What makes Redken All Soft Conditioner rock?

Sarah Speaks:
Nothing makes my wavy hair feel as great as using Redken’s All Soft conditioner and I want to know why. I accept that this may be my fate, but I’m not really delighted by spending that much money on conditioner when I swear by cheap shampoo. I aspire to be a beauty brain, so I looked at the ingredients of the $12, 250mL bottle and compared them to the 80-cent, 590mL bottle of White Rain regular conditioner I got at the discount store.

White Rain:
Water, cetyl alcohol, dicetyldimonium chloride, sorbitol, phenosyethanol, stearyl alcohol, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, ceteareth-20, behenyl alcohol, fragrance, citric acid (Not many ingredients but they all sound familiar after reading your site for awhile.)

All Soft:
Active Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Behenalkonium Chloride, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol Ceteth-3 Acetate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG 100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Dimethicone, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, PPG-5 Ceteth-10, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Taurine, Oleth 10, Disodium Cocamidoproprionate, Lecithin, Phosphoric Acid, Wheat Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Avocado/Persea Gratissima, Hydroxypropyl Trimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Trehalose, Arginine HCI, Orange No. 4 (CI 15510), Yellow 5 (CI 19140)

So the marketing folk at Redken say:
Avocado Oil = softness & moisture
Proteins = help strengthen
Amino Acids = deep conditioning

But I say, looking at the ingredients, it’s got to be the glycerin. Avocado and proteins are pretty far down the list, and glycerin doesn`t show up in other conditioners, not even in most of Redken`s own other formulas (and nowhere near as high in the ingredient list). Glycerin is moisturizing, So my question is, a) am I right? Is it glycerin that makes my hair rock? If so, then b) what is it doing to rock so hard? And c) how likely am I to find cheaper brands that have it in the first five ingredients?

The Right Brain Is Impressed:
Wow, Sarah, thanks for one of the best product analysis we’ve seen from any of our Beauty Braniacs. We love it when our loyal readers catch the scientific spirit of what we’re trying to do. Now, let us help you understand even better by dissecting the ingredients in Redkin one by one.
There’s a lot of chemical-speak here, so stay with us!

Water – the solvent that acts as the carrier for all the other ingredients.

Behenalkonium Chloride – a long chain fatty conditioning agent, good for classic conditioning and moisturization.

Glycerin – not really functional in rinse off conditoners because it rinses down the drain. (So sorry, but you were wrong about that part!)

Cetearyl Alcohol – a thickener/emulsifier that is really a blend of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol.

Propylene Glycol Ceteth-3 Acetate – an emulsifier.

Cyclopentasiloxane – a type of silicone used as a light conditioner and spreading agent.

Cetyl Alcohol – thickener/emulsifier.

PEG 100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate – more emulsifiers

Fragrance – mmmm, smells soft.

Cetrimonium Chloride – an inexpensive traditional conditioner. Works well with the Behenalkonium chloride.

Dimethicone – a type of high molecular weight silicone that gives a protective layer on hair.

Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride – good, mild conditioner made from guar beans.

PPG-5 Ceteth-10 – yet another emuslifier.

Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA – preservatives

Disodium Cocamidoproprionate – a surfactant that helps disperse the other stuff in the formula.

Taurine, Oleth 10, Lecithin, Wheat Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Avocado/Persea Gratissima, Hydroxypropyl Trimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Trehalose, Arginine HCI, – basically featured ingredients that don’t add much, if any, efficacy to the product. Interestingly, Trehalose is a wood fiber that supposedly can replace silicone as a conditioning agent. We’ve tried to make formulations with it and could never get it do to a damn thing!

Phosphoric Acid- controls the pH.

Orange No. 4 (CI 15510), Yellow 5 (CI 19140) – colorants.

Alright, there you have a complete analysis of what each ingredient in the formula does.

Which one makes the formula “rock,” as you so eloquently put it? Well, it’s certainly NOT the glycerine, that pretty much rinses off. It’s also not the avocado oil or other ingredients that Redken mentioned. It’s really the multiple conditioners in the formula but if we had to pick one or two we’d say it’s the combination of the Behenalkonium Chloride and the Cyclopentasiloxane.