If you’ve been interested in making a solid conditioner bar, but have been intimidated by the long ingredient lists on the formulations I’ve shared in the past, this post is for you! These beautiful Cocoa Coconut Simple Conditioner Bars are made from just six ingredients and are as easy to make as a body butter bar. Simply melt, pour, chill, and unmould and you’ll have yourself some beautiful blocks of richly conditioning goodness!
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
I’ve been wanting to create a simpler conditioner bar formulation ever since Cruz left a comment back in the spring of 2017 mentioning a simple cocoa butter conditioner bar they had made. I loved the idea of creating a conditioner bar with fewer than ten ingredients, though it definitely took me a while to get around to creating something that fit the bill! With all the cocoa/coconutty goodness floating around in my brain this holiday making season that idea finally re-surfaced and I found the time to breathe some life into it 😄
The bulk of this formulation is gorgeous, fragrant cocoa butter and a smaller amount of mouthwatering coconut oil, totally 47% between the two of them. Earlier versions used more of both (version #1 was 65%!), but I found the end bars were too soft. Cocoa butter melts around 34°C (93°F), which is brilliant when we want something to melt on contact with the skin, but we need conditioner bars to be a bit harder than that because most people prefer a shower to be warmer than body temperature. The average temperature for an enjoyable hot shower is around 40°C (104°F), meaning cocoa butter gets pretty darn soft in a hot shower situation. Earlier bars held together well enough for one quick use, but they were pretty mushy and deposited a lot of conditioner into the hair as they broke down.
I worked away, iterating the bars using just cetyl alcohol as the hardener, but after a series of still-too-soft bars I opted to include some stearic acid as well, and that worked beautifully. I probably could’ve eventually made the bars work using just cetyl alcohol as the hardener, but by combining the two I was able to keep the amounts of cocoa butter and coconut oil reasonably high, and that was important to me for this formulation.
As you might’ve guessed from the previous two paragraphs, the melting point of a conditioner bar is really important! Too soft and it turns into shower mush; too hard and it’s like trying to work an eraser through your hair. This formulation is very carefully balanced to get the melting point just right, and because it’s so simple, if you want to substitute much of anything, you will be changing the melting point. Depending on what you changed, and how much of it you changed, this could be detrimental to the performance of the formulation.
In keeping with the “simple” theme, there is no water part to these conditioner bars. If you’d like to make a more complex conditioner bar that incorporates some water-soluble goodies, I recommend checking out this Cranberry Orange Conditioner Bar that uses BTMS-50, or this Passionfruit Coconut Conditioner Bar that uses BTMS-25.
To mould these bars, I used my silicone honeycomb mold (USA / Canada). Each wee cavity can hold up to 15g, but I nudged that down to 12g to reduce the sloshing/overflow potential when carrying the mould to the fridge. I’d leave the bars to solidify in the fridge before unmoulding them, and that’s it! I did experiment with leaving the bars for a day or three before using them, but I didn’t notice any difference, and the weight loss was negligible (0.4% after 8+ days).
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
Cocoa Coconut Simple Conditioner Bars
Preheat your oven to 176°F/80°C.
Weigh the heated phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or beaker. Place that beaker on a baking tray and pop that in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until everything has melted through.
Once the heated phase is melted/hot, we’re ready to add the post-heat phase and mould the bars. We want to move quickly at this point, so be sure you know exactly what you need to do and you have everything at hand before you remove the tray from the oven. REMEMBER! The beaker that was in the oven will be hot. Make sure you are wearing oven mitts whenever you touch it!
Remove the heated phase from the oven. Weigh the correct amount preservative into the beaker and stir to combine. Once that mixture is uniform, pour it into your mould. I used my silicone honeycomb mold (USA / Canada), dividing the 36g batch between three small cavities.
Carefully transfer the mould to the fridge and chill until solid (roughly one hour). When the bars are solid, gently unmould them. That’s it!
To use, simply glide the bar over wet hair after shampooing, leave it in for a minute or two (I usually shave my legs in that time), and rinse clean. I recommend storing the bar somewhere it can drain and dry out between uses; I have a wire rack in my shower that works beautifully.
While you can use these bars straight away, testers have reported they glide better if left to age for 3 or 4 days.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because these conditioner bars will regularly come into contact with water, I highly recommend including a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. In the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 36, which will make three 12g bars using the mould I used.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- Given how short this ingredient list is, and how carefully balanced this formulation is to create an end product with just the right melting point, I really don’t recommend making any substitutions. You can use refined versions of the cocoa butter and/or coconut oil if desired. If you make any other changes to the ingredients in the heated phase, you will be in re-development territory.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
The cocoa butter and coconut oil were gifted by Baraka Shea Butter. Links to Baraka Shea Butter are affiliate links.