Solid conditioner bars

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 mins

Yields: 1 bar

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Conditioner bars are the solid versions of hair conditioners, using similar ingredients but without being diluted in water, which makes them so much more economical to use. One solid conditioner bar is equivalent to 2 or more bottles of liquid conditioners. As opposed to hair serum bars (more on that in a later blog post), conditioner bars are meant to be used on the ends of the hair, not on the scalp, and unlike shampoo bars, which clean your scalp and hair, conditioner bars condition, nourish, protect, boost shine, and restore vibrancy to your hair. Conditioner bars are made using non-ionic surfactants, oils, butters, and special ingredients, such as hydrolised proteins and panthenol, that are highly beneficial to the hair. This makes conditioner bars slightly more expensive to make than shampoo bars, but the benefits of all the goodness in your conditioner bar greatly outweigh the costs.

One solid conditioner bar is equivalent to 2 or more bottles of liquid conditioner!

The following recipe is for one 100 g solid conditioner bar, which will fit in a clamshell mould available from Pure Nature. If you would like to make more than one bar, just multiply the amounts appropriately. For example if you want to make 6 bars, multiply all the ingredients by 6.

Please note that the recipe uses hydrolysed silk protein, which is not vegan. Alternatively, you can use wheat or soy protein instead. All the ingredients used in this recipe are available from Pure Nature.

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ONE: Weigh out 60 grams of BTMS-25 into a heat proof bowl or jug. I will be using a microwave to melt the ingredients, but alternatively, you can use a small pot and your stove.

BTMS-25 is the name for one type of conditioner pellets, and is an abbreviation for the active ingredient, behentrimonium methosulfate. For those following the curly girl method, behentrimonium methosulfate is not a sulfate like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium coco sulfate (SCS) and other similar harsh surfactants. Instead, it is a very mild, non-stripping and non-irritating conditioning agent (a quaternary ammonium salt to be precise), derived from natural rapeseed oil.

The 25 in the name stands for the percentage of active ingredient in the product. So therefore, BTMS-25 contains approximately 25% of behentrimonium methosulfate and the remaining 75% is cetearyl alcohol. There is also a BTMS-50, however, this product also contains butylene glycol, a humectant moisturiser, but which is derived from petroleum, which is why I don’t use it in my tutorials. Instead, I will add glycerin later, which is also a humectant.

Cetearyl alcohol, or cetostearyl alcohol, is a combination of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. These are fatty alcohols and are nothing like their liquor namesake. Drinking alcohol, rubbing alcohol, or ethanol are all short-chain alcohols, which act as solvents and should never be used in your hair. Fatty alcohols, on the other hand, are long chain alcohols with a waxy appearance and are used as non-ionic co-surfactants in conditioners to stabilise the emulsion. They also give conditioners their typical creamy appearance (both in liquid and in bar form).

Unfortunately, most fatty alcohols are made from palm oil, and coconut oil derived fatty alcohols are just not yet widely available, at least not here in New Zealand.

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TWO: Next, add 10 grams of cetyl alcohol.

I’m adding extra cetyl alcohol, which will add additional silkiness to the conditioner, and rather than penetrating the hair shaft, it is deposited on the surface, making it feel softer and smoother to the touch.

Cetyl alcohol comes in waxy pellets, and is usually derived from coconut or palm oils by heating the oil with a strong base. The cetyl alcohol I use comes from Pure Nature, which is derived from RSPO certified palm oil. I would have preferred using coconut derived cetyl alcohol, but I have yet to find it here in New Zealand.

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THREE: And finally, add 10 grams of castor oil, which is an amazing hair care oil. It deeply moisturises and conditions, helps reduce split ends, and add shine and lustre to your hair.

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FOUR: Melt on high in the microwave for 30 seconds initially and then in 10 second bursts until completely melted. How long it takes to melt will depend on your microwave. My microwave will take 1 minute, but when I told my students in class to set it that long, it came out boiling!

