Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating How many conditioning ingredients is enough for hair conditioner for Curly Hair?

  • How many conditioning ingredients is enough for hair conditioner for Curly Hair?

    Posted by Samirah on November 26, 2023 at 12:39 pm

    Hi everyone, I have been working on a leave-in conditioner for myself and my family members who have curly hair. I am a complete beginner and this Community has been amazing. The goal of this conditioner is to help detangle, provide some slip, help to comb hair easily, and just overall conditioned and moisturising feel.

    I have read on the forum that it is important to keep it simple when first starting to formulate a hair conditioner, so I have been trying to not include a lot.

    I use BTMS 50(4%) as the main cationic emulsifier alongside Cetyl Alcohol(2%) and guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride(0.3%) and 2% oil. The rest is preservative and Distilled Water.

    The conditioner does provide some detangling but It would be great if it could provide more slip, easy combing, and just overall moisturised/softened hair.

    I know that Silicones are the best when it comes to conditioning/detangling the hair but I am trying to see if there are any alternatives that will help this conditioner. I am currently researching these ingredients and seeing if I need to include them in this conditioner: Isoamyl laurate, coco caprylate, polyquats 7, Behentrimoinum chloride/Centrimonium Chloride(I am little reserved in using some ingredients as I heard they can cause build-ups)

    My question is whether I need to include more conditioning ingredients to increase the detangling and conditioning of this conditioner or do I stick to my current ingredients and just try to change the percentages?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Samirah replied 2 months, 3 weeks ago 4 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • camel

    November 26, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Samirah,

    I think BTMS and Cationic Guar should be enough to provide the conditioning effects you are looking for without adding silicones. You could try increasing the BTMS to 5%, but I don’t think you will need more than that.

    I’m not sure which oils you are currently using at 2%, but you could try replacing them with a light emollient that claims to mimic the sensory profile of silicones. They likely won’t match the performance of a true silicone, but they may give you better results than a plant oil would.

    A personal favorite is Plantasens® Olive LD (INCI: Hydrogenated Ethylhexyl Olivate and Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables) which you can find sold by repackers under various names (Olive SIL, Eco Sil, NatraSil, Sil-Olea). The manufacturer claims it can add shine to hair and impart a conditioning effect that makes hair easier to comb without weighing it down. I’ve had good results using it in my lotions and conditioners, but I’m not a professional and I use it alongside silicones, so you’ll have to try it for yourself and see.

    It’s also important to make sure you are checking the pH. Cationic surfactants are much more effective at a slightly more acidic pH, which helps them adhere to our negatively charged hair. Use lactic acid to reduce the pH of your conditioner to around 4-4.5.

  • Samirah

    November 27, 2023 at 3:37 am

    Hi @Camel , thank you so much for your helpful feedback. I will definitely increase the BTMS to 5% in my next formulation and see whether that changes the conditioning effect of the conditioner.

    I am currently using 2% Sweet Almond oil but i am very keen to look into adding Plantasens® Olive LD as an alternative. I havent checked the PH level of the conditioner but I will certainly do in my next batch.

    Thank you so much for your reply. I appreciate it so much.

  • ketchito

    November 27, 2023 at 8:51 am

    If your BTMS 50 has a 50% of cationic surfactant, then 4% es OK. To give a more conditioning structure, you’d need to increase your Cetearyl alcohol a bit more (increase it gradually to 3, 4 and 5%, and check how it feels with every increase). Plantasense LD is a nice ingredient….if you want it cheaper, Isoamyl cocoate could also work. You can always use a small amount of Mineral oil (if you don’t want to use silicones).

  • Samirah

    November 27, 2023 at 2:37 pm

    Hi @ketchito ,

    Thank you so much for your kind reply. My BTMS 50 does contain 50% active ingredient. I will increase the percentage of Cetyl Alcohol as you suggested and I will keep a note of the effect it brings. I suspect isoamyl cocoate might not be readily available in my country but I can get Isoamyl Laurate which I think might be similar to Isoamyl Cocoate if I am not wrong.

    I appreciate your kind feedback again.

  • chemicalmatt

    November 28, 2023 at 3:21 pm

    @Samirah you are correct, isoamyl laurate is virtually same as the cocoate ester. All the suggestions given here are on point. However, I’ll suggest a much heavier lipid (ester or oil) for this formula to get the result you are looking for. Ketchito mentioned mineral oil - a good idea especially for multicultural curly hair. Castor oil also comes to mind as does shea butter, and builder waxes along with the esters.

    • Samirah

      November 29, 2023 at 2:53 pm

      Hi @chemicalmatt ,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. Apologies for the late response. I actually do have both Shea Butter and Castor oil but I purely avoided using them in the past because I heard that they can weigh the hair down, I will start incorporating them in small percentages and see how the conditioner turns out. I will research Mineral oil, thank you and Ketchito for your helpful suggestions.

  • ketchito

    November 30, 2023 at 8:46 am

    If you want glide and don’t use silicones, avoid adding butters to your formula, since they’d increase friction due to their nature (liquid oils on the other hand, will decrease friction). I just read a very nice paper comparing mechanical properties on hair delivered by different types of vegetable “fats” from cosmetic emulsions, so that might also help.

    • Samirah

      November 30, 2023 at 2:29 pm

      Huge thank you @ketchito again for your amazing tip. That sounds great paper to read, thanks for sharing. I definitely want glide hopefully without using silicones. I will keep a note of your suggestions. Honestly, I cannot thank you and everyone enough for your kind feedbacks. I feel less alone in my journey of learning and formulating at home.

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