What is Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine?
Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine (SAPDMA) is a fatty amine. It can be derived from tallow (cows), but most products today get their stearyl content from vegetable sources. Our current supplier uses the vegetable kind, so no animals were hurt in making this product. Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine looks like a yellowish waxy flake (pictured above). At the normal pH of the conditioner, it becomes positively charged and works like other conditioners, becoming electrostatically attracted to damaged hair. We talked about this mechanism with our other posts on conditioners.
Benefits of Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Because the fatty portion of the molecule is large, it feels very soft on the hair. The charge keeps some of it on your hair, making your hair easy to comb. It also helps when you emulsify your conditioner during the batching process. It acts like a surfactant, which brings the oil and water portions of the conditioner together. By using this, you can limit other emulsifiers that are just there to build the viscosity and not actually benefit your hair!
A lot of large companies use this product for the above reasons. In our previous lives, we relied on it heavily. The reason it’s used by many companies is they extensively studied the benefits of the product. They found it to be better than other conditioner. It’s also not a real expensive raw material. It’s generally less expensive than other quats that are typically used.
Safety of Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Like many ingredients commonly used for years, this has been extensively studied. I read the final CIR report on this ingredient, which can be found here. They issued the report in 2014. I don’t have to read all the CIR reports to understand them, but this one had a curious conclusion I’ve never seen before. They said, “The CIR Expert Panel concluded that the 24 fatty acid amidopropyl dimethylamines ingredients listed below are safe in cosmetics when they are formulated to be non-sensitizing.” (SAPDMA was among the products listed)
What does formulated to be non-sensitizing mean? I didn’t know either. I haven’t mentioned what a CIR panel is, which would be helpful to understand this ruling. Basically, a bunch of PhD chemists and doctors sit around a table and they have the safety data in front of them. They discuss what the data mean and all come to a consensus about whether they think the product is safe, and if so, what level. From what I could glean, they were concerned over residual reactants in the products. One of them is an amine known as DMAPA. It could cause sensitization if over a certain level. However, the residuals are well controlled from any domestic source, and when formulated the actual amount in the formula drops by about a factor of 50. There’s very little risk of getting enough to be a sensitizer.