Try making this natural hair conditioner at home! With pure, natural oils, a rosemary water infusion, and the wonderfully scented rosemary essential oil. Very nourishing and (obviously!) conditioning.
My Experience With Commercial Hair Conditioners
In 2019, when I started making – and using – my own soap, I was so thrilled with the results that I’ve started wondering if I could do the same with my hair. I was quite unhappy with shampoos and conditioners (with all cosmetics in general) 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 used to become 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 difficult to untangle if I did.
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 use different shampoo and hair conditioner types so you can see some effect on them. But no matter what you use, it’s just a never-ending cycle of trying to barely keep your hair clean and relatively healthy and untangled.
Until I’ve started reading about cosmetics in general.
Are They Good? Do They Treat Your Hair?
I’ve learned, after starting my soapmaking adventure, that your regular store-bought body wash is filled with surfactants and water. The nice substances they advertise that nourish your body, like shea butter, aloe vera, oatmeal, etc. are used in such little quantities that they don’t do anything to your skin.
So, these are products just to clean, yes, good, it’s their main objective, and dry/strip your skin from the natural fat (sebum) to be healthy (free of bacteria and fungus). Well, 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 silicone-based products. If you read the ingredients list (check out Commercial Soap Ingredients – What Are They? to know how to read ingrediets) you will see water as the ingredients with biggest content, then a substance called dimethicone, a very common silicone liquid polymer acting as a conditioner. Being a synthetic substance, it may be a very good conditioner, but what happens when our skin or hair shaft absorbs this polymer? I don’t see it being nourishing, or containing any vitamins, anit-oxidants or minerals useful to your body…
So, very soon, 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 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?
A Homemade Hair Conditioner
To make a hair conditioner at home, you only need a vegetable oil (or a mixture of oils), water and an emulsifier. You can use a low-comedigenic 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. 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 essential 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 is naturally obtained from rapeseed oil. It can be used as 2-10% of the final weight of the product, depending on the desired consistency. It’s great for helping to detangle hair, but is light enough to use in leave-in conditioners. It’s very conditioning, mild and lightweight, leaving your hair soft, detangled, silky and with excelent 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. You don’t mess up with w winning team.
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, nourishing ingredients?
So instead of sunflower oil, you can use one of these special oils, or even both:
- Jojoba oil: jojoba oil is great for skin and scalp, it’s a light oil with a very 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.
- Argan oil: argan oil, also known as “liquid gold”, is 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.
Therse 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 for what they offer.
To enrich my hair conditioner I’ve also added the following ingredients. Bear in mind that they are all optional:
- D-panthenol: also known as provitamin B5, is an alcohol that oxidizes into panthotenic acid, a water-soluble B vitamin, and therefore an essential nutrient. Iit 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.
- Aloe vera: 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, oily hair (strips your hair and scalp from sebum, while not making any damages to the hair shaft)
- Rosemary essential oil and rosemary-infused water: rosemary properties have been hightlighted in many posts in this blog, for both the herb and its essential oil. Rosemary helps stimulate and improve hair growth. It is also conditioning for hair, contains antioxidants and anti-microbial activity. Please, reffer to Plants for cosmetics: rosemary, lemongrass and spearmint.
The Final Product
At last, I’ve found a homemade hair product that actually treats my hair long-term! It felt a bit heavy at first, as it was stronger than commercial hair conditioners, but I just had to adjust the ammount of times I’ve used it.
My hair is a lot easier to detangle now and even if it looks dry if I don’t use any hair conditioner for days, on the other hand I don’t need any additional mask or hair conditioner in every single hair wash, just a few per week to keep it healthy and good looking. Also, I was able to notice that it doesn’t break so much as before: I find a lot less hair in my brush nowadays.
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, and you’ll find all the ingredients. Check out the instructions and see how easy it is to make a great homemade hair conditioner.
Find Where To Buy Natural Hair Treatment Products
Willing to try or use regularly hiar treatment products, but you’re not really into DIY?
I have been reviewing some hair treatment kits for each hair type, along with several natural products you can apply at home – a “best hair treatment” post series:
- How Do You Treat Dry Hair With Natural Products?
- How To Stop Hair Getting Greasy After One Day?
- Is It Possible to Regrow Hair Naturally?
Watch This Video Before Starting Your Recipe
- 70 g rosemary-infused water or distilled water
To Make Rosemary-Infused Water
- 1 cup distilled water
- ⅓ cup dried rosemary
- 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 ~ 50ºC – 122ºF. 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 (~ 60ºC – 140ºF)
- Measure the oil phase ingredients into the double boiler.
- Let the oils heat in low heat until the wax 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 50ºC- 60ºC (122ºF – 140ºF)
- 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 45ºC – 50ºC / 113ºF – 122ºF, then add the cooling phase ingredients
- 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 (I actually use a normal bottle, but pump bottles help protect the product). The mixture will thicken while it cools until it looks and feels like a lotion.
- When it's completely cold, your hair conditioner is ready for use!