Polyquaternium 7

What is it? Polyquaternium 7 is a water-soluble cationic co-polymer.

It is usually sold as an aqueous solution that is 8–10% active, with the remaining 90–92% being water and preservatives. As always, check the data sheets from your suppliers for the precise ingredient you’ve purchased.

INCI Polyquaternium-7
Appearance Clear, very viscous liquid.
Usage rate 0.2–5%
Texture Silky smooth and very thick.
Scent Nothing distinguishable
pH 3–4.5 (I did find a few versions with pH values closer to 7; check with your supplier to confirm)
Charge Positive/cationic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? Polyquaternium 7 is conditioning, and it has an absolutely incredible skin and hair feel. I love it in my Foaming Shaving Cream for the most incredible slip and gorgeous rich feel. In hair products it gives substantivity without build-up and improves comb-through. It is advertised as having “very good compatibility with many anionic surfactants”, making it useful in body washes and shampoos. Generally speaking, it makes your projects feel divine and leaves skin and hair feeling silky smooth and conditioned without any hint of greasiness. It also functions as a film former, helping keep the skin and hair moisturized.
Do you need it? No, but it is lovely.
Refined or unrefined? Polyquaternium 7 only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Polyquaternium 7 is an excellent conditioning ingredient with great skin feel—and it doesn’t smell fishy, like some alternatives.
Weaknesses Can be a challenge to find abroad, not generally considered to be “natural”.
Alternatives & Substitutions Polyquaternium 10 would be my top choice, though it’s about 10x more concentrated than Polyquaternium 7, so you will need far less. If a formula calls for 3% Polyquaternium 7 you could replace it with 0.3% Polyquaternium 10 and 2.7% distilled water.

Honeyquat could be a decent alternative, but it can have a very distinct fishy smell that is widely considered to be unpleasant. I’ve had readers complain of honeyquat making products unusable due to the scent at 2%.

Whatever you use as a substitute, it needs to be positively charged and water soluble as a bare minimum.

How to Work with It Include Polyquaternium 7 in the cool down phase of your projects.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Polyquaternium 7 should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks At 2% I find Polyquaternium 7 adds enough thickness to otherwise watery serums to make them too thick to mist!
Recommended starter amount 30mL (1fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Formulations that Use Polyquaternium 7


Posted on

January 17, 2019