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Most conditioning shampoos depend on deposition of a polymer- surfactant coacervate to confer good wet-combing and manageability. Complex coacervate formation is crucially dependent on the molecular characteristics of the polymer and surfactant species, and it is significantly affected by the presence of other ingredients such as cosurfactants and dissolved salts. The optimization of these systems presents a challenge to the formulator because of the astronomical number of possible compositions with different performance outcomes. Conventional formulation practice requires literally years of laboratory experimentation to characterize and optimize products that depend on complex coacervate formation. Robotic combinatorial techniques that accelerate the characterization and optimization of complex coacervate formulations have been explored at the Institute for Formulation Science.
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