Personal Care Products

Personal care products, such as hair styling gels, sunscreens, shampoos, and moisturizers are complex mixtures of surfactants, emulsifiers, thickeners, proteins, vitamins, humectants, and film forming polymers [i].  Each additive plays an important role in achieving a specific product attribute. For example, humectants such as propylene glycol, glycerin, or panthenol attract water, keep moisture content high, and impart gloss. Surfactants and emulsifiers such as polypropylene glycol, glycerides, and amines stabilize oil drops in water, influence product viscosity, and reduce surface tension to promote the uniform distribution of the product on the surface of hair. Polymers such as of polyacrylamidomethylpropane sulfonic acid, polyacrylic acid, and polyvinyl acetate serve as product thickening agents or form films on the surface of hair to impart a style.

Figure 1:
phosphatidycholine (red),
aliphatic hydrocarbons (green),

and triethanolamine (blue).  Image field of view: 154 um x 154 um

In this case study, a commercial styling gel product was applied to the surface of a hair sample and ToF-SIMS was used to evaluate the coverage of the additive triethanolamine (Figure 1).  The images show the distribution of the styling gel product on the hair surface. 

[i] Personal Care Product Council Website: