Esters can add moisturization and lubrication to a conditioner, making it feel nice and glidy without adding oils to hair that might not need any more (like mine)! They work well with any of the cationic quaternary compounds because they won't need emulsification - they're water soluble. They are considered non-ionic surfactants - meaning they are able to solubilize - and they will add a small amount of conditioning to a conditioner. They aren't substantive, but they will form a thin layer on the hair shaft that will reduce friction.
For more a more detailed description of esters, please click here.
You can add solid esters like EZ Pearl (glycol distearate) in the warm phase of your conditioner with the water and the cationic quaternary compound. I wouldn't go over 2% - it's going to be very thick!
You can add liquid esters, like PEG 7 olivate or jojoba esters, to the warm phase of your conditioner. I would suggest no more than 4%. Anything over that is going to be washed off, and that's just a waste! (Liquid esters can be a great alternative to silicones, if you are trying to avoid them. More on this tomorrow...)
If you are considering adding an oil to your conditioner, consider adding an ester. They have very long shelf lives, for a product you might only use occasionally, they're going to be far more resistant to rancidity than our usual lovely vegetable based oils.
CONDITIONER WITH ESTERS
5% BTMS (if using glycol distearate) or 7% BTMS (if using a liquid ester)
2% hydrolyzed protein
2% glycol distearate or 4% PEG 7 olivate (or other PEG ester)
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
Weigh out the BTMS, hydrolyzed protein, and ester into a container. Boil some distilled water, then add it to this container. Heat and hold in a double boiler for at least 20 minutes and ensure all the BTMS has melted well. When the mixture reaches 45C, add the panthenol, dimethicone, cyclomethicone, fragrance, and preservative. If you don't like silicones, then leave them out and add 4% more water.
Join me tomorrow for silicone replacements in your conditioners!