Saturday, August 25, 2012

Question: Can we use regular e-wax in a conditioner?

In this post on Rita BTMS-225, Julie asks: Can you use regular e wax in a conditioner? I'd love to try one just to try it, but I don't want to have to buy a different emulsifier I probably wouldn't use much. 

The short answer is no, you can't use regular e-wax in a conditioner. And here's why...

Conditioners contain cationic or positively charged ingredients like cetrimonium bromide, Incroquat BTMS-50, Rita BTMS-225 or Incroquat BTMS-25, Incroquat CR, cetrimonium chloride, and cationic polymers. They adsorb to our hair strand, which is what conditioning means.


Adsorption means the molecules accumulate on the surface of your hair. It's different from absorption in that it doesn't penetrate, it just sits on top of the hair fibre. This is called substantivity. Substantivity is defined as "an adsorption phenomenon by which materials that have opposing charges or like composition are more readily adsorbed onto or attracted to its surface and, once there, resistant to subsequent rinse-off." In other words, a material that is positively charged - like our cationic ingredients - will be attracted to the surface of our hair, which is negatively charged.Click here for more information on substantivity and adsorption!

E-wax, Polawax, and other HLB based emulsifiers are non-ionic, meaning they have no charge. This means they won't adsorb to our hair strand. Something like Ritamulse SCG has an anionic or negative charge, which means it won't adsorb to your hair strand. (It's advised not to use Ritamulse SCG with cationic or positively charged ingredients...) None of these things can behave as a conditioning agent for your hair. They might make it feel more moisturized, but you aren't getting true conditioning from them.

For a while there, people wanted to make hair lotions, which were exactly like body or hand lotions intended for your hair. Those products were made with non-ionic emulsifiers, so they were moisturizers, not conditioners. There's really no point to these products - get a conditioning agent in there and enjoy the conditioning it offers! 

So there's the long answer - you can't use e-wax as the main ingredient in a conditioner because, by definition, a conditioner must contain something that adsorbs to your hair strand and a non-ionic or anionic ingredient doesn't offer substantivity due to its charge.

Go buy some BTMS-50 or BTMS-25 or Rita BTMS-225 or something similar and make a conditioner. I promise that you will never go back to store bought products again! In the end, it's a lot cheaper! I buy a pound of Incroquat BTMS-50 every year for about $30 and make all the conditioners used by my mom, my husband, my best friend, and me and believe me when I say that's a bargain and a half!

16 comments:

sfs said...

Where are you buying BTMS 50? Croda is no longer supplying it to Lotioncrafter and I'm about to panic because I use it in everything!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I get mine at Voyageur Soap & Candle in Surrey, B.C. (Click here for the product.)

Aljonor said...

You can also get BTMS-50 at theherbarie.com, which is based in the US.

Susan, I have a question: Since conditioners are cationic and adsorb to hair strands, is it necessary to use heat when you are conditioning your hair? My hair is dry and I was told to use heat for better results; however I read somewhere that heat isn't necessary for great results. Can you give a better explanation?

Aljonor said...

Oh, I forgot to say Thanks

sfs said...

Thank you Aljonor and Susan. I don't know how I missed it at the Herbarie!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Aljonor. I don't think it's necessary to use heat. We use heat because when we heat something, we generally increase its solubility. But the conditioner is either adsorbing to the hair strand or it isn't - we can't increase its solubility with heat. I can't see how heat will condition your hair more. There are some things that need heat to work - straightening techniques, for instance - but conditioning isn't one of them.

And it's really not necessary to leave it on for more than about 10 minutes. The hair is either conditioned or it isn't - leaving it on overnight changes nothing with regards to conditioning. Leaving it in for longer might help other things in the conditioner - for instance, the oils might have more time to moisturize - but it isn't going to be more conditioning the longer you leave it on.

And the conditioner only conditions what it's touching. So if you condition only the ends of your hair, that part will be conditioned. This is one of the reasons it's suggested that you comb conditioner through your hair, so it'll touch all the strands. The problem is that your hair is weaker when wet, so be careful with that brush!

For more information on this kind of thing, check out the hair care section of the blog. Isn't it fascinating?

Julie said...

Thanks Susan!

I didn't even think about E-wax being non-ionic. I need to start testing myself by thinking these things out. If I would've remember it was non-ionic I would've realized what you just explained. Thanks so much!

I'm definitely going to buy one of these emulsifiers to try. They sound so amazing and I don't think I've ever found or used a conditioner that I really loved. Can't wait to try this!

Anonymous said...

how about adding Cetac to a hair conditioner made with ewax, wouldn't it work?
Rosi,Thanks

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi! You could try adding cetac to e-wax, but you still won't have a conditioner. You'd have a lotion with a cationic ingredient in it, much like adding something like honeyquat. It'll offer conditioning to your skin, but it's not going to do a lot for your hair!

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan, i was reading about polyquat 4 and i would like to know if i can combine it in a leave in with oils and cetac. At $14 dollars an oz i rather find out before buying it.
Thanks for the answer on ewax and cetac not being a good conditioner.
Rosi

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi. I've written about polyquat 4 in the post on cationic polymers. I've used it before, although I don't know how it will behave with cetac as I didn't have that ingredient when I did my tests about five years ago. I found it was great for thickening up shampoos and body washes, and I thought it was nice enough, but I wouldn't consider it a true conditioner.

I really encourage you to look at the cationic quaternary compounds if you want to make a conditioner. The ones you want to use offer some light conditioning, but you really want the cetrimonium bromide, BTMS-25, BTMS-50, BTMS-225, Incroquat CR, and so on for proper conditioning. The cationic polymers aren't emulsifiers, so if you want to include oils in a product, you'll need to use one of the cationic quaternary compounds.

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan, you are right. Today i made a hair lotion with BTMS 25 and it's amazing. From where do you get 1 pound for $30 dollars?
Blessings,
Rosi

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I get mine from Voyageur Soap & Candle!

Tiffany Jolly said...

Susan,

I have a question. I have African American type hair. I know you said you don't know much about this hair type but I still hope you can help me understand some things. So i do want to make a hair lotion but the idea behind it is to moisturize my hair. I finally figured out a leave conditioner recipe that works for my hair thanks to your guidance. I only wash and style my hair once a week and a few days later I would like to use something to refresh my curls or style to add moisture back. I didn't want to go the conditioning route because I read your post about over condition. I basically wanted a light spray able lotion with oils, hydrosols, humectants, silicones and proteins but emulsify all this with a non-ionic emulsifier. Also could i add cetrimonium chloride to the mix for detangling when i take down a style? Would this work as a moisturizer?

I want to say thank you for all the time you put into this blog and answering questions. I do go through and try to read as many of the comments as i can to see if my question is answered and it normally is! Your awesome!

Tiffany Jolly

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tiffany! What you want to make is a lotion, and I have literally hundreds of recipes on the blog for lotions you could try, so choose something that's a light lotion or moisturizer with Polawax or e-wax and start wiht that. I would try the recipe in a very basic way - oils, emulsifier, water, preservative - to see if that's what you want in your hair. Then add all the goodies you want the second and third time you make it.

Thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate them!

Tiffany Jolly said...

Susan,

Thank you for the advice. I started with a body milk recipe and went from there! Now i have and awesome hair milk recipe that does wonders for me and my daughters hair! I guess you could use it on your skin too but it would be greasy!

Thank you for everything!