Polyquaternium 10 is an ingredient that adds conditioning to our formulations and also thickens them. It is made from hydroxyethylcellulose.
Thickening quat conditioner of the polymeric quaternary ammonium salt of hydroxyethyl cellulose.
|Appearance||Soft, slightly clumpy off-white powder|
|Usage rate||Add as is to water phase of formula. Typical use level 0.2 and 2%. Common concentration in a shampoo is only 0.5%. For external use only.|
|Applications||All kinds of hair conditioning products including hair shampoos, hair rinses, hair gels.|
|How to Work with It||
Pre-disperse Polyquaternium 10 in a non-water liquid in your formulation (glycerin, liquid oil, etc.) before adding water to the formulation. Stir and allow to hydrate; this can be sped up by blending with a powered mixer like an immersion blender or a Mini Mixer.
In emulsions, Polyquaternium 10 can be included in the oil phase to prevent clumping. Polyquaternium 10 can be hot or cold processed.
|Scent||Fishy, though we don’t find the scent to be noticeable in finished products as the effective usage rate is so low.|
|Why do we use it in formulations?||
Polyquaternium 10 thickens and adds conditioning properties. It is useful for haircare and skincare products in both rinse-off and leave-on applications.
In hair products (both wash-out and leave-in) it improves comb-through, improves the feel and appearance of the hair, reduces breakage, improves curl retention, and gives the hair a really lovely, substantive feel.
In skincare products a small amount (-0.05%) boosts viscosity, improves slip, and gives the overall product a rich, elegant feel: it makes serums feel more serum-y. A little goes a long way, though! Too much can feel a bit snotty.
|Refined or unrefined?||Polyquaternium 10 only exists as a refined product.|
|Strengths||Potent and highly effective conditioning ingredient that leaves hair and skin feeling amazing.|
|Alternatives & Substitutions||
Depending on the formulation, you may be able to replace the conditioning benefits of Polyquaternium 10 with a fatty conditioning ingredient like BTMS-50 or Behentrimonium Chloride.
If the primary reason for including Polyquaternium 10 in a formulation is thickening, you can look at replacing it with a non-cationic thickener like hydroxyethylcellulose or soft xanthan gum. We recommend choosing something that creates smooth, clear gels.
You can also generally leave Polyquaternium 10 out of formulations (replacing it with more water to keep the formulation in balance). It’ll be a loss, but the formulation likely won’t fail. As always, make sure you understand why Polyquaternium 10 is in the formulation and what it’s doing for the formulation. If you’re making a hair conditioner and Polyquaternium 10 is the only cationic ingredient in the formulation, you’ll be losing the conditioning part of hair conditioner. If it’s a facial serum that includes a tiny amount of Polyquaternium 10 to boost viscosity and skin feel, removing the Polyquaternium 10 will result in a thinner and less luxurious feeling formulation, but it will still work.
|Tips, Tricks, and Quirks||
Despite its positive charge, Polyquaternium 10 is “compatible with anionic, nonionic, cationic and amphoteric systems.”