Ultimate Homemade Hair Serum

After I discovered emulsifying wax, the first recipe I wanted to re-vamp was my hair serum. I chose to make it an emulsion so I could cut back on the percentage of oils in the recipe, but in the end it didn’t emulsify very well without any beeswax or borax. So, I melted the original batch back down and added a few grams or e-wax, and that fixed it. But now that I knew I could make a formula that was 75% water instead of 50%, I had to give it another go.

Now, not to toot my own horn (ok, I’m lying), but this stuff is great. Not only is it anti-frizz, but it makes brilliant leave-in conditioner/hair lotion. I massaged a fairly healthy amounts into the bottom 6″ of my waist-length hair two nights ago, and my ends are beautifully soft and shiny. And not at all greasy looking!

This formula uses most of the same ingredients, but results in a more fool-proof serum since it’s mostly water, which won’t turn your hair into a stringy mess. The base of the serum is aloe vera juice and a selection of hair-healthy oils. I spiked it with phytokeratin, bioplex, vegetable glycerin, and vitamin E. Last but not least, essential oils of lavender, rosemary, and lemongrass.

When the oils are cooling and start to look like this, it's time to add the water.

Ultimate Homemade Hair Serum

65mL aloe vera juice (not aloe vera gel! You can also use distilled water)
5mL phytokeratin (optional, can be replaced with aloe vera juice)
3mL vegetable glycerin (optional, can be replaced with aloe vera juice)
2mL bioplex (optional, can be replaced with aloe vera juice)

6g e-wax
10g camellia seed oil
7g jojoba oil
5g castor oil
2g vitamin E oil

Essential oils of lavender, lemongrass, and rosemary

Heat the aloe vera juice, phytokeratin, vegetable glycerin, and bioplex in a small saucepan over low heat until the vegetable glycerin dissolves.

Heat the oils (minus the essential oils) over low heat in another small saucepan until the emulsifying wax melts.

Let both cool, stirring the oils. Once the oils start to thicken, and both parts are approximately at room temperature, begin whisking the aloe vera juice mixture into the oils. The mixture will thicken a lot on the first addition of water and thin out from there. After all the water is incorporated, add essential oils as you like.

Once combined, decant into a bottle with a squirt or disc top (something suitable for a thinner lotion; I used an old hair serum bottle from the grocery store). Shake occasionally as it cools.

To use, squirt a small amount into your palm, rub your hands together, and glide over your hair. Once the water evaporates, you’ll be all shiny and set! I also love to use this as a leave-in conditioner for my ends.

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Wondering where I get my ingredients? I get almost everything from New Directions Aromatics (Canada, USA, Aus, & UK) and Saffire Blue!

28 Responses to Ultimate Homemade Hair Serum

  1. Sonya says:

    How much water is used in the recipe? I didn’t see that listed.

  2. Grace says:

    Hello I am very interested in using e-wax now in my homemade mixes.
    Can you tell me where did you purchase your e-wax?
    How else can e-wax be used (i.e. diy conditioners, shampoos, leave in)?
    How should I not use e-wax?
    Can e-wax be used by itself?
    How much e-wax to oil and water proportion?

    Sorry for all the questions this has really sparked an interest in me. Thanks for sharing!

    • Marie says:

      Grace—I got my e-wax from New Directions Aromatics (http://www.newdirectionsaromatics.ca/polawax-p-1344.html). You can use it in anything that needs to be emulsified, where a creamy texture is desired in the final product. I mostly use it for lotions and leave in conditioners. You wouldn’t really need it for shampoo, as part of the soap making process involves emulsifying (that is what “trace” is). I’ve found e-wax to be pretty fool proof.

      NDA says “Polawax is compatible with anionic, cationic and non-ionic systems. The emulsions show excellent stability in both acid and base media. Emulsions are stable with a pH as low as 3 or as high as 13. It does not deteriorate on heating, experiencing only a slight alteration in color at temperatures up to 150-152°C for two hours.”

      There’s really no reason to use e-wax on it’s own. The only things you can really do with pure wax is make candles, and I don’t think e-wax candles would be very nice.

