Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: Let's make a conditioner!

It's time to stop researching and make a conditioner! You know who you are! You're the person who spends many many waking moments reading about or thinking about making conditioners, but you've never ever made a conditioner! I want you to step away from the computer - after printing the instructions, of course - and get into the workshop to make your conditioner. You have to make a conditioner to know what you really want in it, what the ingredients feel like on your skin and hair, and how thick you want it. These are things that require you to get into the workshop or kitchen and make a conditioner!

If you have no idea why I'm yelling at you, visit the first post in this series about making conditioner to see what you could make today! 

You can do this! It's not rocket science - it's cosmetic science, which much more awesome and useful in your daily life! You will not pre-suck! (We define this in craft group as saying you suck before you've even started so when you fail, you can say "I told you so", and not lose face. Or saying "I'm not good at this new thing", and you won't be, because it's something new and we're not going to be perfect the first time out!)

Just think...in about an hour, you can say you've made a conditioner and have something to show for your hard work and research. (Take a picture of it and send it to me at sjbarclay@telus.net so I can see what you've made! I'm quite excited by all of this!)

7% Incroquat BTMS-50 or BTMS-25 or Rita BTMS-225
91% water

0.5% to 1% preservative of choice
1% fragrance or essential oil

Normally I'd tell you to create an oil phase and a water phase, but there isn't much of either in this case. So what I'm suggesting you do is weigh out your BTMS into a heat proof container. Boil up some distilled water, then add it to the BTMS. Mix really well. Weigh the container, and write that number down as we'll have to add more water to the mix when we've finished the heat and hold. Put your heat proof container into the double boiler and allow it to heat to 70˚C or 158˚C and hold it for 20 minutes. When the time is up, measure the container again. Add as much water as you'll need to get the weight back to up the pre-heating amount.

Let's break it all down into smaller steps. I find this is an easier way to process things at times. 

Ensure that your space is clean and tidy. Make sure all your containers, utensils, and everything else have been cleaned well. Get a bottle ready for your conditioner. You don't need to sterilize this container if you bought it new from your supplier. This recipe should make about 90 to 95 ml of conditioner (about 3 liquid ounces).

First, turn on your double boiler apparatus (or turn on the burner on the stove) and get the water in the double boiler warming. I'm not sure of the exact amount of water you should add to your specific double boiler: Add enough that the tops of containers aren't covered by the water and it won't spill into the containers if the water accidentally starts boiling. I generally find that getting the water half way to 3/4 of the way up the side of my Pyrex jug should take me through to the end of the heating and holding phase. You can boil up the water in a kettle or pot before using it in the double boiler, if you like.

Next, get your supplies and equipment ready. You'll be using a scale for all the measuring, so make sure it has a prominent place on the counter top. You need a heat proof containers (Pyrex jugs, for instance) and a kettle or pot in which you can boil water. And you'll need a spoon because you won't be able to resist having a stir as they heat!

Have your notebook beside you with the recipe printed in quite large font and a pen or pencil at the ready. Writing notes is vital to make sure you know what you did this time and what to do (or not to do) next time!

Put your Pyrex jug on the scale. Now weigh out your heated phase
into your heatproof container.

Weigh your container - hit tare on the scale (zero out the number) so you can get the "before" weight of your heated water phase. (We need this number to know how much water evaporates during the heated water phase so we can compensate for it before we combine the two phases). Now put this container into your double boiler.

Remember to measure your container after you've added the water so we know what it weighed before we heated it up so we can compensate for evaporation!

Monitor your containers. Use your thermometer regularly. (If you're using glass containers, try not to let the thermometer hit the floor of the container or you'll be taking its temperature, not your product!) The container should heat and hold for 20 minutes at 70˚C or 158˚F. The temperature might fluctuate and get up as high as 85˚C. That's okay!

If you haven't written any notes yet, write them now! There are quite a few things to consider - did you measure exactly 7% BTMS? What version of the conditioning agent did you use? What did it smell like? and so on. How long did the phases take to get to 70˚C?

