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Surfactants, Summarised.

Updated: Sep 17

It may surprise you to know that we use surfactants in our daily lives more than we know. Surfactants, which is a short form for "Surface Active Agents" is used to describe a group of chemical compounds that are the key ingredients for many of the cleaning products we use today, whether you use them in the bathroom or your kitchen.

Surfactants are the primary ingredient used for removing dirt and oil, and make up a large part of shampoos, shower gels, facial cleaners and yes - even toothpaste. They are also used as emulsifiers in cosmetic products like creams. In your home, surfactants are used in laundry detergents, dish-washing liquid and oven cleaners, among others.


Without going into chemistry lesson territory - just know that surfactants are a special group of chemical compounds that have the ability to lower the surface tension between oil and water, therefore making it easier to disperse. Like most other cleaning agents, shampoos work this way - by surrounding oil and unwanted particles in your hair, so they can be carried and washed away with water.

Being such useful compounds, many types of surfactants have been created (in chemical labs) and produced to meet all our personal care needs. Even within the haircare category, there is a large variety of surfactants and other ingredients used to differentiate one shampoo from another.


However, some common surfactants such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) which is usually found in commercially available shampoos, may cause irritation to some people over time. As such, there is a growing trend towards the use of natural surfactants. These are surfactants that are derived from natural sources such as coconut and corn, which are bio-degradable, generally milder and less likely to cause skin irritation.


At Patrichory, we do our best to use certified natural surfactants and will continue to source for these ingredients, despite the higher costs and limited availability, as we wish to avoid the use of relatively harsh ingredients on our hair and scalp. It's also part of our effort to provide a haircare product range that is ultimately more sustainable.

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