Monday, June 14, 2010

Conditioner: Adding oils to rinse off conditioners

There are as many opinions about which oils are good for your hair as there are oils, so for the most part, it's really up to you to decide which oils you like best for your hair. Some oils are used regularly by commercial conditioners - jojoba, avocado, sweet almond - and those are good choices. You can use any oil in a conditioner or as a hot oil pre-treatment because all of them will moisturize your scalp and leave your hair feeling softer. But some of them are better than others...there are a few suggestions below. (For more information on using oils on your hair, please click here. For more information on coconut oil in your hair, please click here.)

So why use an oil? All oils will moisturize your scalp. Some low molecular weight oils will penetrate your hair shaft and moisturize from within, while others offer specific benefits like increased shine or reduction of electrostatic charge. If you're an oily haired girl, oils are not your friend - what's the point of making some incredible shampoo to help with the greasies if you're just putting more oil on your hair in the conditioning stage?

Avocado oil is easily absorbed by our hair and scalp to soften and condition. It can protect against fly-away hair (static charge) and may help with dry scalp.

Fractionated coconut oil contains the short chain fatty acids of coconut oil but is less greasy. It is absorbed easily. Use at 2% to 4% in a leave in conditioner and up to 8% in a rinse off conditioner.

Jojoba oil penetrates our skin through our hair follicles and loosens the sebum found there, so it's easily rinsed off. It forms a non-occlusive layer on our scalp. Use at up to 25% in a conditioner (which is way too much for most hair types!)

Macadamia nut oil is a light weight, dry feeling oil, that contains squalane, which is good for our scalps.

Soybean oil contains phytosterols that soften hair and may reduce the electrostatic charge, leading to fewer fly-aways.

Camellia oil is a light weight oil with a dry feeling that can be used at 10% in conditioners to moisturize your scalp and leave your hair a little shinier. It will not make hair or nails grow faster.

So how do we incorporate these lovely oils into our conditioners? For a leave in conditioner, I would use between 2% and 4% of any oil with 2% BTMS to emulsify. For rinse off conditioners, I'd use them at up  to 5% to 10% (for a really dry hair conditioner) and up to 15% in an intense conditioner. Let's take a look at a few recipes...

55.5% water
10% aloe vera or hydrosol of choice
2% humectant - glycerin (if you want to use 2% honeyquat, put in cool down phase)
2% hydrolyzed protein

7% Incroquat BTMS
3% Incroquat CR (detangling, softening)
8% oil of choice 
3% cetyl alcohol (synergistic effect with the cationic quats)

2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
2% panthenol
2% cetrimonium chloride (optional)
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative

Use the general conditioner instructions for this recipe. At 100 grams, this will make more than a 2 oz jar (60 ml) but less than a 4 oz jar (120 ml).

60.5% water
10% hydrosol or aloe vera
2% hydrolyzed protein (silk is a good choice for dry hair)
2% glycerin or 2% honeyquat in the cool down phase

3% cetyl alcohol
6% oils of choice

2% panthenol
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
2% cetrimonium chloride
1% fragrance or essential oils
0.5% to 1% preservative of choice

Use the general conditioner instructions for this recipe. 

Please note, adding oils to our conditioner can make it thicker. If you find it is too thick, reduce the BTMS or reduce the oils or choose another, thinner oil. Using cetrimonium chloride will decrease the viscosity of your product, so if you're not using it, you will end up with a thicker product. 

Join me tomorrow for more conditioner-y fun when we include oils in leave-in products!


p said...

I was just surfing around From Nature With Love's page, and I found this interesting description of broccoli seed oil:

"Broccoli Seed Oil is gaining recognition as a natural alternative to the silicon in shampoos, conditioners and styling products where high sheen and luster are desired. The unique composition of fatty acids includes approximately 50% Erucic acid (C22:1). Erucic acid is an Omega-9 fatty acid that is useful for imparting a silicone-like sheen to hair."

Here's the link:

(Aromantic, located in the UK, is the only other place I found selling broccoli seed oil, and their description is similar: )

I thought this was really interesting, because I thought erucic acid, found in jojoba and meadowfoam seed, is a "grippy" fatty acid - but then I saw online that it's used as a lubricant in manufacturing plastic products, so maybe it is really slippy?

I also thought it was interesting that broccoli oil is being sold for a pretty penny, owing to its high erucic acid content, while humble canola oil has been genetically altered to lower it's erucic acid content from a natural 40-50% to less than 2% for an edible product. High-erucic canola must be dirt cheap, if they use it in industry!

Anyway, just wondering if you've come across anything about high-erucic oils used in place of silicones?

Caiso said...

I saw that too about Broccoli Seed Oil on FNWL. I was also wondering if it can give the shine of a silicon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Swift!
Did you find more data on erucic acid since this article? I have trouble finding any (except on Aroma-Zone webste but I don't find them reliable)
Thank you!