After sharing my Mango Mango Shampoo Bar formula there were questions about a Mango Mango Conditioner, and I’m excited to share this cheery orange and oh-so-fragrance Mango Mango Cleansing Conditioner formula with you today! You can use this as both a cleansing conditioner or a normal conditioner—I find it works well as a sole cleanser most of the time, but if I’ve been using more hairspray or gel than usual it can be nice to start with a shampoo bar sudsing up and then follow that with a palmful of this conditioner from the ears down. However you decide to use it I think you (and your hair) will really enjoy the smooth, creamy consistency and gentle conditioning of this happy orange conditioner 😊
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Something new/different about this cleansing conditioner formula is the use of a natural cationic emulsifier/surfactant called Varisoft® EQ 65 (INCI: Distearoylethyl Dimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol). The conditioning agent, Distearoylethyl Dimonium Chloride, is biodegradable and ECOcert-certified, so if you’re looking for a natural alternative to BTMS-50, this just might be up your alley.
I’ve been testing a variety of formulas using Varisoft® EQ 65 and I’ve found it to work fairly well, but I definitely don’t find it to be as potent of a conditioner as BTMS-50 or behentrimonium chloride (BTMC). If you need super strong, ultra-slippy conditioning for your hair I’m not sure you’ll be entirely satisfied with the performance of Varisoft® EQ 65. For this reason I’ve amped up the conditioning power of this cleansing conditioner with the inclusion of two other cationic ingredients—polyquaternium 7 and cetrimonium chloride. I wouldn’t class either as particularly natural, but I have provided a more natural alternative in the substitutions section below the formula.
Products made with Varisoft® EQ 655 need to have a pH below 5 as it tends to break down in higher pH environments. We generally want haircare products to be in the 3.5–5.5 range, and with this emulsifier we are aiming for something above 3.5 and below 5. Please watch the video to see the testing and adjusting in action!
I’ve kept the oil phase of this cleansing conditioner fairly small as my hair (type 1B) is not hugely tolerant of oils—a large oil phase means this conditioner isn’t likely to be getting my hair cleaner! The liquid oil part is entirely vibrant orange sea buckthorn fruit oil, and then we get some added thickening from some cetearyl alcohol. Since the oil phase here is so small without a thickener like cetearyl alcohol the end product would be pretty prone to being runny— cetearyl alcohol helps contribute some lovely body and additional richness. I’ve also included a bit of LuxGlide N350, a natural dimethicone 350 alternative. If you don’t have it, please refer to the substitutions at the end of the formula.
Another awesome-for-hair ingredient I’ve used in this formula is hydrolyzed quinoa protein. Hydrolyzed quinoa protein has been found to have some unique hair benefits, including reduction of hair dye wash-out, protecting and strengthening the hair, and improving shine and hydration.
In keeping with our ongoing mango theme we’ve got some beautiful mango natural fragrance oil giving this cleansing conditioner its stunning, mouth-watering scent. Some Cocamidopropyl Betaine gives this cleansing conditioner its cleansing power, boosting rinse-out of both the conditioner and the stuff you’re looking to get out of your hair. This conditioner comes together just like a lotion, so if you’ve made lotion before you’ll be off to the races in no time. Happy conditioning!
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Mango Mango Cleansing Conditioner
Heated water phase
172.698g | 71.96% distilled water
9.6g | 4% vegetable glycerine
2.4g | 1% panthenol powder (vitamin B5)
2.4g | 1% polyquaternium 7 (USA / Canada)
4.8g | 2% cetrimonium chloride (USA / Canada)
Cool down phase
7.2g | 3% hydrolyzed quinoa protein
9.6g | 4% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (USA / Canada)
0.102g | 0.04% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
1.2g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
2.4g | 1% mango natural 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. 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 (if not, give it a quick blast in the microwave—I find the Varisoft EQ 65 tends to need a bit of a kick in the pants to melt) and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh it. Add enough hot distilled water to bring the weight back up to what it was before heat and hold, 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, leave to cool for ten, blend for another minute or two, and repeat this blend-cool-blend cycle until the outside of the glass measuring cup is barely warm to the touch and the conditioner is thick and creamy.
