After making and testing my Cream of Earl Grey Cleansing Conditioner I fell in love with the concept and the product. I found it left my hair incredibly soft and manageable, and I loved the single step in the shower. Working palmfuls of creamy conditioner through my hair felt positively decadent, and my hair was always super easy to comb through. I did, however, run out of the stuff incredibly fast. It turns I go through an awful lot of the stuff with my thick, but not all that long hair. In my world running out of stuff is a plus, though, because that means I get to make more and try new things (woo!).
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There are a few key differences between this formula and the Earl Grey Cleansing Conditioner. First off; it uses twice as much cocamidopropyl betaine, from 2% to 4%. I’ve also dropped the silicone, opting for a silica-rich bamboo-based extract instead. For a slightly richer, thicker product I increased the amount of cetearyl alcohol a wee bit. I also made a bigger batch so I could get more than two hair washes out of a single making session!
In the water phase you’ll find some rose hydrosol for fantastic rose scent, and some plant-sourced keratin for some shine and bounce. Panthenol (vitamin B5) helps add lustre and shine, and cocamidopropyl betaine gives us the gentle cleansing and easy rinse-out that makes this conditioner a cleansing conditioner.
Our oil phase is small in order to ensure this conditioner leaves our hair cleaner than it found it. We’re using BTMS-50 as our emulsifying wax as it is conditioning—its cationic (positive) charge makes it different from other emulsifying waxes like Polawax or Emulsifying Wax NF. We need this conditioning goodness to make this a cleansing conditioner and not a cleansing hair lotion. The amazing conditioned feel that you get from using this product is thanks to the BTMS, so please don’t swap it out!
For oils, we’ve got a blend of coconut and jojoba, with some rich cetearyl alcohol to give the conditioner body. With an oil phase as small as this one (12%), a thickener really is necessary to ensure the end product isn’t a very runny, drooly affair.
Given this is basically a lotion, it’s very simple to make. Warm the two heated phases separately, combine, blend, add your cool down ingredients, and you’re done! You’ll be rewarded with a richly fragrant cleansing conditioner that leaves your hair wonderfully soft and manageable. Enjoy!
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Rose Cardamom Cleansing Conditioner
Heated water phase
103.88g | 51.94% distilled water
40g | 20% rose hydrosol
4g | 2% plant-derived keratin (USA / Canada) (look for products with names like phytokeratin or vegekeratin)
8g | 4% vegetable glycerine
6g | 3% panthenol
8g | 4% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Amphosol CG) (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 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.
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 lotion, 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.
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.
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 200g.
- You can try a different hydrolyzed protein, like hydrolyzed oat protein or hydrolyzed silk in place of the plant-sourced keratin
- 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. You can increase the cleansing strength by increasing it to 4%, 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 homecrafters. Les Âmes Fleurs sells babassuamidopropyl betaine, which should be a good alternative.
- Do not swap the BTMS-50 for a non-cationic emulsifying wax; if you do you’re no longer making hair conditioner
- You can try babassu oil in place of the coconut oil. You can also use refined coconut oil instead of virgin.
- You can use another liquid oil your hair loves in place of jojoba oil; meadowfoam seed oil, argan oil, and broccoli seed oil would all be good options.
- You can use cetyl alcohol instead of cetearyl alcohol.
- Dimethicone 350 or silicone ester copolymer will work instead of the bamboo bioferment. You can also try using a bamboo extract, though I’ve found the usage rates for those are typically higher, so you would want to adjust the recipe to make room for more extract. You can also replace it with more water (lighter) or liquid oil (heavier).
- You can use a different essential oil blend or fragrance oil if you prefer.