Today I’m sharing a formulation for an all-natural Rose & Tea Ultra-Light Conditioning Hair Balm. This hair balm was one of my final projects for my Formula Botanica Diploma in Organic Haircare Formulation (I shared the other one back in January; you can check it out here!). It’s a creamy, silky balm that’s surprisingly lightweight and smells softly of roses and vanilla. It’s a brilliant way to add a bit of conditioning richness to your hair care routine!
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This Rose & Tea Ultra-Light Conditioning Hair Balm is off-white with a semi-firm creamy consistency. As you lightly swipe a finger across the surface of the balm you’ll pick up just a thin sheen of product as the balm melts on contact with the skin—this is by design, to help prevent over-application. When massaged between the fingers the hair balm has a very slippy, luxurious feel with a substantivity that keeps it from just feeling oily or greasy—it’s rich and indulgent, with a high-end skin feel reminiscent of salon silicone-based hair serums.
The conditioning ingredient in this Rose & Tea Ultra-Light Conditioning Hair Balm is Varisoft® EQ 65. I’ve tried two different natural cationic emulsifying waxes—this one and Emulsense™ HC. Varisoft is definitely the better of the two by a wide margin… I wouldn’t say it’s because Varisoft is great, but more so because Emulsense… is really not great. I find Varisoft slightly more conditioning than Emulsifying Wax NF (which isn’t conditioning at all), while Emulsenese left me wondering if I’d run chalk through my hair.
Because this product is designed for customers with hair that is not very tolerant of oils, it is primarily comprised of very lightweight emollients. To that end, Neossance® Hemisqualane and LuxFeel N5, two natural cyclomethicone alternatives, constitute 40% of the formulation.
The remaining liquid emollients are camellia seed oil, coconut oil, and daikon seed extract. Camellia seed oil is a very lightweight liquid carrier oil that has been used for hair care for centuries in Japan and China (it is made from the seeds of the plant that gives us tea, hence the “tea” in the name). It will penetrate the hair slightly, while also remaining on the surface to offer shine and reduce friction and potential breakage. Coconut oil melts into a very slippy liquid oil, contributing to the skin feel. It is also able to penetrate the hair and reach the cortex, helping to prevent protein loss and increase the pliability of the hair. Daikon seed extract functions as a mid-weight dimethicone alternative, improving slip and adding richness to the finished product, and adding shine to the hair.
3% silica microspheres further add to the dry-touch finish of the product and lend a very “expensive” feel, reminiscent of high-end commercial hair serums.
Autumn 2023: Formula Botanica is offering a free formulation masterclass where you can learn even more about formulation! You can sign up here 🙂 I highly recommend it, especially if you're wanting to see how Formula Botanica works.
The viscosity and melting point of this product is very important to a good use experience; the product is thick enough to discourage over-application while remaining rich and creamy. This end consistency is achieved with a blend of cetyl alcohol, stearic acid, and candelilla wax. Cetyl alcohol offers lightweight, slippy, brittle thickening; it hardens oils without slowing absorption speed or adding richness—though it does add slip and silkiness. Stearic acid is a powerful thickener that also adds richness and weight to formulations, making them creamier. Candelilla wax brings glassy, brittle thickening to our products. At just 3% it improves stability in warmer temperatures. These three thickeners come together to create a rich, creamy product that readily melts into a slippy, velvety oil between the fingers.
The scent of this balm comes from a combination of rose wax and benzoin resinoid. Rose wax gives the product a lovely rose note without the low usage rate limitations of rose otto. Benzoin resinoid smells of sweet vanilla, complimenting the rose wax beautifully to create a soft, rich, luxurious scent.
To use the balm, run a finger or two over the surface of the balm to pick up a thin coating of product. Quickly spread the product across the palms and fingers, and then run the hands through the hair from the ears down to lightly spread the product through the hair. Apply more as needed, being more generous with the ends of the hair and taking care not to over-apply closer to the scalp.
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Relevant links & further reading
- Varisoft® EQ 65 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Neossance® Hemisqualane in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Camellia Seed Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Silica Microspheres in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Coconut Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cetyl Alcohol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Other conditioning hair balm formulations:
Rose & Tea Ultra-Light Conditioning Hair Balm
1g | 10% Varisoft® EQ 65 (USA / Canada)
2g | 20% Neossance® Hemisqualane (USA / Canada)
1.5g | 15% camellia seed oil
1g | 10% refined coconut oil (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 3% silica microspheres
0.04g | 0.4% rose wax (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 3% candelilla wax
1g | 10% stearic acid (USA / Canada / UK)
0.5g | 5% cetyl alcohol (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 small saucepan.
While the heated phase melts, prepare an ice bath. Take a bowl that is large enough to accommodate the container the heated phase is melting in, and fill it about halfway with ice cubes and cold water.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dishtowel. Set the measuring cup on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything.
Place the measuring cup containing the heated phase into the ice bath and cool, stirring constantly, for about thirty seconds—until you start to notice some building viscosity. Remove the container from the water bath and add the cool down phase. Stir to incorporate.
Continue stirring the mixture in the ice bath until you reach a fairly thick “trace”—the mixture should have enough viscosity that a small amount drizzled over the surface of the mixture leaves a 3D “trace” for a moment. The mixture should appear opaque. Refer to the video to see it in action! This part can be a bit tricky as too much viscosity will mean the batter won’t pour into the container nicely, so be careful and make sure your packing is standing by.
Once you reach trace you can now pour the product into its container and leave it on the counter to set up. To use, glide a few fingertips over the surface of the balm, and work your fingers through the ends of your hair. I like to follow up by brushing my hair with a boar bristle brush. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this hair balm 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 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 10g.
- 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.
- Coco caprylate will work instead of Neossance® Hemisqualane.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like fractionated coconut oil or grapeseed oil instead of camellia seed oil.
- You can replace the rose wax with more coconut oil; this will remove the rose scent. You could also replace the rose wax with a different floral wax for a different scent.
- You could try something else absorbent instead of silica microspheres; clay or starch could work well.
- You can use carnauba wax instead of candelilla wax.
- You could try cetearyl alcohol instead of the blend of cetyl alcohol and stearic acid.
- You could try coco caprylate or cyclomethicone instead of LexFeel N5.
- You could try LexFeel N350 instead of daikon seed extract.
- If you’d like to incorporate a different essential oil, please read this.
- If you’d like to use a fragrance oil instead of the essential oil, please read this.