Sunday, January 12, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Using xanthan gum in surfactant based products? What ingredients make our hair shinier?

Angela sent me an e-mail to ask: When making a body wash, shampoo, etc.  What is the difference between using Crothix and Xanthan Gum?

The main difference will be the skin feel of the different ingredients. Both Crothix and xanthan gum will thicken your products, but they may look different and will feel different on your skin. 

If you're making a surfactant based products, you need to make sure you know the charge of the surfactants. It works well with low levels of anionic (negatively charged) or amphoteric (could be positive, could be negative, most likely to be positive at acidic pH levels) surfactants as a thickener and with higher levels of non-ionic (neutrally charged) surfactants, like decyl glucoside. It doesn't play well with cationic (positively charged) ingredients, like cationic polymers, so leave those out or get another thickener sorted. (This is one of the other reasons I don't use xanthan gum because I really like cationic polymers in my shampoo, body wash, and other surfactant based products.) 

My own experience - and this is only my experience! - is that I find xanthan gum (and most gums) stickier feeling and less thickening than using Crothix or Ritathix DOE. I find the gums can be slightly stringier in viscosity, too. 

This is just my opinion! I admit that I'm not a fan of gums in my products as I find they feel sticky. I prefer using Crothix or Ritathix when I'm making products. If you've used both ingredients, what do you think? Share your thoughts! 

Related posts:
Anionic, cationic, non-ionic

In the What do you want to know? post, Kateri asks: Here's my wondering. Say I'm looking to formulate a hair product for high shine, as an example a conditioner. Out of all our wonderful ingredients we can add, that add shine, is there one key ingredient that brings to the table the best result to leaving hair shiny? 

Something emollient, like an oil or silicone, is the type of thing you want to add to a conditioner to make your hair shinier. It seems like a leave on product, like an anti-frizz spray, leave in conditioner, or shine spray, would offer more shine than a rinse off product, like a conditioner.

From this post on Crodomol STS (Superior to Silcone): An aside on the refractive index...All materials reflect and refract light, which is to say all materials alter the angle of light. The refractive index is a ratio defined as the speed of light in a vacuum (which equals 1) over the speed of light in the material. Light slows down when it enters a substance, so every refractive index will be over 1. The higher the refractive index, the higher the light intensity reflected from the surface. Titanium dioxide has a refractive index of 2.7, one of the highest of all materials, and diamonds are about 2.419 - and we know how sparkly they can be! - whereas water is around 1.33. Crodomol STS has a refractive index of 1.4696, cyclomethicone at 1.394 to 1.398, and dimethicone 1.375 to 1.403.

I found this really interesting page online about the refractive index of vegetable oils, if you're interested in learning more. It seems like the average for vegetable oils - not listed which ones - is about 1.47, so it sounds like any of the oils would be a good choice. The reason we might not use oils has to do with two factors - they can make our hair much oilier than a comparable ester or silicone, and they can go rancid over the course of a day or two.

Lest you doubt this, put enough grapeseed oil on your hair to make it shiny. Now see how it smells by the end of the day. My massage therapist uses grapeseed oil, and by the end of that day I can see it's going slightly off. I'm not saying this will happen to every oil everyone uses, but starting with something that doesn't have an odour - like dimethicone or an ester - means you don't have to deal with the smell. Or choose an oil that won't go off quickly, like coconut oil

Here's the thing...Your hair can only be so shiny with your ingredients. As someone with coarse hair with some waves, I don't tend to see a lot of shine on my hair except on the straight parts near my scalp. I can add tons of silicones and I won't see substantially more shine because the kinks and waves in my hair alter the angle of the light. If you have straight hair, you'll get more shine with those ingredients than someone with non-straight hair.

Which ones to choose?  I think it's hard to say that one ingredient is the end all and be all for shiny hair, but if I had to choose, I'd go with dimethicone every time...but you can see there are loads of choices you can make!


Mica Oba said...

Not sure about the sticky feeling in terms of gums, but I definitely agree about the stringy viscosity. Sometimes I opt for KELTROL CG-SFT so I don't have as much of the stringy-ness.

Angela McGuire said...

Xantham gum seems to be clumpy too, it's okay, but not Great! I look forward to trying Crothix!

Anonymous said...

I found out the hard way that using a heat appliance (in my case, a flat iron) after using a product with a natural oil like grapeseed or olive oil will scorch the hair. A silicone based product doesn't do that. Yet those oils are so good for the hair and scalp!

Uri Zadok said...

Firstly, I would like to comment that I love your site.
Secondly, I just wanted to make a minor correction to what you stated about amphoteric substances. As you said, these are substances that contain both an anionic and cationic group. However, in acidic pH these will have a positive charge (since neutral amines will be protonated and negative carboxylates will be neutralized), and in basic pH will have a negative charge (since the carboxylic acids will be deprotonated and the amines will remain neutral).



Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Uri! Thanks for the catch! I always get binary states mixed up!

Anonymous said...

Susan, your blog is wonderful! I am so excited to reattempt bath bombs and maybe try an oil cleanser recipe.

I stumbled across your blog researching xantham gum. It is listed as the secret ingredient to make homemade frappuchinos I highly recommend making your own SB Frappe at home with a pinch of xantham gum.

Thank you again for the lovely blog,
Kind regards, Angela S.