Is Behentrimonium Methosulfate Bad for Hair? Toxic? Sulfate? Natural?

Cute African American lady with curly natural hair

Behentrimonium methosulfate (BTMS) has made its way into curly hair products, and the name alone makes many naturals turn the other way. But could they be turning down great products in error? Could be.

If you want to know all there is to learn about behentrimonium methosulfate, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the ingredient so you’ll know without a doubt whether it’s good or bad for your hair. 

Is Behentrimonium Methosulfate Bad for Hair?

Behentrimonium Methosulfate is not bad for your hair despite having a bad reputation. It acts as a non-irritating, mild conditioner, reducing static and frizz, encouraging moisture retention, easy detangling, and more voluminous, thicker hair without causing build-up on your hair strands.

Black girl wearing glasses after using the right shampoo to mitigate frizz

What Is Behentrimonium Methosulfate in Hair Products?

When people see the ingredient “Behentrimonium methosulfate” for the first time and notice that it has “sulfate” in it, they may instantly put the product back down. But, contrary to what some think, BTMS is not a sulfate.

It is an ammonium salt that’s derived from the oil of the rapeseed plant (i.e., rapeseed oil). This plant is of the Brassicaceae family and has bright yellow flowers. 

BTMS acts as a mild conditioner, moisturizer, and detangler, among other things. You’ll find it in a wide variety of hair products, including shampoos, conditioners, and deep conditioners.

Many natural shampoos and conditioners use this ingredient to moisturize, soften, and detangle the most problematic hair. In the skincare industry, it’s also used in lotions and creams. 

Black lady winking after using behentrimonium methosulfate for its effective detangling abilities

The Benefits of Behentrimonium Methosulfate

Behentrimonium methosulfate has a ton of great benefits for the hair, and we’ll share them all with you in this section. 

Less Static and Frizz

BTMS is an excellent frizz fighter and anti-static agent. It reduces frizz by smoothing your hair cuticles down, creating a flatter surface.

With flat cuticles, you won’t notice as much frizz as you’re used to. If you purchase an anti-frizz or styling product, there is a good chance that the product includes behentrimonuim methosulfate.

Here’s how BTMS gets rid of static: Your hair (which has a negative charge) and BTMS (which has a positive charge) attract one another.

Whenever BTMS and your hair make contact, your hair cuticles lie flatter instead of sticking out on end. 

So, when you use products with behentrimonium methosulfate in them, you will notice that your hair feels and looks sleeker. It may also keep the poofiness at bay when you go out in humid weather. 

African American lady rubbing a conditioning agent through her curls to reduce frizz

Hydration and Moisture Retention

Curly hair is dry by nature due to the twists and turns that make up the texture. This means that your scalp oils cannot self-lubricate the hair, so you need to do so with the right products.

Behentrimonium methosulfate moisturizes the hair, leaving it softer and shinier than it was before. That’s why the ingredient is used in shampoos and conditioners for curly hair, to leave your curls hydrated. 

Another great thing about behentrimonium sulfate is that it helps a ton with moisture retention (your hair’s ability to hold onto moisture).

It creates a thin film on the hair (not buildup), which helps to protect the hair from moisture loss. This is super important for people with high porosity hair that quickly gets depleted of moisture. 

Easier Detangling

The ingredient’s primary use is detangling – it makes removing tangles from your hair easier by making your hair slicker. That way, each hair strand can glide past the other effortlessly.

This translates to fewer split ends, reduced breakage, and more length retention. How? The gentler your detangling sessions are, the less hair damage you’ll experience. 

Hair Thickening

In addition to the above benefits, behentrimonium methosulfate helps to visibly thicken thinning hair. So, if you want to give your hair a little more oomph, BTMS can help with that.

It may not give you dramatic results immediately, but you’ll notice the results over time.

Note: Some products are formulated specifically to make hair thicker, and we recommend using those over BTMS-containing products. They are more likely to give you quicker results. 

