Monday, May 13, 2013

Back to the very basics: Shampoo

One of the most popular sections of this blog are the hair care products, so I thought we should spend a few days looking at shampoos, conditioners, and leave in conditioners. Let's take a look at shampoo first...

What is a shampoo? A shampoo is a foamy product intended to cleanse your hair, remove dirt and oil, and remove styling products while leaving hair in good condition. It has an acidic pH - meaning a pH of 6 or lower - and it contains surfactants, water, and preservatives. You can find a number of types of shampoo - conditioning, clarifying, moisturizing, to name a few  - but they all contain those three ingredients at minimum.  It's the extra things you add to a shampoo that makes it conditioning or clarifying or moisturizing.

A daily use shampoo is one that has lower levels of surfactants that make it suitable for use every day.

A clarifying shampoo is a shampoo that doesn't containing conditioning agents like cationic polymers - for instance, polyquat 10 or polyquat 7 or polyquat 44 - or dimethicone. The goal is to remove all the styling products or oil from your hair.
Related post: What makes a clarifying shampoo clarifying?
Related recipe: Shampoo: Clarifying shampoo for all hair types

A conditioning shampoo is one that contains cationic polymers and/or dimethicone. It washes your hair and leaves behind a conditioned feeling. It may or may not contain emollients for moisturizing.
Related post: Modifying the basic shampoo recipe to be more conditioning.

A moisturizing shampoo is one that contains emollients, like glyceryl distearate or oils or butters or esters. It may or may not be a conditioning shampoo. It is unlikely to be a clarifying shampoo. It normally has a creamy looking appearance because that gives us the impression that it is moisturizing. It doesn't have to look like this...
Related recipe: Shampoo: A conditioning shampo for dry hair with SCI and glycol distearate

A dandruff shampoo is one that contains evidence based ingredients for fighting dandruff. They must be tested to prove they really do help dandruff, so you can't make something at home and make that claim. They might be conditioning or clarifying or moisturizing or daily use or 2-in-1.

A 2-in-1 shampoo is one that contains conditioning agents so you don't have to follow up with a conditioner afterwards. They may or may not contain more conditioning than a conditioning shampoo.

All these shampoos can contain lovely things like film formers - things like hydrolyzed proteins that coat the hair shaft and moisturize from the outside or inside - or humectants, like glycerin or propylene glycol - which will draw water from the atmosphere to your hair to moisturize it - mildness enhancers, extracts and other botanical ingredients, fragrances, and so on. The thing to notice is that the main ingredients remain the same - surfactants, water, and preservative - while the additives change!

As an aside, any of these products can contain any surfactants, including SLS. I know some people are avoiding SLS, but SLeS, SLSa, and the sulfosuccinates are NOT sulfates the way you think about sulfates. The reason people don't like SLS is because it's considered a non-mild or "harsh" detergent. The rest are considered mild to gentle surfactants. I recommend you check out the surfactants section of the blog to learn more about these great ingredients! 

A dry shampoo isn't a shampoo at all. It's a product intended to absorb oil from your scalp and hair and give you the feeling it is cleaner. The liquid ones will contain alcohol, the dry ones don't. I make one that I love - click here. (The only reason to include the alcohol is to make it sprayable. I don't suggest it, but some people like it.)

In general, you'd use a ratio of about 7:3 baking soda to starch. I like 72% baking soda, 25% arrowroot powder, and 3% nice smelling dried flowers or 1% fragrance oil mixed with 3% Natrasorb bath. You can use corn starch or tapioca starch or other starches, but they feel squeaky on my hands!

Some people use baking soda as a shampoo by adding water. This isn't considered a shampoo as the product doesn't clean our hair the way shampoo does and the pH is alkaline. Please don't use my dry shampoo recipe to wash your hair. Use it in between cleanings to absorb oil.

A cold process soap bar isn't a shampoo either. It might clean our hair, but it has a pH above 8, which is alkaline. By definition, a shampoo is acidic, below pH 6. (Check out this post on why CP soap isn't great for our hair.) You can make shampoo bars, but they are what are called "syndet bars" (syndet meaning synthetic detergent), and they have a pH 6.5 or under. (They don't contain water.)

This means that any recipe you encounter that suggests watering down a liquid soap - I generally see castille soap suggested - is NOT a shampoo recipe as the resulting product is either neutral or alkaline. If you wish to make a product like this, you need to add a preservative as you are adding water! (Any time we add water to something, we need to include a preservative. No exceptions!) And you need to use distilled water!

Want to know more about pH? Check out this post on the topic

Questions about shampoo that weren't addressed here? Check out the hair care section or surfactants section of the blog and see if I answer it there! Or comment below!

Join me Thursday when we take a look at conditioners!


Zenobiah said...

I am trying to use liquid surfactants only (I don't have a separate workshop yet and don't want particles flying through my kitchen for hours after), so I am using Jordapon ACI from the Herbarie instead of SCI.

I have tried a few times to make shampoo but it has either been stripping my hair of all oils, had no bubbles or turned super thick over time.

Any pointers you can give would be helpful and I am REALLY looking forward to your posts on haircare!

Lucy Townsend said...