If you don’t have microwave, or don’t want to use one, melt the ingredients on the stove using a small pot and on the lowest setting. It will take a lot longer, but just be patient, it will eventually melt!

 

FIVE: Once all the ingredients have melted, add the glycerin. This is the humectant I was talking about earlier. It will help keep your hair hydrated.

 

SIX: Let the mixture cool down a little, before adding the coco-caprylate, hydrolised silk protein, provitamin B5, and the essential oils. Then stir until everything has blended together to a smooth, opaque emulsion.

I’ve added coco-caprylate to the conditioner bar, because it is a natural alternative to silicon. Silicons coat, lubricate and seal in moisture, making hair smooth, tangle free and shiny. However, they are non-soluble, build up over time and make your hair heavy and dull with prolonged use. Coco-caprylate, or caprate, is derived form coconut, and has similar properties, with the added bonus that it doesn’t build up, is easily washed off and is biodegradable.

In this recipe, I’m using hydrolysed silk protein, which improves elasticity in hair and protects brittle hair from breakage. However, I’m aware that this is not a vegan product, and you really don’t want to know the process of harvesting silk. I have to admit, I’ve been using it before I realised what I was actually using here. So if you don’t want to use silk protein, the alternatives are vegetable proteins, such as soy or wheat. Hydrolysed just means that it has been broken down into smaller units, allowing the proteins to penetrate the hair shaft.

Provitamin B5, also known as panthenol, works by retaining moisture in hair. It is easily absorbed and turns to pantothenic acid, which binds water and thus enhances hydration.

The essential oils I’m using in the conditioner bar are rosemary, which is full of antioxidants to restore the hair’s vibrancy, and lavender to nourish and condition and add extra shine. The blend has also a soothing and calming effect on the mind, which can help with stress and anxiety, which can be triggers for hair loss.

 

SEVEN: Lastly, make sure the mixture is not too hot (the jug should be cool enough that you can touch the sides), to prevent the plastic mould from warping. Then pour the mixture into the mould and spritz the surface with isopropyl alcohol. to get rid of any bubbles.

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Leave the bar to solidify and cool down completely before unmoulding or closing the lid.

Unlike cold process soaps, you can use the solid conditioner bar immediately. After washing your hair, slide the conditioner bar down the length of the hair a few times and massage it into the hair, but only the ends of the hair and not into the scalp. Leave for a couple of minutes and then rinse thoroughly.

Solid conditioner bars

  • Difficulty: Beginners
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 60 grams BTMS-25
  • 10 grams cetyl-alcohol
  • 10 grams castor oil
  • 10 grams glycerin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coco-caprylate
  • 1/2 teaspoon hydrolysed silk protein
  • 1/2 teaspoon provitamin B5
  • 15 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • isopropyl alcohol

Directions

  1. Weigh out the BTMS-25, cetyl alcohol and castor oil into a heat proof bowl or jug.
  2. Heat in the microwave on high for 30 seconds or until completely melted. Alternatively, you can use a small pot and place it on the stove on the lowest setting until melted.
  3. Add the glycerin and let the mixture cool down a little.
  4. Then add the remaining ingredients, except for the isopropyl alcohol, and stir everything thoroughly until all the ingredients have blended together into a smooth emulsion.
  5. Pour into the mould, and spritz some isopropyl alcohol on the surface to get rid of the bubbles.
  6. Let the bar solidify and cool down completely before removing from the mould or closing the lid, if using a clamshell mould as I did.
  7. The conditioner bar can be used immediately.

33 thoughts on “Solid conditioner bars

  1. Hi, I tried out this recipe a few weeks back and it was a success and am loving how nice it is on my hair. I tried to make it again yesterday but it didnt turn out like the 1st batch. Some ingredients in my country are difficult to obtain so Ive had to either leave it out or substitute them. Now Im a little concerned that it altered the balance of the formulation. Ive had to leave out coco-caprylate which I just can not get. It is also quite expensive to buy raw Provitamin B5 so I substituted it with liquid Vitamin E. I also added some stearic acid, because I wanted the bar to be slightly hard, the original formula is too soft for my liking. When I went to unmold the bars, it was still too soft and creamy that left chunks in the mold.. now I dont know if it was me tweaking the formula or other factors that made this batch a failure. Would appreciate some insight.

