Bench & Beyond: Branching for Mildness with Sulfosuccinates

In 1999, Anthony J. O’Lenick observed in Surfactants: Chemistry and Properties that “the use of sulfosuccinate surfactants has increased recently with the advent of very mild shampoos. However, their usage is still quite limited.”

Barely seven years later, Tyagi and Tyagi described a different situation in the Journal of Oleo Science. By then, sulfosuccinates were being used in many conditioning and antidandruff shampoos, as well as in diverse industries such as textiles, polymers, paints and coatings, leather, printing and agriculture. In a curious example from clinical use, the sodium salt of dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate finds use as a popular stool softener for treating constipation.

The reason for the spreading use of sulfosuccinates is their mildness, versatility and low cost.

These two publications indicate that sulfosuccinates are branching out into new uses. At the same time, chemists and formulators are learning that branching within the sulfosuccinate molecule plays a role in the functional properties of these mild surfactants. This column surveys a few US patents that explore the effects of branching in the sulfosuccinate molecule and the extent of sulfosuccinate branching into new personal care applications...

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