Try making this homemade hair conditioner recipe at home! It looks like a commercial hair conditioner, but it’s made with pure, natural oils, a rosemary water infusion, and the wonderfully scented rosemary essential oil. Very nourishing and (obviously!) conditioning.
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My Experience With Commercial Hair Conditioners
In 2019, when I started making – and using – my own soap, I was so thrilled with the results of this natural product that I’ve started wondering if I could do something at home to wash my hair. I was quite unhappy with haircare products since none seemed to treat my hair long-term.
I’ve always had dry ends and oily roots. So I would use the normal supermarket/pharmacy shampoo to wash my hair then coat it with hair conditioner.
As my hair usually becomes very tangly at the back, I could never wash my hair without putting hair conditioner. It would become almost impossible to brush if I didn’t. It was still difficult to untangle if I did.
Sounds familiar to you? Oh well…
I’ve started using hair masks as they are more hydrating and nourishing, in theory. At some point, they start doing little to your hair as well. I suppose hair does need to rotate different haircare products so you can see some effect on them.
But no matter what you use, it’s just a never-ending cycle of trying to keep your hair clean from oils, relatively conditioned and “untangly”.
Are They Good? Do They Treat Your Hair?
I’ve learned, after starting my soapmaking adventure, that your regular store-bought body wash is mainly water and surfactants. They usually advertise nice substances that nourish your body, like shea butter, aloe vera, oatmeal, etc. But they are used in such small quantities that they don’t do anything to your skin.
So, these are products just to clean, which is good since it’s their main objective. but they dry/strip your skin completely from natural fat (sebum). Even if you believe you’re better without it, your natural fat keeps your skin hydrated, and free from bacteria and fungus. So, it’s good to have at least some present in your skin. Commercial soaps clear it away completely and that’s not so good.
It’s really no wonder that the very same happens to commercial shampoos and hair conditioners. Hair conditioners are not much more than synthetic silicone-based products.
I bet with 95% certainty that the first two ingredients are water and a substance called dimethicone, a very common silicone liquid polymer acting as a conditioner. For your information, those are also the ingredients in biggest percentage. So.. that’s what you are cinditioning your hair with: water and a silicone substance. (check out Commercial Soap Ingredients – What Are They? to know more about labels and ingredients).
Being a synthetic substance, it may be very good at keeping your hair untangled and flexible. But what happens when our skin or hair shaft absorbs this polymer? I don’t see it being nourishing, containing any vitamins, anit-oxidants or minerals useful to your body…
An Emulsion For My Hair?
So, I’ve been trying to find a (at least more) natural alternative to my hair, for both shampoo and conditioner. If you want to know the alternative I’ve found for shampoo, please, take a look at this post about a Rosemary Solid Shampoo Bar.
As for the hair conditioner, I’ve stumbled with this recipe based in natural ingredients, water and vegetable oils. It’s basically an emulsion, with some little changes of my own. And if your regular hair conditioner is mostly water anyway, why not spare some bucks and make your own?
But why an emulsion? Aren’t emulsions just used for creams? Well, emulsions are any mix of water and oil that also contains an emulsifier to bind both substances. As we use water and oils in this conditioner, an emulsifier guarantees you will have a nice-looking homogeneous product (and not a hodgepodge of unmixable water and oils).
Hair Conditioner Recipe
To make this hair conditioner at home, you only need a vegetable oil (or a mixture of oils), water and an emulsifier. You can use any low-comedogenic oil like sunflower oil, rice bran oil or grapeseed oil, that will be able to penetrate the hair shaft and hydrate and nourish it with the oil constituents. I actually use argan or jojoba oil, very lightweight oils that don’t weight on my hair.
You can also use, instead of distilled water, a water infusion with an adequate herb for your hair: rosemary or chamomile, for example, to give extra nourishment to your hair in the form of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and other nutrients.
But the key ingredient is the emulsifier, this is what is going to bind your oil(s) with your infused water into a creamy, stable product.
BTMS (also known as Behentrimonium Methosulfate) has a weird chemical name, but it’s actually a wonderful emulsifier that comes from rapeseed oil.
Depending on the desired consistency – more fluid or thicker – you can use 2-10% of the final weight of the product. It’s great to help detangling hair, but is light enough to use in leave-in conditioners.
