Quaternium-90 Sepiolite and Quaternium-90 Montmorillonite (Thickening Clay)

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What is it? Quaternium-90 Sepiolite (and) Quaternium-90 Montmorillonite (Thickening Clay) is an alkyl quaternary ammonium clay. It’s basically a fine powder derived from clay that has been treated to create a powder that, when used in small amounts, thickens oil-based products and helps keep pigments in suspension. It is generally recommended for use in cosmetics.
INCI Quaternium-90 Sepiolite (and) Quaternium-90 Montmorillonite
Appearance Off white fine powder
Usage rate Suggested rate is 1–3%
Texture Smooth ultrafine powder
Scent Nothing noticeable
Charge Cationic (positive)
Solubility Insoluble
Why do we use it in recipes? Quaternium-90 Sepiolite (and) Quaternium-90 Montmorillonite does four very cool things. 1) It thickens oil-based concoctions. 2) It contributes to a more matte finish. 3) It helps keep powdered pigments in suspension. 4) It helps improve adhesion/wear time in colour cosmetics.
Do you need it? If you like creating coloured cosmetics I would highly recommend it!
Refined or unrefined? Quaternium-90 Sepiolite and Quaternium-90 Montmorillonite only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Excellent pigment suspension, thickening, and skin feel at low concentrations. It’s also very easy to work with!
Weaknesses Too much can make the end product drying (I find even 3% can create products that are more drying than I’d like, especially in lip products). It’s also pretty dang hard to source outside the USA.
Alternatives & Substitutions I don’t have any great recommendations. You can try using white kaolin clay in its place, but this will not have the thickening/suspending properties or the added adhesion.
How to Work with It Take care not to inhale the clay—wear a dust mask. This product is very lightweight and floaty, and very easy to accidentally inhale. Stir/blend it into the oil phase of your concoctions at pretty much any point—the manufacturer stipulates it can be incorporated at any time. Low shear mixing is sufficient—I usually use my MicroMini Mixer to blend everything together.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Quaternium-90 Sepiolite and Quaternium-90 Montmorillonite should last at least five years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Learn more about Alkonium Clays here.
Recommended starter amount 30g (1.06oz)
Where to Buy it The only place I’ve found it for sale is TKB Trading.

Some Recipes that Use Quaternium-90 Sepiolite and Quaternium-90 Montmorillonite (Thickening Clay)

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April 18, 2019

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