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Quaternium-60: An In-Depth Look at Its Role in Cosmetics

Article last updated: June 13, 2024

Table of Contents
Ever wondered what makes your favorite beauty products so effective? Dive into the fascinating world of Quaternium-60, exploring its creation, cosmetic benefits, and potential side effects in this comprehensive guide.

What is Quaternium-60?

Quaternium-60, also known by its chemical name 1-Propanaminium, N-ethyl-N,N-dimethyl-3-amino-, N-(mixed lanolin acyl and isooctanoyl) derivs., ethyl sulfates, is a versatile ingredient primarily used in the cosmetic industry. This compound is derived from a combination of lanolin acyl and isooctanoyl derivatives, which are then further processed to include ethyl sulfates. Lanolin, a natural substance obtained from sheep’s wool, is known for its moisturizing properties, while isooctanoyl is a synthetic fatty acid that enhances the conditioning effects.

The history of Quaternium-60 in cosmetics dates back to the mid-20th century when chemists were exploring new ways to improve the performance of hair care products. The goal was to create a compound that could effectively reduce static electricity in hair while also providing conditioning benefits. Through a series of chemical reactions and refinements, Quaternium-60 was developed and quickly gained popularity for its dual functionality.

The production of Quaternium-60 involves a multi-step chemical process. Initially, lanolin is extracted and purified. This lanolin is then reacted with isooctanoyl chloride to form the mixed acyl derivatives. The resulting compound is further treated with ethyl sulfate to create the final Quaternium-60 product. This intricate process ensures that the ingredient maintains its antistatic and hair conditioning properties, making it a valuable addition to a wide range of hair care formulations.

The Benefits/Uses of Quaternium-60

In this section, we will delve into the officially recognized cosmetic benefits and uses of Quaternium-60:


One of the primary functions of Quaternium-60 is its antistatic property. In simple terms, this means that it helps to reduce or eliminate static electricity. If you’ve ever experienced your hair standing on end or clinging to your clothes, you know how annoying static can be. Quaternium-60 works by neutralizing the electrical charges on the surface of your hair, making it smoother and more manageable. This is particularly beneficial in dry climates or during winter months when static electricity tends to be more of a problem.

Hair Conditioning

Another significant benefit of Quaternium-60 is its hair conditioning capability. This ingredient helps to improve the texture and appearance of your hair by making it softer, shinier, and easier to comb through. It works by forming a thin film on the hair shaft, which helps to lock in moisture and protect the hair from environmental damage. This conditioning effect can be especially useful for those with dry, damaged, or chemically treated hair, as it helps to restore some of the lost moisture and vitality.

Note: The listed benefits above are exclusively based on the officially recognized and defined functions of the ingredient, as documented by the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI).

Potential Side Effects & Other Considerations

Quaternium-60 is generally considered safe for use in cosmetic products, but like any ingredient, it may not be suitable for everyone. Its safety and allergenic potential are important factors to consider.

Potential side effects of topical application of Quaternium-60 include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Allergic reactions
  • Contact dermatitis

Regarding individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding, data and research on the topical usage of Quaternium-60 during pregnancy and breastfeeding are lacking. Therefore, it is advisable for these individuals to consult a healthcare professional for further advice.

Adverse reactions to Quaternium-60 are relatively uncommon, but they can occur. To minimize the risk of irritation or allergic reaction, it is recommended to perform a patch test before widespread usage.

Quaternium-60 has a comedogenic rating of 1, which means it is considered to be minimally comedogenic. This is generally good news for individuals prone to acne, blemishes, or breakouts, as it is unlikely to clog pores or exacerbate these conditions.

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