While you're waiting, put away the things you don't need and get out those things you do need such as a bottle, a funnel, a spoon, some paper towels, maybe a label, and your cool down ingredients. Check on the water in your double boiler and make sure you have enough so you won't run dry before the 20 minutes is up. Maybe do a little air guitar, check your e-mail on your smart phone, or take pictures of the process. Twenty minutes isn't that long, but it might feel that way when you're excited to see your lotion finish!

When you've heated and held at 70˚C/158˚F for 20 minutes, remove the container from the heat and measure it. How much water did you lose? Add up to the amount you should have had originally. Let's say you measured 500 grams for your container and water phase - if your container now reads 475, add 25 grams from the water you boiled up separately. (It is okay if the water in the kettle is a little hotter than the water phase, as long as it doesn't make the water phase 85˚C or 100˚C while your oil phase is around 70˚C. This is unlikely to happen with so little water and your water phase being over 70˚C, so don't worry!)

This is the part of conditioner making where we mix. I like to use my hand mixer on setting 1 or 2 using the beater attachment and mix for a few minutes - maybe 4 minutes or so? Then I set it aside and let it cool down. Put a thermometer in the container and wait a bit. The temperature of the room is important here. If you have an unheated workshop like mine, it can take a really short period of time to cool down - maybe 10 to 15 minutes. If you have a warm room, it might take longer. Some people use an ice bath to cool it down. I guess you could do that if you really wanted it to cool down quickly - I've never tried it because it never seems to take very long to cool in my house!

And yes, it's okay to have a stir with a clean spoon while you're waiting for it to cool down. See how the viscosity changes as the product gets closer to 45˚C. Right now it might have the consistency of slightly thickened milk, but soon it will be incredibly thick and awesome! Document these changes, if you like.

When the product reaches 45˚C or 113˚F, add your cool down ingredients, which, in this case, would be your fragrance/essential oil and preservative (I use liquid Germall Plus, which goes into the cool down phase. Your preservative may vary. Check before you start making the conditioner!) Mix again. Maybe 2 or 3 minutes? Now leave it alone. You're done. We're just waiting for it to get cool enough to bottle.

Put a clean cloth or paper towel over the top of the container, and let it cool down to where the jug isn't warm to the touch any more (room temperature - around 20˚C or 68˚F).

If you're using a funnel, get a clean spoon and put the conditioner into the funnel. Bang the bottle now and then to get it flowing better. If you're using a piping bag, fill it up and squish into the bottle! Put your disc cap on and you're done!

And now you're done! Rejoice! Do a happy dance to celebrate the making of the conditioner! You've done it!

The next part of conditioner making? Making cute labels. Marching around the house with the bottle in your hand, huffing the lovely fragrance and making plans to take a shower as soon as possible! March around making up a little song about conditioner making, and relish the fact that you've finally made your conditioner! E-mail your friends and family (and tutor - sjbarclay@telus.net) and tell them the tales of conditioner making! Send me pictures! You're walking on sunshine, and don't it feel good? Indeed!

Once you've used your conditioner in the shower, here are a few things to consider, which will help you figure out what ingredients you might like to add next time....

  • How well were you able to apply it to your hair? Was it too thick or too thin?
  • How well did it rinse out?
  • How easy was it to brush or comb your hair? 
  • How did your hair look when it dried? How about later that day? Or the next day?
  • If you have oily hair, how much time did it take for your hair to become greasy? 
  • If you have dry hair, did it moisturize enough?

And so on...The answers to these questions will give you an idea of what you can try in your next batch!

Please write your comments in the section below to inspire others to give it a try! Next week's Newbie Tuesday post will be the troubleshooting and sharing part of the process, so please e-mail me (sjbarclay@telus.net) or comment below and let me know how it went for you. (The week after next will be about tweaking the recipe!) I want others to learn from your experiences, but I also need to know if this tutorial was helpful! If you encounter a problem - like a lotion fail, for instance - please write out your recipe and process, letting me know about any changes so we can trouble shoot it next week! Please send pictures and let me know if it's okay to use your experience and photos in the post next week. (And let me know what screen name you want!)

