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In the ingredient descriptions: Good means that I like to see this in a product's list of ingredients. Okay means this product appears safe for a curly person like me to use. Caution means that this ingredient may not be good in some hair care products, or for some people. Avoid means this ingredient may hurt your hair. If you see this ingredient in a hair product, it's best to put it down and walk away.

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Polyquaternium-11    (aka Quaternium-32)
This clings to hair to make it feel thicker. It also helps make hair easier to comb [Begoun (Beauty) Pg 303]. Made from cellulose. Used as a film-former (coats the hair) and to keep product from separating. Gives hair shine [Winter pg 435]. This is a resin that produces some build up. Used for conditioning, to increase ease of combing, and to give body. It isn't found to be toxic [Hunting (Conditioning) pg 335]. Per Johnson [page 79], this forms a clear, non-sticky, glossy film on the hair and it's used to provide conditioning in styling products as well as providing excellent curl retention.—I'm putting this as a caution because it looks like it may build up in our hair and become sticky over time. That's fine in a styling aid, where you expect hold, but be cautious of it in shampoos and conditioners. Also, this is known to increase body, which is not what those of us with really curly hair needs.

I'm fine with polyquaternium-10 which is an old friend that's in most of my favorite conditioners. But it looks like polyquaternium-11 is a bit stronger, and is beginning to lean towards being a styling /hold ingredient. But it isn't there yet. It's borderline. Now, polyquaternium-16 is a definite avoid, because it's fully crossed over to the sticky/styling product side. Polyquaternium-11 is almost sticky, but it's also smoothing - I guess it's smicky? It looks like, though it's stronger than 10, it hasn't crossed that fine line into totally being a hold ingredient. Well, not one I'd avoid I don't think. As of 12/31/2016 I'm trying out a product that has this in it, so I'm seeing how I feel about this. —T

Source(s): Begoun Hunting Winter Johnson


Applewhite, Thomas H., ed. Proceedings of the World Conference on Lauric Oils: Sources, Processing, and Applications
AOCS Publishing, 1994.

Barel, André O., Marc Paye, and Howard I. Maibach., eds. Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology, Second Edition
Marcel Dekker, Inc., 2001.

Begoun, Paula. Don’t Go Shopping for Hair-Care Products Without Me. 3rd Edition.
Renton: Beginning Press, 2005.

Begoun, Paula. The Beauty Bible.
Renton: Beginning Press, 2002.

Begoun, Paula. Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me.
Renton: Beginning Press, 2003.

Bellum, Sarah, ed. The Beauty Brains: Real Scientists Answer Your Beauty Questions
New York: Brains Publishing, 2008.

Gottschalk, Tari E. and McEwen, Gerald N, Jr. PhD, eds. International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook, Tenth Edition 2004, Volumes 1-4.
Washington D. C.: The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragance Association, 2004.

Halal, John Hair Structure and Chemistry Simplified, Fifth Edition
Albany: Milady, 2002.

Hunting, Anthony L.L. Encyclopedia of Conditioning Rinse Ingredients.
Cranford, NJ: Micelle Press, Inc., 1987.

Hunting, Anthony L.L. Encyclopedia of Shampoo Ingredients.
Cranford, NJ: Micelle Press, Inc., 1983.

Johnson, Dale H. (Ed.). Hair and Hair Care, Cosmetic Science and Technology Series. Vol. 17.
New York: Marcel Dekker, 1997. Print.

Nnanna, Ifendu A. and Jiding Xia., eds. Protein-Based Surfactants: Synthesis: Physicochemical Properties, and Applications (Surfactant Science)
Madison Heights: CRC, 2001.

Quadflieg, Jutta Maria. Fundamental properties of Afro-American hair as related to their straightening/relaxing behaviour.
Diss. U of Rheinisch-Westfälischen Technischen Hochschule Aachen, 2003.

Schueller, Randy and Perry Romanowski, eds. Conditioning Agents for Hair and Skin.
New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 1999.

Winter, Ruth M.S. A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients: Complete Information About the Harmful and Desirable Ingredients Found in Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals
New York: Three Rivers Press, 2005.

Zviak, Charles., ed. The Science of Hair Care (Dermatology)
New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 1986.


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