What Is It?

Quaternium-26 is prepared from derivatives of mink oil. It is used in the formulation of hair-care products, bath soaps and skin-care preparations.

Why Is It Used?

Quaternium-26 enhances the appearance and feel of hair by increasing hair body, suppleness or sheen. It may also improve the texture of hair that has been damaged physically or by chemical treatment. Quaternium-26 also prevents or inhibits the buildup of static electricity.

Scientific Facts

Quarternium-26 is a quaternary ammonium compound (generally referred to as a “quat”) that is a positively charged tetra-substituted nitrogen derivative. Cosmetic grade Quaternium-26 is marketed as a 60% solution.

Safety Information

The safety of Quaternium-26 has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel concluded that Quaternium-26 was safe as used in cosmetics and personal care products. The CIR Expert Panel cautioned that Quaternium-26 should not be used in products in which N-Nitroso compounds may be formed.

CIR Safety Review: Data from previous reviews of Quaternium-18 and Quaternium-22 suggested little toxicity for Quaternium-26. Likewise, the available data on Quaternium-26 showed low toxicity. Because Quaternium-26 contains fatty acids derived from mink oil, the CIR Expert Panel also reviewed its safety assessment for mink oil.

Although potential pesticide contamination of mink oil-derived components of Quaternium-26 was discussed, the CIR Expert Panel concluded that such contamination would not carry over to the fatty-acid fraction as it appears in Quaternium-26. As with mink oil, however, the CIR Expert Panel determined that, as a cosmetic ingredient, Quaternium-26 should not contain halogenated environmental chemicals.

Taking into consideration that data on mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity and developmental toxicity were not available for inclusion in this safety assessment, the CIR Expert Panel agreed that the chemical structure of Quaternium-26 does not suggest that these end points would be of concern. The CIR Expert Panel noted that Diethanolamine (0.4%) and 3-Dimethylaminopropylamine (1.4%) have been detected in Quaternium-26. Due to the potential for formation of N-Nitroso compounds in formulations containing these ingredients, the CIR Expert Panel decided to include a caution that Quaternium-26 should not be used in products in which N-Nitroso compounds may be formed.

More information about nitrosamines.

More information about diethanolamine.

Quaternium-26 may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union. Ingredients of animal origin must comply with the animal by-products regulations.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation: 

More Scientific Information

Quaternium-26 is a quaternary ammonium salt used as a film former, hair-conditioning agent and antistatic agent. The quaternary nitrogen atom in these compounds always carries a positive charge regardless of the pH of the system. At high pHs, the regular free Hydroxyl (OH-), may reduce the normally high water solubility of quaternary ammonium compounds.

The positive charge on the quats makes them substantive to slightly negatively charged skin and hair proteins. This accounts for the use of most monomeric and polymeric quats for all types of hair- and skin-conditioning purposes and as antistatics. Some of the polymeric quats find use as hair-setting and styling products.