Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shampoo: Things you'll find other than surfactants!

In general, a shampoo contains surfactants, water, preservative, and thickener. Each one is a pretty obvious inclusion - the surfactants clean, the water thins the mixture, the preservative preserves, and the thickener thickens. But a shampoo is about more than just cleaning your hair. We want something that is bubbly and foamy, something that makes our hair feel and smell nice, and something conditioning. So let's take a look at the other ingredients you might include in a shampoo!

A little more on thickeners: From an aesthetic point of view, we need to include these to make the mixture more viscous, which imparts a nicer feeling than pouring something like water on your hands that you have to work hard get into your hair. Plus, most of the thickeners we use will make the surfactant mixture less irritating, which is always a bonus. 

Cationic polymers: Conditioning agents like polyquat 7honeyquat, and Celquat H-100 are water soluble and intended for surfactant mixes. We use up to 5% of these ingredients to leave our hair feeling conditioned. Some people can even use up to 5% as a 2-in-1 shampoo type product - but those people probably have short, virgin hair in good condition! (Celquat H-100 can create quite a gel at 0.5%, so you don't want to use it over 1%!) 

Silicones: We can use dimethicone in our shampoos to increase the feeling of conditioning. You can use water soluble or oil soluble dimethicone at about 2%. (You don't need to add an emulsifier if you're using it around 2% as most detergents are good solubilizers!) 

Film formers: We can add lovely hydrolyzed proteins like Cromoist (oat) or Phytokeratin to create a film over your hair strands, which will decrease the friction. You can use proteins like silk as well, but the lower molecular weight silks will penetrate the hair strand, which means it's a better moisturizer than a film former. Aloe vera works as a film former as well, as will other polysaccharides like cellulose or xanthan gum (which also work as thickeners or gel-formers). 

Moisturizers: Something like Crothix or glycol distearate does double duty in a shampoo, offering thickening as well as moisturizing. You can include many different ingredients to offer moisturizing. Ingredients like water soluble oils can offer oil based moisturizing, while something like glycerin offers oil-free moisturizing. You can use some of the alkyl glucosides (like PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate) or the ethanolamides like cocamide DEA to increase the re-fattening properties of the shampoo. And you can use the lower molecular weight proteins like silk as moisturizers. 

Ceramides: These are used at 0.01% to help increase the binding power of the cuticle to the cortex and help form the cell membrane complex. I have no idea where to get these for our home formulating, but they sound pretty awesome. (These are especially great for African hair types.) 

Panthenol: Panthenol is a fantastic ingredient that behaves as a humectant, moisturizer, film former, and shine improver! As little as 2% can decrease the impact of combing forces, and improve the body and texture of your hair as it moisturizes!

Extracts: We can include extracts as functional additives. For instance, white willow bark and salicylic acid are good for dandruff prone hair, and rosemary is a great addition for oily hair. Chamomile and lavender might help calm an angry scalp, while allantoin might help exfoliate and offer some anti-irritancy. 

Fragrance or essential oils: Although you can make a shampoo without fragrance, why bother? The fragrance can be there to make it smell pretty, or you can use essential oils with specific properties (I use an oily hair blend with rosemary, cedarwood, lime or lemon, and sage! I love it!)

Colouring: Again, this isn't essential, but a colour that matches your fragrance can put the shampoo-er in a good frame of mind. I love the green I used in this lime-eucalyptus blend - it just says "I'm fresh! Use me in the morning!" Citrus-y yellow says the same thing to me! 

So let's formulate some variations on the basic use shampoo from yesterday - tomorrow! 


p said...

I'm learning so much from your hair care series. Thank you for putting this info out there, in such bite-sized, comprehensible chunks! Awesome work.

I'm thinking about formulating a shampoo with xanthan gum as the only thickener - any advice on how much to use? Thanks!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi p. I've written a post on the topic here - creating gels.

Sciarretta Farms said...

This is a very helpful post, but I have a question.

I did a search in the Dish Archives and found a post by Labrat with a quote from the manufacturer of Incroquat that said that Incroquat CR could be used in shampoo as well as conditioner.

Have you tried this? Any idea what percentages we are talking about without messing up the lather?

I tried some at 5% but it may have been too much. However with only 2 shampoo recipes tried, it could be something else dumb I did. said...

My name is Tasha Ellis-Bradshaw and my email address is I love all your info you have been providing. Thank you. I have a reciepe that I formulated but not sure how much peservitive, and some other ings to make shampoo. I know what I want in my shampoo. This will be my first time making it. I was hopeing that I could email you my info and if you could give me some suggestions or a hand in it. Thank you kindly, Tasha

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sciarretta Farms! I did try it a long time ago and it didn't go well. The CR eventually sank to the bottom and created a gooey mess, and the lather wasn't great. Having said this, I trust LabRat so much, so I say try it and see how you like it. I was a novice formulator when I tried it, and I probably did it badly!

Hi Tasha. I have provided all the information you seek in the hair care section of the blog. I don't have time to look over your recipe and I really don't encourage you to make something from scratch the first time you make it. Instead, find a recipe on this blog - or another place you trust - and make that, then make tweaks. If you don't know what each ingredient does and why you're using it, how can you know how to make a shampoo?

I definitely recommend a visit to the hair care section. These posts are from the FAQ...
Why are you trying to create a recipe from scratch?

How can you tell it's a good recipe?