Thursday, November 12, 2009

Formulating with shea butter - intense hair conditioner

It's winter and that means subjecting your hair and skin to the ravages of cold, snow, ice, and wind! Lovely oils and emollients to the rescue!

Shea butter is an incredible ingredient to add to an intense conditioner. Many aspects help moisturize your scalp, and the occlusive ingredients offer a layer of moisturizing to protect it from further assaults!

Avocado oil is a great addition to any intense conditioner. It is easily absorbed by the hair and moisturizes the scalp.

Want to know more about which oils and butters are great for your hair? Click here! As you will see, I love coconut oil, and there's great science to support it in hair care products! 

Warning: This is not a conditioner for anyone with fine, normal, or oily hair - it may leave these hair types limp and lifeless. If you're a long haired girl with a very oily scalp and very dry ends (like me!), confine this conditioner to the really dry bits and keep away from your scalp. If you have fine hair, just give this product a miss entirely. This is the kind of conditioner you might want to use once or twice a month as an intense conditioner.

WINTER HAIR CUSTARD (intense conditioning)
65.5% water
7% Incroquat BTMS
3% Incroquat CR (detangling, softening)
5% avocado oil
5% shea butter
3% cetyl alcohol (synergistic effect with the cationic quats)
2% humectant - honeyquat, glycerin, sodium lactate
2% cetrimonium chloride (optional)
2% hydrolyzed protein of choice (silk is great in this recipe!)

2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
If you don't like silicones, then add 4% water to this recipe.

Weight out the heated ingredients in a heat proof container, then put into a double boiler. (I recommend boiling distilled water, then adding it to the solid ingredients. It seems to take forever for the water to melt the BTMS and cetyl alcohol if you add it cold or at room temperature). Heat and hold at 70C for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix well. When the mixture reaches 45C, add the cool down ingredients and mix well. Allow to cool further before pouring into jars (this is not suitable for a bottle! Way too thick!)

Join me tomorrow for fun with mango butter!


trinigirl1978 said...

Hi Susan, I happen to come across your blog and so far I love it,I am no chemist and alot of your post that i have read confuses me a bit but i still consider it to be very informative.Anyway, I am from Trinidad where we experience rainy season and dry season, which to me it's always very hot no matter what season we're in lol.. I have African type hair which basically it's very coily.Because my country most of the times is very hot,dry hair is a major issue.
I have two questions:
1. Can this recipe be used as a leave in conditioner or is it a rinse out and
2. What ingredient(s)would you recommend would be highly effective for my country and our hot wether.
Thanks again for all the info that you provide :)

Anonymous said...

I am also interested in what helps to reduce major frizz in african hair in a conditioner, especially in hot countries.

Meg UK said...

Hi Susan,

I know this comment is coming a a bit late for this post but hopefully you'll see it.

I've been lurking for months and been tempted many times to leave a post but only plucked up the courage to do so this evening.

I've learnt a lot from your blog but something you wrote above just blew me away: is it really true that shea butter can penetrate the hair shaft? I knew about coconut oil, the likelihood that olive oil also did but shea butter?? Can this really be right?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Trinigirl1978 and Anonymous. The best thing to combat frizz is to keep water out of the hair shaft. I recommend silicones - dimethicone, specifically - as you only need a bit to be effective, they don't build up, and they are easy to use. You can use oils and butters, but the silicones are really the most effective ingredient that doesn't weigh down our hair.

Hi Meg UK. I've edited this post to reflect that I don't think it will penetrate our hair shaft. I wrote this four years ago, which feels like a lifetime of education ago, and shea butter's fatty acids are just too big to penetrate a hair strand. The only place I could find support for the idea that shea butter might penetrate into the hair strand was Livestrong, and I don't consider them a reputable source. Thank you for bringing this to my attention!

Erika Puricelli said...

Hi Susan, I'm Erika and I just came across your blog now! I love formulating and experimenting, although I am a bit of a noob. I was wondering if you could give me some help with a recipe I tried to do today, but that didn't end very well at all... it separated both times I made it. In Italian we call it "ricotta", like the cheese, when it happens - I'm not sure of the English term, sorry!

My formula was:

Aqueous phase:
Water 69
Flaxseed gel 8

Heated phase:
Cetylic alcohol 3
Shea butter 3
Caprylyl/caprylic 1
Mango butter 3.5
Jojoba oil 2
Grapeseed oil 1

Cool-down phase:
Panthenol, Cosgard (preservative), fragrance
(I didn't get here anyway so I didn't do this)

I have been reading on an Italian site similar to yours that I should add the water phase into the oil/wax phase, after they have both been heated, and not oil/wax phase into the water one.

Well, when I do (I normally do the opposite, oil in water, when I do body creams and lotions), it just separates and curdles. :/ the next time I tried to go stronger on the emulsifier and BTMS, and less oil and more water with a pinch of glycering that I had forgotten previously, but it did the same.

(I totally ended using it on my hair anyway, I mean, I hate wasting things. But I would really like to know why it happened, and I have no idea why...)

Thank you in advance for your help. I love your blog and will be reading and following!


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Erika. Did it look like this? This is called coalescence. I have no idea why it's happeing in this recipe as this is a good looking recipe...except possibly for the flax seed gel. Have you tried making it without the flax seed gel? Which BTMS are you using? BTMS-25 or BTMS-50?

It doesn't matter if you add the water to the oil phase or the oil phase. (For a long explanation as to why, click here.) It especially doesn't matter if you're using BTMS as it's a cationic emulsifier.

Erika Puricelli said...

Not exactly, honestly... the phases stay separate, and the oils and butters hat had melted started re-solidifying immediately. Weird because the water had about the same temperature.

flaxseed gel... hm. I hadn't thought about it because others, in this same recipe replaced ALL of the water with it. I haven't tried it, and I have no more BTMS... but! I make the gel myself, it... oh sheesh,it has 1/4 teaspoon of xantham gum. I usually never put it. -_- I was so silly.

Those links are great stuff, especially the one about phases. So helpful. (:

ps: I don't know what kind of BTMS it is, as it's not specified anywhere... I'll ask the manufacturer. Thank you for your help!

Jones Rose said...

Can this be used every day for African American hair types?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jones! You could, if you wanted. I'm not sure if you want to keep it away from your scalp so it won't get too greasy - you'll have to experiment!

Genevieve Blair-Watson said...

Just wondering if these haircare products are considered natural?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Nope. they're not natural. (What does that word even mean?)

Genevieve Blair-Watson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Genevieve Blair-Watson said...

some products are listed as all natural. i am interested in making my own shampoo and condition and keeping it all-natural, free of sulfates, parabens, organic as possible, things of that nature.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Genevieve. You cannot make a natural conditioner. By definition a conditioner must contain a cationic or positively charged compound and these don't show up in nature. For instance, behentrimonium methosulfate is derived from colza oil, but it has to be modified to be positively charged. No positive charge, no conditioner.

As for shampoo, if you look at any bottle ingredient list, you'll see a bunch of surfactants that will be followed by words like "derived from coconut" or "derived from sugar". They are just regular every day surfactants we use in our products. You'll see the same ingredients in drug store brands, but they don't put the words "derived from..." beside all the ingredients, so people don't notice. Being sulfate free doesn't make it natural. There are loads of great surfactants that don't contain sulfates, although there are lots of great sulfate surfactants, too.

I'm not trying to dampen your enthusiasm for making natural products, just to give you some food for thought about what that term really means.

cynthia heitkemper said...

Hi Susan!

Finally made this conditioner and I must say it is AWESOME! My hair love it sooo much. I just made a little changes on your ingredients:
I added 2% of silk and used Shea oil instead. I also used 30% Rose water and 35.5% distilled water. My hair is soft, shiny and well moisturizer and I must say my hair really love this stuff (btw, I am Asian with coarse type of hair).

Thanks a lot for sharing this! .... Cynthia