Thursday, May 16, 2013

Back to the very basics: Conditioner

I think conditioner might be the most popular topic on this site, so let's take a few moments to learn more about it!

Hair conditioner: A hair conditioner is a positively charged or cationic product. Your hair is negatively charged, and for something to be a hair conditioner, it must be positively charged to adsorb to the hair strand. No positive charge, no adsorption, no conditioner. It can be a liquid or a solid (bar form). It can be thin enough for a bottle or thick enough for a jar. The key thing that makes it a conditioner is the cationic or positively charged emulsifier - something like Incroquat BTMS-50, Incroquat BTMS-25, Ritamulse BTMS-225, or cetrimonium bromide, to name a few ingredients you can buy.

Click here to get a full post on how conditioners work. 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

If you are looking to buy an emulsifying conditioner or a conditioning emulsifier or some variation on these names, read this post on reading INCI names so you buy the right thing! You are looking for something like behentrimonium methosulfate in list of what's in the product. You can get BTMS-25, which has 25% behentrimonium methosulfate, or BTMS-50, which has 50% behentrimonium methosulfate. I use the 50% in all my produts. If you've bought BTMS-25, click here for a post on how to adapt recipes to use it properly. (And click here to see the difference in using the two products on your hair!) Those white pellets in the jug are Incroquat BTMS-50, and most emulsfiying conditioning thingies will look like that. The yellow pellets are Incroquat CR, which I use to add softness, anti-static, and detangling properties to my conditioner bars.

Incroquat BTMS-50 and other cationic quaternary compounds are emulsifiers, which is how you can melt it and add it to water and have it remain emulsified! It also means that you can add oils, silicones, butters, and other oil soluble ingredients to your conditioner and know that it will remain emulsified!

Rinse off conditioner: This is a conditioner you rinse out of your hair after washing. It can have any level of cationic ingredients it wants!

Leave in conditioner: This is a conditioner you leave in your hair after washing. These tend to have 1% to 3% cationic ingredients and a lot of things to help with styling or drying, like silicones or moisturizers. You might find it in a normal or spray bottle.

Intense hair conditioner: This doesn't have a real definition, but generally we use it to mean something that will moisturize or condition our hair really really well and leave it more conditioned than normal. It could mean that. Or it could mean the smell is intense, the container is intense, or anything else is intense. I use it to mean something to which I've added more than 7% BTMS-50 or Ritamulse BTMS-225, but that's only my definition. Everyone's definition will be different.

Click here for information on how the recipes for these products differ! 

How long do you think you should leave conditioner on your hair for maximum results? Have a guess! The answer's at the end of the post.

You can make a lovely coconut oil and mango butter hair thingie, but it's not a conditioner if it isn't positively charged. Every day I see people calling things conditioners are clearly aren't. This isn't a matter of semantics or me being picky. Just like a lotion is by definition an emulsified product - no emulsification, not a lotion - a conditioner is a positively charged product that adsorbs to the hair strand. No adsorption, no conditioner. Coconut oil moisturizes your hair beautifully, but it doesn't adsorb to your hair strand, so it isn't a conditioner. Apple cider vinegar does something to your hair - I can't find anything describing what it does, other than "making the cuticle lie flat" - but it doesn't adsorb to the hair strand, so it isn't a conditioner. If you want to know more about conditioners, visit the hair care section of the blog and look at the posts on the topic. There are so many recipes there, you'll have to take a look and see what you like.

Answer? About 2 minutes. That's right! There's no reason to condition overnight, unless you want the benefits of the oils or other ingredients you've included in your product!


Anonymous said...

So it means applying a ton of intense conditioner,a cap and under the dryer for 20 minutes is a waste of money and time?

Aljonor said...

I stopped sitting under the dryer for deep conditioning and have better results when I use a hot oil pre-treatment. this process saves me time and I enjoy trying different mixed oils but I always use coconut oil.

Marmar said...

can you please suggest a recipe for something like leave in hair conditioning balm without water for hair styling purposes using BTMS, oils , butters and other hair goodies like hydrolyzed proteins , panthenol.