Thursday, January 8, 2015

Shampoo: Why we use what we use in a shampoo

Someone asked if I could make a shampoo recipe with fewer ingredients than those that are currently on the blog. The answer is yes, but... Yes, but the problem that those ingredients are the ones that take a shampoo from okay to freakin' awesome!

If you're new to the idea of creating a shampoo, take a look at this post - Back to the very basics: Shampoo to learn about the different kinds of shampoo you could make at home! 

Let's take a look at a shampoo recipe and break it down by each ingredient! (This post is based on this post and this post.)

15% to 40% surfactants
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil
up to 3% Crothix (liquid) to thicken or use salt at up to 3%
water to 100%

Why are we including each ingredient?

Water: Well, that's a given right? We need to include water in a shampoo to decrease the concentration of the surfactants and act as a solvent for the other ingredients.

Surfactants: These are the lathery, foamy, and bubbling ingredients that wash our hair and take the dirt and oil away. We can choose surfactants suitable for our skin or hair types - dry, normal, or oily - and create interesting combinations of them to give us qualities we are seeking, like removing loads of oil or not removing much oil.

A few choices might be...
Dry hair: SMO or SMC taurate, SCI (with stearic acid) or ACI, decyl glucoside, polyglucose/lactylate blend.
Oily hair: Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate or C14-16 olefin sulfonate.
Normal hair: Whatever you like, lucky person!

All hair types might like the carboxylates (mild cleansing, conditioned feel), SLeS or ALeS, and SCI (without stearic acid for normal to oily hair, with stearic acid for dry hair). We always want to include cocamidopropyl betaine or disodium cocoamphodiacetate or in our mixtures to increase the mildness and thickening of the mix. (You can leave them out if you wish, but you do lose some of that mildness and thickening...)

What about using something like liquid or castille soap to wash hair? The short answer is that these soaps are alkaline, and our hair doesn't like alkaline products. An ideal shampoo will be on the acidic or below pH 6 side of the scale, and we can never adjust the pH of a soap enough to get it to that pH. To read more, click here for the post why CP soap doesn't make a good shampoo

Thickeners: You can use something like Crothix - which will thicken and increase mildness - or salt. From an aesthetic point of view, we need to include these to make the mixture more viscous, which imparts a nicer feeling than pouring something like water on your hands that you have to work hard get into your hair. Plus, most of the thickeners we use will make the surfactant mixture less irritating, which is always a bonus.

Preservative: I generally use liquid Germall Plus in my shampoos up to 0.5%, but you can choose another suitable preservative.

These are the basic ingredients you need for a basic shampoo. It'll be a decent product that washes your hair, but you really are missing the awesome things that increase mildness, increase detangling power, increase conditioning, increase moisturizing, and so on.

Cationic polymers: Conditioning agents like polyquat 7honeyquat, and Celquat H-100 are water soluble and intended for surfactant mixes. We use up to 5% of these ingredients to leave our hair feeling conditioned. Some people can even use up to 5% as a 2-in-1 shampoo type product - but those people probably have short, virgin hair in good condition! (Celquat H-100 can create quite a gel at 0.5%, so you don't want to use it over 1%!) 

Silicones: We can use dimethicone in our shampoos to increase the feeling of conditioning. You can use water soluble or oil soluble dimethicone at about 2%. (You don't need to add an emulsifier if you're using it around 2% as most surfactants are good solubilizers!) 

Film formers: We can add lovely hydrolyzed proteins like Cromoist (oat) or Phytokeratin to create a film over your hair strands, which will decrease the friction. You can use proteins like silk as well, but the lower molecular weight silks will penetrate the hair strand, which means it's a better moisturizer than a film former. Aloe vera works as a film former as well, as will other polysaccharides like cellulose or xanthan gum (which also work as thickeners or gel-formers). 

Moisturizers: Something like Crothix or glycol distearate does double duty in a shampoo, offering thickening as well as moisturizing. You can include many different ingredients to offer moisturizing. Ingredients like water soluble oils can offer oil based moisturizing, while something like glycerin offers oil-free moisturizing. You can use some of the alkyl glucosides (like PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate) or the ethanolamides like cocamide DEA to increase the re-fattening properties of the shampoo. And you can use the lower molecular weight proteins like hydrolyzed silk as moisturizers.

Humectants: We can add things like glycerin to draw water from the atmosphere to our hair to offer hydrating. (If you have frizzy hair, these ingredients might not be a good choice.)

Ceramides: These are used at 0.01% to help increase the binding power of the cuticle to the cortex and help form the cell membrane complex. I have no idea where to get these for our home formulating, but they sound pretty awesome. (These are especially great for African hair types.) 

