Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winter hair custard for those dry winter days!

I'm not sure what the weather is like around your house, but it's getting dry and staticky in the Fraser Valley, and I'm getting tired of getting my flyaway hair caught in doors and clothes and safety belts, so I thought it was time to make myself a thick, rich, and moisturizing winter hair custard!

As with all my conditioner recipes, feel free to substitute ingredients for ones you have at home and leave out those you don't have. Every time you leave out an ingredient completely, increase your distilled water by that amount. If you leave out the hydrolyzed protein, which makes up 2%, add 2% to the distilled water amount, making it 65.5% distilled water.

63.5% distilled water
2% humectant (like glycerin or sorbitol)
2% hydrolyzed protein

10% coconut oil
7% Incroquat BTMS-50 or Rita BTMS-225
3% Incroquat CR or stearalkonium chloride
3% cetyl alcohol
2% cetrimonium chloride

2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
1% fragrance oil or essential oil
0.5% liquid Germall Plus
3% Vital hair and scalp blend (optional)

Weigh the heated water phase into a heatproof container and place in the double boiler. Weigh the heated oil phase into a heatproof container and place in the double boiler. Heat until both reach 70˚C, then hold for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and combine the two. Mix well, then allow to cool until it reaches 45˚C. Add the cool down phase ingredients. Allow to cool to room temperature, then package in a jar or pump container.

Why do I call this a hair custard? It has the viscosity of custard, and originally I used sea buckthorn oil, which made it a lovely yellow colour. You can call it an intense conditioner with oils, if you want. (I'm sure you'll come up with a better name than me.)

So why am I using each ingredient?

Incroquat BTMS-50 or Rita BTMS-225 is the base conditioning ingredient. It offers conditioning and softening of hair. If you don't have these types of ingredients, you don't have a conditioner. We need something that is positively charged and substantive - that is to say, it adsorbs to the hair strand to condition it - and without it, we don't have a conditioner.

Incroquat CR or stearalkonium chloride is another type of substantive, positively charged conditioning agent that adsorbs to the hair strand offering conditioning and softening. It also offers some anti-static properties, which will deal with the fly-aways that I get in this really dry weather. If you don't have it, leave it out and add 3% to the water amount.

Cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol that can boost the conditioning power of the cationic conditioning ingredient by up to 50%. Plus, it's a great emollient on its own. You can use another fatty alcohol in its place like cetearyl alcohol or behenyl alcohol.

Cetrimonium chloride is a cationic quaternary compound that offers great detangling at small amounts. It's a liquid, and I add it to the heated oil phase. It can make your product seem thinner, so if you're using it, you will get a thinner product than if you don't use it. It is lovely for people who have loads of tangles!

Coconut oil is always my first choice for hair care products because it has been tested so many times in so many ways and it shows such an affinity for the proteins in our hair. Plus, it's not very expensive compared to other oils - I still pay less than $5 a pound! - and it thickens up the conditioner so nicely. You can choose any other oil you want if coconut oil isn't your thing!

In the heated water phase, I'm using a humectant like glycerin to offer moisturizing and water retention to my hair. If you have honeyquat, which is a cationic or positively charged polymer that also behaves as a humectant, you can use that in the cool down phase at up to 5% to behave as both a conditioning and moisturizing agent!

I like to use a hydrolyzed protein in my conditioners to offer film forming and moisturizing. I usually use hydrolyzed oat protein because it doesn't penetrate the hair strand, but you could use silk protein if you want something to penetrate or something like Phytokeratin, which is a blend of different weights of proteins that can film form and moisturize.

In the cool down phase, I like to add my silicones, dimethicone and cyclomethicone. Dimethicone offers some conditioning and helps control my frizzies, while the cyclomethicone creates a film on my hair to trap in moisture and help with smoothing.

Panthenol is one of my favourite ingredients, and it will behave as a humectant in this product, drawing water from the atmosphere to my hair to offer moisturization; a film former, which means it will trap in that moisture; and an increaser in plasticity of your hair, meaning it will penetrate into the hair strand and keep your hair flexible!

Vital Hair & Scalp Complex (INCI: Water, Saccharum officinarum (Sugar Cane)Extract, Citrus medica limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Betaine & Hexylene Glycol & Pyrus malus (Apple) Fruit Extract & Camellia sinensis Leaf Extract & Hexapeptide-11) The claim is that it "Helps clear the follicles of excessive build up of dead cells, allowing for thicker hair growth." (From this datasheet.) "(It) addresses many of the aspects of ageing hair and scalp with its combination of alpha hydroxy acids, trimethylglycine, a peptide and antioxidants." Despite the hype - I don't believe it can help my hair be thicker or will make my hair look younger - I wanted more exfoliating abilities in this product, so it seemed like a good choice. You don't need to include this in your product. I had some and I thought I might use it. You could use papaya extract, strawberry extract, apple extract, white willow bark, or another exfoliating extract in its place at 0.5%. Or replace that 3% liquid with water.

