In Part 1 of this ingredients haul, I told you about HairFix XH Maltodextrin and ICE Conditioner.  I’ll introduce you to three more new ingredients which will hopefully make it into the final versions of my DIY recipes I post here.

3. Behentrimonium Chloride

INCI Name: Behentrimonium chloride, ethyl alcohol

You should be familiar with the word ‘behentrimonium’ itself already.  It’s the ‘B’ and ‘T’ in BTMS-50.  Both BTMS and Behentrimonium Chloride have the same surfactant, but BTMS itself is milder.

Behentrimonium Chloride is said to have very potent and obvious conditioning effects.  It has anti-static properties which is thought to fight frizz.  It’s also said to be an excellent detangler.

There’s also information online about it helping to rebuild damaged hair over time because it penetrates the hair shaft instead of simply coating it.

Behentrimonium Chloride isn’t exactly a natural ingredient, I know.  One obvious drawback is that it’s not as mild as BTMS.

There seems to be two versions, although I’m not quite sure about that: BTAC228 and BTAC228KC.  Don’t quote me on that though!

BTAC228 is said to be a yellowish wax that’s supposed to be very irritating.  The one I have from is white chunks which dissolve in hot water with an INCI name of “Behentrimonium chloride, ethyl alcohol”.

But three positives is it’s cheaper than BTMS-50 in some cases, it doesn’t build-up on the hair, and it’s supposed to be used at a much lower percentage to feel the conditioning effects.  Lower usage rate could mean it’ll last longer so you won’t have to buy it as often.

Behentrimonium Chloride is an ingredient in the hugely popular Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Conditioner and Suave Professionals Almond and Shea Butter conditioner.  It’s also an ingredient in TRESemme Naturals Radiant Volume Conditioner, Renpure Conditioners, Herbal Essences Conditioners, OGX Conditioners, Wondercurl Restoring Hair Treatment and many other products.


4. Sorbitol

INCI: Sorbitol

Sorbitol is used as a humectant and is derived from a sugar solution called dextrose which originates from wheat.  It consists of D-mannitol and D-glucitol.  It’s supposed to be very easy to use and comes in powder form.

Sorbitol is said to stabilize gels and help with keeping them clear.  On top of that, it’s supposed to add conditioning and smoothing properties to the recipe.  It also helps to prevent moisture loss, according to the information online.

According to the datasheet provided by, sorbitol also helps with increasing the viscosity and texture of a mix.

It can be used at up to 50% in your DIY recipes, according to the data.  But I think that may be for special products like softening gels or something.   I don’t know! lol!  I wouldn’t use it at 50% starting out though.

It’s frequently used in gel products, too, to add some humectant properties to gels, aftershaves, lotions, shampoos and other personal care products.  You can use it the same way you use glycerin.

Because of it’s sweet taste, the food grade version of sorbitol is also used in toothpastes and mouthwashes.

Sorbitol lasts for 2 years, according to the literature, so don’t think you’ll have to rush to use it all before it expires.  As long as it’s taken care of and kept in a dry cool place, the ingredient itself should last 2 years from the production (manufacturing) date.

Sorbitol is found in a lot of products, but I’ll just list a few:
Joico Moisture Recovery Conditioner
Infusium 23 Leave-In Treatment
Avalon Organics Olive/Grape Seed Conditioner
Renpure Argan Oil Luxurious Conditioner
Renpure  Rosemary Mint Cleansing Conditioner
Andalou Naturals Argan and Sweet Orange Conditioner
Nothing But Intense Healing Mask
It’s A 10 Miracle Moisture Conditioner

etc, etc, etc.


5. Triethanolamine (TEA)

INCI: Triethanolamine

I also bought a small bottle of the big, bad Triethanolamine (TEA). I know, I know.  But I wanted to do some tests and find a good gel recipe.

Triethanolamine is a weak base with a pH of 10-11.  It’s used to raise the pH of the mix so that gel can form.  Gels which are made with non-natural ingredients are very pH sensitive: if the pH is too low, it won’t form a gel.

TEA is simply used to raise the pH level of a mix.  For example, if you make something with Aloe Vera, Apple Cider Vinegar, and pectin, and you find the pH is entirely too low for your emulsifier/preservative/polymer to work correctly,  you’re supposed to be able to add a few drops of  TEA to raise the pH of the mix to a usable level.

I know for me when I used to try to formulate with Sodium Carbomer (pre-neutralized carbomer), almost anything I added aside from water would cause the gel is turn back into a liquid.  That’s a sign the pH isn’t high enough.

It’s recommended in recipes using a polymer like carbomer, along with film-formers. It’ll thicken up nicely instead of staying a liquid.

This is not an ingredient you’d use if you wanted to make an all-natural product.  TEA is produced when ethylene oxide reacts with ammonia. Yikes!  But in most products, it’s not used in a high enough percentage to cause terrible problems.

For example, naturals’ favorite Ecostyler gels use TEA as an ingredient.  Xtreme Wetline gel, a growing favorite for popping curls, also uses TEA as an ingredient.  It’s also used in U R Curly Loose Curl Enhancer,  Miss Jessie’s Jelly Soft Curls, and Ouidad Vitalcurl Define and Shine Gel-Cream.

Basically, if you’ve used any non-natural commercial gels before, you’ve probably already used a product with TEA in it.

I don’t plan on stopping my testing of natural gels though, but it’s nice to experiment a little.

Part 3 coming soon!

Read part 1 Here:

Read Part 3:



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Cup of Tea
BTW, curlytea is now on MINDS too!
Herbal extracts can be made using 95%-100% commercial grade ethanol. Most home DIYers use a combo of water and glycerin. DIY herbal infusions are often made using oils heated with the herb/tea over time.

When I make infusions, I usually add the herb and the oil into a mason jar and add that jar into a pot of water. The mix is heated on low for 2 to 4 hours.
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