INCI: Sodium C14-16 alpha olefin sulfonate
What: cleansing surfactant
Usage rate suggestions: 4 – 30%
Alpha Olefin, aka Sodium C14-16, is a great, mild anionic cleansing agent used in many sulfate-free shampoos for it’s ability to clean without stripping the hair. It’s said to work even in acidic recipes like low pH facial cleansers.
For the chem folks, it’s a mix of “long chain sulfonate salts prepared by the sulfonation of alpha olefins” (1). What does this mean to you? Just know that it can “de-grease” surfaces without drying out the “skin and mucous membranes”(1). Bottom line: it’s supposed to be not as harsh as regular sulfates.
It has good foaming ability and is used to make everything from body wash and hand soap to shampoo. They call it “a great all around performer” at makeyourown.buzz.(2)
I’ve used alpha olefin in a number of test shampoos. It’s a main ingredient in the upcoming (as of this writing) Ayurvedic Shampoo. I suggest to start with about 15% for a nice shampoo.
Just a reminder by the way: shampoos are meant to clean. Formulate it to do just that.
Just because Sodium C14-16 is a good anionic surfactant don’t think you can use it alone and get a great cleaning shampoo. The best shampoos have a mixture of anionic, nonionic and amphoteric surfactants that work together to give the best outcome for a cleanser.
Add coco betaine and a nonionic surfactant to Sodium C14-16 for the best outcome. I haven’t noticed any adverse reactions when using alpha olefin with acidic teas (like hibiscus and fenugreek) either. Maybe that’s the benefit of this ingredient working well in “acidic environments”(1).
I’m still working on a decent low pH cleanser. Maybe this would be a nice surfactant for that? Maybe you guys can try it before I get to it? 🙂
Here are a list of products using Alpha Olefin (Sodium C14-16 alpha olefin sulfonate):