shampoo bars are a great way to make a 2-in-1 kind of product. We can incorporate the really serious conditioning compounds into a shampoo bar and they won't end up as a gooey mess in our bottle! These are great for all hair types as they are easily tweakable, and you can add all kinds of moisturizers, oils, butters, and goodies without worrying if they'll emulsify!
Here's what I consider to be the basic recipe for making a shampoo bar...
50 to 65% powdered surfactants
10 to 26% liquid surfactants
2 to 7% bar hardener like stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, or sodium lactate (liquid)
1 to 3% emulsifiers (usually e-wax, but BTMS would double duty here)
2 to 7% conditioning agent like Incroquat CR or BTMS
2 to 3% butters - shea, mango, cocoa
1 to 2% hydrolyzed proteins
1 to 4% silicones - dimethicone at 1 to 2%, cyclomethicone at 1 to 2%
.5 to 2% panthenol
1 to 2% fragrance or essential oils
0.5% to 1% preservative
POWDERED SURFACTANTS: For the powdered surfactants, I like a mix of SLSa and SCI. I prefer SCI. SCI is great for all hair types - just choose between that with stearic acid (the noodles and flakes), which is great for normal to dry hair, or that without (the granules), which works best for oily hair. SCI is the base of this shampoo bar as it will harden very nicely, and offers a creamy, conditioned feel!
As for your secondary powdered surfactant, you could consider using any powdered surfactant - Bioterge AS-90, SLSa, or SCS.
I have tried Bioterge AS-90 (powdered version of C14-16 olefin sulfonate) as an SCI substitute (when I couldn't find any in Canada). This was a bad idea as it wouldn't got solid for me. It is, however, a great substitute for SLSa (especially for oily hair).
SLSa is the easiest powdered surfactant to find (I buy it as Lanthanol at Voyageur, but it comes under many different names). It is a mild surfactant that offers amazing bubbles and lather. Some people find their hair feels crunchy after using it, so you can use the other powdered surfactants (not SCI) in its place.
SCS (sodium coco sulfate, found at the Herbarie) is an alkyl sulfate, a relative of sodium lauryl sulfate. It is a high foaming and high lather surfactant, but it isn't considered a mild surfactant. It also has a really high pH levels, so if you're using this in a shampoo bar, I'd suggest using 40% SCI and 20% SCS to get a gentler, more pH balanced product.
LIQUID SURFACTANTS: This field is wide open. Choose the surfactant your hair likes most, and include about 10% cocamidopropyl betaine to increase the mildness. I like to use C14-16 olefin sulfonate combined with cocamidopropyl betaine for my oily hair. (If you're using Bioterge AS-90 as your powdered surfactant, leave out the C14-16 olefin sulfonate as they are the same thing. Consider using something a sulfosuccinate instead, like DLS mild.) If you have dry hair, remember to use a very gentle or mild surfactant. If you have normal hair, you can choose any surfactant you like.
I will be putting together various surfactant combinations in the next few days, so look for those posts!
BAR HARDENERS: This is optional if you are using SCI with stearic acid - believe me, it will be hard enough! - but if you're using SCI without stearic acid, you'll want to include some stearic acid (if you aren't an oily haired girl) or sodium lactate (if you are oily haired). The sodium lactate will rinse off, so it isn't considered a humectant in this situation, but it will make the bar solidify even further.
If you're trying to make a 2-in-1 shampoo bar or if you really like oils, cetyl alcohol is a great addition as a bar hardener. It will work with the cationic quaternary compound (like BTMS) to condition your hair even more!
EMULSIFIERS: We want something that will emulsify all the various oils and water based ingredients together, so something like Polawax will work well here. But why not use BTMS or cetrimonium chloride? They're both great emulsifiers and conditioners, so they're two great things in one!
If you're making a 2-in-1 shampoo bar, then you'll want to use higher levels of BTMS - up to 7%. If you're making a clarifying shampoo bar, then you'll want to use Polawax instead. If you're making a conditioning shampoo, then about 2% to 3% will be fine.
BUTTERS: I include butters in my bars for all hair types because they can add a little extra lubrication to our hair strands, which is always a good thing. As I have oily hair, I like to use a little orange butter because it contains d-Limonene, which will remove some of the sebum gently (certainly more gently than using d-Limonene straight from the bottle!) Coconut oil is a great choice for any hair care products, thanks to the lauric acid, and any of the butters will offer moisturization of your scalp and a light coating of your hair strands.
The hardness of your bar will depend also upon the butter you choose. If you go with coconut oil, the bar will be softer than one with cocoa or sal butter.
HYDROLYZED PROTEINS: I've already gone on and on about how great these are for different hair types, so just remember to choose a low molecular weight protein for moisturizing, a high molecular weight protein for film forming.
SILICONES: I like to use 1 to 2% dimethicone for a conditioning shampoo bar. If you don't like silicones or if you're making a clarifying shampoo bar, leave these out. If you're making a 2-in-1 shampoo bar, you can include them at up to 5% each.
PANTHENOL: I like to use 2% panthenol in my shampoo bars. As I've already mentioned panthenol a dozen times in previous shampoo posts, I'll just give you this link for more information.
FRAGRANCE OR ESSENTIAL OILS: I like to use my oily hair blend at up to 2% in a shampoo bar after I've removed it from the heat, but you can leave out the fragrance or choose something else.
A note on extracts and hydrosols: Normally I like to include these in my shampoo products, but we don't want a ton of liquids in these recipes - we already have enough in the surfactants and the additional ingredients. You can include extracts at up to 0.5% per extract by mixing it into one of the liquid ingredients - panthenol, hydrolyzed proteins, or include a little glycerin - then incorporating it into your bar. Rosemary would be a great choice for oily hair, white willow bark for dandruff prone hair, and green tea for all hair types. (Consult the page on extracts for more information!)
If you simply can't live without your hydrosols, infusions, or liquid extracts, try making a liquid shampoo instead.
So now you know why we're using what we're using in our shampoo bars! Join me tomorrow for tweaking this basic formula for different hair types!
Here's a visual tutorial for making shampoo bars if you can't wait for tomorrow's post!