There you have it! My favourite winter custard recipe. Yeah, my oily scalp isn't the greatest fan of this recipe, so I keep it away from my scalp, and I don't think this is suitable for fine hair as it will weigh you down a bit, but it's great for this dry weather to keep my hair from getting out of control!

If you want to learn more about hair care or just want to make sense of some of these ingredients or instructions, please visit the hair care section of the blog!


Anonymous said...

Cannot wait to try this. Thanks!

Jack Stringer said...

Really enjoying your formulas, thanks so much.

AMJ said...

Hi Swifty, I made your avocado oil and Shea butter winter hair custard and it was the most fantabulous conditioner ever for dry winter hair! It makes my hair very silky and I like it better than everything I can buy (at 10x the price). Thanks for the new recipe too...

Elizabeth Stringer said...

I don't have Incroquat BTMS-50, Rita BTMS-225, Incroquat CR or stearalkonium chloride but I do have cetearyl alcohol and behentrimonium chloride, could I substitute these in the formula?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ellen! Have you tried it yet?

Hi Jack! I'm glad to be of service!

Hi AMJ! (BTW: I'm Swift. Swifty is someone else!) I'm really glad you liked the recipe.

Hi Elizabeth. Why don't you try using the behentrimonium chloride at about 3.5% and the cetearyl alcohol at around half that amount and see what happens? Let us know!

Elizabeth Stringer said...

Thanks for your generous reply Susan, I used the percentages you suggested. I'm very new to all this so I wasn't sure what ingredient to increase to make up to 100% but I decided to add extra coconut oil and I got a nice result.
Next trial I'll trying increasing the glycerin a bit to see how that turns out too.
I've got very coarse, thick, wiry hair and it's hard to tame. :)
Thanks again

Shannon Marie said...

I just made this and I can't wait to try it in my hair. I used sea kelp bioferment instead of silk protein this time and used avocado oil and coconut oil. I didn't add fragrance and it smells like clean coconut! I'm excited because this is my first use of centrimonium chloride and Cetyl alcohol. The Cetyl alcohol made it so nice and thick. I added a few drops of rosemary extract at the end. I chose optiphen plus as my preservative and I don't think I like it. My last leave-in kind of "beaded up" and this one almost did the same thing when I added the cool down phase. It was fluffier before I added it. Thank you for a new, addictive hobby!
Shannon B.

Paige B said...

Hi Susan! You're calling for reviews again, so I thought I would share my own intense conditioner. I definitely changed a fair bit to try and meet my specific needs, but I started by looking at this hair custard recipe along with your intense hair conditioner (http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com/2009/04/intense-hair-conditioner.html) and a number of other recipes.

My hair is crazy thick. Like headache-inducing thick. I keep it long or medium length, and it's wavy-to-loosely curly. I also colour treat it, which of course causes some damage and probably increases dryness and porosity. I want to get it as curly as possible, so I've read a lot of "curly girl" posts. These are often aimed at women of colour with natural hair (who have very specific needs), but some of the advice is useful for curly or wavy hair in general. First, with colour-treated hair, I like to wash as infrequently as possible - I colour red, which can fade fast. Well, that and it's a HUGE chore to wash my hair, so the longer I can go without, the better. Generally I wash once a week. Second, curly hair tends to be dryer, and keeping it moisturized can not only enhance the curl, but also resist environmental humidity a bit. Once a week works fine and I've used this frequency long enough that my scalp doesn't over-produce oils and I don't get greasy hair like you might if you try to go instantly from washing daily to only once a week. That said, if I get lazy and go longer than a week, I find my head getting itchy, and a bit dandruffy, which I attribute to the yeast population getting a bit high. So, with all this in mind, this is what I came up with:

Heated Oil Phase (31.5%)
7% BTMS 50
5% coconut oil
3% shea butter
2% argan oil
3% hair conditioner concentrate (Wholesale Supplies Plus, INCI cetearyl alcohol and Stearalkonium Chloride)
1% castorlatum (Voyageur Soap and Candle)
2% broccoli seed oil
2% meadowfoam seed oil
2% acai sterols (Formulator Sample Shop)

2% OS Guava extract*
2% OS Nettle extract*
*Brambleberry tells me these are ok in the heated phase, but I usually add them at the end of the heating time to minimize potential damage anyway)

0.5% GuarSilk (The Herbarie)**
**dispersed in the hot oil phase immediately before mixing with the hot water phase

Heated Water Phase (53.5%)
2% Cetac 30 (centrimonium chloride, Lotioncrafter)
32% distilled water or hydrosol
5% 10X concentrated aloe vera (Making Cosmetics)
1% silk amino acids
2% quaternized rice protein
2% glycerin

