Today we’re creating an ultra-lightweight hair oil that’s designed for hair that’s really not very tolerant of oils (like mine). Some of my favourite-for-hair oils are blended into a silky, fast-evaporating base to create a water-free hair oil that smooths and nourishes hair while leaving it smelling fabulous!
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When I first got into DIYing I remember excitedly ordering fabulous-for-hair oils like argan, camellia seed, and broccoli seed, and enthusiastically applying them to my hair. That enthusiastic application would inevitably be followed by three back-to-back enthusiastic shampooings to get my hair clean again. Dangit! I quickly learned that dilution was necessary for my hair + oils. Diluting the oil in something lighter allows for easier application of tiny amounts of oil—a lightweight diluent makes it harder to over-apply the potent oils and weigh down your hair.
I’ve since made many more diluted hair products. One of the first concoctions I made with emulsifying wax NF (back in 2012) was an emulsified hair serum. It’s not very good (in hindsight, the “ultimate” in the name is a touch of an exaggeration!), but it was a huge improvement on previous efforts (this updated leave-in conditioner is much better)! There’s also this formula from 2017 that incorporates lightweight Hemisqualane to reduce the oiliness of the camellia seed oil in the formula without creating an emulsion (consider that option if you don’t want to use the volatile base for this formulation).
Today’s Featherweight Hair Oil formulation builds on that idea with some ultra-lightweight oil-soluble diluents that also have stunning slip and skin/hair feel. If you’ve ever checked out a “hair oil” you’ve found at the drug store or Sephora you’ve likely noticed the first ingredient is likely cyclomethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, or isododecane (like this + this). These three ingredients are thin, fast-evaporating (volatile) liquids—much like water, but they’re oil soluble.
These lightweight liquids make fantastic diluents for all kinds of things; I’ve found they offer almost water-like diluting, but as they’re oil-soluble they don’t require an emulsion or preservative (check out this crazy simple anhydrous room/linen spray formulation from Lotion Crafter!). You’ll also find these ingredients in lots of cosmetics—especially ones that start as a liquid or cream and set quickly (think eyeshadow primer, liquid lipstick, gel eyeliner, and cream eyeshadows).
Sample hair serum/oil formulations like this one and this one (and others I’ve found on UL Prospector from Tinci & Dow) give an idea of what the typical usage rate of these lightweight diluents is. It’s pretty high—generally upwards of 90%, and often closer to 95–98%! The remaining percentage is generally comprised of oils (in a shop-bought product that’s usually the oil that’s being bragged about on the label), heavier silicones, fragrance, and other oil-soluble good-for-hair ingredients.
This formulation blends cyclomethicone and isododecane to create our volatile base (90.5% of the formulation), and then we get into the good stuff! I chose a blend of camellia seed oil and fractionated coconut oil with a touch of dimethicone for added shine—all that totals 8%. You could use other carrier oils your hair loves, though—it’s very customizable! I’ve also included some vitamin E and fragrance; again, feel free to customize it with a fragrance and/or essential oil you love!
Nothing requires any heating or melting, so simply measure, mix, and you’re done. Enjoy!
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Featherweight Hair Oil
7.5625g | 60.5% cyclomethicone (USA / Canada)
3.75g | 30% isododecane (USA / Canada)
0.125g | 1% dimethicone 350 (USA / Canada)
0.625g | 5% camellia seed oil
0.25g | 2% fractionated coconut oil
0.0625g | 0.5% vitamin E oil
0.125g | 1% fragrance
Weigh all the ingredients into a small beaker or measuring cup and stir to combine (alternatively you could weigh everything directly into the bottle and shake to combine). That’s it! Transfer to a 15mL (1/2 fl oz) bottle with a dropper top and you’re done!
To use, smooth a few drops over your hair as needed for a bit of fly-away taming and a shine boost.
Because this hair oil is 100% oil-based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year or two before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
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 12.5g, which fils a 15mL (1/2 fl oz) bottle nicely.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, 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.
- The lightweight, volatile, oil-free base is integral to this formulation. Some possible variations:
- Using all of either cyclomethicone or isododecane
- Using cyclopentasiloxane instead of either or both
- Using dimethicone 1.5 (the 1.5 is important—other weights of dimethicone are heavier and will not work) instead of either or both
- Feel free to use different liquid oils in place of the dimethicone 350, camellia seed oil, and/or fractionated coconut oil.
- You can use an essential oil and/or fragrance (or blend) of your choice; just be sure to be aware of maximum usage rates for any essential oils you’re working with.
- You could replace the vitamin E with more cyclomethicone, isododecane, or liquid oil—it helps extend the shelf life by delaying the onset of rancidity, but this formulation is mostly comprised of ingredients that have extremely long shelf lives, so you likely won’t miss it, especially if you make small batches.
- If you want to eliminate the fragrance/essential oil replace that 1% with more cyclomethicone or isododecane.