      My basic lotion recipe when using e-wax is 75% water parts and 25% oil parts I generally use 7% e-wax (as part of the oils), usually 73% water and 2% vegetable glycerin, and 18% oils of choice (to complete the 25% oils part). Recommended use for e-wax 2%—10%. Since the wax is part of the oils, if you want to use more, you’ll need to use less oils to total 25% of the recipe, by weight.

      Something else I’d note about e-wax is that is does take a day or two for the lotion to really thicken. For the first few days you’ll have something closer to milk, but after 72 hours or so you’ll have something that is a proper, squirtable, spreadable lotion.

  3. Heather K says:

    Hi, I am new to your blog. What I have seen I am really enjoying! I was just wondering if the hair serum needs to be refrigerated as there are no preservatives? How much does it end up making, can you give me ounces? (I am American). I haven’t gone all natural, taking baby steps. I have cut sulfates and now use a shampoo called Nature’s Gate Herbal. It is loaded with herbs and essential oils. I decant some in a smaller container and dilute it with water using it once or twice per week. Sometimes I just “co wash” with a silicone free conditioner and do the occasional ACV or beer rinse. My hair is really looking healthy and seems to be growing nicely. Also occasionally mist with rooibos tea, or lightly oil the ends with coconut oil. When I want a more intense treatment I use a mixture of coconut, grape seed and castor oil with warm honey. I found the trick to get oil out of hair is to wash it with conditioner. Like gets out like so to speak. Thank you for your wonderful site, and your hair is really beautiful!!

    • Marie says:

      I haven’t refrigerated mine, and it’s still fine after about a year (which defies logic, but I’m ok with it!). It makes 100mL of serum (about 3.3oz as an ounce is ~28mL).

      I’ve read about CO washes on the Long Hair Community before, but never a beer rinse! I guess that makes sense since beer is acidic, just like ACV, but I’m not sure I want to waste beer on my hair ;) Haha, I do love my beer! The tea mist sounds wonderful, I just might try adding some tea to my next batch of anti-frizz hair mist. I love it in my toner, and I’ve used rosemary infusions as a hair spritz before as well.

      I love doing warm oil treatments for my hair, but I’ve found that since I’ve stopped using commercially made shampoos and conditioners, I just don’t need that much added moisture anymore, even in mega-dry Calgary (and it’s SUPER hard to get all that oil out with all the hair I have and the not-as-strong shampoo bars).

      Thanks for stopping by and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions!

  4. Pattie says:

    Need some help I have been doing the no poo method for sometime and I am finding my hair to be very, very, very dry after I wash what am I doing wrong and do you have something I can do different to make my hair more softer? I believe the shampoo way is to drying for my hair. Thank you so much!!!

    • Marie says:

      I’m kind of confused here, Pattie—you said you were using no shampoo, but that you think your hair is so dry because shampoo is too drying? What’s going on? LOL.

      That said, you should definitely try and ACV rinse, hair mist, hair balm, and hair serum!

      • Pattie says:

        what I am doing is the no-poo shampoo way and my hair is very dry after. The baking soda and water. Do you have a way that is not very drying?

        • Marie says:

          Ah, ok! I’ve never used baking soda to wash my hair, so I can’t speak from experience there. I use homemade shampoo bars and an ACV rinse to wash, and add moisture back in with hair balm and hair serum, mostly, if I need to. I live in a very dry climate and I’ve never found that my hair gets very dry after all that—just the ends when I’m due for a trim. Is your hair usually dry? Have you bleached/coloured/permed it a lot in the past? Do you heat treat it frequently?

          • Pattie says:

            My hair is colored. I do not heat dry my hair. The reason I do not make the soap is I am afraid of lye. This is all new to me and I would love to get away from what is put in the shampoo and rinses. So I thought you could help me with this. I have to buy some more items before I can make the balm but I will let you know how it comes out. Thank you for all your help!!!

          • Marie says:

            Pattie—Hmm. Unless you’ve been bleaching your hair for years, I can’t think of a reason that your hair would be very dry, other than age (sadly things tend to dry out over the years). Don’t be afraid of lye, though! If you use bleach in any of your home cleaning, you’ve already got the courage to work with lye :) Just treat it with respect—don’t bathe in it or drink it, haha. That said, there are many awesome soapers out there that make great products and sell them on sites like Etsy, so you could try a shampoo bar from there—just watch out for bad ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and artificial fragrances.

