Thursday, May 16, 2013
Back to the very basics: Conditioner
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.
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!
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.
Click here for information on how the recipes for these products differ!
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!