From nature to hair beauty


1. Dow, Midland, Michigan, United States
2. Dow Silicone Belgium srl, Seneffe, Belgium
3. Dow, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, United States


While evolving consumer preferences have shifted the focus from fully synthetic hair care offerings to biobased and degradable materials, natural alternatives struggle to achieve the smooth hair sensation that materials like silicones achieve. Cellulose, an abundant natural polysaccharide from cotton or wood, can be structurally modified to bring new benefits to hair care formulations, but often does not achieve silicones’ performance. This paper explores a study evaluating a cationic cellulose ether with hydrophobic segments (cat-hmHEC) as a degradable and naturally-derived alternative in rinse-off products. 

Results indicate comparable performance to silicones in wet combing and reduced breakage without causing buildup, achieving bio-derived content and performance. Detailed performance comparison between naturally derived cat-hmHEC polymers and aminosilicone polymers will be discussed in this paper.


Today’s consumers are looking for natural alternatives with better sustainability profiles for their personal care products. Over the past few years, the preference towards biobased and natural products has increased, generating above-average market growth. While consumers have a preference towards sustainable products, they are unwilling to sacrifice efficacy and sensory characteristics. Formulators and consumers have had to choose between high performance or sustainability, and underperforming formulations with natural content have limited appeal. To meet these competing expectations, cat-hmHEC polymers were developed for use in hair care applications to provide consumers more biobased, inherently biodegradable alternatives with the desired sensorial attributes.


Cellulose is a polysaccharide obtained from either cotton or wood. It is composed of β-D-(1,4)-glucose monomers and is water-insoluble (1). To increase its solubility, cellulose derivatives have been created. Among these, hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC), a non-ionic rheology modifier, is widely used in personal care ...