As I prefer a lightly thick but fluid conditioner, I use 4% (4g of BTMS for 100 ml of conditioner). 5g will ticken the conditioner into a cream. I didn’t experiment to lower even more the quantity, as I feared oil/water separation.
BTMS very conditioning, mild and lightweight. It leaves your hair soft, detangled, silky and with good volume. It also reduces static electricity caused by brushing.
As this worked for me, I didn’t even try to use any other emulsifier for my hair. No need to mess up with a winning team.
I do love to make natural products at home for myself. However, the goal is to have safe products that help your skin, not make things worse. That might happen without a preservative. Water is a great environment for all kinds of microbiotic life to grow.
Therefore, if your homemade skincare product has water, either you use it in less than a week (not really practical), or you end up with a germes colony. So… Go natural, but also go safe and never skip the preservative if you plan to use your product for more than one week.
This recipe took one step further: since I was doing my own hair conditioner, why not make it a really good product by adding a few more special ingredients?
So instead of sunflower oil, you can use one of these noble oils, or even both:
Argan oil, also known as “liquid gold”, is my favorite oil for hair products. It’s a very moisturizing oil, rich in oleic and linoleic fatty acids, vitamin E, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compound. It’s very lightweight and easily absorbed, penetrating in the hair shaft to reduce split ends and hair breakage. It contains a lot of essential nutrients for a healthy skin and hair.
Jojoba oil is great for skin and scalp, it’s a very light oil with a similar fat profile to our natural skin fat (sebum), making it a very tolerant oil to our skin, and a very good conditioner/moisturizer. It also reduces the need for your body to produce sebum. In addition, it’s rich in vitamin E and several minerals.
These two oils are similar in the way that they are lightweight, non-greasy oils, easily absorbed and very rich in nutrients, vitamins, anti-oxidants. They are both very good for hair and scalp. And expensive, but they are worth their price – and you don’t need to use a lot of it.
To enrich this hair conditioner recipe I’ve also added the following ingredients. Bear in mind that they are all optional, and you may replace all of them with more oil content:
Also known as provitamin B5, is an alcohol that oxidizes into panthotenic acid, a water-soluble B vitamin, and therefore an essential nutrient. It binds to the hair shaft readily; so, it coats the hair and seals its surface lubricating the hair shaft and giving it a shiny appearance. This is an optional ingredient.
An hydrolyzed protein provides damaged hair with much needed proteins to regenerate hair shaft. Beware, since too much protein may actually have the opposite effect and cause hair breakage, especially if it’s very dry. Most common is hydrolized silk but you can use an hydrolized vegetable protein like hydrolized liquid wheat protein. This is an optional ingredient.
Vegetable glycerin is a liquid, colorless, viscous, sweet-tasting organic compound. Thanks to its hygroscopic properties, it’s an ingredient in many moisturizing skin products, as it helps relieve dry skin problems. In hair, being a humectant substance, that is, it helps retain water in hair shafts.
Rosemary Water and Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary properties have already been hightlighted in many posts in this blog, for both the herb and its essential oil. Therefore it’s no wonder I use it in this hair conditioner in the shape of rosemary water and rosemary essential oil.
Rosemary is a great natural ingredient for hair since it helps to stimulate and improve hair growth. It is also conditioning for hair, contains antioxidants and anti-microbial activity. You can make a water infusion at home with dry rosemary, or purchase an hydrosol. You can also infuse rosemary in your oils. Combine this hair conditioner with this Rosemary Solid Shampoo Bar With SCI: Stimulating Shampoo for a full rosemary hair treatment.
Please, reffer to Medicinal Plants For Skin And Haircare.
Natural Hair Conditioner Recipe
This recipe is filled with natural-based ingredients – and free of dimethicone. However, some of them still have a degree of processing. If you wish to go all-natural, simply use as the most processed ingredients BTMS, as it is necessary to make the emulsion, and the preservative, as it is mandatory to keep your product safe. The rest can be replaced by the oils and aloe vera gel.
Is a succulent plant whose gel is extracted from its leaves. These water-dense leaves, combined with special plant compounds called complex carbohydrates, make it an effective face moisturizer and pain reliever. It’s widely known to relieve from sunburns and help heal wounds.
