Friday, June 26, 2009

Gels: Hair styling products

In my excitement about esters, I totally forgot about hair styling gels! I don't use them much myself - my hair doesn't really do "style" that well - but I do like to make them for my mom, who has really spiky hair.

Gels are a perfect vehicle for conditioning agents. Sure, you can make a perfectly good gel with the gelling ingredients, fixative, preservative, and a little colour and fragrance, but why not make it do double duty by adding some cationic ingredients to add a little conditioning in the form of cationic polymers or dimethicone? You can use the cationic polymers of your choice, but I don't suggest using cationic quat compounds like BTMS or cetrimonium bromide. (Having said that, cetrimonium chloride is a cationic compound, but it's not a hydrophobic one like BTMS). And Incroquat CR simply doesn't work here.

We would like a humectant in here, but a lot of our normal humectants aren't going to play well here. The glycerin is too sticky, sodium lacate won't be effective, most people shy away from propylene glycol (although you can include it at 1 to 2% and reduce the water amount) - so condition-eze 7 (polyquat 7) or honeyquat would be great choices here.

Please do not use hydrovance as a possible humectant in this recipe. It will throw the pH out of whack completely. And if you don't have a pH meter (if someone wants to buy me one for Christmas, I'd be a happy girl...) then it's too hard to try to get the pH back down.

A little word about fixatives...I use Fixate G-100 Styling Resin because this is what I can get locally at Voyageur. (INCI: AMP-Acrylates/Ally Methacrylate Copolymer). This one is apparently specially designed to work with Carbopol gelling agents, but you can use it with any kind of gelling system, like cellulose. I have not tried this as I like working with Carbopol. It is pre-neutralized with a pH of 6.0, and the suggested use is 1.9 to 11.5% (but I wouldn't go over 3% because this is sticky stuff). A little bit will go a long way...and it's great for using in mascaras and eye liners (which I'm still working's coming, I promise!)

68.2% water
1.2% ultrez 20 or ETD 2020
3% Fixative G-100 (or other fixative product)
1.6% 18% lye solution (neutralizer)

10% water
2% cationic polymer or cetac
2% dimethicone

1% fragrance (if desired)
0.5% - 1% preservative
Colour, if desired.

As a note, if you have some Celquat H-100, add it at 0.5%. This is the perfect application for it! It helps gel liquids, so you're getting two gelling agents in this mix. It is going to be thicker, so play around with the water amounts to make it perfect!

Weigh out the water, then sprinkle the polymer on top. Let wet, then agitate.
Add the fixative, mix well. Now add the neutralizer.
Add the extra water, cationic polymer, and dimethicone and mix well.
Add preservative, and fragrance and colour (optional).
Mix well. Package in a jar for ease of use.

Feel free to add your favourite conditioning agents to this gel and see how it works for you! If you feel it is too thick, increase the water. If it's too fixative-y, reduce the amount of fixative. If it's not fixative-y enough, add a little more (increase in 0.5% amounts). You can include hydrolyzed proteins (2%) or panthenol (2%) if you aren't going to use leave in conditioner before using the gel.

Play with this recipe - gels are a very particular thing for most people, so you're going to have to do some experimenting to find what you really like!


SwiftCraftyMonkey said...

I've just deleted the comment...and I'm not repeating this again. No advertising on my blog!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I like this recipe, although the last time I made it I used cetac instead of a cationic polymer, and the gel came out white and lumpy. Not sure if it's the cetac that caused this or something else.

I have naturally curly hair, and I'm interested in trying to duplicate the recipe for Bumble & Bumble's Styling Creme, since it give me a less crunchy hold than gels do. Any advice you could on provide ingredients, proportion and/or process would be greatly appreciated.

Here are the ingredients on the B&B bottle: water, alkyl benzoate, polyquaternium-46, caprylic/capric triglyceride, myreth-3 myristate, glycerin, amodimethicone, ethylhexylglycerin, cetrimonium chloride, trideceth-10, acrylates/C10-30 akyl acrylate crosspolymer, aminomethyl propanol, tetrasodium EDTA, benzophenone-4, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, limonene, eugenol, fragrance.

Anonymous said...

Susan: After using the Bumble & Bumble Styling Creme for a few more days, I'm withdrawing the rquest in my previous post for help with duplicating it. It doesn't provide the kind of frizz control I get with styling gels.

Michele Clarke said...

Amazing! I have been doing a basic gel with Extraordinary XG. I recently bought Sodium Carbomer to change the recipe up a bit. It was ok. My hair felt kind of dry so I was thinking how to add a conditioning ingredient. Without seeing this post I used cetac, hydrolyzed oat protein & panthenol. I no longer use a leave in and after reading this post I know why!

Mary Beth Doyle said...

Can this hair styling product be modified to be a spray on product? Thank you. Mary Beth Doyle

LishaM said...

