Ever since I started publishing creamy hair conditioner recipes a few months ago, readers have been asking about the possibility of including some vinegar in the water part of the emulsion to create a two-in-one conditioner that eliminates the need for a separate acidic rinse. It sounded like a great idea, but I wondered if the added acid might cause the emulsion to break, so I wanted to try it to see if 1) the emulsion would survive and 2) if that acidic conditioner would really do the trick. And good news on both fronts—this Two-in-One Creamy Hair Conditioner is awesome! Here’s to having one less bottle in your shower.

How to make a Two in One Creamy Hair Conditioner that acts as both conditioner and an acidic rinse!

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This conditioner is a light emulsion with a very large water part and a rather small oil part to ensure we’re hydrating our hair but not making it dirty again. The water part is a blend of water, hydrating vegetable glycerin, and acidic apple cider vinegar. You should be able to use lemon juice as an alternative, but a major bonus of including the apple cider vinegar in a conditioner like this is that it’s scent is barely noticeable, so I’d give it a go as written even if you aren’t crazy about the smell of apple cider vinegar.

How to make a Two in One Creamy Hair Conditioner that acts as both conditioner and an acidic rinse!
How to make a Two in One Creamy Hair Conditioner that acts as both conditioner and an acidic rinse!

I decided to use a blend of rich shea butter and castor oil for the oils part, and chose BTMS-50 as my emulsifying wax. BTMS-50 is a relatively new emulsifier for me (I found it at Windy Point), and it’s especially fantastic in hair conditioners. Point of Interest has a great post explaining BTMS-50 that is definitely worth a read if you want to understand the chemistry behind why it’s a great hair conditioner as well as a great emulsifier. It’s worth noting that BTMS-25 is not interchangeable for BTMS-50 without some changes. You should be able to use other complete emulsifying waxes if you don’t have BTMS-50 on hand, though I haven’t tried them all with the addition of the vinegar. (Note: A reader has reported that Emulsifying Wax NF doesn’t work well, and that the conditioner separates if this emulsifying wax is used. I haven’t tried it myself, but if you can avoid E-Wax NF, it’s probably a good idea!)

How to make a Two in One Creamy Hair Conditioner that acts as both conditioner and an acidic rinse!
How to make a Two in One Creamy Hair Conditioner that acts as both conditioner and an acidic rinse!

A blend of cardamom, grapefruit, and pine essential oils give the conditioner a wonderful bright, fresh scent with a slight vinegar-y undertone, though that vinegar note dissipates quickly and doesn’t remain in your hair at all. I added some silk and phytokeratin to give the conditioner some extra oomph in the smoothing/hydrating department, but both are optional if you don’t have them on hand.

How to make a Two in One Creamy Hair Conditioner that acts as both conditioner and an acidic rinse!
How to make a Two in One Creamy Hair Conditioner that acts as both conditioner and an acidic rinse!

I used an immersion blender to thoroughly combine everything as I was a bit suspicious that the addition of the acid might destabilize the emulsion without some super-whippy blending. In the end the conditioner did take a few days to thicken up to a conditioner/lotiony consistency despite the blending and the fact that BTMS-50 is more like emulsimulse/ritamulse in the sense that it thickens quite promptly, even without the use of an immersion blender.

How to make a Two in One Creamy Hair Conditioner that acts as both conditioner and an acidic rinse!
How to make a Two in One Creamy Hair Conditioner that acts as both conditioner and an acidic rinse!

The final Two-in-One Creamy Hair Conditioner is really nice. I really like it; it definitely does both the pH correcting and the hydrating jobs, leaving my long hair smooth and happy. Now I can have one less bottle in my shower—woohoo!

Two-in-One Creamy Hair Conditioner

3g | 0.1oz BTMS-50 emulsifying wax (other complete emulsifying waxes should work as well; read the pre-amble for details. Do not use beeswax!)
3g | 0.1oz shea butter
3g | 0.1oz castor oil
1g | 0.03oz vitamin E oil

50g |1.76oz just-boiled water
15g | 0.53oz vegetable glycerin
24g | 0.85oz apple cider vinegar
1g | 0.03oz phytokeratin (optional)
1/2 tsp  silk powder, peptide, or amino acid (need a substitute?) (optional)

20 drops grapefruit essential oil (pink or white is fine)
10 drops pine essential oil
5 drops cardamom essential oil

Broad spectrum preservative of choice (why?)

Weigh the BTMS-50 with the shea butter, castor oil, and vitamin E oil into a small saucepan and melt over medium heat.

While the emulsifying wax mixture is melting, combine the water, glycerin, apple cider vinegar, phytokeratin, and silk in a small glass measuring cup and gently warm.

Once the oils mixture has melted, add the water mixture. Heat through to ensure everything is melted before removing the pan from the heat.

Blend everything together with an immersion blender (or one of those wee milk frother buzzy type things)

Whisk in the essential oils. Add your preservative (though do check the instructions for your specific preservative—some have special instructions for adding to concoctions) and decant the mixture to a 120mL/4oz plastic pump-top bottle (avoid glass since this’ll be in your shower, and avoid wide mouthed jars so you don’t get lots of extra water into your conditioner when you try to use it).

Use directly after shampooing with a homemade shampoo bar—no need for an acidic rinse! I usually use about two palm-fulls for my waist length hair, let it soak in while I shave my legs, and then thoroughly rinse it out. Voila!

Don’t have the oils called for in the recipe? Check this out.

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Looking for a shampoo to pair with this conditioner? This Latte Shampoo is great!

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