Panthenol: Panthenol is a fantastic ingredient that behaves as a humectant, moisturizer, film former, and shine improver! As little as 2% can decrease the impact of combing forces, and improve the body and texture of your hair as it moisturizes!

Extracts: We can include extracts as functional additives. For instance, white willow bark and salicylic acid are good for dandruff prone hair, and rosemary is a great addition for oily hair. Chamomile and lavender might help calm an angry scalp, while allantoin might help exfoliate and offer some anti-irritancy. 

Fragrance or essential oils: Although you can make a shampoo without fragrance, why bother? The fragrance can be there to make it smell pretty, or you can use essential oils with specific properties (I use an oily hair blend with rosemary, cedarwood, lime or lemon, and sage! I love it!)

Colouring: Again, this isn't essential, but a colour that matches your fragrance can put the shampoo-er in a good frame of mind. I love the green I used in this lime-eucalyptus blend - it just says "I'm fresh! Use me in the morning!" Citrus-y yellow says the same thing to me!

So let's say you want to make a more basic, less ingredient-y shampoo. You can make one with just the surfactants, water, preservative, and thickener, but it's not going to offer all that extra stuff our hair seems like!

Join me tomorrow for more formulating fun with shampoos! 

Related posts about shampoo: 
Instructions for making shampoo.
Formulating a regular shampoo.
Clarifying shampoo for all hair types.
Modifying the clarifying shampoo into a conditioning shampoo (normal hair recipe)
Conditioning shampoo for dry hair.
Conditioning shampoo for oily hair.
Conditioning shampoo with SCI for dry hair.
Conditioning shampoo with SCI for oily hair.
Creating a daily use shampoo.
2-in-1 conditioning shampoo for dry hair.
2-in-1 conditioning shampoo for normal to oily hair.
Shampoo bars - an overview.
Shampoo bars - a visual tutorial.
Conditioning shampoo bars for dry hair.
Conditioning shampoo bars for oily hair.


Alexis said...

Lotion Crafters sells a product called Ceramide Complex.

Lisa said...

Hi Susan
This is my first post as I am a complete newbie although I have been reading your blog every free minute I get for months now! Thank you so much for all that you do for others. Your blog is amazing.
I noticed you mentioned ceramides in this post & I had been looking at a product from the Formulator Sample Shop called FSS-Phyto-oil C3 & wanted to get your thoughts on it(have you used it, would it be best in a leave in or wash off product etc.) Thank you!

Melanie said... has 2 ceramides available - ceramide complex and lacto-ceramide.

Brandi Yates said...

Is this regular table salt?

Im out of Crothix but I ended up loving bioterge 804 with 20% coco betaine and 15% bioterge. I notice you usually dont use that much coco there a reason why?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Alexis! I have some of that ceramide complex from Lotioncrafter. Just received it. I wonder why it didn't occur to me to mention that? Hmm...I think the cost of it - $15 for 25 grams would keep me from using it in this product.

Hi Lisa! I have used the Phyto-oil before - see this post - and again, I'm not sure why I don't try it in a shampoo. As I get this one for free, I think it's worth a shot in my next batch of conditioner. I think I'd save something expensive for leave on products, to be honest, like a leave in conditioner. (Wow, I didn't realize that was so expensive as well!)

Hi Melanie! Thanks for the tip! Again, it's not an inexpensive ingredient, eh?

Hi Brandi! Yes, you can thicken with regular table salt. There's no reason I don't use a lot of cocamidopropyl betaine, come to think of it. I really like the stuff, and I generally use it at 10% because it offers so many great qualities at such a low level. Hmm, I think I need to add this to my list of things to try this year!

Where did you get the Bioterge 804? That used to be my favourite blend, but Voyageur Soap & Candle stopped carrying it.

Lisa said...

Hi Susan
Thanks so much for your answer! Sorry, I had missed that post. Can't wait to see what you think if you add it to a conditioner.

Brandi Yates said...

Essential Wholesale And Labs..

I have a large bottle of the volumizer you mentioned from the formulator shop that I made with a leave in conditioner. My hair is straight and I was wondering if there is any reason it wouldnt work with straight hair.

I used it at 3% and I didnt like it but Im going to try it with another leave in conditioner recipe.

If the volumizer will not work at all with straight hair, can I send it to you?

Alexis said...

I'm gonna say ceramides are just expensive!!! Formulator Sample Shop sells ceramide 1 and ceramide 3 as powders; $286 for 10g and $275 for 10g, respectively.