I’m continuing our Strawberry Kiwi theme today with a formulation for a creamy and gentle Strawberry Kiwi Cleansing Conditioner. A cleansing conditioner is a lovely, indulgent way to gently cleanse and condition your hair with just one product. This one is creamy and silky, and smells wonderfully of juicy strawberries. It leaves your hair feeling clean and richly conditioned, and it’s lovely.
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The oil phase of this Strawberry Kiwi Cleansing Conditioner is pretty simple; a blend of BTMS-25, cetyl alcohol, and kiwi oil. BTMS-25 is both the emulsifier and primary conditioning ingredient. I usually choose BTMS-50 instead of BTMS-25 as it’s more conditioning, but I know the 50 version isn’t as widely available as the 25 version, so I chose the 25 version for this formulation. The oil phase is fairly small, so some added cetyl alcohol helps boost viscosity and add silky loveliness. Lightweight kiwi seed oil is our star carrier oil. Rich in α-Linolenic acid and Linoleic acid, kiwi seed oil contains a uniquely high amount of squalene.
A key part of a cleansing conditioner is the inclusion of a small amount of gentle surfactant for that key cleansing goodness. I’ve selected sodium cocoamphoacetate for this cleansing conditioner; it’s a gentle amphoteric surfactant. You could very easily use Cocamidopropyl Betaine instead; sodium cocoamphoacetate is much more basic than Cocamidopropyl Betaine, so if you do make the swap you’ll need to re-visit the pH of the formulation. I’ve included 0.2% citric acid so the pH of the finished product is mildly acidic; if you use already acidic Cocamidopropyl Betaine you likely won’t need that much.
Our strawberry-y goodness comes from fragrant, juicy-smelling strawberry distillate. It’s a delicious and all-natural way to get a rich, lovely strawberry scent in our products. If you don’t have it, I’d replace the distillate with more distilled water and include 0.1–0.2% strawberry fragrance oil in the cool down phase.
So, just how cleansing is this cleansing conditioner? I’d say it’s quite mild and would be well suited to drier hair types, but probably not strong enough for oilier hair types. If you’d like to adjust to the cleansing power of this formulation, simply increase or decrease the amount of surfactant. Keep in mind that you will need to test and adjust the pH of the final product if you do this. I do recommend making it as-written at least once so you can get a feel for it first; you can always use it as a regular rinse-out cream conditioner if it doesn’t work as a cleansing conditioner for you.
Relevant links & further reading
- Sodium cocoamphoacetate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- BTMS-25 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Panthenol (Vitamin B5) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Hydrolyzed Quinoa Protein in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cetyl Alcohol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Other cleansing conditioner formulations:
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Strawberry Kiwi Cleansing Conditioner
Heated water phase
41.29g | 41.29% distilled water
30g | 30% strawberry distillate
5g | 5% vegetable glycerine
4g | 4% sodium cocoamphoacetate
0.5g | 0.5% panthenol powder (vitamin B5)
0.2g | 0.2% citric acid
0.01g | 0.01% water-soluble red dye
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 or glass beaker. 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 the water phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase 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.
Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! I used a 100g (3.5oz) frosted squeeze tube from YellowBee and it worked beautifully.
To use: in the shower, dispense a good 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.
When made as-written, this cleansing conditioner has a pH ~5.75, which is great. If you make any changes I highly recommend testing the pH and adjusting if neccessary.
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 100g.
- 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 (panthenol) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You can use a different hydrosol instead of strawberry, or more distilled water for an unscented product.
- You could try propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerin.
- If you’d like to learn more about the surfactants used and compare them to ones you might already have so you can make substitutions, check out this page and read this FAQ.
- The dye is optional; replace it with more water if you don’t want to use it.
- You could use mica instead of dye; increase the amount to 0.5% (reducing the water to make room) and include it in the heated oil phase.
- You can substitute the kiwi seed oil with another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed.
- Cetearyl alcohol will work instead of cetyl alcohol.
- You could use BTMS-50 instead of BTMS-25; this will make for a slightly thinner but more conditioning end product.
- You could try a different cationic or non-ionic gum/gelling ingredient instead of cationic guar gum. Make sure you are checking the charge as some gums (like xanthan) are anionic and anionic and cationic ingredient do not always play well together. Regular guar gum would be my first recommendation.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
- You can replace hydrolyzed quinioa protein with a different hydrolyzed protein (oat, rice, baobab).
The red water-soluble dye and tube were gifted by YellowBee. The sodium cocoamphoacetate and hydrolyzed quinoa protein were gifted by Essential Wholesale. The kiwi seed oil was gifted by Mystic Moments.