This post (and pair of formulations) is a continuation of last month’s Super Simple Creamy Hair Conditioner with BTMS-25: 3 Ways. Today we are making two more creamy hair conditioners with BTMS-25; one is a lightweight conditioner that makes a good leave-in conditioner, and the other is much richer, better suited to rinse-out and mask applications, depending on the needs of the user. Each formulation is easy to customize and designed to help you learn even more about conditioner formulation. Let’s get conditioning!

2 Creamy Conditioners with BTMS-25: Light & Rich

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Pre-Requisites

If you haven’t read my Super Simple Creamy Hair Conditioner: 3 Ways post, please go do that right now. It’s the foundation for these two formulations and includes information on the base ingredients, what hair conditioner is, how it works, using BTMS-50 instead of BTMS-25, and more.

How do the two conditioners differ?

The key difference between these two formulations is the size of the oil phase and the weight of the emollients in the oil phase. The light, fast-absorbing conditioner has a small oil phase and features a lightweight ester. The richer, heavier conditioner has a larger oil phase made up of richer emollients.

Both formulations include half a percent of Panthenol (Vitamin B5), 3% hydrolyzed protein of choice, some cationic guar gum for a viscosity and conditioning boost, and some fragrance for lovely scent.

The Lightweight Conditioner

This lightweight conditioner makes a lovely leave-in hair conditioner for hair that is easily weighed down; my type 1b hair loves it!

The Ingredients

If an ingredient in either formulation isn’t discussed in this post, it’s because it is discussed in my Super Simple Creamy Hair Conditioner: 3 Ways. Please read that post to learn more!

Panthenol (Vitamin B5)

Both the lightweight and rich conditioner include 0.5% panthenol, also known as vitamin B5. This versatile vitamin helps increase hair elasticity and reduce breakage as it’s able to penetrate the hair and moisturize it, adding flexibility. It also makes hair softer and shinier (hooray!), and reduces static. We typically use it at higher concentrations than half a percent in skincare products, but haircare usage levels are lower.

The panthenol I’m using is powdered; if yours is liquid, you’ll need to use more. Please read the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia entry on panthenol (Vitamin B5) to learn more.

Propanediol 1,3

I’ve included some Propanediol 1,3 in both conditioners as it’s an effective, low-tack humectant, helping to moisturize the hair. In combination with the film-forming humectants in this formulation (click to learn more—make sure you read through the comments, too!), it helps keep our hair from drying out. It also helps boost preservative performance. If you don’t have propanediol 1,3 you could use Vegetable Glycerin instead.

Isoamyl Laurate

This is our key, lightweight emollient. It’s a plant-derived ester with an elegant, non-greasy skin feel, and it helps improve spreadability. Due to its lightweight skin feel, is sometimes marketed as a cyclomethicone alternative. Unlike cyclomethicone, isoamyl laurate isn’t volatile, meaning it doesn’t evaporate, and this is a pretty significant difference. It means we can include isoamyl laurate in the heated phase as it won’t evaporate off and vanish; it also means isoamyl laurate will stick around after we apply the hair conditioner (unlike the water—most of that will evaporate off fairly quickly).

If you don’t have isoamyl laurate you could use a different lightweight ester instead: Coco-Caprylate, isoamyl cocoate, and Neossance® Hemisqualane would all be lovely choices. If you wanted a slightly richer conditioner you could use a lightweight or midweight liquid oil instead; Camellia Seed OilArgan Oil, and Coconut Oil could all be lovely. Please read the Super Simple Creamy Hair Conditioner: 3 Ways post to learn more about using (and choosing) oils in hair conditioner.

Cationic Guar Gum

Both the light and rich formulations include a small amount of cationic guar gum to boost conditioning, viscosity, and detangling. I’ve kept the amount low for a few reasons: it’s effective at low usage rates, I don’t love the consistency it brings to formulations at high usage rates, and it stinks (which can come through at higher usage rates—but isn’t noticeable in these formulations!).

