Polyquaternium-10: Is It a Safe Ingredient?

Polyquaternium-10 is often praised for its ability to make hair soft, shiny, and manageable. However, there has been some concern over the years about whether or not polyquaterniums are harmful to the environment or human health. Let’s take a closer look at the ingredient.

What Is Polyquaternium-10?

This ingredient belongs to a class of polymers known as polyquaterniums, which are commonly used in hair care products. Polyquaternium polymers are created by combining quaternary ammonium compounds with polymers such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polyvinyl alcohol (PVA).

In the case of polyquaternium-10, the building block is hydroxyethyl cellulose. This in turn is derived from cellulose, the main structural component of plants. So, you could argue it’s not that far from nature. However, some people think it’s a microplastic – we’ll discuss it later in the article.

What Does Polyquaternium-10 Do in Hair Care Products?

Now, let’s take a closer look at the polymer’s function in beauty products. Polyquaterniums are known for their ability to reduce static electricity in hair, making it easier to comb and style. They also help to detangle wet or dry hair and can make hair appear shinier and smoother. Polyquaternium-10 is one of the most common ingredients used for these purposes.

Polyquaternium polymers are often used in shampoos, conditioners, hair mousses, hair sprays and hair dyes because they can help to:

  • decrease static and frizz;
  • make hair more manageable;
  • improve shine and softness;
  • protect against damage from heat styling.

If you’re wondering how this ingredient combats frizzy hair, the mechanism is simple. It’s positively charged, so it neutralizes the negative charges that cause static. It also coats the hair shaft, which gives it a smooth appearance.

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Is Polyquaternium-10 a Microplastic?

While polyquaternium polymers can have all these benefits for your hair, there is some controversy surrounding them. In particular, they’ve been accused of being microplastics. This is a misconception – not all polymers are plastics.

A polymer is only considered a microplastic if it’s solid and less than 5 millimeters in size. One example is glitter, which is made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). However, polyquaternium polymers are fully soluble in water, so they don’t meet this criteria.

They won’t wash ashore like other microplastics, such as polystyrene or polyethylene. They won’t harm marine life or enter the food chain. So, you can rest assured hair care products containing polyquaternium-10 are safe for the environment.

Natural Alternatives to Polyquaternium-10

If you’d like to make your own anti-frizz hair serum at home, there are some natural alternatives to polyquaternium-10. For example, jojoba oil, coconut oil or shea butter can help to tame frizz and add shine.

You can also rinse your hair with a mild solution of apple cider vinegar after shampooing. This will help to close the cuticle, which will reduce frizz and give your hair a healthy shine. Switching to a silk pillowcase will reduce friction and static electricity while you sleep.

Of course, you can always choose hair care products that don’t contain polyquaternium-10. There are plenty of natural and organic options available these days. So, if you’re worried about this ingredient, it’s easy to find polyquaternium-free hair care products.

Other Properties: Film-Forming and Moisture-Keeping

Reducing static isn’t all that polyquaternium-10 does. This polymer also has film-forming properties. This means it can help to create a barrier on the hair shaft, which can protect against damage from heat styling and the environment. It also prevents water from evaporating from the hair, which helps to keep it hydrated.

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This occlusive ability is one of the reasons polyquaternium polymers are often used in leave-in conditioners and hair serums. They can help to keep your hair moisturized, soft and healthy.

So, there you have it – everything you need to know about polyquaternium-10. It’s a safe and effective ingredient that can help to improve the appearance and health of your hair. So, there’s no need to avoid it. Just be sure to choose hair care products that are right for your hair type and needs.

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