Elana asks…Just wondering what are stearyl trimethylammonium chloride and cetyltrimethylammonium chloride and what could they possibly be doing in my hair product? Are they of natural origin or completely synthetic? Also, are they safe and can they weight down the hair?
The Right Brain responds:
As astute Alchemist pointed out in our Forum, we call these ingredients quaternary ammonium compounds. These kinds of molecules have a positive charge on one end so they stick to the negatively charged damaged sites on hair; on the other end they have a long “fatty” chain of carbon atoms which helps condition the hair. You can read this link on how conditioners work for more info.
Some people do find chloride quats to be irritating to the skin but they are generally safe for use even though they are rather “old-school.” It’s hard to know if these will be too heavy for your hair without understanding what else is in the formula. You’ll really have to try them to see. In regards to the origin of these ingredients, they can be at least partially natural. The fatty portion of the molecule can be sourced from plant materials but they will require chemical modification to be quaternized. So, it really depends on your definition of natural.
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