You've made your conditioner, but now you're looking for a few ideas on how to customize it to your hair type. Where to start? First, figure out your hair type.
Is your hair straight, curly, or frizzy? Do you have African hair or grey hair? Is your hair dry, normal, or oily? Do you have virgin hair? Or is your hair mechanically or chemically processed? Your answer to these questions will determine what tweaks you'll want to make to your conditioner.
If you have straight hair, you can play around with any ingredients you wish depending upon whether your hair is normal, dry, or oily.
If you have frizzy hair, you'll want to create a barrier on your hair strand that keeps moisture out! Consider using silicones (cyclomethicone and dimethicone) or silicone like ingredients to create a barrier between your hair and the world so you aren't absorbing moisture from the air around you. You probably don't want to use humectants either as you're encouraging water to be attracted to your hair!
As an aside, frizzy hair doesn't mean you have dry hair. Click here for a post on this topic.
If you have curly hair, you could also benefit from using silicones or silicone like ingredients to create a barrier between your hair and the world. You might also want to stay away from humectants...unless you have dry hair.
If you have African type hair, you could probably benefit from adding quite a lot of oils and film formers - like proteins, but not necessarily - to your products and avoiding humectants. Silicones might help to keep water out while sealing in the moisture you have in your hair strands.
Please note, I am not an expert on African hair types, and what I'm presenting to you is what I've learned about in my various textbooks and studies I've found online. I'm not saying that every person who has the African hair type needs to do exactly what I've quoted here either. The whole point of this exercise is to make something your hair will love.
If you have grey hair, you could probably benefit from more moisturizing and conditioning because grey hair tends to be coarser than non-grey hair. As well, people with lots of grey hair tend to have drier scalps - this is more about the reduction of sebum as we get older. So you'll want to treat grey hair the way we treat dry hair...more about that in a minute.
Chemistry of your hair: Straight, curly, and frizzy hair!
Question: Is frizzy hair always dry hair?
Chemistry of your hair: Virgin hair
Chemistry of your hair: Quick summary about damaged hair
Do you have normal, dry, or oily hair? This one's a little easier to figure out. How long does it take your hair and scalp to get oily? If you have to wash your hair every day or every other day, you're probably an oily. If you can wash every third day, you're probably a normal. If you can go a week without washing, you're probably a dry. Most of us know which one of these we are, although I do find people with normal hair want to call themselves oily most of the time...but that isn't a big deal!
If you have oily hair, avoid the oils, butters, and fatty alcohols as they'll only make your hair oilier. You can get away with using lower levels of BTMS-50 in your products. Consider using some extracts or essential oils that offer degreasing properties, such as orange or lime (lemon can make your hair go lighter, although you might like that), or rosemary hydrosol, extract, or essential oils.
If you have dry hair, moisturization and conditioning are the key concepts. You can use oils and butters or add some fatty alcohols that will increase the substantivity of the conditioner. You can go with vegetable oils and butters - coconut oil should always be on your list of hair friendly oils - or you can go with esters and silicones. I've found that hydrolyzed silk protein is a good choice for dry hair as it will penetrate the hair strand.
If you have normal hair, you're a lucky person! You can make whatever choices you wish. I know, this is actually harder to work with because the field is wide open, so I suggest figuring out whether you lean towards oily or dry and trying some of those things.
If you have dandruff prone hair, generally this means you have oily hair. You can try using something like tea tree essential oil in your product. (I'm not making any claims, just a suggestion....)
If you have fine hair, you might want to make a really thin conditioner, say 1% to 3% BTMS-50 or consider making a cream rinse without any oils. Stay away from anything that might weigh down your hair, like oils and butters and maybe even silicones at higher thicknesses.
If you have thick hair, there aren't a ton of differences in your conditioner, although you might want to make sure you have good slip and glide and perhaps a slightly thinner product so you aren't using too much conditioner!
Do you use heated styling appliances on your hair? You'll want to use heat protecting type products that will protect your hair from severe heat damage, act as a lubricant to reduce drag and friction, and act as a barrier that slows diffusion of moisture from the scalp and environment to the hair which could ruin your hairstyle. You'll also want to add things to your conditioner like silicones - which is what you find in those heat protecting type products - and moisturizers - like oils or film formers, like proteins.
Related post: Mechanical processing of our hair.
Do you dye or chemically treat your hair? Chemically processed hair really wants those lovely cationic quats and fatty acids. Use a good conditioner with a leave in conditioner, even for very fine hair. And don't forget the benefits of the silicones - studies have shown dimethicone can reduce combing forces (reduced mechanical friction) and form a seal on your hair to repel the water.
Related post: Chemical processing of our hair.
By now, you should have a good idea of what hair type you have, and from there, what kind of tweaks you want to make. Let's take a minute to look at some ingredients we might consider. (We'll deal more with the specifics tomorrow.) Remember, the best way to know how to create a good product is to know the ingredients. I know, I know, this is so boring, but it's true. If you know what each ingredient brings to the party, it's easier to figure out what you want to use.
What kinds of ingredients can we add to our products? We can add film formers, moisturizers, oils and butters, proteins, silicones, extracts, hydrosols, and other great things.
- aloe vera
- cationic polymers
- cetyl alcohol
- condition-eze 7 or polyquat 7
- essential oils
- esters (scroll down a bit)
- hydrolyzed proteins
- hydrolyzed oat protein
- hydrolyzed silk protein
- oils & butters
- Phytokeratin (hydrolyzed soy, wheat & corn protein)
- silicone replacements
Take a look at some of these ingredients, then join me tomorrow as we figure out what you might like to use in the next batch of conditioner you make!