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Veterinarian Reviewed on June 19, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
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Polyquatrenium is the chemical name or International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients for several polymers that are the main ingredients commonly found in a variety of personal care products. There are at least 37 polymers under the name Polyquatrenium and Polyquatrenium-4 is just one of them.

Polyquatrenium-4 is specifically used in hair care products such as hair conditioners, shampoos, mousse, hair dyes, hair sprays and other hair styling agents.

History and Origin

Polyquatrenium-4 is a Hydroxyethyl cellulose dimethyl diallylammonium chloride copolymer that has been synthetically produced to be used in the personal care industry. The name Polyquatrenium is designated by the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients and Polyquatrenium-4 is just the 4th in all 47 polymers in this category. All of these polymers have specific uses in many industries all around the world.

Ancient Uses

The use of Polyquatrenium-4 was unheard of during ancient times. Personal care products used for the skin and hair were obtained mainly from nature. Plant parts and extracts made from these parts were the ingredients used to cleanse and moisturize skin; they were also used in the treatment of minor skin irritations, wounds, boils and as poultices for burns and stings.

Modern Uses

In modern times, chemical alteration and laboratory testing have led to the development and mass production of polymers that benefit many industries. Polyquatrenium-4 has been used in many applications but it is in hair care that it has sought much acclaim. It is a main ingredient in shampoos that effectively cleanses and moisturizes hair. It is also found in hair conditioner that increases hair’s luster, bounce and shine. Apart from daily hair care, Polyquatrenium-4 is also an ingredient in hair styling aids. Hair gel is used to style and provide a temporary fix to hair. It is easily removed by water and is non irritating and cannot harm hair or scalp at all.

Polyquatrenium-4 and all other 46 polymers are all positively charged and they help neutralize negative charges of shampoo and proteins found in hair enabling the hair to lie flat and appear smooth to the touch. The positive ionic charge also aids in binding Polyquatrenium-4 to hair making it a perfect ingredient in hair mousse, hair spray and many other hair care and hair styling aids. It is also found to be an ingredient in hair dyes because of its ability to bind with hair proteins.

Research has also found that some Polyquatrenium polymers have antimicrobial properties and it can be a great ingredient in hand soaps and disinfectants.

Side Effects

The use of Polyquatrenium-4 and other polymers in hair care products and other personal care products has been found safe by many governing bodies. It is however important for people with sensitive skin to test a little bit of hair care product especially hair dye before using. There are other ingredients in hair dye that can be hazardous to health.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women must be cautioned in using hair dye because of these ingredients. Using hair care products on children with sensitive skin should be discouraged and it is best to consult a dermatologist for the appropriate hair care or skin care products to use for babies and people with extra sensitive skin.

Read also: Garrya Leaf

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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