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Is Behentrimonium Chloride Bad for Hair? | It Depends

Behentrimonium chloride is in so many different conditioners, shampoos, and other hair-related cosmetics, yet most people are unaware of what it is and does. 

You may have seen an article claiming that this substance is bad for you and harms your hair, but the hate isn’t entirely justified.

We’re here to clear the air to tell you everything you need to know about behentrimonium chloride and whether or not it’s safe to put in your hair.

What Is Behentrimonium Chloride?

First of all, we need to explain what behentrimonium chloride is. Scientifically, it’s an organic chemical compound widely used in beauty products relating to hair.

It’s categorized as a quaternary ammonium salt, which often has antibacterial properties. At some point, rumors had arisen that the substance was the culprit of derma irritation and other allergic reactions, which we will address further below.

What Does Behentrimonium Chloride Do?

Behentrimonium chloride is a multi-purpose agent with a wide variety of applications. Here are a few of its uses:


The behentrimonium chloride compound is remarkably good at combating and removing static electricity. Due to this property, it is often used as an anti-static agent in various hair products.


It’s also a conditioner that softens, strengthens, and smoothes out hair follicles. This makes it suitable for dry and frizzy hair. Of course, behentrimonium chloride is only a mild conditioner and is typically used in combination with other ingredients to create even more effective shampoos and conditioners. 


Behentrimonium chloride is also occasionally used as a disinfectant, though this application isn’t as common as the two previously described. This is because it acts as a preservative and prevents bacterial growth in liquid products.

Detangling agent

Behentrimonium chloride also helps detangle and manage hair by making it softer and easier to work with. Many hair products designed for detangling are based around this chemical compound, as it is incredibly potent at what it does.


While behentrimonium chloride doesn’t directly moisturize hair, it can help with moisture retention and promotes hair’s remaining hydrated (especially after showers).

Where Does It Come From?

Behentrimonium chloride is derived from rapeseeds, the same seeds that canola oil comes from. This makes the substance completely vegan as it’s not an animal-based product.

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Bad for Hair?

According to, behentrimonium chloride is safe to use, given concentrations are less than .25%.

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Safe for Skin?

As we mentioned earlier, there have been a lot of rumors hovering on the web claiming that behentrimonium chloride is harmful to people and you should avoid products with it in them.

These rumors often stem from blogs and articles claiming that it irritates the skin and causes a derma allergic reaction. Furthermore, they claim that it kills the cell membrane and eats away at tissue.

This isn’t entirely true. Numerous studies indicate that the chemical is clinically safe for human use, and there isn’t any solid proof to suggest that it has long-lasting effects on the skin.

In short, for anyone who doesn’t have a direct allergy to it (which is most people), behentrimonium chloride is safe to put in your hair. That’s not to say that you can pour it into your eyes or leave it on your skin without rinsing it off for long periods and expect there to be no effect.

The substance and any other ingredients in your hair product may lead to some unwarranted side effects (though usually nothing life-threatening).

Some tests suggest that sizable quantities of the substance can irritate the skin and eyes, but this effect is wholly expected from such amounts. You most likely won’t notice any that gets on you in the shower or otherwise.

Usage of products that contain between 1% and up to 5% are deemed safe. The overall consensus is that it’s safe, but misuse may become a more harmful substance. Such is most likely where many of the misconceptions about the compound arose from.

Does Behentrimonium Chloride Benefit Your Skin?

No research suggests that behentrimonium chloride has positive effects on the skin. With that said, there is little merit in using it directly on your skin for moisturizing or cleaning. 

Using it to strengthen bodily hair is generally safe if it is rinsed from the skin afterward, although this is typically unnecessary.

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Safe for Consumption?

No, behentrimonium is not safe for human consumption. It is a toxic substance that could potentially have adverse effects on the body if ingested in large quantities.

If a little bit of shampoo with behentrimonium chloride gets in your mouth while you’re in the shower, it’s nothing to worry about. You should call poison control only when you take in substantial amounts.

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Safe for Children

It’s likely best to avoid the substance when dealing with small children. It may cause mild irritation if it gets in their eyes and is often more susceptible to ingestion. 

Many shampoos and conditioners are engineered with contingencies against these scenarios and don’t contain behentrimonium chloride. That said, the compound isn’t harmful in itself to children, but misuse may cause it to become a liability.

Is Behentrimonium Chloride Safe for Pets?

Behentrimonium chloride is generally safe for pets, though you should refrain from using human products on them (since they can contain other ingredients that are harmful to them).

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about behentrimonium chloride:

Is behentrimonium chloride good for natural hair?

As indicated by many different studies and lab tests, behentrimonium chloride is good for strengthening and bringing out the natural radiance of hair. It helps keep hair healthy through long-term use.

Can you use behentrimonium chloride with curly hair?

Yes! Behentrimonium chloride is excellent for curly hair, primarily since it serves as a detangling agent.

What is the difference between behentrimonium chloride and behentrimonium methosulfate?

Both behentrimonium chloride and behentrimonium methosulfate serve similar purposes (conditioning and detangling), but the main difference is that behentrimonium chloride does not need a stabilizing agent for use, while methosulfate does.

Is behentrimonium chloride a salt?

Yes, but not the kind you put on your food. Behentrimonium chloride is a quaternary ammonium salt, a water-soluble, antibacterial compound.

Is behentrimonium chloride synthetic?

Behentrimonium chloride can be either synthetic or organic, but it is usually plant-derived. As we previously mentioned, the substance is most commonly derived from rapeseed, known as brassica Rapa oleifera (canola seeds).

Read Next: What Is a Surfactant in Shampoo?

So, Is Behentrimonium Chloride Bad for Hair?

Despite what you may have heard or read, behentrimonium chloride (when used in moderation at low concentrations) can be great for your hair by helping strengthen it.

Not only is it an anti-static solution, but it can help condition, smooth, and detangle your hair. With so many positive effects of the compound, it’s worth a try.

However, keep in mind that it has been known to cause minor side effects — such as rashes and irritation — in some users. So always be sure to consult a licensed medical professional before using it. Happy styling!