Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Conditioner: The basic recipes

Every conditioner starts with a cationic quaternary compound like Incroquat BTMS-50 or cetrimonium bromide. Which one you choose will depend upon what you are seeking in a conditioner. Most, if not all, hair types will love BTMS, and this is what I suggest as a great starting point for just about everyone. BTMS is easy to find at our suppliers (for instance, Voyageur, Lotioncrafter, and the Herbarie, to name a few) and it's a great conditioner. With its long fatty chain and great emulsifying abilities, it's a quaternary compound everyone who makes conditioners should have.

You might see BTMS listed as BTMS-50 or conditioning emulsifier at various suppliers. You want BTMS-50 as it is 50% active, so you'll use less. If you have BTMS-25 or BTMS, you'll want to read this post. If you have a choice, BTMS-50 is the better choice as it has more active ingredient, as well as a humectant, which is usually a good thing in a conditioner!

If you have really damaged hair with holes in the cuticle, your first choice should be cetrimonium bromide because it can actually enter the cortex of your hair. It's hard to find - I've only found it at the Personal Formulator - and it isn't as lubricating as BTMS. I will be going into more detail about cetrimonium bromide based conditioners in the near future...

Okay, so we've chosen our cationic quaternary compound. Here's where I start with every conditioner...

4% BTMS-50 or cetrimonium bromide
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil
94% to 94.5% distilled water

We use lower levels of our cationic quaternary compound to get good conditioning for an every day use kind of conditioner. We can add all kinds of goodies to this, but this is basic recipe from which we start.

BASIC RINSE OFF CONDITIONER (not for every day use)
7% BTMS-50 or cetrimonium bromide
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil
91% to 91.5% distilled water

This is a great basic conditioner. It will offer all the conditioning of BTMS-50 so your hair will feel conditioned, lubricated, and easier to wet and dry comb. You can substitute cetrimonium bromide for the BTMS-50. It will be quite thick, so you'll want to use a disc cap or pump bottle.

BASIC RINSE OFF CONDITIONER (for dry or damaged hair types)
7% BTMS-50 or cetrimonium bromide
3.5% cetyl alcohol
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil
88% water

We include cetyl alcohol in this recipe to boost substantivity of the cationic compound to our hair, which dry hair likes! If you want to make this a daily use recipe, try reducing the BTMS-50 or cetrimonium bromide to 4% and the cetyl alcohol to 2% and increase the water amount to 92.5%.

BASIC INTENSE CONDITIONER (not for every day use)
7% BTMS-50 or cetrimonium chloride
3.5% cetyl alcohol
up to 10% oils
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil
78% water

We include cetyl alcohol in this recipe to boost the substantivity of the intense conditioner, which is what makes it more intensely conditioning. We use higher levels of cationic quaternary compounds to ensure a lot of conditioning for our hair. And we include oils to increase the moisturization and film forming qualities. I wouldn't suggest using this product more than once a week or every three or four washes.

1 to 2% Incroquat BTMS or cetrimonium bromide
0.5% to 1% preservative
up to 1% fragrance or essential oil
water to 100%

This will help you wet or dry comb your hair better and will result in less static in your hair.

Okay, so we have the basic concept down. BTMS (or cetrimonium bromide) plus water plus preservatives equals a conditioner. But where's the other good stuff for your hair? Where are the humectants and other ingredients that help reduce the combing forces, friction, and static and increase moisturization? All in good time...

Join me tomorrow for a few easy tweaks of the rinse off conditioner to include hydrosols and extracts!


D'z said...

I want to mix Hemp Oil BTMS Cetyl Alcohol Germall II Plus Coconut Oil Aloe Vera Gel Water Panthenol Silk Amino Acids and lavender essential oil. Maybe Critric Acid?
As a daily or every other day leave in.

Then.separately i wanna mix BTMS Cetyl Alcohol Shea Illipe Mango and Cocoa Butters.to use 2-3x weekly leave in. Rosemary essential oil As a preservative.


Any help or suggestions would be VERY appreciated.

Patricia said...