In hair care, it helps with dandruff, itchy scalp, or oily hair (strips your hair and scalp from sebum, while not making any damages to the hair shaft). You can replace the vegetable glycerin content with aloe vera gel, although I find the hair conditioner with glycerin to be more conditioning.
Oat flour contains several components beneficial for skin and hair. These include:
- beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that can absorb water and has anti-inflammatory properties
- phenols, which are a type of anti-septic, desinfectant and antioxidant
- saponins, which have soap-like properties and can act as a cleanser
- oils, skin nourishing and moisturizing
It also acts as a natural thickener. My only problem in using oat flour is to get rid of the lumps: not even by using a milk frother I could eliminate them. This is why I’ve decided to remove it from the original recipe. But it’s a great natural addictive, if you don’t wish to add d-panthenol, vegetable glycerin or the hydrolised protein.
A Great Hair Conditioner
At last, I’ve found a homemade hair product that actually treats my hair long-term! It felt a bit “heavy” at first, but I just had to adjust the amount of times I’ve used it, as well as the oils – sweet almond oil weights a bit in hair, this is when I’ve changed to argan/jojoba oil.
My hair is a lot easier to detangle now. Allied with a homemade shampoo bar, less “agressive” on hair and scalp, I also don’t need hair conditioner in every single hair wash, just a few per week to keep it healthy and good looking.
Use this hair conditioner as wash-off or leave-on. It does help to maintain your curls defined.
And it’s not so hard to make it at home, probably the hardest part is to find all the ingredients, but I’ve made it easy for you: just follow the links in the recipe down below. Check out the instructions and see how easy it is to make a great natural homemade hair conditioner.
Find Where To Buy Natural Hair Conditioners
Willing to try or use regularly hair conditioners, but you’re not really into DIY? Find below some hair conditioner made with natural ingredients:
- Natural Hair Conditioner – Etsy
- Normal Hair Conditioner – Just Nutritive
- Extreme Dry Hair Conditioner – Just Nutritive
- Glossing Conditioner – 100% Pure
- Rinse Cleanser – Just Nutritive
- Hair Rinses – Apple Valley
- Vegetable Oils: Natural Oils For Your Skin
- Essential Oils: Essential Oils For Haircare Recipes
- Emulsion Tutorial Guide: How To Make An Emulsion For Skincare
- More Haircare Recipes: Haircare Recipes and Posts
Watch This Video Before Starting Your Recipe
- 70 g rosemary-infused water distilled water
- Learn the basics of making lotions in How To Make An Emulsion For Skincare.
- Disinfect all your equipment before starting. You can boil some of your equipment (like the double boiler, glass cups, spoons), and use a solution of 1 liter of water with 1/2 cup of bleach, for items that are not heat-resistant (like the milk frother, plastic cups or the lotion containers)
Make Your Lotion
- Make the rosemary-infused water in advance: fill a saucepan with 1 cup of water and ⅓ cup of dried (or fresh) rosemary. Heat it to no more than ~ 60 °C. Let it remain in heat for about one hour. Do not let it boil. Strain the rosemary leaves from the water.
- Put a pan with water into the stove (tap water as this is for bagne-marie)
- Measure the rosemary-infused water into one jug and let it heat in low heat (~ 60 °C)
- Measure the oil phase ingredients into the double boiler.
- Let the oils heat in low heat until the BTMS is fully melted
- Measure the temperature of the water and oils. The temperature is not very important as long as the wax is completely melted and the water is hotter than the oils. Do not overheat your ingredients. They should all be around 50 °C – 60 °C.
- Add the water to the oil mixture. The oils will turn from translucid to milky white
- Mix it with the milk frother to emulsify completely the oils. You should get a white runny, creamy mixture.
- Let the mixture cool down a bit, up until 45 °C – 50 °C, then add the cooling phase ingredients. Mix them well.
- Remove a teaspoon of the mixture and measure the pH with a pH strip. It should be 5-6. Add a bit of lemon juice if it's too high, or add a bit of baking soda if it's too low. Mix well and measure the pH again.
- Pour the mixture into your bottle, preferably a pump bottle. The mixture will thicken while it cools until it looks and feels like a lotion. Leave the bottle open while to cools down to release water vapours and prevent condensation inside the bottle.
- Once completely cold, your hair conditioner is ready for use!