Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekday Wonderings: Can I include slippery elm or MSM in a leave in conditioner?

In this post, a very light leave in conditioner, Kelly asks: But in this conditioner could we add in slippery elm powder extract and msm powder? Slippery elm and marshmallow root are good to add slip to hair, saw some diy recipes on naturally curly of course they don't include the honeyquat, preservatives, etc. this question would also help possibly with making face cream with btms-50 and honeyquat. As a newbie I'm not totally clear on how to know what can go with cationics, or anionics.

In general, my first question would be why would you want to add those ingredients? What would they bring to a leave in conditioner? What would they bring to this leave in conditioner? Are these ingredients that work well when left on the hair and scalp or are they better as a rinse off product?

What does slippery elm bring to the party? Paula notes that "Plant that can be a good anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory. Its mucilage has soothing and emollient properties." (Paula's Choice) It gets a slimy consistency when added to water, so it will offer some slip to the product in a slimy way. I did a search and couldn't find the electrical charge for this ingredient, but I think it's safe to assume it's non-ionic, so it shouldn't have a problem with other ingredients.

What would MSM bring to the party? It offers a reduction in oiliness, can help with scar and collagen flexibility, and increase blood flow. In addition, it is supposed to help with inflammation, helping with the treatment of aches and pains. It is used in arthritis related creams and ointments and hair care products intended for dandruff or oil control. It is suggested to use it at less than 5%.

Could these two ingredients go into a leave in conditioner? Sure, why not? Neither seem like they will conflict with the electrical charge and they seem to have some quality that might be good in a hair care product.

What about using them in this product? This specific recipe is a very very light leave in conditioner that contains only water, a cationic polymer, preservative, and fragrance. It is intended to be a very very light conditioner, so I think adding all kinds of things to it is probably not a great idea because it defeats the purpose of a very light leave in conditioner. I would recommend using another leave in conditioner recipe - say, this one or this one - for the additions of these ingredients. Try with one ingredient for at least a week - take very good notes - before trying the other one. Only add one thing at a time so you know how you like that one thing!

You mention not knowing what goes with cationic or anionic ingredients. There really aren't any hard and fast rules, except check before adding something cationic to something anionic and vice versa. For instance, I can add honeyquat to an anionic shampoo without big problems, generally because I'm adding a small amount. Check the data bulletin or ingredient write up at this blog or your supplier if you're in doubt.

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating!


Susan Stillwell said...

I tried Polawax at .5% as the emulsifier in a leave-in conditioner. Turned out sticky and icky. Would the Polawax be the likely culprit?

4% Cyclomethicone
.5% Squalane
1% Peppermint EO
2% Fractionated Coconut Oil
1% Glycerine
5% DL Panthenol
.5% Polawax
1% Optiphen Plus
85% Water

Thank you so much! I love your blog!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Susan! This is a lotion, not a leave in conditioner, so it will feel weird on your hair. Take a look at the leave in conditioners you can find in the hair care section of the blog to see how you might make one that offers some slip, glide, and conditioning.

Rosefloria said...


Can I use the powder or is it better to use the extract 'Nature's Answer'?



Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rose! Sorry, I've never heard of this extract, so I really can't say.

Rosefloria said...

Hi Susan

Sorry I wasnt clear enough. Both slippery elm and Marshmallow root extracts come in a powdered as well as a liquid format (sold by the brand Natures Answer, including the alchohol tincture version). Which format would be better for formulation purposes if I wanted to add slip to my hair? I am also wondering how to measure or weigh these extracts for formulating mucilage products for curly hair!