Quaternium 14: What Is It, Skin & Hair Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Fact-Checker: Samantha Ward
This article was last updated on: June 10, 2023
Table of Contents

Picture this: you’re standing in the skincare aisle, scanning the ingredients list on your favorite cosmetic product. It’s like you’re reading an entirely different language—one full of long, complex chemical names that are nearly impossible to pronounce, let alone comprehend. In the maze of ingredients, you may stumble upon one that might leave you even more perplexed: Quaternium 14.

Quaternium 14 sounds like something out of a futuristic sci-fi tale, but this ingredient is a reality and is present in numerous cosmetic products. To help shed light on this mysterious component, this article will delve into Quaternium 14, its uses, benefits, and potential side effects.

What is Quaternium 14?

Quaternium 14, also known as Dodecyl(ethylbenzyl)dimethylammonium chloride, is a multifunctional ingredient commonly found in cosmetic products. Its primary roles in these formulations include acting as an antimicrobial, antistatic, hair conditioning, and cleansing surfactant agent. It works by reducing the surface tension of liquids, making it easier for products to spread and cleanse the skin or hair while providing antistatic and conditioning benefits. Quaternium 14 is typically found within a product’s wider formulation and may not be available as a standalone ingredient for consumer use.

Who Can Use Quaternium 14?

Quaternium 14 is generally considered suitable for most skin types, including sensitive skin. However, as with any ingredient, individual reactions may vary, which is why it’s essential to be aware of one’s unique skin needs and concerns. Although Quaternium 14 is typically considered safe, it is important to consult with a dermatologist or medical professional if you have specific concerns or known allergies.

From a dietary standpoint, Quaternium 14 is a synthetic compound and does not appear to be derived from animal sources, making it suitable for vegan and vegetarian consumers. However, to ensure a product is entirely vegan or vegetarian-friendly, it is essential to review the entire ingredient list for other animal-derived components.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, using personal care products containing Quaternium 14 is generally regarded as safe. However, it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before introducing new cosmetic ingredients while pregnant or breastfeeding to address any concerns, potential risks, or interactions with medications or other products you may be using.

Quaternium 14 Skin Benefits

  • Antimicrobial Properties: Quaternium 14 is known for its antimicrobial properties, which can help cleanse the skin and prevent infection and irritation caused by bacteria, fungi, or other microorganisms. This property also aids in keeping cosmetic products from spoiling by preventing the growth of microbes.
  • Cleansing Surfactant: As a surfactant, Quaternium 14 reduces the surface tension of liquids, allowing products to spread more easily on the skin and effectively dissolve dirt, oil, and makeup. This property results in a thorough, gentle cleanse, leaving the skin feeling refreshed and clean without stripping it of its natural moisture.

It’s important to note that the beneficial effects of Quaternium 14 on the skin are not permanent. To maintain these benefits, it’s essential to sustain usage in your skincare routine.

Quaternium 14 Hair Benefits

  • Antistatic Agent: Quaternium 14’s antistatic properties help to neutralize the static charges in hair, preventing frizz, flyaways, and tangles. This allows for more manageable, smoother hair that is less prone to breakage and damage.
  • Hair Conditioning: This ingredient aids in providing moisture and nourishment to the hair shaft, resulting in healthier-looking, softer hair with increased shine and luster. By improving the hair’s texture and appearance, Quaternium 14 contributes to a more polished and well-maintained appearance.

Like with the skin benefits, the positive effects of Quaternium 14 on the hair are not permanent. Continuous use in hair care products is necessary to maintain these hair-improving results.

The Non-active Cosmetic Uses of Quaternium 14

While Quaternium 14 offers some active benefits to the skin and hair, it also plays a role in the overall formulation and performance of cosmetic products. These non-active uses include:

  • Product Stability: Quaternium 14 helps maintain the stability of cosmetic formulations by acting as an emulsifier, which keeps the mixture of water, oils, and other ingredients from separating. This results in a more homogenous product with a longer shelf life and consistent performance.
  • Improving Product Texture: As a surfactant, Quaternium 14 contributes to the overall texture and spreadability of skincare and haircare products. This makes it easier to apply the product evenly and uniformly, ensuring optimal performance and user experience.

Quaternium 14 Potential Side Effects

It’s essential to understand that reactions to cosmetic ingredients, including Quaternium 14, can vary from person to person. The reason for this variation is largely due to individual skin types, sensitivities, and underlying conditions. To ensure you’re using the right products for your skin, it’s crucial to find your skin type and choose formulations that cater to your unique needs.

Some potential side effects and interactions of Quaternium 14 may include:

  • Allergic Reactions: As with any ingredient, there is a possibility of developing an allergic reaction, which may present as redness, swelling, itching, or irritation.
  • Sensitization: In rare cases, prolonged usage of products containing Quaternium 14 may lead to skin sensitization, resulting in increased sensitivity and irritation over time.

If you experience any side effects while using a product containing Quaternium 14, it’s crucial to discontinue its use and consult with a dermatologist or medical professional for guidance on the next steps.

It’s important to note that adverse reactions to Quaternium 14 are relatively rare, and generally speaking, this ingredient is considered safe and effective in cosmetic products. However, this doesn’t eliminate the need for caution when introducing new ingredients to your skincare routine.

Before adding a new cosmetic product into your daily regimen, always perform a patch test to identify any adverse reactions beforehand. A patch testing guide can help walk you through the steps and ensure that you’re taking the necessary precautions for your skin’s health and safety.

Comedogenic Rating

Quaternium 14 is considered to have a low comedogenic rating, falling closer to 0 on a scale from 0 to 5. This low rating suggests that it is unlikely to clog pores, thereby reducing the chances of causing acne or breakouts. As a result, Quaternium 14 is generally suitable for individuals who may be prone to acne or have concerns about congested pores. However, keep in mind that every person’s skin is different, and what works for one may not work for another.


Navigating the world of skincare and haircare often involves experimentation and trial and error, as each person’s needs are unique. Quaternium 14 serves dual purposes within cosmetic formulations, offering both active and non-active benefits that can contribute to the overall effectiveness of skincare and haircare products. Its immediate benefits for the skin and hair, combined with its safety profile, make Quaternium 14 an ingredient worth considering for inclusion in one’s daily routine.

Despite its various advantages, Quaternium 14’s popularity in the realm of cosmetics may not be as widespread as other, more well-known ingredients. However, with continued use, one can expect to see improvements in their skin and hair over time. Investing time and patience in exploring different cosmetic ingredients and their benefits can ultimately lead to finding the right mix of skincare and haircare products that work for your specific concerns and preferences.

Wrapping things up, Quaternium 14 stands as a versatile and beneficial ingredient in cosmetic products, offering an array of skin and hair benefits paired with low comedogenicity.

Tell us how you found this article in just a couple of clicks!
Delivered right to your inbox each week. Zero spam, all goodness, opt-out at anytime.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
How did you find this article?
Tell us how you found this article in just a couple of clicks!
Get all our top headlines in beauty.
Delivered right to your inbox each week. Zero spam, all goodness, opt-out at anytime.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Send good feedback:

All feedback is anonymous and will be used to improve the quality of our articles.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Send bad feedback:

All feedback is anonymous and will be used to improve the quality of our articles.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.