What is Behentrimonium Chloride
The form it comes in is a white prill pictured above. Behenetrimonium chloride is very similar chemically to cetrimonium chloride. We already reviewed it because it’s in our shampoo, and you can find that post here. The basic difference is the fatty portion is different. Behenyl has twenty-two carbon atoms in the chain, while cetrimonium chloride has only sixteen. Other than that, the molecules are exactly the same. While that doesn’t seem like a huge difference, it actually is. I always make the analogy that H2O is water and is perfectly safe, but just the addition of a single oxygen to make it H2O2 can kill you. That’s hydrogen peroxide.
The extra carbons make a big difference in the feel. You can really feel behentrimonium chloride on your hair after it’s rinsed, where that isn’t really the case with cetrimonium chloride. That doesn’t mean the cetrimonium chloride isn’t working. It’s just that you can’t actually notice it very well. In this industry, it’s all about consumer perception. If the consumer can’t feel the difference, they don’t think it works.
Is Behentrimonium Chloride Safe?
Just like above, because the molecules were close they were tested together by the CIR. The difference I was talking about in performance from the small change in structure doesn’t necessarily translate in safety. Because the molecules have the same basic structure, they have similar safety profiles. This is where changing the fatty portion doesn’t matter so much when going from sixteen to twenty-two carbons. The same report applies to cetrimonium chloride and I linked it in that blog post already. But in case you missed it, you can see it here. The panel’s conclusion is it’s safe as used in rinse off (which a conditioner is). It’s safe up to 0.25% in a leave on product. I talked about what levels are typically used in the previous post as well. It’s going to be less than 0.25% in pretty much everything.
The next post will cover another silicone as a conditioner, dimethicone.