Monday, June 9, 2014

Key Ingredients for Curlies: Behentrimonium Methosulfate & Ammonium Salts

It is all well and good to look at the ingredients of your hair products, checking for things that might be bad for your family, but in the absence of the usual suspects- parabens, fragrance, sulfates etc - what should you make of the ingredients that remain?

This month we will be focusing on some key ingredients that make a product potentially great for curly hair.  This will help you in your search for the perfect cleansers, conditioners and styling agents - even if the product is not marketed as being customized for your kid's particular hair type.

I will limit each post to no more than 2 categories, with examples so as to avoid overwhelm.

Behentrimonium Methosulfate

This is a conditioning agent that helps with wet combing and detangling.  It is great for all hair types and is wonderful for tight curls and coils.  It is the mildest of all the synthetic conditioning agents on the market and is gentle enough to use on babies and children.  It is also suitable for leave-in products so even if the conditioner is not marketed as such, it is worth trying it as a leave-in on dripping wet hair.  It is derived from the Colza plant from which rapeseed oil is produced.

Ammonium Salts

The most common ammonium salts that you will see in hair products are centrimonium chloride, stearalkonium chloride, behentrimonium chloride, honeyquat and a variety of polyquaternium and quaternium salts.
They vary in how friendly they are towards small bodies, but most of them are quite safe. ( A quick look at the skin deep scale should let you know how comfortable you feel putting the said product on your child's hair or scalp.)  The presence of ammonium salts in a list of ingredients suggest the possibility of the following properties
 - superior wet and dry combing
- antistatic properties
- strong detangling properties
- superior curl definition.

The downside of these ingredients are that they do tend to build up in the hair - particularly the polyquaternium and quaternium salts.  This however may also not be the case if used in really low percentages.

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