Saturday, August 1, 2009

Adding slip to conditioners with esters

I do like my esters. I've been experimenting with jojoba esters for the last few weeks and wow, do they add some lovely slip and glide to a facial cleanser!

Esters can add moisturization and lubrication to a conditioner, making it feel nice and glidy without adding oils to hair that might not need any more (like mine)! They work well with any of the cationic quaternary compounds because they won't need emulsification - they're water soluble. They are considered non-ionic surfactants - meaning they are able to solubilize - and they will add a small amount of conditioning to a conditioner. They aren't substantive, but they will form a thin layer on the hair shaft that will reduce friction.

For more a more detailed description of esters, please click here.

You can add solid esters like EZ Pearl (glycol distearate) in the warm phase of your conditioner with the water and the cationic quaternary compound. I wouldn't go over 2% - it's going to be very thick!

You can add liquid esters, like PEG 7 olivate or jojoba esters, to the warm phase of your conditioner. I would suggest no more than 4%. Anything over that is going to be washed off, and that's just a waste! (Liquid esters can be a great alternative to silicones, if you are trying to avoid them. More on this tomorrow...)

If you are considering adding an oil to your conditioner, consider adding an ester. They have very long shelf lives, for a product you might only use occasionally, they're going to be far more resistant to rancidity than our usual lovely vegetable based oils.

5% BTMS (if using glycol distearate) or 7% BTMS (if using a liquid ester)
2% hydrolyzed protein
2% glycol distearate or 4% PEG 7 olivate (or other PEG ester)
2% panthenol
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative

Weigh out the BTMS, hydrolyzed protein, and ester into a container. Boil some distilled water, then add it to this container. Heat and hold in a double boiler for at least 20 minutes and ensure all the BTMS has melted well. When the mixture reaches 45C, add the panthenol, dimethicone, cyclomethicone, fragrance, and preservative. If you don't like silicones, then leave them out and add 4% more water.

Join me tomorrow for silicone replacements in your conditioners!


Christine P said...

Can you use cetyl esters in the same way as this, or is that more for lotion?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I honestly don't know a lot about cetyl esters, other than it is a combination of fatty alcohols and fatty acids meant to offer moisturization and lubrication. It is also noted as a thickener. So on the surface it would appear to be a good substitution for cetyl alcohol as you are getting the fatty alcohol-y goodness that will work to boost your cationic quat's substantivity. The down side is the thickening - I am worried that it might thicken it too much.

My suggestion is to try it - it sounds like a great addition - but reduce the BTMS or cetab to about 5% and use 2.5% cetyl esters. This may make a very very thick you can reduce the BTMS and cetyl esters further, if you want.

Let us know how it turns out!

Christine P said...

Will do :D it was the only ester I could find when I made my order this weekend without paying shipping from more than one place.

Christine P said...

So I tried it-- I made 2 batches of basic conditioner (btms, oil, water, guarsilk) and added 2% cetyl alcohol to one and 2% cetyl esters to the other. Washed my hair and applied each to half my head, then rinsed each side separately so they wouldn't mix in rinsing...

Annnnnd I can't tell the difference. Cetyl ester might have been a tidge slippier when I was rinsing it out, but it might have been my imagination. Both sides certainly look and feel the same dry. So I guess it lives up to its description of "a good substitute for cetyl alcohol" :)

There IS a difference in their comedogenity though - cetyl alcohol has a comedogenity of 3 (out of 5), whereas cetyl esters are a 1 -- so better for facial lotion probably?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Thanks for the experimentation, Christine. Now we know cetyl esters probably aren't an option - unless you can't get your hands onto cetyl alcohol - for a conditioner with more slip!

Cetyl esters are probably a good option for a facial lotion if it doesn't clog pores like cetyl alcohol. You'll get all the goodness of cetyl without the break outs!

Jennie said...

Would IPM be a good ester to use to add slip to conditioners? I guess I'm confused on this just because it seems to be used for reducing greasiness of lotions/creams, and it doesn't seem like it would add slip to conditioners. I was considering adding it to my shampoo or conditioner just because I have a huge 16 oz bottle of it lying around!

I've also read that IPM can aggravate acne - can you shed some light on that? I don't really trust what is said over the internet by over sources, so I thought I'd come to you and see what you thought! :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I would not use IPM as a slip for conditioners because it is considered a dry ester with a dry feel. It would seem to defeat the purpose. However, there are some studies showing it can be effective for lice control at high doses, so there may be a reason to include it!

As for comedocenicity or the ability of IPM to to cause black or whiteheads, on one scale (from 0 to 5, with 5 being the highest), IPM is given a score of 5 with an irritation level of 3. On the rabbit scale (0 to 3), IPM scored 1, and on the human scale (0 to 3), IPM scored 0.4. So I think it's safe to say that it could cause the formation of black and whiteheads on some people's skin. (But then consider cocoa butter! It scores 3 and 2 on those scales but some people love it for their skin!)

Having said this, there are ways to mitigate this effect by including anti-irritants or soothing ingredients.

I've written a post on IPM here. There's a body oil recipe in there that uses lots of IPM!

You've given me a great idea for a post! Thanks!

Eija said...

I'm looking through all your posts about conditioners and checking my supplier about what I can get to make myself some lovely conditioners. So many new ideas!

My suplier only has olive oil esters and shea butter esters for sale, have you used either of those? Or do you have any idea if either of them would suit for my hair type? My scalp is oily but as I have had permanent curls for over a year now that's not an issue any more really. It's more that the ends are really dry so I need something to help with them.

Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Eija! I've used both of those ingredients many times before on the blog in all kinds of products. I'm afraid it's hard to know if something will work for anyone as we're all so different. I would suggest getting one of these esters and adding it to your conditioner to see what you think. Don't put your conditioner on your scalp to avoid getting more greasy. If you like it, great! If not, there are so many other places you could use an ester like this - body wash, toner, face wash, and so on. (Look on the blog for loads of recipes for water soluble oils!)

Ends of hair will always be dry as they've been around longer and suffered more damage from the sun, styling, existing, and so on. Check out the hair care section of the blog for some ideas for leave in conditioner that would be great for non-scalp related hair moisturizing and hydrating.