            It occurs to me that the dryness may also be part of a transition period for you and your hair, now that you’ve ditched the stuff from the store. I sure found that I noticed a difference as the silicone byproducts started peeling out of my hair. This may be what you are coming across—the loss of product build up, so your hair feels different from what it is used to.

            I’d also recommend getting yourself a boar bristle brush—the natural bristles are excellent for re-distributing oils throughout your hair, so they’re great for brushing in hair balms and pulling your scalp oils down the shaft of the hair.

            Before you get around to making this awesome serum, you can work a drop or two of oil into your hair—just be sure to go slowly, it is very easy to overdo :) That will help with adding moisture back as well!

  5. Dusty says:

    Essential oils of lavender, lemongrass, and rosemary just curious how much?

    Also Bioplex is not available at New Directions, and what I have found there are about 6 different types and they are mostly Chemical based. Anyway thank you for doing such great things.

    • Marie says:

      It’s really up to you—I love how those three scents blend together, so feel free to tip towards the one you like best and experiment :)

      The Bioplex is totally optional, I doubt you’ll notice much of a change if you leave it out. I bought it out of curiosity and rarely use it.

  6. Chontae says:

    I just stumbled on your site and am in LOVE! I’ve been sulfate\silicone free almost 2 years (Oct).

    I do the co-wash method and love the serum!

    Thank you!

    • Marie says:

      Thanks for reading, Chontae! It’s always great to meet another natural hair care enthusiast :) Have you ever thought about making your own shampoo bars? They are so much fun, and extra awesome for travelling. Did you notice the silicone peeling out of your hair after a few months without it? I sure did, so I’m curious to see if it’s a common experience when going natural, or if I only experienced it because I have very long, very thick hair.

  7. marmar says:

    I have polawax emulsifier can I use it to make leave in hair conditioner. I have read on some sites like swift crafty moneky bolg that for hair conditioner I have to use Emulsifier called BTM50 but I only have polawax and at this time I can’t get this BTM 50.

  8. Allison says:

    I liked this recipe but it got too thick for my taste (for a hair serum anyway). I’ve been using it as a hand lotion instead! I scented it with grapefruit and lime EO, which smells amazing. I just use it at night so I don’t get sunburnt from the citrus EO. If I made it again I might add some argan oil and increase the water to 80% instead of 75%. Thanks!!

    • Marie says:

      Nice! I’d still encourage you to try a small amount out on your ends, though—I just get a wee bit in my hands, spread it across my palms, and lightly dust the ends of my hair :)

  9. Anne says:

    Hi
    This is a lovely recipe but I don’t understand how it doesn’t need a preservative given it’s comprised of a good deal of water. Would you know how that’s the case? Thanks so much Your website is great!

    • Marie says:

      Hi Anne! Technically this does need a preservative—it will eventually mould, no matter what. However, I’ve found that “eventually” can be stretched out if you store the product in a pump-top bottle so you aren’t constantly dipping your fingers into it. My lotions generally last 3–6 months like this, depending on the ingredients. I just watch for mould and toss it out when I see some. That said, you can also add a broad spectrum preservative of your choice. Thanks for reading :)

  10. Diana says:

    I’ve made two batches of this serum so far, and my hair LOVES it. Unfortunately, both batches have separated and gone bad in just a few weeks. Have you experienced this, or do you have any suggestions?

    After it’s separated, I’ve tried shaking it up and it’ll recombine a bit, but it stays thin and runny, then starts smelling bad.

    • Marie says:

      Very strange! I have a batch that is, I kid you not, 2.5 years old. No preservatives, and it’s still fine (honestly not sure how that happened, I doubt I could reproduce that result). Could it be your ewax? The separation thing has me a bit suspicious of it, as I’ve had plenty of things mould, but never separate after the fact.

  11. Sally Wright says:

    New Directions has a $100 minimum order now. Where else is phytokeratin available? I’m having troubles finding it. I live in the United States. Thank you!

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