Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Question: Can we make a clear leave in conditioner?

Sweeteababy0427 writes: I would like to know more about making liquid emulsifications. For example, like a leave in conditioner that has oils and water but I would like for it to stay in the liquid form and translucent (if possible). I saw you post about the spray leave in conditioner but I am thinking in general, if I wanted to make any product like that how would I do it? Which emulsifiers would I use? At what percentage?

If you want to use one of the cationic quats like Incroquat BTMS-50 or cetrimonium bromide, it isn't possible as they are emulsifiers and will make the product opaque. You could, however, use cetrimonium chloride, cationic polymers, and water soluble oils (esters) to make something clear, but it will be less conditioning than something made with our cationic quaternary compounds!

So what emollients could we use in this recipe? We need to use something water soluble, so we'll want to stick with esters like PEG-7 olivate (or another water soluble oil), Cromollient SCE, Caprol Micro Express (link at Lotioncrafters), or even oil mixed with polysorbate 80 as our emollients.

I would use cetrimonium chloride as my detangling and cationic ingredient at 2%, then add a cationic polymer like polyquat 7, honeyquat (although it will be slightly yellow), or polyquat 44 (my new Saturday night thing!) at the appropriate amount. I'd use polyquat 7 or honeyquat at 3% to 5% or polyquat 44 at up to 2% (although the suggestion is 0.5%, I would need more conditioning!).

So let's take a look at a few ideas (based on this post on detangling products)...

CLEAR, SPRAYABLE CONDITIONING PRODUCT WITH ESTERS

HEATED PHASE
water to 100%
1% Cromollient SCE or up to 5% PEG-7 olivate (or other water soluble oil) or up to 10% Caprol Micro Express
3% cetrimonium chloride
2% hydrolyzed protein

COOL DOWN PHASE
3% polyquat 7 or honeyquat or 0.5% polyquat 44
2% panthenol
0.5% preservative
1% fragrance oil

I'm not the biggest fan of using polysorbate 80 in hair care products as it can feel kind of sticky, so I'd keep it to 2% or lower, which means you can only use 2% oils in this recipe. If you want to make a clear emollient conditioner, I'd definitely go with one of the other esters, but I thought I would include this recipe to show you how it can be made.

Your conditioner will go the colour of your oils, so I would stick to clear oils like fractionated coconut oil or lightly coloured oils like sweet almond, sunflower, and so on.

CLEAR, SPRAYABLE CONDITIONING PRODUCT WITH POLYSORBATE 80
HEATED PHASE
water to 100%
3% cetrimonium chloride
2% hydrolyzed protein

COOL DOWN PHASE

3% polyquat 7 or honeyquat or 0.5% polyquat 44
2% panthenol
0.5% preservative
1% fragrance oil
2% oil of choice
2% polysorbate 80


You can use the general or alternate instructions for these recipes. But mix the oil and polysorbate together first, then add it to the conditioners.

As a side note, I've been playing around with Caprol Micro Express in hair care products and I'm quite enjoying it for my oily hair. As another side note, cetrimonium chloride is supposed to be an emulsifier but I've found it doesn't work well in that capacity. You can try it with small amounts of oils, but it will need shaking after a while.

Have fun formulating!

5 comments:

Bajan Lily said...

Hi Susan,

Firstly (like most of those who have commented here) I'd like to thank you ever so much for all the information you make available through your blog! It really is a jewel!

I tried this recipe with my daughter last night (twice) and both times we failed to get a clear (or yellow) result.

The first time it failed to emulsify and so we just ended up with oil floating on top of a milky solution; the second time we got a uniform milky solution with a frothy layer on top! What are we doing wrong?

We used water & hydrolised oat protein (don't have any cet chloride so we left that out and increased the water). In the cool down phase we used honeyquat, panthenol and preservative at the levels recommended; however we used 4% oil (a combination of sweet almond, jojoba and some essential oils) and 4% PS80. Did it turn white because our oil content was too high?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Bajan Lily. If you leave out the cetrimonium chloride, you don't have a conditioner - you have a bottle of water with some hair loving ingredients without a conditioning agent. The cetrimonium chloride is a mild emulsifier, so it can assist with emulsifying small amounts of oil.

If you're using polysorbate 80 and an oil, it will go milky on you without the cetrimonium chloride. And some oils will make it go milky even without the oils.

The cetrimonium chloride is the key to this recipe. You need to use it for conditioning and emulsifying.

As a question, why do you want it to be clear? This is more of a detangler than a conditioner.

Bajan Lily said...

Ah-hah!
Therein lies the problem - the cet chloride!

I wanted to make a mildly conditioning hair spray. Before I started taking this seriously - I would mix say FCO, rosemary & tea tree E.O with lots of water and spray my (afro-caribbean) hair. the goal was a light daily moisturiser without the heavy build up that may have resulted with say a hair cream or petroleum based pomade). I got tired of shaking before use and started looking into emulsifiers - but of course that makes it look more like a hair 'milk', so the idea of having it clear really appealed to me.

sweeteababy0427 said...

Hi thanks for responding to my post!! I wasn't really too concerned about it being clear. Just on how to make emulsifying water and oil but have it remain in the liquid state rather than in a cream state. I will try your suggestions in the post!! I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to everyone's questions. Its really admirable of you! Thanks a lot and Merry Christmas!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Oh, that's easy! I have a ton of leave in conditioners on this blog that are very liquid - my favourite leave in is a sprayable one! Go to the hair care section and check out the leave in conditioners - they are all sprayable and thin. You do this by not using a ton of BTMS-50. It can emulsify a lot of oils, say 1% will emulsify 5%, so you could use up to 10% oils (give or take) with 2% BTMS-50!