Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Conditioners: Solid conditioner bars

I love conditioner bars! They travel well, don't over-condition, and aren't hard to make! In short, they're awesome!

I've written a great deal about conditioner bars in the past (including a visual tutorial), so I'll offer you those links now so you can see where the recipe originates, then we'll do some tweaking.

Formulating a conditioner bar
The conditioner bar recipe
A visual tutorial for making conditioner bars
A note on using preservatives in shampoo and conditioner bars

60% Incroquat BTMS
10% cetyl alcohol (you can use stearic if you want a harder bar, but it's going to be draggy!)
10% butter of your choice - preferably 5% cocoa butter plus 5% something else
5% oils of your choice
2% hydrolyzed protein of choice

3% condition-eze 7, honeyquat, or other cationic polymer
2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
2% cetrimonium chloride
2% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% suitable preservative

Since I've already formulated this bar a dozen times, let's go right to the tweaking.

Feel free to change the 60% BTMS-50 to 30% Incroquat CR and 30% BTMS-50 to increase the softness and decrease the static charge of your hair (plus cost savings, as Incroquat CR costs a lot less than BTMS). You can use any oil or butter you like - I'd suggest something like 5% cocoa butter and 5% coconut oil or shea butter, and for oils choose one your hair likes. You can use coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, or fractionated coconut oil, or any other choice.

If you like cetrimonium bromide, use 40% BTMS and 20% cetrimonium bromide in the solid bar for any hair type.

The recipe I generally use is for oily hair, so I use 5% butters, no oils, and I substitute half the BTMS for Incroquat CR to increase softness and decrease static. If you don't want to use Incroquat CR, then use all BTMS. I like cetrimonium chloride in mine for the detangling, and I always use a high molecular weight hydrolyzed protein as I don't want a lot of moisture in my frizz-prone hair.

35% Incroquat BTMS
35% Incroquat CR
10% cetyl alcohol (you can use stearic if you want a harder bar, but it's going to be draggy!)
5% butter of choice - I use orange butter
2% hydrolyzed protein of choice

3% condition-eze 7, honeyquat, or other cationic polymer
2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
2% cetrimonium chloride
2% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% suitable preservative

Weigh the heated ingredients in a heat proof container and put in a double boiler to melt. When it has melted, add the cool down phase and stir really well. Pour into a mould and put said mould into a fridge or freezer to set. When you take the bars out of the mould, lay on a table on top of a paper towel to sweat a little. (I like to let them sit for at least 24 hours before using because they'll harden up and won't smoosh when you drop them in the shower. But if you can't wait to use them, then choose a sacrificial one you can use right away, and accept it will be funny shaped!)

As usual, leave out what you don't want to use...but where to replace that missing amount? Say you're leaving out the silicones - 4% - you can increase the oils or butters by 4%, or increase the cationic conditioner by 4%. It's not that easy to substitute in a solid bar - there's no water amount we can play with! - so generally you will increase the BTMS or Incroquat CR.

A note for fine hair: Conditioner bars are awesome for fine hair because you can control how much conditioner you use. Swipe only once and lightly over your hair for light conditioning; swipe twice and less lightly over your hair for more conditioning.

Join me tomorrow to modify some of our conditioners into shaving products!


Anonymous said...

How do conditioner bars travel well? Seems to me they would get slimy and you would need an additional container to put them in. I think bottles with flip lids or disc caps are the easiest! Plus, if you have a bar for shampoo, a bar for conditioner, theoretically a bar for the rest of your body, where do you have room in the shower to keep all these bars?

Sierra Snow Soaps said...

I LOVE conditoner bars, LOVE shampoo bars, and LOVE bars for the rest of my body. I have NO problem finding a spot for them in my shower. In fact I have 24 bars of different items in my shower right not.
What I love about conditioner bars?
I LOVE that they never get slimy and you don't have to put them in a container. I hate having to pack a bottle with shampoo, one with conditioner, and have to worry about the size when I travel. Bars are SO MUCH EASIER!
That said, as soon as I move, which is starting today, I will have all my ingredients organized and I am going to be making a lot of the formulas you have posted.
Michelle in NV

Anne-Marie said...

I love shampoo bars and conditioner bars. They seem to really last a long time (probably because it's easier to control the amount you're applying). Great recipes. Thanks for sharing. I haven't tried Honeyquat in my conditioning hair bars. I'm all over that! =)

Anonymous said...

What does it mean to overcondition?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous#1! I've just come back from a camping trip and I find it really easy to travel with them. I put my shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars in a bag with my body wash scrubby and I have a complete travelling kit in a sandwich sized plastic bag!

In the shower, I have a soap bar rack with the bars, and I have room for the other bottles or jars I might need - facial wash, body wash, sugar scrub, liquid conditioner, and so on. (I always have tons of bottles in the shower because I'm always experimenting with new products, so there's always way more than the three of us might need at a given time!)

Hi Sierra Snow Soaps! They don't get slimy, and anything that doesn't use a container works for me!

