Guide to using ingredients: Behentrimonium part 2 of 2

Sorry for not posting this earlier, I am currently snowed under at work! However, I am back today atleast with the guide to using behentrimonium - enjoy! (Hope you caught part 1 on the difference between methosulfate and chloride - if not- go here!).

Q1: Why is behentrimonium good?
It is probably one of the best conditioning agents for softness. It acts by depositing on hair and helps to smooth down the cuticle (because of that positive charge). It has a fairly long tail (go back and see its structure here). This long tail causes behentrimonium to be attracted to hair more so than short tail surfactants (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, pg 85-94, 1994). What this means is simply that behentrimonium is extremely effective even at low amounts because it will naturally move towards the hair.

Q2: How to use behentrimonium?
Behentrimonium is enhanced in combination with cetyl alcohol (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, pg 251-263, 1989) . Many times this can be extended to other similar fatty alcohols such as stearyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol (which is a combination of stearyl and cetyl alcohol). There is also some suggestion that other fats or oils such as coconut oil, shea butter etc may have a similar effect of enhancing behentrimonium adsorption to hair.

Q3: How not to use behentrimonium?
Similar conditioning agents to behentrimonium have been seen to be less effective when pH was low. A low pH means an acidic rinse for example acidic shampoos or ACV rinses (Click here for more on pH). Generally most shampoos are of neutral pH which is ideal for behentrimonium. There is however a school of thought that shampoos should be slightly acidic to match the fact that hair is slightly just bear in mind if you are using these type of acid products, you may not get the best result from behentrimonium

Q4: Any other notes?
Behentrimonium is a surfactant and therefore it can be used to wash hair. It is however not very effective at this because of its very long tail. Short surfactants such as SLS are much better at lifting oils - see this post.

Are you in love with behentrimonium? I am with the herbal essences intensive mask (in a jar not a tall bottle!). I keep seeing these pictures of the tall bottle and people saying it has behentrimonium, which actually it doesn't, atleast not the bottle sold in UK.

What is your favourite conditioner with behentrimonium?


  1. Kinky Curly Knot Today!!

    Has the most slip out of any conditioner i have ever tried

  2. The Kinky curly line seems to be really popular because I keep getting emails about it. I haven't tried it myself but both knot today and curling custard are two products I keep hearing about.

  3. I still haven't found the perfect products for my hair. At the moment I am using the 'Hello Hydration' products and I like them so far. Pantene Pro-V will be next. Thanks for the post, JC. I will definitely look out for this great ingredient.

  4. Your welcome Yvonne. Just remember that even if the conditioner says it has behentrimonium, that particular mixture may not be what your hair likes. Therefore because manufacturers are not going to tell us how much they have added, you may have to try a few different ones to get the mix you like.

  5. My favourite conditioner was L'Oreal Elvive Smooth Intense in the jar, but it is discontinued! I would guess there was Behentrimonium Chloride in it because that is second resp. third ingredient in other Elvive in a jar, like Nutri-Gloss and Damage control.
    I wonder if others like that product line too?
    As I was hearing nothing but good about Hello Hydration - for example on this blog ;) - I gave it a try, and maybe it becomes my new staple! I don't know if it was the coconut oil prepoo or everything together, but my hair is so soft today that I can't believe it.
    I noticed Behentrimonium Chloride is also one of the first ingredients in the rather pricey John Frieda hair masque in a jar. I never tried that one though. The John Frieda Curl Conditioner and the Smooth Conditioner have it as fourth ingredient, but they leave my hair dry.

  6. I tend to pass on expensive products simply because the ingredients in the conditioner can be found in other cheaper products. My own personal view is that they charge you for the name on the bottle rather than the $2 of products used to fill it.

  7. I've found that out of the coconut milk/ protein concoction Suave and Nourishing CM/P by Organix conditioners I use, the Organix works phenomenally .

    I believe my hair likes methosulphate because when I was using the Organix product I would dampen my hair with a water bottle spritzer and apply the condish in sections then rinse out in the shower and my hair would stay moisturized and soft. Plus great curl def.

    Now,the Suave is the chloride mix. I can't use the same process with this product. It has to be diluted (1:9) and my hair has to be sopping wet or else it's a straw hair for me in the morning. I also found that I have to wash this completely out or my scalp with become irritated and that I have to use some form of stretching method because with all the extra water usage my hair would shrink.

    One would wonder, why go through all this? Well the Organix product is $8 more than the Suave and gas prices aren't going down.

  8. Your article stated that behentrimonium isn't that great for washing hair(which I understand why) but what if you combined it with another surfactant like coco betaine. Coco betaine is non-ionic so can it be paired with behentrimonium, a quaternary substance? Will pairing the two make the cleaning more effective than just using behentrimonium or coco betaine individually? Thanks.

  9. HE Hydralicious: BC is 4th on the list...My hair loves it!

    My HE Hello Hydration didn't have BM nor BC listed..Some say there's does.

    I find this ingredient to be: an exceptionally mild conditioning agent, detangler, and hair thickener.

    Suave Almond and SheaButter Conditoner has BC, it's farther down the list.


  10. Very informative information on this ingredient! What if the hair conditioner contains both behentrimonium chloride and behentrimonium methosulphate would this help in softening the hair and defining curls? or is best to seek out a product with one of the ingredients mentioned instead of both? thx

  11. Great question anon - Some manufacturers will add more than one surfactant although it is unusual for it to be both behentrimonium chloride and methosulphate because they are almost identical in action. I think as with all products it is better to try it and see it in action, the ingredients list is just a small guide.

  12. I know this is an old post but I'm so confused now. I read on the beauty brains in their artice "3 reasons why apple cider vinegar may be good for your hair" that an acv rinse may be beneficial because it may help quaternary ammonium compounds in conditioner to bind better, and yet acv rinses reduc the efficacy of behentremonium [which im assuming is not a quaternary ammonium compound?]....ahh confusion


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