I’ve included the cationic guar gum in the heated oil phase as it can’t clump in oil; it’ll incorporate beautifully once the phases are combined.

Learn More: When Guar and Guar are Not the Same

Vitamin E

A small amount of Tocopherol (Vitamin E)—a potent antioxidant—helps delay rancidity. This is more of a benefit in the richer conditioner due to the plant oils it contains, which are more prone to oxidization than the ester used in this formulation. If you don’t have vitamin E you could easily replace it with more distilled water or hydrolyzed protein—this doesn’t replicate the rancidity delaying properties of vitamin E, it simply keeps the formulation in balance.

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The Formulation

The Lightweight Conditioner

Heated water phase
83.2g | 83.2% distilled water
0.5g | 0.5% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
4g | 4% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)

Heated oil phase
3g | 3% BTMS-25 (USA / Canada / UK)
5g | 5% Isoamyl Laurate (USA / Canada / EU)
0.2g | 0.2% cationic guar gum (USA / Canada)

Cool down phase
0.5g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% hydrolyzed quinoa protein (USA / Canada)
0.4g | 0.4% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.2g | 0.2% fragrance oil

Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.

Weigh the heated water phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or glass beaker. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Weigh the heated oil phase into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.

After about 20–30 minutes the oil part should be completely melted and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh the water phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating, and then pour the water part into the oil part. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.

Grab your immersion blender and begin blending the conditioner, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid conditioner doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. Blend for about a minute before switching to hand stirring. You’ll need to be fairly diligent with the stirring at first, but once the mixture has thickened up a bit and is uniform you can switch to stirring occasionally. Once the outside of the glass measuring cup is just warm to the touch (40°C or cooler, if you have a thermometer) we’re ready to proceed.

Now it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of conditioner on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of conditioner, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of conditioner. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.

Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! I recommend a squeeze bottle, squeeze tube, or pump-top bottle for this formulation.

To use, apply a small amount to wet or dry hair. I usually start with a nickel-sized amount, applying from the bottom of my hair up to about my ears. What (and how much) works for you will depend on your hair. Experiment and have fun!

Shelf Life & Storage

Because this conditioner contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.

The Rich Conditioner

Compared to the light conditioner, the rich conditioner contains more BTMS-25, has a larger oil phase, and uses richer oils and butters than the ester used in the light conditioner. The other ingredients stay the same, though the water amount does drop to make room for the larger oil phase.

The Ingredients

The only different ingredients in this formulation are the carrier oils. You can definitely play with these—use all of just one, swap the amounts around, use a different oil you know your hair loves instead of one (or al). It’s up to you—have fun with it! As long as you keep the percentages the same you can’t go too far wrong 😊

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil won’t penetrate the hair much if at all; instead, it’ll sit on the surface to add gloss and shine. Learn more with this awesome article from the Science-y Hair blog + in the Super Simple Creamy Hair Conditioner: 3 Ways post!

Shea butter & Argan oil

Both shea butter and argan oil will partially penetrate the hair, adding both shine and pliability.

Shea butter is quite rich, so it adds weight and nourishing goodness to the formulation. It’ll also boost viscosity a bit since it’s solid.

Vitamin-rich argan oil has been used in haircare for centuries; I love its silky feel and there’s no denying it boosts label appeal!

The Formulation

The Rich Conditioner

Heated water phase
63.2g | 63.2% distilled water
0.5g | 0.5% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
4g | 4% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)

Heated oil phase
6g | 6% BTMS-25 (USA / Canada / UK)
10g | 10% jojoba oil (USA / Canada)
8g | 8% unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
4g | 4% argan oil (USA / Canada)
0.2g | 0.2% cationic guar gum (USA / Canada)

Cool down phase
0.5g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% hydrolyzed quinoa protein (USA / Canada)
0.4g | 0.4% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.2g | 0.2% fragrance oil

Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.

Weigh the heated water phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or glass beaker. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Weigh the heated oil phase into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.

