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Quaternium (see also Polyquaternium) refers to complex quaternary ammonium compounds. Quaternary ammonium compounds, also called quats, have quaternary nitrogen atoms, i.e. all four hydrogen atoms of the ammonium ion (nitrogen atom) are replaced by organic residues. The compounds are therefore cationic, i.e. they have a positive charge.
Quaternium-52 is used in cosmetic formulations. The substance acts as an antistatic agent (reduces static charges by neutralizing the electrical charge on the surface, e.g. of hair), hair conditioning agent (makes the hair easier to comb, smooth, soft and shiny and gives it volume) and surfactant (washing-active substance/improves the even distribution of the products during application).