Polyquaternium is the international nomenclature designation for cosmetic ingredients for several polycationic polymers used in the personal care industry.

Polyquaternium is a neologism used to emphasize the presence of quaternary ammonium centers in the polymer.

The different polymers are distinguished by the numerical value that follows the word “polyquaternium”. Polyquaternium-5, polyquaternium-7, and polyquaternium-47 are three examples, each a chemically different type of polymer. Numbers are assigned in the order they are recorded rather than due to their chemical structure.

Polyquaterniums find particular application in conditioners, shampoos, hair mousse, hair spray, hair dyes, personal lubricants.

As they are positively charged, they neutralize the negative charges of most shampoos and hair proteins and help the hair stay flat. Their positive charges also ionically bind them to hair and skin. Some have antimicrobial properties.

Polyquaternium-32 is primarily a conditioning polymer. It is used in balms and facial cleansing products.

Polyquaternium-32 acts as an antistatic (reduces static charges by neutralizing the electric charge on the surface of the hair) and as a hair conditioner and combing aid (reduces or prevents hair confusion due to alterations or damage to the hair surface and therefore improves combability).

This is because the molecules of the Polyquaternium-32 are positively charged. They attach themselves to the hair shaft (negatively charged) and form a coherent film (film former) on the surface of the hair.

This makes the hair smoother and easier to style.

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