This is a really dumb question, but here goes: if you don't wash your hair every day, should you use a more intense conditioner? Or does "daily conditioner" really mean "the conditioner you should use most of the days you wash your hair"?

I hope that makes sense.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Patricia. The only dumb questions are the ones we don't ask. The idea of a daily conditioner is the one you should use most days you wash your hair because it won't be intense, so it shouldn't make your hair feel flat or limp. If you don't wash your hair every day, you probably have drier type hair, which means you might want to use something a bit more conditioning...but that's only because you are a dry hair type, not because you don't wash every day!

Intense conditioners are for people with dry hair or mechanically or chemically processed hair. If you're like me and have virgin hair - undyed, unpermed, and I don't blow dry or straighten - that is slightly oily, you probably don't ever need an intense conditioner. If you dye, perm, straighten, or alter your hair in any way, you should probably take a look at something with a little more moisturizing!

Great question!

Kate Melton said...

Hi Susan,
I've been making your Basic Rinse Off Conditioner(Daily version with 4% BTMS-50, 2% Cetyl and 92.5% Water)for two months now and i like it! But i would like to know: what's your opinion about adding 5% oil and reduce water content to make the formula more moisturizing?

Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes. Kate.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kate. I've answered your question in yesterday's Weekend Wonderings at greater length...but yes, you can add 5% oil to the recipe and not worry about it not emulsifying. I guess my question is why oil and not another moisturizing ingredient?

Larissa said...

Hi! I am very new to all of this and have yet to try to make a recipe. I've been trying to gather lots of information before I go and purchase my ingredients and attempt to make a conditioner. My question is regarding preservatives. I am very drawn to the OptiphenND because the components scored very low on EWG's skindeep website and I'm sort of a nutcase when it comes to putting "bad" chemicals on my body. I've read that this product works best on pH levels of 6 or less, but is there a ways to know/guess how acidic/basic a conditioner is without having to buy the test strips? Is there a suggestion that you could make regarding preservatives that are less harmful to the body. I know that many suggest Germall but from what I've seen those components are not the greatest pertaining to health. Again, I'm very new to this so I appreciate any information you could share with me! Thanks!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Larissa. I don't put a lot of value on the EWG's comments for a number of reasons, so I don't think I can be helpful in offering any information on what might work within their guidelines. (Click here for my post on the EWG.) If you want to learn more about preservatives, visit the preservatives' section of the blog.

As for testing the pH, no, you can't really predict the pH of something when you have a bit of this and a bit of that. (Click here to learn more about testing pH.)

Nyssa said...

I made your basic hair conditioner as followed:

7% BTMS-25
2% hydrolysed oats
5% aloe vera (I have frizzy hair)
10% chamomile hydrosol
72.5% water

Cool down:
0.5% preservative
1% scent
2% panthenol

I found this was far too thick for me - I used 7% BTMS as a substitute for BTMS-50, but today I read your post suggesting a 1:1 substitution! Next time I will use less BTMS and try adding cetearyl alcohol (or maybe cetyl alcohol if I can get my hands on it by then... it's a bit hard to locate).
I left it out this time due to frizzy hair.

Other than being too thick, I really like it. I feel like the ends may be a little too dry but I currently use a monthly 'mask' so I will probably just make up an intense conditioner!

Nyssa :)

April Lawrence said...

Hi! I have been delving into your blog and hair care e-book... great stuff and a lot to ponder: ) I am working on duplicating a deep conditioning mask that I love and am using your intense conditioner recipe as a base model. I have a few questions on some of the ingredients listed in the store product version. Below are the store product ingredients followed by the version I intend to create, ingredients in parenthesis indicate the substitutes I plan to make in your recipe to make it like the store version. My questions are at the bottom.

