Behentrimonium Chloride for Hair: Your Ultimate Guide

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If you want gorgeous, healthy hair, it’s important to know what you’re putting on your tresses. And that means knowing what’s in your shampoos, conditioning treatments, and styling products. You probably already know what shea butter and coconut oil are, but what about Behentrimonium chloride?

This common ingredient can be found in many products recommended for curly hair, from leave-in conditioners to curl creams. So it’s essential to know whether behentrimonium chloride is good for curly hair and whether there are any side effects of using behentrimonium chloride daily.

This guide will unpack everything you need to know about behentrimonium chloride. We’ll answer questions like what behentrimonium chloride is, the benefits of using behentrimonium chloride, and how to use it safely.

What Is Behentrimonium Chloride And What Does It Do?

Behentrimonium chloride, or behenyl trimethyl ammonium chloride, is a quaternary ammonium compound. It’s derived from canola seeds, which come from the brassica rapa oleifera plant (canola or rapeseed plant), a part of the mustard plant family. You might have seen fields filled with the distinctive bright yellow flowers of brassica rapa oleifera if you’ve driven through countryside areas in the summer.

This yellow, waxy substance has excellent moisturizing and anti-static properties. It can also be used as a preservative and emulsifying agent, and combines easily with other ingredients. 

These properties make behentrimonium chloride a popular addition to cosmetics and personal care products, including bath soaps and moisturizers, and it’s also widely used in haircare products like conditioner and hair colors.

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Good for All Hair Types?

Behentrimonium chloride can be used safely on all hair types, whether you have thin or thick hair, fine waves or coarse curls. It has excellent moisturizing, conditioning and detangling properties, making it particularly beneficial for dry, coarse, and curly hair.

For people who deal with easily over-conditioned hair (like me), this ingredient in conditioners and leave in products can lead to your hair being too soft and a little weighed down over time.

Products That Commonly Contain Behentrimonium Chloride

Behentrimonium chloride is found in many hair care products, including hair conditioner, hair colors, curl creams, and more. These can safely be used daily to leave your hair looking healthy and nourished.

Hair shampoos: Behentrimonium chloride helps emulsify the oil and water-based ingredients in shampoos, and is also an effective frizz control ingredient. You’ll find it in popular shampoos for curly hair like Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Shampoo.

Hair Conditioners: Behentrimonium chloride is one of the most popular conditioning agents. It’s commonly found in rinse-out conditioners like Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Conditioner, leave-in conditioners, deep conditioning treatments, and hair masks. That’s because it adds shine and moisture to your hair, leaving it feeling soft and smooth.

Hair Colors: Behentrimonium chloride is used in a hair color treatment to help smooth the cuticle on each hair shaft and leave your hair shiny after coloring. You’ll find it in a color-depositing conditioner like Keracolor Color + Clenditioner, as well as color treatments like L’Oreal Healthy Look Creme Gloss Hair Color.

Styling Products: Behentrimonium chloride is often one of the active ingredients in products such as hair serums and curl creams. It works effectively in products like Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Featherlight Styling Cream to improve hair texture and define curls or waves.

smiling holding up LUS Irish Sea Moss Gel which has Behentrimonium chloride

Benefits of Behentrimonium Chloride Hair Care Products

Behentrimonium chloride is often used in haircare products as a more natural alternative to silicones, thanks to its light moisturizing properties. It’s also used as an emulsifier, which stops oil- and water-based ingredients from separating. This stabilizes hair care products and makes them easier to apply. 

Behentrimonium chloride can also act as a preservative, preventing bacteria growth in your hair care products.

Here are some of the main benefits of behentrimonium chloride haircare products:

Softens Your Hair

One of the main benefits of behentrimonium chloride is its mild conditioning properties. It delivers moisture to the hair shafts, helping to prevent dryness and breakage. Your hair will feel softer and smoother, making it more manageable and easier to style – a significant benefit for anyone with dry or damaged hair.

Improves Scalp Health

Strong hair growth depends on a healthy scalp. Behentrimonium chloride enhances blood flow to the hair follicles and removes excess oil from the scalp and follicles, helping to improve your scalp health and support hair growth. 

Adds Shine

Adding behentrimonium chloride to a product smooths the cuticles on your hair strands. Your hair will reflect more light, making it look smoother, shinier, and healthier.

Reduces Static

If you struggle with flyaway hair, using products containing behentrimonium chloride will reduce static electricity caused by friction between hair strands. This anti-static effect will reduce static cling and improve the appearance of damaged hair.

Enhances hair texture

Behentrimonium chloride helps with frizz control, making your hair look smoother and more polished. Smoothing your hair cuticle will also help reduce tangles and make your hair easier to style. If you have curly hair, behentrimonium chloride will help define your curls. 

Makes Detangling Easier

Behentrimonium chloride softens your hair and adds slip to wet hair, making your locks more manageable and easier to detangle. This is a significant bonus for curly and natural texture hair.

Protects Damaged Hair

If you struggle with split ends, behentrimonium chloride can help prevent them from forming by encasing the hair shafts in a protective film. This will shield the strands from environmental stress, including damage from sunlight, heat styling tools, or chemical treatments like colors or perms. 

Behentrimonium chloride helps keep your hair strands hydrated, reducing breakage and supporting new hair growth. 

woman combing her wet hair after using a conditioner with Behentrimonium chloride

Concerns and Considerations for Products Containing Behentrimonium Chloride

Behentrimonium chloride has been thoroughly tested by several organizations including the FDA and EU. It is considered safe for use in cosmetics, skin care and hair care products.

