In this post, I share my experience with making hair conditioners. I have made a small experiment, comparing a classical and special conditioner emulsifier.

First, I have written a post about a hair conditioner recipe I recently tried, but then I realized, that there is so much to explain, that I have to make two posts.

This is the theoretical part, what did I learn and a small experiment I did ūüôā

I am not an expert in hair cosmetics (e.g. Susan Barclay-Nichols is), but I am now in the period of deeper interest in this subject and make quite a bunch of experiments on natural and non-natural home made shampoos and conditioners… I will be coming back soon with more posts on that.


So what did I learn when I got interested in making hair conditioners…



I will kind of assume that everyone has at least a practical idea of what a conditioner does to our hair – it untangles them, makes them fluffy and easy to comb. Often can help with static electricity and makes hair shiny.


My hair type – for your info, so that you know if my experience may apply to you!


  • I am that¬†neither brunette – neither blond– something-in between – hair type. My Algerian colleague says I am definitely blond. My Swedish colleague just smiles – of course I am not blond! I think I am the mice fur colored… I can easily change the color of my hair to any desirable one, which I do (on the image me – the blond part is¬† bleached).
  • My hair is thin and difficult to keep in volume, ¬†I need a special cut.
  • Thanks to bleaching, my endings are dry and split, but
  • I am the easy-greased hair type at the roots – I have to wash every 2 or 3 (if I am lucky) days…and as by now you can imagine, I need also a really, really good shampoo and conditioner, otherwise I look like… well… coming from woods…. after two weeks of being lost …


I am very unhappy to say that I do not support the really¬†natural¬†home made alternatives of shampoos and conditioners. I tried, I really did! When I imagine what my hair had to survive in the name of my curiosity… ¬†I will write about this in some of the future posts.


Making hair conditioner

After a bit of searching, I found that making a hair conditioner is relatively easy – like making a cream or lotion, I would say even easier – provided you have the right ingredients!


My very first conditioner ( Coconut conditioner recipe) was based on the recipe from a book. I used Olivem 1000 as an emulsifier. I did not enjoy it much Рit made my hair incredibly heavy. My mother was not happy about it neither (she has the same color, but much stronger hair). I did not remake it since.


I came back to the conditioners recently and did a bit of research. It seems that for a conditioner, we need the right emulsifier for hair products.


Although I was not sure whether my previous bad experience was caused by the wrong emulsifier, or by other ingredients or their proportions, I have bought two emulsifiers for hair products: BTMS and Conditioner emulsifier.


Hair conditioner emulsifiers – what is so special about them?


BTMS РINCI: Cetearyl alcohol and Behetrimonium methosulfateThis emulsifier is composed of a fatty alcohol and behetrimonium metosulfate Рquarternary amoniac salt compound. 
Well, the name of that last compound sounds quite dangerous, but it just looks like. ¬†What does it do? I will sum up what Susan writes more in detail on her blog: The salt dissolves well in water and therefore can access the hair more easily. Cationicmeans it has a positive charge, therefore it is attracted by negatively charged hair, to which it sticks and makes a layer. This way it helps to diminish the static electricity, hair is detangled and easy to comb. But what about the cetearyl alcohol? It seems that behetrimonium methosulfate on its own can get pretty sticky. The fatty alcohols are added to give the slip and glide.That’s so far all I know about it, but I do study!


Conditioner emulsifier- INCI: Stearamidopropyl dimethylamineFile:Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine.pngAlso a cationic surfactant, which is activated in acid conditions.It seems it does not need anything else for conditioning Рoffers slip and glide and is antistatic, but it is a pretty bad emulsifier so it works the best in a combination with BTMS or other emulsifier.This is all I found about it, but again РI do study!
Source of the image:

So they serve both as emulsifiers and conditioning agents! Isn’t this simple and beautiful?


Basic hair conditioner recipe


The easiest conditioner does not need anything else but emulsifier, water and preservative, for example:
 6% BTMS

93% distilled water

 1% preservative


1) Heat and melt the BTMS

2) Heat the distilled water

3) When both have 158¬įF (70¬įC), mix them together. The emulsion will be made very fast and easily.

4) Then, when the emulsion cools down, add the preservative

5) Add any other things you would like to (fragrances, colorants)

6) Bottle and enjoy


Formulating your own hair conditioner

  • You can substitute flower waters or herbal infusions of your choice for distilled water (chamomile for blond hair,¬†yarrow¬†for greasy hair, nettle to fight the hair loss…).
  • If you have dry hair and can make them shiny, it seems – from what I have read – a good choice is to add avocado oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, castor oil or murumuru butter, although jojoba, coconut and castor will be probably appreciated by all hair types. Just add them to the recipe and discount the appropriate amount of water – beware, do not use too much oils, as you might have problems with emulsion. I believe 5-20% of oils might be enough.
  • All hair will probably love the hydrolyzed proteins (adding at cool down phase) and provitamine B5 (panthenol) or vitamine E (add up to 5%, but 2% should be enough)
  • You can add silicones


The experiment – are the special conditioner emulsifiers really necessary?


For the experiment, I tried a recipe on my suppliers page which I renamed .


However, when someone tells me that I definitely need something, I have this tendency to check if I really do… just to know what is my opinion… what if I am special and different? And how could I ever understand the difference if I did not try?


Therefore I have made an experiment. I did this recipe twice:

  • once with the BTMS as emulsifier – as in the original recipe
  • and once subsituting¬† Olivem 1000 for BTMS


1) I washed my hair with my home-made bar shampoo (totally unnatural and therefore working, sorry…)


2) To keep the conditions as equal as possible, I divided my hair in two parts:

  • Left part: BTMS conditioner was applied
  • Right part: Olivem 1000 based conditioner was applied.¬†


3) I rinsed well my hair in water (for the record – our water is quite hard)


The results and observations


  • BTMS¬†– this emulsifier has made rather liquid lotion, which took 12 hours to get the consistency of the Olivem 1000 based conditioner. The hair was untangled and easy to comb. My hair was non-greasy, dried pretty fast and was shiny!
  • Olivem 1000¬†– ¬†this emulsifier created a very thick cream immediately. The hair was incredibly slow to dry, like if there was some layer over each hair. Finally, after drying, this part of hair was substantially more greasy, heavy and I had to repeat washing in the evening


Below the photos illustrating my experience….

Olivem 1000
Olivem 1000
Olivem 1000

Did you like my experiment or want to share your experience? Leave me a comment!


Where do I find inspiration?


  • For formulating recipes and some more theory, I do really recommend you reading the blog post of Susan:¬†Conditioner: The basic recipes
  • There is also a very good blog named The Natural Heaven Bloom, which is¬†dedicated to hair only – just recently published a post on¬†Deep Hair Conditioning. I come here also for a lot of inspiration and advice.



Have a nice hair conditioning day!