quaternium ammonium compounds
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A wide range of ingredients, called “quats” for short, that share a unique molecular structure that makes them strongly attracted to hair. When one end of the quat grabs the hair, the other end sticks out, providing a handle for another quat molecule to grab onto. This linking creates a lineup on the hair that resembles a temporarily smooth surface, allowing combs and brushes to more easily glide through hair. Found primarily in shampoos, rinse-off and leave-in conditioners, and any product that claims to detangle the hair, these less-than-poetic-sounding ingredients are essential for having manageable hair. Typical quats on an ingredient list include guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, dicetyldimonium chloride, dihydrogenated tallow benzylmonium chloride, behentrimonium chloride, behenalkonium betaine, benzalkonium chloride, quaternium 18, stearalkonium chloride, cetrimonium chloride, and many more.
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