After about 20–30 minutes the oil part should be completely melted and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh the water phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating, and then pour the water part into the oil part. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.

Grab your immersion blender and begin blending the conditioner, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid conditioner doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. Blend for about a minute before switching to hand stirring. You’ll need to be fairly diligent with the stirring at first, but once the mixture has thickened up a bit and is uniform you can switch to stirring occasionally. Once the outside of the glass measuring cup is just warm to the touch (40°C or cooler, if you have a thermometer) we’re ready to proceed.

Now it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of conditioner on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of conditioner, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of conditioner. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.

Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! I recommend a squeeze bottle, squeeze tube, or jar for this formulation. If you put it in a pump-top bottle you won’t be able to get all of it out.

How you’ll want to use this formulation will depend on your hair type. I use this as a rinse-out cream conditioner for my type 1B hair. Experiment and have fun!

Shelf Life & Storage

Because this conditioner contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.

How do you use these conditioners?

This really depends on your hair! I invite you to experiment and see what works for you.

The lightweight conditioner is best suited for leave-in use, even for very fine hair. I think it is probably too light for rinse-out use, but it could work for very fine, easily weighed-down hair. I have type 1B hair and I can use a good amount of the lightweight conditioner without it making my hair look greasy or lank—it’s just lovely and silky!

I asked my friend Alyssa, who has curly 3B/3C hair, to test the richer conditioner and she shared this feedback:

“[I] used it as a pre-poo, in shower conditioner and leave-in.

Pre-poo – left it on for 20 mins before the shower. Had good slip, was super easy to work with and spread evenly through my hair. Loved the smell. My hair felt stringy/grainy afterwards, however, kind like it was stripped of all the good stuff. The curls held up like normal when I completed my post shower routine.

In-shower – put it on for the duration of my shower. Again, loved the smell and slip. Though the product is much easier to work with when the hair is wet. My curls soaked up every bit of the conditioner. This left them feeling silky and lush after they were styled and dried. This is my favourite method by far. Day 2–3 curls still had lots of moisture and volume.

Leave-in – no crunch!!! performed really well, just like the stuff that I normally use. So lots of hold, volume, and moisture.”

Other questions

Natural alternatives, rinse-out vs. leave-in, and using BTMS-25 instead of BTMS-50 are covered in the Super Simple Creamy Hair Conditioner: 3 Ways post; read it!

How can I make the light conditioner even lighter?

You can make the lightweight conditioner even lighter by using less isoamyl laurate, replacing the removed amount with more distilled water.

How can I make the light conditioner richer?

You can make the light conditioner richer a few different ways.

  1. Increase the percentage of ester; the amount of BTMS-25 in the formulation can emulsify up to about 11%. Reduce the distilled water in the formulation to make room for the extra ester.
  2. Swap the ester for a richer oil.
  3. Do a blend of both!

Your conditioner might start to look like a hybrid between the rich and the light conditioner—that’s great!

How can I make the rich conditioner lighter?

You can make the rich conditioner lighter three different ways:

  1. Use less oils, replacing them with more distilled water.
  2. Use lighter oils.
  3. A blend of both—less oils + lighter oils (or esters).

Your conditioner might start to look like a hybrid between the rich and the light conditioner—that’s great!

How can I make the rich conditioner even richer?

The strategies for making the rich conditioner richer are the same as for making the light conditioner richer 🙂

  1. Increase the percentage of oils; the amount of BTMS-25 in this formulation can’t emulsify much more than is already here, so you’ll need to increase the percentage of BTMS-25 as well. If you bump the BTMS-25 up to 7% you can add another 4% oils and butters to the oil phase (reducing the water to make room for it). Learn more about how to calculate emulsifier and oil phase sizes here. I don’t recommend going past 10% BTMS-25 as that starts to thicken the formulation so much that it’s hard to mix properly—you certainly can, but be prepared for potential blending frustration.
  2. Use richer oils and butters instead of the ones used in the formulation.
  3. Richer oils + larger oil phase!

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Relevant links & further reading