While it’s cooling, we’re going to get set up to adjust the pH. Be sure to read this great article on the importance of diluting solutions when pH testing them—we’re doing that here! Prepare at least two small bowls by weighing 9g of distilled water into them (you’re going to want a scale that’s accurate to 0.01g for this). To make your citric acid solution, weigh 5g of citric acid into a small beaker and add 5g of distilled water. Stir to combine; you’ll probably a couple quick microwave bursts are required to get the citric acid to dissolve as this is a pretty concentrated solution.
When the conditioner is cool 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 lotion 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 lotion. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
To test the pH, add 1g of product to one of the bowls containing 9g of water to create a 10% dilution, and pH check that. If necessary, add a drop of the citric acid solution to the parent batch, stir, and re-test. Continue until the pH is in the 4–4.5 range. Please watch the video to see this in action!
And you’re done! All that’s left to do is bottle it up—I like a tottle (tube/bottle combo thing) for this sort of project. A 240mL/8oz tottle is a good choice.
To use: in the shower, dispense a solid amount of cleansing conditioner into your palm and work it through wet hair, roots to tips—you’ll need quite a lot if your hair is thick and/or long. Pay special attention to massaging the conditioner into your scalp. Rinse thoroughly. That’s it! No need for individual shampoo or conditioner.
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 is likely to 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.
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 260g.
- 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!
- You could use a different humectant instead of the glycerine, like sodium lactate or propanediol.
- If you don’t have the Polyquaternium 7 or cetrimonium chloride you can use all of one (the maximum wash off usage rate for both is 10%). You could also use honeyquat (USA / Canada), though I have found it has a much stronger fishy smell. The maximum usage rate for honeyquat is 5%, so you could use it instead of either or both the Polyquaternium 7 or cetrimonium chloride. If you don’t have any non-fatty conditioning ingredients you can replace the Polyquaternium 7 and cetrimonium chloride with more water, but this will reduce the conditioning level of the end product.
- I do not recommend swapping the Varisoft EQ 65 for a non-cationic emulsifying wax. Because we do have some other conditioning ingredients in this recipe you won’t be completely removing the conditioning element from the recipe, but I’d still consider it a pretty substantial loss to the end product. You could use BTMS-50 instead.
- You can use a different orange oil (like buriti or sea buckthorn seed oil) instead of the sea buckthorn fruit oil, or you can replace it with a different liquid oil (this will eliminate the orange colour).
- If you replace the sea buckthorn fruit oil with a non-orange oil you can try using 0.75% non-orange liquid carrier oil and 0.25% orange mica to keep the colour.
- You can use cetyl alcohol instead of cetearyl alcohol.
- You can replace theLuxGlide N350 with dimethicone 350 (USA / Canada), or with a different liquid oil (I probably wouldn’t use more seabuckthorn fruit oil as that might be getting orange enough to stain the skin).
- You can try a different hydrolyzed protein, like hydrolyzed oat protein or hydrolyzed silk in place of the hydrolyzed quinoa protein.
- You can replace the Cocamidopropyl Betaine with more water, but this will decrease the wash-off of the end product and it will no longer be a cleansing conditioner (it’ll just be a conditioner, which is still nice!). You can increase the cleansing strength by increasing it to 6%, removing that extra 2% from the distilled water. You could use a different amphoteric surfactant for the Cocamidopropyl Betaine, but I haven’t had much luck finding any that are easily available to homecrafters. Les Âmes Fleurs sells babassuamidopropyl betaine, and Essential Wholesale sells sodium cocoamphoacetate. Both should be good alternatives, though if you use sodium cocoamphoacetate you will definitely need to test and adjust the pH downwards.
- You can use a different essential oil blend or fragrance oil if you prefer.