Aqua (Water), Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Amodimethicone, Potato Starch Modified, Cetyl Esters, Isopropyl Alcohol, Elaeis Guineensis / Elaeis Guineensis Oil, Shorea Robusta / Shorea Robusta Seed Butter, Methylparaben, Trideceth 12, Citric Acid, Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Cl 47005 (Yellow 10), CI 14700 (Red 4), Parfum/Fragrance

INTENSE CONDITIONER RECIPE with my modifications in parenthesis

7% Incroquat BTMS (Behentrimonium chloride)
3% Incroquat CR (cetrimonium chloride)
8% hair loving oils (palm oil and sal butter)
3% cetyl alcohol (cetearyl alcohol)
2% panthenol
2% humectant (glycerin) 4% amodimethicone
2% hydrolyzed protein (hydrolyzed wheat protein – used in another conditioner I really like)
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative (methylparaben)
67.5% water

1. In the store version ingredients they're using potato starch modified, I'm assuming as a thickener... I'm having trouble finding this, would another modified flour such as rice flour work for this purpose as well?
2. The manufacturer specifies up to 3% of final product for behentrimonium chloride, is this just an average value or do you think using 7% might cause issues? I'm using the 7% to mimic the amount of Incroquat BTMS in your recipe.
3. Do you think the isopropyl alcohol is necessary, my assumption is it's being used as a solvent or preservative.
4. I'm having trouble finding tricedeth 12 which seems to be used to prevent silicone buildup, do you think this ingredient is necessary? Won't most/all of the silicones be washed out in my next shampoo?
5. I had a hard time finding Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride so I was thinking of using just the methylparaben as a preservative, does this seem reasonable?

Sorry for such a lengthy post, I just wanted to be as specific as possible. Any insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

April Lawrence said...

whoops!! water percentage should have been 71% to 71.5%

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi April. Have you taken a look at the hair care recipes on the blog? I use 7% regularly in conditioner recipes. I don't help duplicate recipes any more, so I'm going to suggest that you do a search for each ingredient to see what it brings to the product, then decide if you need it in there. You might, you might not.

Have you made any products before? If not, may I suggest finding a basic conditioner recipe and trying that to see what ingredients you think you like. For instance, does the product need to be thickened at all by a starch or will the BTMS, CR, cetyl alcohol, and butters thicken the product enough?

Just a few suggestions...

A Fajardo said...

Hi Susan, just double checking on your leave-in conditioner....so no water at all?

Natalie said...

Hi Susan,

I know you don't do duplicating, but I have 2 questions about a rinse off conditioner that I love and want to try to make. The first five ingredients are, in order: Water, Cetyl alcohol, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, fragrance, and olive oil. So I'm assuming that the cetyl alcohol is either in the same percentage or more as the stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, and the olive oil is 1% or less? After reading your conditioner basic recipes, I see that you seem to generally use half the amount of Cetyl alcohol as whichever cationic quaternary compound you're using. Do you have any thoughts on why the amount of cetyl alcohol would be either the same as or more than the stearamidopropyl dimethylamine? Also, have you tried stearamidopropyl dimethylamine? I have only found it for sale in the USA so far, so I don't want to pay the extra money for an ingredient that's not going to be much better as BTMS or Cetronium Chloride. I have thick/curly/frizzy hair and oily scalp. Thanks so much!!

Baby Kat said...

Hi, I made conditioner yesterday for the second time and I think that I may have added too much distilled water. The first time I made it, my conditioner came out thick and luxurious, today I see that it has not settled and thickened the same way. I see that the jar has a bit of water settled on the bottom too, and when I shook it to mix it, the texture is thin, not horribly thin, kind of like shampoo, but it is definitely not the luxurious, creamy texture of my first batch. My question is: How do I fix it? I was thinking about adding some more BTMS-50, but I am not sure about how much more or how I could add it. I would deeply appreciate any input/feedback/tips. Thank you so much! ROX

By the way, this is the recipe I used "Simple and Luxurious Hair Conditioner" from LotionCrafter.

Phase A
85% Distilled Water
2.0% DL-Panthenol
0.2% Disodium EDTA
6.0% Lotioncrafter BTMS
5.0% Lotioncrafter DM350

Phase B
1.0% Biguanide 20
0.8% Fragrance

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Did you follow this recipe exactly? Did you heat and hold? What did you use to mix it? And have you asked Lotioncrafter to troubleshoot their recipe? Feels a little funny to offer support for something I didn't write, to be honest...