    Also I have a question on adding Preservatives; I attended a workshop for Shampoo bar making and I was told that no need to add preservatives if my formulation did not contain water. Is this true? Ive been researching a bit online but no mention on this rule of water and preservatives.

    1. Hi Lesley! When you substitute ingredients, it is important that you look at both the consistency of the formula as well as the properties. Rather than just adding other additives, I would leave out the provitamin B5 and coco-caprylate, and instead add a small amount extra BTMS-25. If you add stearic acid to harden the bar, make sure you melt it completely. Stearic acid has a high melting point. Re preservatives: products that don’t contain water, and DO NOT COME IN CONTACT with water, don’t need preservatives. However, conditioner bars are used in the shower or bath, so they will need preservatives. I hope this helps!

  2. Hi! Thank you for this recipe. When I tried and left overnight for setting. The morning I am finding the bar , not so hard or dry. It looks so soft and chewy. Where did I loose ? Should I add something to speed up the solidification? Please help.

    1. Hi! Conditioner bars are generally more soft than shampoo bars, due to their ingredients. They should be hard enough to unmould though. One reason I can think of them being soft, could be the humidity. Depending on where you are located and the current weather conditions, they can take a little longer to harden. If it is the humidity and you have a dehydrator or fan oven, you could place them in the oven on the lowest setting with the door slightly open to help dry them out quicker. Another way of hardening them is to add a little stearic acid to the conditioner bars themselves. Try adding 2% stearic acid and melt it together with the BTMS-25. You can go up to 10% extra stearic acid. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks for the response. Also I didn’t get btms 25 and used btms 50. I am afraid that could be the reason too. Sorry for leaving this in my comment. In that case what should be the quantity of btms 50 taken if the recipe calls for btms 25- 60 grams

      2. That will definitely have an impact on your soap. When you use BTMS-50, use only half the amount and add cetyl, cetearly, or stearyl alcohol for the remaining half. Best would be cetearyl alcohol. If it’s still too soft to your liking, you could re-melt them and add extra cetearyl alcohol (or one of the others) and even a little stearic acid to it. Hope this helps!

  3. i have been researching conditioner bars for a little while now and I was put onto this one and it sounds like just what I am after. i was just reading the comments and saw the one about a preservative, if i were to add something like this to my range (need to trial it and would deff give you credit on my page for the recipe) i see you said its a very small risk factor to mould and bacteria would i need that preservative? or could i get away with not having to add one? thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Krystle! Great to hear that this recipe is what you’ve been looking for! With regards to the preservative, the risk is very small, but if you are planning on selling, you’ll have to weigh up the risk for yourself. There are natural broad spectrum preservatives that you can use. That says, I haven’t had any problems so far, but these were just for my personal use. If I were selling my bars, I would definitely err on the safe side. Hope this helps with your decision!

      1. Thank you. I’m still learning about preservatives so can I ask would liquid germal plus be OK to use? I’ve been looking at quite a few and that one seems like it would keep mould etx away. Thanks for help

      2. Germal plus is a great all round preservative and would work well. Another one, if you can get your hand on, is Microcare DB.

      3. Thank you. You have been amazing.

      4. Your welcome! Good luck with your conditioner bars!

      5. Argghhhhh im lost again hahahaha. When adding the preservative it says between .1 to .5 percent as usage rate. I decided to go in the middle and use .3 percent (hope thats right lol) and now im trying to work out how much .3 percent is because some things are in grams and some things are in mils. Do I just add all of it up and then .3 percent of that and just weight it as grams? im probably asking such an easy question but I hate maths hahaha. thanks for any help

      6. No worries! I’d add it all up and take .3 percent of that. Any deviation and you’ll still be within the range!

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