Hi Anne Marie! I love the size of the bars - you make 100 grams and they seem to last forever, whereas 100 grams of conditioner seems to last me about a week (it's not really true, but I have a lot of hair, and I can never get the little bits out of the bottom of the bottle!) Honeyquat is great - conditioning polymer and humectant in one!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous#2! I'm defining overconditioning as when you put so much conditioner on your hair that you end up making it limp and lifeless, weighing it down with too much. I find my hair will get greasy quicker and it feels really lank and almost dirty.

plainjaneadventures said...


I'm new to solid conditioners and would love to try them out (the idea of them lasting longer, and being travel friendly has me excited!) but I have African Canadian hair and wondering if solid conditioners can have the same intensity as a good intense liquid conditioner. What adjustments (if any) would you make to your conditioner if you were making some for someone with hair like mine?


Anonymous said...

What is cetrimonium chloride and how can I make a sustitution if I have not?

Anonymous said...

Could you use any other emulsifier?

Amy Lee said...

Hi susan, just about every time i make a conditioner bar following this recipe guideline, the bars weep an oily residue after i take them out of the mold. I follow this recipe exactly every time and every time, the bar has an oily residue. Does this happen to u? What could i do to get this to stop? Thanks, amy

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Amy. Please write up your exact recipe as I need that to make suggestions. I've never had this issue.

Amy Lee said...

0.95 oz btms
0.95 oz incroquat cr
0.34 oz cetyl alcohol
0.14 oz cocoa butter
0.05 oz coconut oil
0.05 oz oat or silk protein
0.08 oz honeyquat
0.05 oz panthenol
0.05 oz dimethicone
0.05 oz cyclomethicone
0.05 oz cetrimonium chloride
0.05 oz fragrance or eo
0.02 oz phenonip or liquid germall

Amy Lee said...

Do u have any suggestions?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I've been in bed sick for the last few days, so I haven't really given your comment much thought. On first look, there is nothing I can suggest as it seems you have a very similar recipe to mine, and I've not had this happen to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
Is it possible to make these without adding extra cetyl alcohol if I'm using all BTMS-50? I might just try it out and see.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Shira. Yes, you can make it without the cetyl alcohol, but encourage you to use it for a few reasons. One, cetyl alcohol is about 1/10th the price of BTMS-50. Two, cetyl alcohol will boost the conditioning power of your BTMS-50, so it's like using 50% more. And three, cetyl alcohol offers some really nice emolliency to the product. But it's up to you!

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of this! I don't want to sound dumb but I don't know what any of this stuff your using is?? where can I find these ingredients?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. I have to delete your comment if you don't put your name in it. Look to the right hand side of the blog and check out the hair care section or the ingredients individually. Or read the linked pages to this post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, I have made your conditioner bar three times now, fantastic I love it. My first attempt complete success, my second attempt I had the same problem as Amy Lee. with the leaking oil. Third attempt success.
Fortunately I made notes whilst I made each bar. I followed the same recipe each time but the second bar I needed to make a smaller amount so made adjustments by reducing all by half.
Checking back on my notes I noticed that I had made a small mistake in adding my hydrolized protein in the cool down phase.
I can only assume that this minor mistake is the cause as my other 2 attempts are ok. What are you're thoughts on this?
Also do you have any suggestions for replacing the Centromonium Chloride. I can't obtain it here in the UK so have just been replacing it with jojoba and Argan oil (added in the heated phase) to make up the percentage.

Jean said...

Angie you can get cetrimonium chloride in the uk at ofasimplenature. Go on their website and look under miscellaneous ingredients. Their website states they were closed for awhile because they were on holiday, but they will be back this monday and also sells cetrimonium chloride.


Angie said...

Hi Jean,
Thanks, I will get some for my next bars when they are open. I can't wait to try this.

Rebecca said...

I have tried both the shampoo and conditioner bars and found them to work really well, using coconut oil instead of orange butter, shea & cocoa butter for my light, slightly dry hair. The kids hair is also very soft now too with only the shampoo bar. I found the helpful for some products and they suggested some alternatives for some of the products too. The others I sourced from various other US online stores, incl, lotioncrafter & I am putting in a preservative of Phenonip and wondered if there were other options to that or if that's the best one? Many thanks, Rebecca

Rebecca said...

Following previous post, I have now found more on your preservatives (sorry!) and seems you like Liquid Germall for shampoo/conditioner so will try that, thank you. Also found another website that seems to have more products under one roof called 'ingredients to die' based in Texas. haven't tried as yet but prices look competitive. Thanks again!

Winnie Stekelenburg said...

With a solid shampoo bar has to come a losid conditioner bar so that is what I also made. I used the duo for almost a week now and every time I'm pleasently surprised. My hair is shiny and soft, easy to comb but it has enough volume. First I rub the bar over the end and leave it for a bit. Then the rest of the hair. It works!
I changed the recipe a bit:

60% BTMS-50
10% cetyl alcohol
5% cocoa butter
5% shea butter
2.5% seabuck
2.5% sunflower
2% haarquat powder

3% honeyquat
2% panthenol
2% keratine
2% Hydrolyzed silk
2% vithaar (Biotine INCI: Aqua,alcohol denat,oryza sativa hydrol. protein,biotin,parfum)
1% fragrance
1% tarwequat (Laurdimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein )
1% preservative

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
I used your conditioner bar recipe as a template and tweaked the ingredients to make it a cleansing conditioner bar. I LOVE IT!
I do have a question about the 60% BTMS in the recipe. The recommended maximum is 10%. Like I said, the results are fantastic but is it still safe?

