Natural Cationic Polymer for Conditioner

I'm looking for a cationic polymer for hair conditioner that can be claimed as "natural". 

From reading other threads, I understand that "natural" is largely a marketing term.... And that's why I've chosen to go this direction. 

Also, what is the difference in application between a cationic surfactant vs polymer for this application? I would think you don't want a surfactant that is going to wash everything away in the conditioner. 




  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    The only truly natural cationic polymer i.e. not modified in a way that it results in something not found in nature and which is readily available is chitosan. All the others are semi-synthetic using polymer-backbones from renewable resources and adding synthetic cationic moieties to them.
  • So no other cationic ingredient can be used that can be labeled as natural? 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Because 'natural' is as much a matter of definition as is 'organic', certain labels allow ingredients in 'natural' or 'organic' formulations which don't make any sense such as dehydroacetic acid (or, to begin with, cosmetics being 'organic'). Fair chance that you find a label which allows honeyquat and other quaternized ingredients such as proteins, guar, cellulose etc. or even allows biodegradable quaternary ammonium compounds derived from renewable resources and synthesised with green chemistry like Varisoft EQ 65.
  • My main concern is what the FDA will say, they are the ones that oversee cosmetic claims. 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    The FDA (and FTC) continue to have no definition for the term "natural".

    See this article.

    Now, that might make you think that you could just pick any ingredient and call yourself natural. However, in the US people file lawsuits and look to make money off of companies that are engaging in what they believe are deceptive marketing practices. So, while the FDA doesn't define "natural", there is a legal risk if you just use any old ingredient and call yourself natural.

    The bottom line is that if you are going to call yourself natural, no matter what you use you'll need to be prepared to defend your marketing practices in court. If any cationic you use requires some petroleum derived ingredient to make it, someone could argue that it is not natural. 

    I personally would argue that since the supernatural doesn't exist, everything is natural, but most courts would not find that compelling.
  • prow18prow18 Member
    edited May 2021
    @Perry Thank you for the info! (Laughed at the supernatural claim with courts- I will show up to court in my ghostbusters uniform lol) 

    I may have to switch the claim to naturally "derived" that may help some? 

    What about Honeyquat as natural conditioner? I know @Pharma mentioned it, and many sites claim it is natural... or naturally derived. Does anyone know what is done to it to make the end product? 

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Naturally derived would be better.

    I suspect that people in the natural segment would find honeyquat acceptable.
    However, it looks like Lonza stopped producing it.  So, perhaps it is not the best choice to base your product on.
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    edited May 2021
    prow18 said:
    What about Honeyquat as natural conditioner? I know @Pharma mentioned it, and many sites claim it is natural... or naturally derived. Does anyone know what is done to it to make the end product?...
    Not sure if it's really true for Honeyquat but 'quaternisation' is a straight forward synthetic approach (wherein you may vary either of the two educts) which is described in a patent I found using Google and 5 seconds of my time:
    A moisturizer known as Honeyquat 50 with INCI name of Hydroxypropyltrimonium Honey has been reported to be a better humectant than glycerin. See the Arch/Brooks brochure titled “Cosmetic Ingredients & Ideas®”, Issue No. 2, August 2001. Honeyquat 50 is described as being derived from the reaction of pendent hydroxyl groups (on the disaccharide) of a “light” deodorized grade of honey with a chlorohydroxytrimethylammonium derivative. Although this substance has excellent humectancy, moisturization at low relative humidity still remains to be conquered.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Honeyquat has been around since before 2001. It never really took off as an impressive ingredient. We used it as a claims ingredient only. 
  • prow18prow18 Member

    To translate that excerpt to English..... Is it saying that it is a reaction from mixing of a synthetic ingredient with the honey ingredient?

    Has anyone used this in a conditioner? Results?  

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @prow18 - I used it. But it was at a low level relative to the Cetrimonium Chloride in my formula (rinse off). That's because Cetrimonium Chloride was much less expensive and worked better.

  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    @prow18 Bingo! :smile: More precisely, it's not just mixing the two but chemically reacting them with each other to form a new hybrid molecule, one that doesn't exist in nature.
  • EVchemEVchem Member
    Jeen International/Botanicals Plus still sells Honeyquat, they just don't list their products on UL Prospector
  • PCA Ethyl Cocoyl Arginate from Ajinomoto
  • AbdullahAbdullah Member
    edited July 2021
    I have too opinions about nature.

    1. If natural mean from the earth then everything is natural because everyone is from the earth and within the earth. We are just playing with natural things by mixing them or unmixig them.

    2. If natural mean the way the thing are in nature then milk is natural, crude oil is natural, poison is natural. 

    Yogurt is not natural, pizza is not natural, any cosmetic product is not natural. 
    Non of these exist in nature the way they are. All are made by people.

    You can claim any cosmetic product completely natural or you can't claim any of them natural. 

    Tell me why i am wrong. 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    PCA Ethyl Cocoyl Arginate from Ajinomoto
    That's not a polymer ;) . Regarding 'natural', it's just derived from renewable resources likely including organic synthethesis for some of the reactions and maybe enzymatic ones (likely using enzymes from genetically or biotechnologically modified organisms) for others.
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