Polymer Chemistry

Polymers in and Around You

There are polymers in my shampoo and conditioner, too?

There are! Many ingredients in shampoos and conditioners are similar to most soaps (surfactants, etc.), but cationic polymers play important roles in these products. One family of these polymers is named “polyquaterniums,” which is closer to a trade name than a technical chemistry name (the structure of one member of this family, “polyquaternium 1,” is shown below). All of these polymers contain positive charges, which allows them to form ionic bonds with hair strands. This prevents the polymers from being rinsed away with water. Once coated, your hair strands are now less likely to stick to adjacent strands and appear shinier.



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