Hi Susan, Thanks for the link to mild shampoos, this answers the questions I had. :-)
About thickening....I know you prefer crothix to thicken shampoo, but I can't get this from my usual supplier and would prefer to try the gums, xanthan and guar. I heard that they can be used synergistically ( is that a word?!) Anyway, is there a percentage useage that you would recommend? And how should the gums be incorporated? I've had some disasters with gel lumps in my shampoo.
Many thanks & bestest regards:-)

Beth said...

Hi Susan!

I just wondered - what if you add something acidic to the watered down Castile soap 'shampoo', like citric acid? (Not that I want to try it, or ever use Castile soap on my hair!) Just as a matter of interest, will it lower the pH? Will it go funny? And as a related matter - if you live in a hard water area - will it help to use an acidic rinse or spray after you wash your hair (with normal shampoo)? I have read about rinsing with vinegar after to remove the hard water build up, but don't like the smell of vinegar...

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah West said...

My name is Sarah and I am an ardent reader/fan of your blog.

I am new to the world of formulation and have given myself a task. I am starting my work with attempting to put together ingredients for producing a stable clear shampoo formulation that does not contain ethoxylated ingredients or sulfate based surfactants.

Most surfactants, I have come across that have good cleaning and foaming abilities are sulfate based. I have hit the brick wall so to speak with this task.

I was wondering if you can help please

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sarah. Have you taken a look at the hair care section?

Pier said...

I read all your posts but couldn't find why some of your body wash recipes need to be heat and some need not ? Hope my question is clear.

I really couldn't find the differences as they all have surfactants. In your recipe Modified Body wash with oils, you only heat the aloe vera and water to make it easy to mix. On many other recipes you heat them separately to 70C.

Pier said...

Hello Susan
I found my answer of my previous post in your blog

Thanks a lot

CaribbeanBlue said...

Dear Swift Crafty Monkey,

If you've got really dry curly hair and a dry sensitive scalp, and you shower before your hair or scalp really ought to be cleaned (there's little noticeable sebum on your scalp, etc.), could this cause even a moisturizing daily use shampoo to be drying, or should it be moisturizing regardless?

Thank you so much!
~ CaribbeanBlue

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi CaribbeanBlue! Everything that bubbles and lathers can be drying to our skin, hair, and scalp, no matter how moisturizing we try to make them. Can you shower and not wash your hair? Or shampoo your hair and not do your scalp? I have a friend who has incredibly dry skin and hair, and although I consider this a very moisturizing shampoo, she'd probably tell you not to use it more often than you think you should.

CaribbeanBlue said...

Dear Swift Crafty Monkey,
I can't tell you how excited I was to find your reply! Thank you so much!

Since receiving your response, I've decided to try shampooing less frequently. I tend to shampoo every four to five days (with a daily use shampoo) because of dense, mat-like tangles and a general grimy-sweaty feel and look. But despite that, I notice very little sebum on my scalp. I also recently made a couple small discoveries that made me wonder if -- after four days or so – all I really need is to rinse thoroughly with warm water, detangle, and 'refreshen', and wait to shampoo until there's noticeable sebum on my scalp.

So far, no matter what I do, my hair remains incredibly dry and tangled. Frustratingly, it's also fine, and certain ingredients easily render it mushy (overly-soft, but not lacking volume) in texture. That causes even more straggly-straightened-ness, despite having very tightly curled hair, and for my mat-like tangles to develop almost instantly. Ingredients I think I've identified as causing this problem are cationic polymers, silicones, using too much crothix in the shampoo (I needed to increase the surfactants in order to decrease it from 4% to 1%), and possibly the 5% PEG-7 Olivate I've been using in the shampoo (although, I'm unsure of this as of yet).

I've yet to incorporate cetyl alcohol in my conditioners, but without it, I wasn't aware of increased problems from using 7%though BTMS-50, 10% coconut oil, and 5% shea butter. However, I noticed no improvement either; even when I used them all in the same conditioner, with other cationic quaternary compounds and a few humectants. I've also recently made a Leave In Conditioner with 4% oil (divided between coconut and apricot oil) and silk aminos, but, again, didn't notice improvement.

I was wondering if you've any more recommendations (ingredients, advice, etc.) for excessively dry, tightly-curled, fine hair? How to prevent more dryness when washing and/or shampooing, how to maintain a 'freshness / clean feeling' despite less frequent shampooing, and especially how to really moisturize and hydrate the hair, without causing heaviness, mushiness, or worry of build up (given the less frequent shampooing)?

I'm guessing that part of the trick -- aside from shampooing at the proper times and using a good conditioner -- is using leave-in products that are lightweight, very hydrating and moisturizing, but won't build-up or become heavy in-between washings. I've been pairing the Leave In Conditioner with a simple Extraordinary XG (INCI: Dehydroxanthan Gum) Styling Gel, but they don't seem to help the dryness and/or poorly-looking curls. I've also noticed the Styling Gel leaves a wax-like coating that forms balls if rolled between the fingers, especially if used in larger quantities (which is sometimes necessary for it to do much...I've got a lot of long hair). Thankfully, it does seem to wash off.

I was wondering if using the ingredient Sea Kelp Bioferment in the Leave In Conditioner would be helpful? Provide extra moisture, more maintenance with less usage, etc? According to LotionCrafter, it acts as an oil-free moisturizer and film-former, supposedly providing shine and bounce, and can be used as a gentle styling gel. However, from a couple of your articles, it sounds as if it can have a strong, unpleasant odor?

Thank you so much again!
~ CaribbeanBlue