Cute black woman making a peace symbol with a big smile on her face

Other Benefits of Behentrimonium Methosulfate

BTMS has a pretty long laundry list of benefits, but we’re not done yet! In addition to the above benefits, behentrimonium methosulfate is extremely gentle to the hair, causing no detectable damage over time.

It washes away easily and doesn’t cause any buildup. This is fantastic since other ingredients with the same properties tend to build up on the hair shaft making it more difficult to manage over time. 

In addition, it’s hypoallergenic and non-irritating to the skin, which are huge pluses! So, you can use BTMS-containing products without worrying about breaking out in hives or a mysterious rash.

With that being said, if you find that you have an allergy to BTMS, (which is rare) we don’t recommend using products that contain the ingredient. 

Black lady with a serious look after using a hair product with harmful impurities

Is Behentrimonium Methosulfate Toxic?

Now that you understand the benefits of behentrimonium methosulfate, let’s move on to a question that many have about the ingredient. Is behentrimonium methosulfate safe for hair?

At the time of this writing, behentrimonium methosulfate has been determined to be safe. According to a safety report by the International Journal of Toxicology, BTMS is perfectly safe when used at the correct concentration (as outlined in the report).

What’s more, is that there haven’t been any public reports of irritation or adverse health consequences related to BTMS-containing products.

So, chances are, if you use a BTMS-containing shampoo or conditioner from a reputable hair product manufacturer, you shouldn’t experience any ill effects.

Like many other ingredients we love, when BTMS is used at the right concentration, there’s no need to be concerned about harmful effects.

So, our verdict, which may not be very surprising, is that if you see behentrimonium methosulfate on your product label, there’s no need to worry.

In fact, you should be happy that the product contains it. Its nourishing hair properties are sure to have a positive impact on your natural hair journey. 

Young African American girl wearing a red shirt and blue jeans with curls treated with argan oil

Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Silicones

Silicones are fantastic at smoothing your hair, protecting it from external influences, sealing in moisture, and preventing frizz. But if you’ve been following the Curly Girl Method (learn more), you know that silicones are off-limits.

The water-insoluble ones tend to build up on the hair and make it impossible to moisturize.

Prolonged use of these silicones without washing them out thoroughly can cause your hair to dry up, become crunchy, and then break off. 

Behentrimonium methosulfate is a Curly Girl-friendly alternative to silicones that doesn’t have any of the bad characteristics associated with them. It doesn’t build up on the hair or dry it out.

If you abide by the no-silicone recommendations and use products containing BTMS, you can go silicone-free without giving up the benefits of silicones.  

*It’s important to know that not all silicones are harmful to your hair. There are several that are soluble in water, and these are much better for your hair.

If you want to learn about which silicones are harmful and which are not, read this article

Young black girl wearing casual clothes after using a deep conditioning treatment on her 4C curls

Avoid Behentrimonium Chloride

Behentrimonium chloride, common in many skincare and cosmetic ingredients, is a sister of sorts to behentrimonium methosulfate and does a lot of the same things for your hair. However, behentrimonium chloride has some unfortunate characteristics that can cause harm to your natural hair.

Here are a few of them: 

  • Eye irritation and damage at very low concentrations. 
  • Skin irritation in the form of redness and itching. 
  • Flammability. 

So, if you see any ingredient that starts with “behentrimonium,” make sure that it doesn’t end in chloride. 

Related Articles

As naturals, we’re often told to stay far away from products with ingredients we can’t pronounce. But that’s not necessarily the best advice.

Some of the best ingredients for your hair may be difficult to pronounce. That’s why the key is to research product ingredients and make an educated decision on whether you should use them, instead of adopting a natural hair-ism without reasoning.

Most scary-sounding ingredients have a purpose, but require some research to find out what they do for your hair.

Luckily, in the case of behentrimonium methosulfate, you’ve got nothing to worry about. We hope that this article is helpful to you as you make the best decisions for your hair.

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