Savvy consumers have continually demanded styling products that provide excellent hold (especially for spiky styles), impart shine, resist humidity, resist flaking and provide a nice feel without stickiness or crunch. How does a formulator or chemist provide all these properties in one product?
Many of the available ingredients provide certain desired properties that conflict with other properties, such as a polymer that provides firm hold but leaves the hair stiff and crunchy. This competition between ingredients is a never-ending paradox for the product development chemist. In addition to providing the magic combination of properties, a fixative polymer must also be easy to work with and compatible with the other ingredients typically used in these formulations.
Noveon Consumer Specialties of Lubrizol Advanced Materials, Inc. has developed a new polymer to meet the challenges faced by the formulator in the development of innovative styling products. The structure and chemistry of this polymer is very interesting and cleverly designed. The chemists modified materials found in a typical styling polymer and created a complex, branched acrylate copolymer. It is described by Lubrizol as “an acrylate copolymer - C1-4 alkyl(meth)acrylate and (meth)acrylic acid) and a proprietary amphiphilic package that contains silicone side chains and associative hydrophobic chains.” 
The polymer backbone is comprised of random combined blocks of very soft hydrophobic domains and very hard hydrophilic domains. This structure, combined with the silicone side chains and associative hydrophobic side chains, results in a polymer that has excellent humidity resistance and strong hold while maintaining a soft feel, superior gloss, dispersing easily, all without flaking. It is also very compatible with other components, such as Carbopol®, which is typically found in mousses and hair gels.
The good news for people with curls, whether they wear their hair straight or curly, is that this new polymer promises to provide many of the traits we have long been looking for in a styling product. Not only does it provide the “dream” combination of attributes, it also shampoos out easily, resists buildup, and works with a low-shampoo or shampoo-free routine as well. So, look for products containing Polyacrylate-2 Crosspolymer and give them a try. It may be a pleasant surprise.
- "Hair Care Polymer Trends, What do the latest patent applications reveal about what’s happening in new technology for hair products?," Robert Y. Lochhead and Ashley Cox, Happi, Nov. 2007
- Noveon consumer Specialties product information