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Hair Products Surfactants - Comparison & Analysis
 
The different types of cleansing agents in hair shampoo, cleansers and conditioners! Which ones are no good AND unhealthy!  Surfactants are the base cleanser in many products, particularly hair products.  Derived from a variety of organic, natural or chemical sources, surfactants are what gives your the "bubbles" and the cleansing action to remove dirt, oil or grime.
 
While many surfactants used in today's hair products are effective, nat all are safe or gentle for your hair.  Many less expensive shampoos substitute less costly ingredients (cleaning agents) to produce the foam and clean.  It doesn't necessarily mean they are good for your hair.  Take a closer look at surfactants below:
AMMONIUM LAURYL SULPHATE
plant source
 
This mild anionic surfactant has good foaming capabilities and is found in many high quality and mild cleansing products. It is derived from Coconut Alcohols. It is not an all natural surfactant but the moleclues are larger that those of Sodium Laurel Sulfate and not easily absorbed by the skin - thus those that are worried about the cellular effects of this product must realize that is one of the least harmful of the non natural surfactants.
*On our scale of 1-10  (10 being the best cleanser that you can use)  we give it
a 4.5 out of 10.
APPEARANCE: Clear Viscous Fluid
USAGE RATE: Up to 30% of Rinse off formula. Not recommended for leave on products.
SOLUBILITY: Water
SPECIAL NOTES: ALS thickens when sodium chloride is added. (table salt). When the pH is above neutral (7.0) it will emit an ammonia odor, this may be countered by readjusting the pH with an acid such as citric acid, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

COCO BETAINE
plant source
cocoamidopropyl betaine
 
A mild safe amphoteric surfactant derived from Coconut Oil. It's compatible with all other surfactants and useful as a primary surfactant. You will often find it coupled with other less mild surfactants such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate to make a milder shampoo. We use it as more of a primary cleansing agent along with an already mild surfactant. Applications: Cleansing lotions, body and hair washes, bubble baths, hand soaps and baby products
APPEARANCE: Clear, yellow, and odorless.
USAGE RATE: 15-50% of total formula
SOLUBILITY: Water .

COCAMIDE MEA
plant source
coconut-monoethanolamide
 
This widely used fatty acid of coconut oil is a foam booster, stabilizer, opacifier. It may be used in formulas such as bubble baths to makes longer lasting bubbles or in formulas such as bubble cakes where a solid surfactant is desired. It is also used as a thickener and opacifier. Use in cleansing lotions, body and hair washes, bubble baths, foaming bath bombs and cakes.
*On our scale of 1-10  (10 being the best cleanser that you can use)  we give it
a 3.5 out of 10
 
APPEARANCE: White solid flakes.
USAGE RATE: 4-6% of total formula
SOLUBILITY: Water

Coco Glucoside and Glyceryl Oleate
 
This is a lipid layer enhancer. Every time skin is washed it looses some of its natural lipids (fats). Lamesoft supports the skins own lipid layer, protects it from drying out leaving it supple. In shampoos it will add gloss to the hair and is also useful in hair conditioners. Lamesoft combines two active ingredients: the fatty acid monoglyceride glyceryl oleate from Sunflower Oil and coco glucoside.
*On our scale of 1-10  (10 being the best cleanser that you can use)  we give it
a 8.5 out of 10
 
APPEARANCE: Golden, Viscous Gel
USAGE RATE: 4-6%
SOLUBILITY: Water
LAURETH-2
plant source
 
Laureth-2 is a low ethoxylated fatty alcohol (C12/C14) based on renewable, natural raw materials. On account of its viscosity-increasing properties the product is used as thickener in surfactant preparations to form highly viscous (thick) formulations.
*On our scale of 1-10  (10 being the best cleanser that you can use)  we give it
a 7 out of 10
 
APPEARANCE: less to slightly yellowish cloudy liquid.
USAGE RATE: 2-5%
SOLUBILITY: Water
LAURYL GLUCOSIDE
plant source
A very mild co-surfactant for cleansing skin and hair. It can also be used for dental care and as a co-emulsifier for skin care emulsions Used with other less viscous surfactants it can help thicken the formulation. non ionic surfactant
 
*On our scale of 1-10  (10 being the best cleanser that you can use)  we give it
a 6 out of 10
 
APPEARANCE: Thick white paste.
USAGE RATE: 15-25% of the total formula
SOLUBILITY: Water

plant source
decyl polyglucose
This non-ionic surfactant is extremely mild and safe, composed of sugar derived from corn starch and fatty alcohols derived from coconut. It is compatible with all other types of surfactants. It is considered safe for very sensitive skin and baby shampoo. Polyglucose has a high pH and it should be lowered with citric acid or another acidic ingredient to a level of at least 7.0. Use in cleansing lotions, body and hair washes, bubble baths, hand soaps and baby products.
 
*On our scale of 1-10  (10 being the best cleanser that you can use)  we give it
a 8 out of 10
 
APPEARANCE: clear to yellow, and odorless.
USAGE RATE: 15-50%
SOLUBILITY: Water
POLYGLUCOSE POWDER
plant source
decyl polyglucose
A powdered from of the extremely mild and safe surfactant composed of sugar derived from corn starch and fatty alcohols derived from coconut. It is compatible with all other types of surfactants. It is considered safe for very sensitive skin and baby shampoo. Use in washing powders, foaming bath bombs and cakes, cleansing lotions, body and hair washes, bubble baths, hand soaps and baby products.
 
*On our scale of 1-10  (10 being the best cleanser that you can use)  we give it
a 8 out of 10
 
APPEARANCE: white powdered granules
USAGE RATE: 5-50%
SOLUBILITY: Water

SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE NEEDLES
 
NOT GOOD!
An extremely efficient degreaser made from Coconut Oil. One of the most common ingredients used in shampoo and toothpastes due to its good foaming capabilities. It can be an irritant in concentration but a correctly balanced formula can render is functional with low irritancy. This pure powder is very cost effective and may be used in very small amounts. Used in washing powders, solid shampoo bars, bubble baths and so on taht are extremely cost conscious - we will not use this surfactant.
*On our scale of 1-10  (10 being the best cleanser that you can use)  we give it
a 2 out of 10
 
APPEARANCE: white powdered needles with a strong characteristic odor. Wear a mask when working with it before it has been diluted.
USAGE RATE: 2-5%
SOLUBILITY: Water
 
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