Quaternary Ammonium Compounds


Cleansing Agent

No known benefits

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds description

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.

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not Rated