Gleams & Notions

Cationics Are Positive Additions to Personal Care Formulas

By Harvey M. Fishman, Consultant | January 7, 2009

Hair conditioners traditionally contain cationics as their active ingredient. Their positive charge makes them attracted to and substantive to the anionic sites on hair. This, in turn, furnishes good wet combing and manageability, and helps to overcome static electric charges and reduce flyaway tendencies. The fatty end of the molecule coats the hair to give a soft smooth feel with luster. In recent months, some new cationics have reached the market. 
Cationics are substantive to hair.
Innospec Active Chemicals, Edison, NJ, has a product called Condicare CT-P Conc. (INCI: Quaternium 89) that exhibits the above properties, and is also compatible with most commonly used anionics. It is useful in clear systems, furnishes conditioning without buildup, has low irritation properties and is stable in formulas up to a pH of 12.5.   The product is a paste at room temperature with a solids content of 65% which readily disperses in 35°C water. It is based on quaternary ammonium ethosulfate. 
Condicare CT-P Conc.’s ability to withstand high pH systems makes it useful in depilatories as the following formula illustrates.

Depilatory Cream

Ingredients    %Wt.
Phase A
Water    60.5
Laureth-23    1.5
Thioglycolic acid (70%)      5.7
Calcium hydroxide    3.8
Sodium hydroxide (25%)    7.8
Phase B
C12-15 alkyl benzoate    2.0
Stearyl alcohol    12.0
Stearic acid    2.0
Laureth-4    3.5
Quaternium 89    1.2

Heat parts A and B in separate containers to 60°C. When both are uniform, add B to A. When smooth, add Quaternium 89  and cool to 25-30°C for filling. Stir constantly during procedure.

BASF, Florham Park, NJ, offers a different cationic that it modestly named Luviquat Sensation (INCI: Polyquaternium-87). It is sold as a 26% solution in water with an as is pH of 7 to 9. It is said to have excellent wet combability on hair at 0.2 and 0.5% active when compared to equal amounts of polyquaternium-67, polyquaternium-10 and guar hydrox-ypropyltrimonium chloride. It can be used at low concentrations for a light hold on fine hair, or at higher concentrations for better control on thicker hair. It washes out of hair readily which helps to avoid build-up. It is also said to furnish a soft and natural hair feel. (For more on Luviquat Sensation, see Happi, December, 2008, p. 87.) Luviquat Sensation is also compatible with anionic surfactants as the formula below demonstrates.

Light Shampoo

Ingredients    %Wt.
Phase A
Water          q.s. 100
Luviquat Sensation    0.8
Part B
Sodium laureth sulfate    36.0
Cocamidopropyl betaine    12.5
Panthenol    0.5
Disodium EDTA      0.1
Sodium chloride      1.5

Stir constantly. Add Part B to Part A in batch tank.  When uniform, add Part C.

Two percent Luviquat is used for a medium conditioning shampoo and 4% is the amount used for a maximum conditioning formula.  On an active basis, the recommendations are: strong hair (0.5-1.0%), fine hair (0.2-0.5%) and damaged hair (0.5%).

About the Author
Harvey Fishman has a consulting firm at 34 Chicasaw Drive, Oakland, NJ 07436,, specializing in cosmetic formulations and new product ideas, offering tested finished products. He has more than 30 years of experience and has been director of research at Bonat, Nestlé LeMur and Turner Hall. He welcomes descriptive literature from suppliers and bench chemists and others in the field.

  • Hitting the Right Notes

    Hitting the Right Notes

    January 6, 2017
    Agilex Fragrances is the leader in the middle market fragrance category.

  • The Smell of Clean in 2017

    The Smell of Clean in 2017

    January 6, 2017
    Changing consumer lifestyles and demographics are impacting the scents found in the household cleaning category.

  • On the Edge

    On the Edge

    January 6, 2017
    Expanding beauty brands to watch in 2017