With a million different conditioners in the marketplace, it seems like insanity to think they're all based off the same recipe...but they pretty much are. We saw the other day that there are really just three kinds of conditioners - rinse off, leave on, and intense or treatment - and the central component of any conditioner is the cationic quaternary compound (Incroquat BTMS or cetrimonium bromide and sometimes stearalkonium chloride, found in Incroquat CR). The differences come in the water soluble, oil soluble, and other ingredients. You'll see some really fancy conditioners that list a ton of hydrosols that should be good for your hair, and it's easy to add those to our conditioners without a ton of effort.
If you take a look at your favourite fancy or salon conditioner, you'll see words like "chamomile extract", "honey water", "vanilla infusion" or "fresh coconut decoction" all of which mean hydrosol or extract of something botanical. This is what they use instead of plain old boring water to make the conditioner sound really interesting. I mean think about it, "Oil in water emulsion containing a cationic quaternary compound" or "Peaches & Cream Embiggening Conditioner with vital fruit extracts". Which one are you buying? (Okay, the word "embiggening" might not appeal, but what about "volumizing" or "moisturizing" or "taming"?)
I admit I stink at coming up with names for my products! I'm sure you've noticed that "Cetrimonium bromide based conditioner for oily hair" or "BTMS-50 based rinse-off conditioner for dry hair with butters" aren't really the most exciting names in the world. You'd be unlikely to give them a second look if you were shopping for a new conditioner at the drug store. When I make products to give to my family and friends, I really do give them more interesting names, but something entitled "Rosemary & Green Tea Hydrating Conditioner" or "Shea Butter & Aloe Intensity!" gives you very little information on the components of the recipe and the intended user. Hence the very boring names that describe the nature of the product.
As a note, when you're looking at the formulary of your favourite supplier, compare the recipes based on ingredients, not names. Something like Mango & Jojoba Smoothing Conditioner is likely to be incredibly similar to Cocoa & Avocado Smoothing Conditioner - they just switch out the butter, oil, extract, or hydrosol to make it different! You don't necessarily need the mango or jojoba or rosemary - you could use other ingredients to make a similar product.
We can modify our basic conditioner recipe very easily by substituting some hydrosols and liquid extracts for the water phase, then add our 7% BTMS, preservative, and a few essential oils. What extracts can we use in our hair? (I'll be going into more detail tomorrow, but you can check out the information on extracts by clicking here.)
MODIFIED CONDITIONER RECIPE WITH EXTRACTS AND HYDROSOLS
10% aloe vera
20% hydrosol of some kind
COOL DOWN PHASE
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% essential or fragrance oil
0.5% powdered extract of some kind
Use the general or alternative instructions for making conditioners.
So we have a basic, not for every day use conditioner containing hydrosols and extracts. (If you want to make this for daily use, reduce the BTMS-50 to 4% and increase the water by 3%). If you want, eliminate all the water and use whatever hydrosols, infusions, or floral waters take your fancy.
A note on infusions: I know a lot of people want to make their own infusions - similar to teas in that you steep some kind of herbal or floral ingredient in hot water - but do this with caution if you're including them in your conditioner. Make your infusion with boiled distilled water, and make only a small batch of conditioner - no more than 100 grams. Preserve it very very well at the maximum rate allowable by your preservative of choice, and consider combining two preservatives like liquid Germall Plus and Germaben II. And keep it in the fridge, just to be on the safe side. The hydrosols and floral waters you buy from suppliers will likely be preserved, so we don't need to be as cautious with them. Unpreserved botanical infusions added to a conditioner batch can go bad very quickly, hence all the precautions.
If you're in doubt, make up one of these infusions and leave an unpreserved batch on the countertop and put another one in the fridge. Or make up a pot of tea. Would you drink it after a week on the countertop? No, because you'll see visible contamination in a few days!
Join me tomorrow for fun with using hydrosols and extracts for specific hair types!