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Importance of Polyquaternium 4 in Hair Conditioners


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Polyquaternium 4 is one of the most common ingredients in hair conditioners. It is also referred to as PQ4, Polyquat or Quat. This chemical compound has several functions in conditioning shampoos and conditioners, but its most important role is to reduce frizziness and enhance the shine of your hair.

Definition of a surfactant

Now, what is a surfactant? Surfactants are chemical compound that lowers the surface tension of water. They’re amphiphilic, meaning they have both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties—which means they can be used to break down oils in the hair, leaving it soft and shinier.

Polyquaternium 4 is an example of a surfactant found in many hair conditioners, shampoos and other beauty products.

Functions of surfactants in conditioners

Surfactants are used in conditioners to help make hair soft, shiny, and manageable. They do this by reducing the surface tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid. Applying conditioner to your wet hair forms small droplets that cling together instead of spreading out across your strands. 

The surfactant molecules in your conditioner form a bridge between these droplets. Hence, they stay together longer than they would otherwise—keeping each strand coated with moisture instead of drying out on its own. This helps keep oily secretions from collecting at the root and rising back up into your scalp, where they can cause dandruff or other irritation. 

It also prevents tangles as you brush through damp locks after styling because each strand is coated with moisturizing agents instead of sliding past other dry ones like oil does when applied directly onto dry hair.

Why do we need Polyquaternium 4 in our shampoos and conditioners?

Polyquaternium 4, or PQ4, is a water-soluble polymer that works to help add shine and volume to your hair. It’s also an excellent detangler. In addition to all these benefits for the cuticle of your hair—the outer layer of each strand—PQ4 seals in moisture and helps prevent breakage so you can grow longer, thicker hair with fewer splits along the way.

PQ4 is also known as polyquaternium-7 or PQ7. The difference is simply the number of repeating units in the polymer chain.

The role of polyquaternium 4 in hair care

A cationic polymer is a molecule that carries a positive charge. Polyquaternium 4, in particular, has four long chains of molecules with positively charged ends. The positively charged ends attach to the negatively charged hair strands and form a film over them. This film helps to reduce static electricity, which causes frizziness and tangling when it builds up on the hair shafts.

Polyquaternium 4 also acts as a lubricant for your hair strands, so they move more easily against one another without becoming tangled or matted together as you work through your daily routine of washing, drying, styling and brushing your locks each day!


Having outlined the importance of polyquaternium 4 in hair conditioners and shampoos, this ingredient plays a major role in keeping your hair healthy and shiny. It is also important to note that although other ingredients are used in these products, the one we have discussed has been found to be the most effective at achieving this goal.

Bellie Brown
Bellie Brown
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