personal Formulator website. Does it emulsify oils and water?

res ipsa loquitur said...

Can I use cetab in a shampoo since it is penetrating?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi res ipsa loquitur. Why would you want something in a shampoo to penetrate your hair? And no, I wouldn't use it in a shampoo.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
I don't know if my question is apropriate for here so please remove it if not. Is it safe to use Cetrimonium bromide in skincare? I read somewhere that you can use it in deodorant as this is an antiseptic.
Thank you Susan for all your help.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Sarah. I don't know about using it as an anti-septic, but it can be used in skin care products. I'm not sure about the suggested usage rates, so you'll have to do a search for that. Let us know how that experiment turns out!