If you’re looking for a richer hair conditioner to pamper your lovely locks with, I think you’re going to like this Rich Strawberry Rose Hair Conditioner. A fragrant blend of summery hydrosols blends with some rich conditioners and moisturizers to create an indulgent treat for your hair. Swoon!
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Our water phase stars a stunning blend of strawberry and rose hydrosols, which give this conditioner its beautiful, fruity-floral scent. After that, we have some moisturizing panthenol (vitamin B5) and vegetable glycerin, and some cationic cetrimonium chloride, which helps with both conditioning and rinse-out.
Since this is a richer, rinse-out conditioner, we’re working with a larger oil phase—21%. For leave-in conditioners, you typically want a small oil phase (5% or less), and I find I like something in the 8–15% realm for cleansing and more general rinse-out conditioners. The oil phase is what gives our conditioner much of its heft; a bigger oil phase makes for a thicker, richer end product. If you have hair that is easily weighed down by oils (like mine) you’ll generally want hair products with smaller oil phases, especially for daily use. If your hair loves oils, larger oil phases are probably the way to go for you. You can use the information in this post to scale the oil phase of a conditioner (or any emulsion) up or down to suit your needs!
Our oil phase is mostly babassu oil, though coconut oil would make a great alternative. There’s some cetyl alcohol to add some body and silky goodness, and it’s all emulsified together with BTMS-50, a fabulous cationic/conditioning emulsifying wax that leaves hair feeling positively fabulous. I’ve also included a new-to-me ingredient: Brassica Campestris/Aleurites Fordi Oil Copolymer. It’s a viscous golden liquid, much like liquid lecithin. Made from purified tung wood and rapeseed oils, it’s fully biodegradable and functions as an emollient, occlusive, and film-former. I’m having a lot of fun experimenting with it, and I love the extra oomph it lends to this conditioner. I have listed substitution suggestions after the formula.
With its 21% oil phase, I find this conditioner is very indulgent but works well for my type 1B hair. This is partially because I included 4% Cocamidopropyl Betaine, a mild amphoteric surfactant that helps with rinse out. I also include Cocamidopropyl Betaine in my cleansing conditioners, though with a smaller oil phase. For my hair, I find the larger oil phase in this conditioner keeps the Cocamidopropyl Betaine busy enough that it’s not making my hair any cleaner, so I need to use shampoo first. If you have drier hair you may find you can use this as a cleansing conditioner, though!
Rounding out the cool down phase along with the Cocamidopropyl Betaine is some Polyquaternium 7 for added conditioning power, and some hydrolyzed rice protein to help add volume to the hair. If you’ve made lotion before this will be no trouble at all! Let’s make some Rich Strawberry Rose Hair Conditioner 😄
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Rich Strawberry Rose Hair Conditioner
Heated water phase
22.2g | 18.5% distilled water
18g | 15% strawberry hydrosol
36g | 30% rose hydrosol
2.4g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5)
2.4g | 2% cetrimonium chloride (USA / Canada)
2.4g | 2% vegetable glycerine
Cool down phase
4.8g | 4% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (USA / Canada)
2.4g | 2% Polyquaternium 7 (USA / Canada)
3.6g | 3% hydrolyzed rice protein (USA / Canada)
0.6g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
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 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 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, 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.
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 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. You will notice significant thinning to the master batch when you add the cool down ingredients—this is normal.
Now it’s time to package it up! I used a 120mL (4 fl oz) tottle. To use, massage a palmful or less into your hair from the ears down after shampooing, leave for ~3 minutes, and rinse until clean. Adjust the amount and leave-in time as necessary to suit your hair. Enjoy! Psst…this stuff is also brilliant for shaving with!
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 120g.
- 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.
- You can use a different hydrosol or more distilled water instead of the rose and strawberry hydrosols; this will obviously impact the scent of the final product.
- Vegetable glycerine, sodium lactate, or propanediol would be decent alternatives for the panthenol.
- 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 BTMS-50 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. I have more information on this here.
- Cetearyl alcohol would work well instead of cetyl alcohol.
- Coconut oil (virgin or refined, preferably not fractionated) will work in place of babassu oil.
- You could try soy lecithin instead of Brassica Campestris/Aleurites Fordi Oil Copolymer. You could also try something like dimethicone 350, or a natural dimethicone alternative like LuxGlide 350.
- You can try a different hydrolyzed protein, like hydrolyzed oat protein or hydrolyzed silk in place of the hydrolyzed rice protein
- You can replace the Cocamidopropyl Betaine with more water, but this will decrease the wash-off of the end product. You can increase the wash-out 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 available to home crafters. Les Âmes Fleurs sells babassuamidopropyl betaine, and Essential Wholesale sells sodium cocoamphoacetate. Both should be good alternatives.
- Read this if you’d like to include an essential or fragrance oil.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.