Hi Susan,

I am real enjoying this recipe! I use the gel formula often in both my hair and my children's hair. I had to modify it a bit since our hair is curly by lowering the fixative ingredient and adding more conditioning agents. Otherwise we really enjoy our gel. Best of all I can make a big batch of it! Thank you so much for this recipe. I also love your blog!

Thank you so much!

ProudKinky said...

I would like to try this but I am thinking of adding some form of oil since my african American hair loves oil.
How would you suggest I do this?

ProudKinky said...

Something like this?

66% water
1.2% ultrez 20 or ETD 2020
3% Fixative G-100 (or other fixative product)
1.6% 18% lye solution (neutralizer)

6% water
2% Aloe hydrosol
2.2% Rosemary hydrosol
2% cationic polymer or cetac
2% dimethicone

2% PEG 7 Oliviate
2% 1% fragrance (if desired)
0.5% - 1% preservative

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi ProudKinky! You need an emulsifier if you're going to use dimethicone. It might be easier just to use more PEG-7 olivate! Let me know how it turns out!

Jaleesa Dorsey said...

Hi. I'm trying make a gel cream like Sunsilk hydra TLC 24/7 Creme. The original product, in the pink bottle, is no longer being made anywhere. They have a new version of it, but I'm not interested in that.

I've already deciphered the ingredients in the original sunsilk product. From that list, this is what I want to use...

My Version Ingredients:

water, cetearyl alcohol, cyclopentasiloxane (silicone & lubricate), dimethiconol (silicone & hair conditioner), glycerin, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine (silicone & hair conditioner), cetrimonium chloride (antiseptic & surfactant), fragrance, brazil nut oil, chia seed oil, hydroxyethylcellulose (gelling & thickening agent), preservative, disodium EDTA (chelating agent), TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate (surfactant), tocopheryl acetate, hair kertain amino acids, ethoxydiglycol (solvent), rosemary leaf extract

How do I go about combining it, though?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jaleesa! Check out the hair care section of the blog to see all kinds of ideas for making conditioners. I'm sure that once you learn what each ingredient brings to the mix, you'll be able to make something awesome!

I don't offer help in duplicating products any more. That's why I'm referring you to the hair care section of the blog. I figure there's more than enough information there to help you figure it all out!

Jaleesa Dorsey said...

Thank you for responding to my comment so quickly, Susan. Although it's not a conditioner, it's like a creamy hair gel, I'll keep tinkering. I don't really know how to combine these types of ingredients, but I'm sure I'll figure it out, eventually. :)

Natty S said...

Hi Susan!

I'd love to make this gel but couldn't find a fixative (even on Voyageur!!). I do have the carbopol and everything else in this post though. In your other gel recipe, you don't include the fixative but for this hair gel you do. What can I substitute it with or can I leave it out and just add more water? I have thick curly hair and looking to make 2 hair gels: one to slick down the edges (so thick like the gel you stuck the fork in lol) and one as a curl definer (like a gel or maybe even a cream gel consistency?). Thanks so much!

Natty S said...

Hi Susan,

Just wanted to come back and comment. I was able to use your "thick gel"/simple recipe to make a curl defining gel (added a carrier oil and soy lecithin + fragrance). However I'm stick stuck on making a thick "edge control" gel (to smooth down the "baby hairs" at the front). I see most companies using esters (ex. peg-7 glycerol cocoate) so I wanted to know if you had any ideas. Main issue = looking to make a CLEAR and VERY THICK gel. Thanks!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Natty. Why does it have to be clear? From a functionality perspective, clarity isn't important, and I'm wondering if this might get in the way of you getting a killer recipe you like?

As for esters, esters are great! If you look at the emollients and esters section of the blog, you'll see tons of them. I like PEG-7 olivate for facial products for me, and water soluble shea is awesome, too. Take a look there and see if you find something you like. What about a cationic polymer?

Sabrina K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sabrina K. said...

Hello Susan,

As I was planning my version of this recipe with the ingredients, I noticed a calculation mistake and after double checking, found that the recipe above equals 90 and not 100. Am I missing something?

Here is what I did (in %)

Water 89,7%
Ultrez 1,2%
HairFix XH Maltodextrin 4%
Lye solution 1,6%

Hydrolyzed silk protein 1%
Panthenol 0,5%
Dimethicone 0,5%

Essential oils (mix of lavender, rosemary and tea tree) 1%
Germall Plus 0,5%

I did not know how the essential oils would blend in, but it did just fine without adding a solubilizer.
I loooove the result, and finally my son has a hair gel that actually works!
I don't particularly enjoy making hair products, but that result might just convince me to keep going and play more with Ultrez.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sabrina! I'm glad your son likes it! I made a calculation error above, so it does total around 90. Not the biggest deal in the world as the ingredients still work together well, and I could add 10% more water, but it may ruin the consistency of it, so I'll leave it as is. Thanks for letting me know!