2% WS hibiscus extract*
2% WS wild orchid extract*
*again, the Herbarie and FSS tell me these can be in the heated phase, but I add them at the end of heating so they don't stay heated too long or get too hot. I don't like my cool-down phase to be too large

4% AMTicide Coconut** (FSS, an anti-fungal preservative that I hope controls the natural yeast in my scalp a bit)
**This is stable to 70C, so I add it right before mixing, ensuring that the phase is just below 70C

Cool Down (15.5%)
2% Baobab protein
2% ColorPlex volume (FSS, discontinued, but they have replaced it with a product called FSS Kerazyme Protect)
2% Pisum Sativum
2% panthenol (powdered)
5% Rice Curl Complex (FSS)
1% essential oil or fragrance oil
0.5% grapeseed extract powder dissolved in 1% glycerin
0.3% Vit E
0.2% ROE
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Paige B said...


This was done with the head and hold process like standard emulsions except for the noted variations) I used a stick blender for all of this. First, to disperse the GuarSilk in the oils, then to mix in the heated water phase, and later the cool down.

Why I chose these ingredients:
I find my hair is hard to comb wet, at least partly because it is VERY thick, doesn't get brushed a lot (makes curly hair frizzy) and I go so long between shampoos that there is a lot of loose hair that needs to come out. So I like a lot of ingredients that encourage slip. I also find that I need a fair bit of conditioning to maintain the curl, so I use BTMS, centrimonium chloride and Stearalkonium Chloride. The WSP hair conditioner concentrate also thickens with the cetearyl alcohol. Coconut oil, shea butter and argan oil are hair-loving emollients. Castorlatum was a bit of an experiment based on the fact that castor oil is known to add shine to hair. Broccoli seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil and acai sterols are included as alternatives to silicones. All extracts are chosen because they are said to be beneficial to hair and/or anti-dandruff.

This ends up VERY thick. Possibly some would find it a bit too thick, but for me it works pretty well. I like concentrated products and just get my hair nice and wet during the shampoo rinse. Then I finger-comb it through first and then use a wide-toothed comb. Other conditioners have been very difficult to finger comb through and I had to use a lot of product, but this made it fairly easy without having to use too much. I don't like to have anything in a container I have to dip my fingers into, just to minimize the possibility of preservative failure, so I put it in a bottle with a disc cap. It is thick enough that it can be difficult to get out, especially as the bottle empties, but I just store it upside down. You could thin it out by reducing the BTMS a bit and maybe leaving out the WSP hair conditioner concentrate, but thus far I'm pretty happy with the product.

I haven't used this iteration for long, but I would definitely make it again. It's my favourite version so far. My recipes tend to evolve as I discover new ingredients or my needs change. Right now I live in a fairly dry environment (north-eastern Washington), but if I moved back home to Southern Ontario, I might reduce the oils and leave out the glycerin for the summer as it gets sooooo humid there. Using this conditioner, a curly-girl rinse technique with my head hanging down and pressing the rinse water into my hair, my home-made flax-seed based hair gel, and plopping to dry, I get really nice clumped curls that last about 3 days. At that point, I really have to run a comb through, which gives me smoothed waves until I wash again.

I am still using up the commercial shampoo I have, but will work on developing a recipe for that next.

Paige B said...

Ugh, of course I notice errors after I post. First "heat and hold", not "head and hold". Second, the phase percentages are a bit off because I moved where I added the grapeseed extract and added the dissolve in glycerin (it doesn't mix in well otherwise I find). So the Heated Water phase should be 52% and the Cool Down should be 16.5%.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Thanks, Paige! Email me at sjbarclay@telus.net with your choice of e-book and I'll send it right away!

Anonymous said...

Is this a leave-in product or should i rinse it out of my hair?


Paige B said...


I assume you're asking me? This is definitely a rinse-out conditioner. I use it every time I wash my hair, but as I said, I only wash once a week. I also make my own hair gel that is flax-seed based, but also contains some conditioning agents and oils, so it is a gel plus leave-in conditioner. I suppose potentially you could add a tiny amount of this to a lot of water and use it as sort of a spray-on leave-in conditioner, but I've never tried it so I don't know what it would be like. I think it would only be good for someone with pretty dry hair. If you (or anyone) tries that, please let me know!

I would also be very interested in anyone with different hair types tried this or modified it. In particular, what changes would work for different hair types. I am especially interested to know if this works for women with natural hair. I find it difficult to formulate for people with different hair or skin types than mine, so I would love the information! Thanks!

Cakestar said...

Hi Susan, what substitutes can we use for the silicone or can we just leave them out and add to the water?

Dawn said...

I would also be interested if there are substitutes for the silicone or can they be left out of the product?
Kind regards....

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I think silicones are essential for hair care products, but if you must use something different, please do a search on the blog for "silicone alternative" and you'll find the posts I've written. I would encourage you, though, they really are amazing ingredients for your hair.