Baby Kat said...

Hi Susan, well like I mentioned, I added a bit more of distilled water than what the recipe called for. I had wanted this batch to be a liiiiitle bit less thick than my first one, and obviously I overdid it. So what I did yesterday is I reheated the whole mix again and I added 1/4 oz more of BTMS, then I repeated the procedure of mixing over cold water. And that fixed it! Now, I have this luxurious hair cream conditioner again and I have to say, I am pretty happy with the results and instead of writing "conditioner" on my little labels, I will name it "conditioning hair cream", I am sure that my family and friends will love their gifts. Thanks for coming back to me and for all your amazing posts!

Kelcie Pizzuto said...

I am very new to making conditioner. I have not made any yet. I have been doing lots of research on all the different ingredients. I am actually quite confused. I was going to try organic creations base conditioner before I attempt to make my own. My question is can I add abyssinian oil and other oils similar without it messing with the consistency of the product or do I have to start from scratch and add it in the heat phase? I hope that makes sense.Thank you! I am so happy I found your blog!

Angel Mason said...

I made the BASIC INTENSE CONDITIONER (not for every day use).

It's very thick like a cream. I'm wondering if I did something wrong. For the 10% oil I used coconut oil and argan oil.

7% BTMS-50
3.5% Cetyl alcohol
8% Coconut oil
2% Argan oil
78% water
0.2% Germall Plus Powder

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Angel. Yes, it's a very thick conditioner, on par with a body butter for viscosity. It's intended to be that way to be quite rich for your hair and stay on well after you've applied it. You can thin it down by using less BTMS-50 or less cetyl alcohol or less oil. Or check out the recipes I have for less intense conditioners with oils. There are dozens of them! Or use cetrimonium chloride as I do in most of my recipes, which will thin it down to be pourable from a bottle!

Gina Carter said...

Hi Susan! I'm interested in using your basic intense conditioner as a base for making a cleansing conditioner by adding a mild Castile soap after 24 hour cool down. Do you think this recipe will be the best for kinky/curly African American hair? I also wanted to add a fragrance oil or essential oil when adding the castille soap. What do you think?

Ghar Har said...

Hi susan! Your blog looks great...

I am using BTMS 50 in order to make a hair conditioner at 6% and cetyl alcohol at 2% and my problem is that the BTMS-50 doesnt dissolve completely at 70 degrees. I also making heat and hold for 20 minutes and the problem still remains... What am i doing wrong?

I am looking forward for your answer!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ghar! How are you dissolving it? Please tell me your exact recipe in percentages and your exact process and I might be able to help further!

Sena said...

Is it possible to get general instructions for how to make these conditioners? Do I melt the btms and cetyl alcohol in a double boiler and mix it into room temperature water with preservative? Or am I missing something obvious?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sena. I have instructions on making conditioners in the hair care section of the blog under the section "conditioners". Hope this helps!

D D'Angelo said...

Hi Susan, so sorry about your mother...I thought I saw that on the sidebar recently.
I am wondering where everyone is buying their Cetrimonium Bromide? One of your posts had a link but they are not selling it anymore. Lotioncrafer has Cetrimonium Chloride but not bromide. Thank you so much!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Dean! I'm sorry, but I can't find anywhere to buy cetrimonium bromide at this time.

Aaron Harris said...

I want to use Behentrimonium Chloride instead of BTMS, what recipe would you recommend?

OliviaT said...

What are the steps to make a conditioner? I can't seem to find instructions for actually making it. How do I put it all together? Do you have a recipe with instructions listed somewhere? Thanks!

mparmpadeli said...

Hello Susan, I love your blog and learned so much from you. I have used Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Behentrimonium Chloride when making conditioner and my hair likes methosulfate better but do not know why. I've seen commercial products use both of them, is there any meaning for this?
something like the "SheaMoisture Yucca & Plantain Anti-Breakage Strengthening Masque"