Rachel, Toronto, Ontario

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rachel. I consider this bar to be very safe! I've been using it for eight years now and share it with my friends and family. I've never seen anything that has said there is a safe as used rate for behentrimonium methosulfate or BTMS-50. Could you send along your links? I'd like to learn more! Thanks!

Vita said...

Hi Susan,
some ingridients are soluble in water ( cetrimonium chloride, honeyquat ),can You please explain, how it will work in conditionier, if where is no water. And how will they emulsifier properly in this product?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Vita. BTMS-50 is an emulsifier, so it will easily incorporate water soluble and oil soluble ingredients. Cetrimonium chloride isn't water soluble, it's an emulsifier as well.

CrimsonBabe said...

Hi I recently made this conditioner following your recipes and put in the freezer my bars have been sitting out for several days now and I find them a bit soft still, is this normal?
recipe used:
59% Bmts 50
10% Cetyl
5% each cocoa, shea, almond
2% oat Protein
3% Polyquaternium 7
2% Panthenol
2% Dimethicone
2% Cyclomethicone
2% Cetrimonium Chloride
2% EO
1% Optiphen Plus

Gia Volpe said...

Is it possible to use BTMs 25 with these? I have an tonne of it and almost no 50 in my studio!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Gia! Yes. Take a look at the FAQ to learn more on substituting one for the other.

Rachel said...

I turned these (with some tweaking to suit ingredients I had on hand) into Soap-free Body Cleansing Bars. My customers with skin issues like eczema/psoriasis/dermatitis/dry skin etc absolutely love them. I also added some coconut cream powder and kaolin clay. Recipe as follows for anyone interested:

60% BTMS 50
10% Stearic
10% Kokum Butter
5% EV Coconut Oil
5% Fractionated Coconut Oil
4% Cocoglucoside & Glyceryl Oleate
2% Hydrolysed Oats
2% Polyquarternium 7
1% Optiphen
1% EO

Once the emulsifiers, butters and oils were melted I then added 10g Coconut Cream Powder, 20g Kaolin Clay and all remaining ingredients and poured into molds.

Thanks for all the inspiration and help your blog provides - I find myself referring to it again & again when I have a "mind block" about something.

Kind regards

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rachel! This sounds awesome! When you say you add 10 grams of the other things afterwards - what is the size of your batch? Are you adding 10 grams to 100 grams of the batch or more?

Thanks for sharing! I love hearing how things turn out!

John M said...

Hi Susan, awesome blog!

Re: Rachel's question about 60% BTMS safety, here are some sources concerning safety and concentration:

It looks like most of the research has been done on behentrimonium chloride.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi John. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We don't use EWG as it's not a reliable source. Look at the "data available", which is considered limited. There is so much information on this product, so to call it limited is very strange.

And do you have another link for the Personal Care Council? It is't giving me any information.

Finally, yoiu say the research has been done on behentriumonium chloride. This is a slightly different ingredient - behentrimonium methosulfate - but I think your assessment still stands. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

John M said...

I'd love to find other sources of info on BTMS etc/better sources than EWG. Are there other sources of safety info that you might recommend? I was only able to find the review of research funded by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review that I linked to (it is the source pointed to by EWG), and unsupported claims of BTMS mildness such as:

To view the CIR review of research, search for behentrimonium methosulfate at the link below, and it will lead you to the pdf:

This research/review seems to be where the view that behentrimonium chloride is highly irritating to the eyes stems from: 2016-08-30 11.33.27.png

Unfortunately in this review, there isn't much on behentrimonium methosulfate. So, from the information in this review, it seems we can't tell whether the methosulfate version is any safer than the chloride version.

Ratakonda Aditya said...

any alternative or substitute for btms

SweetHeartSearching said...

Hello, I was wondering how you are able to use hydrolixed protein in this oil recipe? I'm confused. I thought hydrolized proteins like hydrolized oats or silk could only be added to water? The reason why I ask is that I'd love to add hydrolized oats to lip balm or something similar but I don't know what would work.

I'm excited I found this recipe I think I will make this recipe though! Looks fun and not hard. I will have to change an ingredient but I hope it will still work. Thank you for your help with everything. Been reading tonight again for hours plus the books I bought.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi SweetHeartSearching! You need an emulsifier to add something water soluble to oils or oil soluble to water. BTMS-50 is a great emulsifier, so it's easy to add a few water soluble things like proteins, panthenol, and so on to the mix without problem.

If you have an emulsifier in your lip balm, you could add a water soluble ingredient to it, but there really aren't any good emulsifiers for that kind of product. Sigh...too bad because I love glycerin and honey in lip balms!