Congratulations! You did it! Now use it all up very quickly so you have a cheap excuse to make those tweaks and changes you think would make this product even more awesome!


Simply Marvelous Hair Care said...

I ALWAYS thoroughly love your posts ! So informative and enthusiastic. This one kind of hit home, because I've been researching and researching on what I'll put into a good hair setting type lotion. Especially ingredients that will do everything that I want it to do in the lotion! Lol.

Thanks again for your post!


Michele Clarke said...

Yep this was me a few months ago. I had emailed you my thoughts you did tell me just to make something and stop researching ;-) I made conditioner 4x's. First was too thin. Second I loved and made again. Fourth I removed some oils and still love it. It feels like it isn't penetrating my hair but the curls are AMAZING! I went ahead and ordered green tea and carrot extract for the 3&4th batches. LOVE IT. I am addicted. I use Bramble Berry's extracts and fragrance oils. I get so many compliments on the scent. I had a few ladies hang around to sniff me.

Ashley said...

I'm just curious could I add honey powder to my conditioner? Or even to a moisturizer?

Julie said...

Made my first conditioner last night! I used this recipe and I LOVED it! I'm so glad I listened to you and bought the BTMS 50 because I originally had no interest in making conditioner. My hair feels so amazing! I made a solid shampoo last week with minty tingly EO's, so I made the conditioner to match and it's awesome. I cant believe how soft my hair feels. I think the conditioner definitely couldve been thicker though. I'll be browsing through the other recipes to make one with more additives. I just got my first order of Panthenol also so I'll be trying that out today. I couldn't not buy it considering its in almost every recipe! Thanks!

soblue said...

I really want to just try this but i would like to try natural- I know, i read your thoughts on natural, too. lol. Are there ecocert ingredients available to use for conditioner and shampoos? I'm tired of researching... ;D thanks!

Alex said...

I'm a little behind on this newbie Tuesday because I was waiting for my btms to arrive! One silly question : what do u all recommend for making the labels waterproof?

Sarah G. said...

Hello Susan,
I have been using a product called Wen. The directions say to not use shampoo just massage the Wen into your scalp and leave on for few minutes and rinse. It seems to working for me as my scalp isn't oily afterward and my hair is smooth and soft. I was wondering why this doesn't happen when I use homemade conditioner (my scalp ends up oily by the end of the day? Is there an ingredient that I could add to my conditioner to duplicate this effect?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sarah! I've turned this question into Sunday, April 7th's Weekend Wonderings. The short answer - there isn't anything special about Wen, so you just want to modify your recipe to resemble their ingredients. The long answer? Check out the post!

Emma said...

Hi! Based on your conditioner tutorial (the one in PDF) I tried my best to make my own conditioner recipe and this is what I came up with:

4% BTMS 50
5% Oils (I use jojoba and castor)
3,5 % Cetyl alcohol
3% Honeyquat
2% hydrolyzed silk
2% panthenol
1% fragrance/essential oils
1% optiphen
78,5 % water

Do you approve?

I have dry (a bit frizzy) hair. I understood that for frizzy hair you shouldnt use humectants but since its more dry I chose to include some.

Also I would like to ask if I can use optiphen in the solid conditioner bars, since I guess its anhydrous..


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Emma. You can use Optiphen in an anhydrous product, if you wish.

As for the conditioner, it looks good. Why not make it and see how your hair likes it? Make a small batch and keep good records. As a question...why castor oil? I've never seen it in a conditioner before.

Emma said...

I cant actually remember anymore why I bought the castor oil :D
I have been reading books about hair and natural cosmetics, maybe it was mentioned in one of them or then I bought it for making massage bars..
What we learned from here; always make notes!

Though after that question, I think I will go just with the jojoba..

Thanks for the advice!