However, it’s always important to consider potential adverse effects and concerns before using a new product for the first time.

Allergies and Sensitivities

Scientific studies have shown that Behentrimonium chloride can be used safely by most people at the recommended concentration of 5% in rinse-off products and 3% in leave-in conditioning treatments.

Above these levels, it can harm the health of your skin, scalp and hair follicles. 

If you are sensitive or allergic to Behentrimonium chloride, it can cause the following potential side effects:

  • Allergic reactions, including redness, itching, and swelling
  • Respiratory problems, including wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath
  • Eye problems, including redness, swelling, and pain

Be sure to check your chosen hair care product and do a patch test on a small area of skin before your first use.

Irritation from Prolonged Contact

Although behentrimonium chloride is generally safe, you may experience mild irritation if the product is in prolonged contact with your scalp. Rinsing your hair thoroughly will prevent extended skin contact and reduce the risk of this happening. 

Overuse and Buildup

The positive-negative charge interaction caused by cationic ingredients like Behentrimonium chloride can cause product build up over time. This will weigh down your hair, eventually leaving it looking limp and flat, even straight after washing it. 

You can eliminate this problem by using a clarifying shampoo once a week to clear the excess cationic mass from your locks. This is what I do since this ingredient does weigh down my hair.

Top Pick
Malibu C Un-Do-Goo Clarifying Shampoo
$17.00 ($1.89 / Fl Oz)

This is my top pick for clarifying all hair types. It removes buildup the best and is still gentle on curly hair.

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03/04/2024 05:37 pm GMT

How to use Behentrimonium Chloride In Your Hair Care Routine

Behentrimonium chloride can be a great addition to your hair care routine, as long as you follow these guidelines:

Check the Label: The recommended level of concentration in hair care products is 5% for rinse-out products and 3% for leave-in conditioner. You can find this information on the product packaging’s ingredient list or the brand website. A general rule is that the closer the ingredient is to the top of the ingredients list, the higher the concentration of that ingredient in the product.

Follow the Directions: It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s usage guidelines carefully to avoid product buildup or adverse reactions. 

Do a Patch Test: Always do a patch test on a small area of skin before you use a product which contains Behentrimonium chloride for the first time. This will allow you to see if you are sensitive or allergic to the ingredient.

Be Patient: You may need to use a product several times before seeing the full benefit of Behentrimonium chloride for healthy hair. 

women with hand on her wet hair with conditioner in it


If you still have concerns about using Behentrimonium chloride on your hair, these frequently asked questions will be helpful.

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Toxic?

Behentrimonium chloride has been thoroughly tested by several bodies, including the FDA and the EU. It is generally considered safe when used at the recommended concentrations and following the manufacturer’s directions. Clinical safety assessment has shown it scores low on concerns such as cancer and reproductive toxicity.

However, behentrimonium chloride can cause allergic reactions, eye problems, and respiratory problems if used at higher concentrations. Doing a patch test on your skin before using a product containing this ingredient is recommended.

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Safe for Daily Use?

Yes, this ingredient is safe to use on your hair daily, as long as you aren’t allergic or sensitive to it.

Does Behentrimonium Chloride Build Up on Hair Over Time?

Using products containing cationic ingredients like Behentrimonium chloride frequently can lead to product buildup, causing your locks to look heavy and limp.

Washing your hair once a week with a clarifying shampoo will remove the buildup from your strands.

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Considered a Natural Ingredient?

Behentrimonium chloride is a naturally derived ingredient produced from the seeds of the rapeseed flower, a part of the mustard plant family.

Are There Any Alternatives to Behentrimonium Chloride for Hair Conditioning?

If you would prefer to use products that don’t contain Behentrimonium chloride, you can look for some of the following natural ingredients:

  • Shea butter
  • Coconut or Argan oils
  • Panthenol
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein

Other naturally derived ingredients that may have a similar effect to Behentrimonium chloride include: 

  • Brassicamidopropyl Dimethylamine
  • Disunfloweroylethyl Dimonium chloride 
  • Arachidyl/Behenyl Betainate Esylate 

Can I Use Products With Behentrimonium Chloride on Color-Treated Hair?

Behentrimonium chloride is safe to use on color-treated hair. It is a common ingredient in hair colors and products designed for colored hair, like Keracolor Clenditioner Color Depositing Conditioner.

What Is the Difference Between Behentrimonium Chloride and Sodium chloride?

Behentrimonium chloride is a waxy substance derived from canola oil, whereas sodium chloride is the scientific name for salt. This can add volume and texture to your hair and is used in some volumizing hair care products like sea salt sprays. 

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Vegan?

Behentrimonium chloride is derived from canola oil and contains no animal products or by-products, so it can be considered vegan.

However, not every product free from animal-based ingredients is also cruelty-free, so check the packaging or brand website if you prefer to buy cruelty-free vegan haircare products. 

Happy young woman applying hair conditioner with behentrimonium chloride


Behentrimonium chloride is a quaternary ammonium salt that appears regularly on haircare product ingredient lists. Among its many benefits, this ingredient has excellent hair conditioning and detangling properties. It will also help reduce frizz, add shine, and improve your hair’s texture. 

Research has shown that Behentrimonium chloride is generally safe for daily use on most hair types. However, some people may have an allergic reaction to this ingredient, and it can cause product buildup if you use it regularly.

For this reason, it’s essential to do a patch test before using Behentrimonium chloride for the first time, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and use a clarifying shampoo regularly to remove buildup. 

If you follow these guidelines, the benefits of using behentrimonium chloride make it a valuable addition to your haircare routine.



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