Water is the main ingredient in conditioner which facilitates the hydration/moisturization of your hair. There. I said it. As a DIYer, I’ve experimented with all types of oils, all types of herbs and all types of conditioning additives which I’d never used before I went natural almost 12 years ago.
At some point, you will come to one main realization about conditioners: most leave-in and rinse-off conditioners are at their best when they are mostly water.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Conditioners are the bomb dot com, for real. They help to seal in moisture and add softness and manageability to hair; especially naturally curly hair. If they have great extracts included, conditioners can also add shine and help improve the overall feel of the hair.
But honestly, ITS OK that your conditioner is mostly water. Let me say that again: ITS OK that they are full of water, girl!
When you’re DIYing conditioners, just throw this notion out of your mind right now: ‘the less water, the better’. Fuhgetit. Seriously.
When I first started DIYing, I assumed that more extracts, more oils, more butters and more conditioning ingredients were better than anything else. I thought the amount of water I used was secondary to everything else.
I ran through a lot of ingredients but I really didn’t like what I’d made. It took me using multiple “Meh'” products to come to the realization that I was simply not using enough water.
H2O is UBER important, especially to naturally dry curls. Nobody would ever tell you to drink less water if you want to hydrate your body, so why in the world do some people still have the notion that ‘less water absolutely equals a better conditioner’?
I would guess that most of the conditioners you buy off the shelf are at least probably 75% water; the crappy ones, the great ones, and even a few ‘holy grail’ ones too.
What makes a great conditioner is the combination of water (hydration) + veggie derived conditioning agent + double-duty thickeners + extras which treat or seal the hair.
The oils, the cationic ingredients, the emulsifier(s), the additional properties of any thickeners used, the extracts, the protein(s) and the fragrances/essential oils would all just sit on your head without water or some type of hair shaft penetrating medium.
Check this out right here. I can make a conditioner with the following:
5% mineral oil
15% -cones + formaldahyde-releasing preservative + other crap we can’t pronounce
OR OR OR, I can make a conditioner with the following:
5% BTMS (conditioning emulsifier)
2% Behenyl alcohol (thickener)
6% Natural based oils (like Coconut, Sunflower, Safflower, Olive, etc)
2% Hydrolyzed Oat/Wheat/Quinoa/Whateva
5% Extracts + ECOCert approved preservative
BOTH of these mixes are 80% water. But which one do you think you’d prefer to use on your hair? Which one will cause less build up? Which one won’t require the use of a sulfate shampoo to get it out of your hair? Which one will actually condition your hair better? Which one would you be able to use as a leave in?
The point is that just because its 80% (or more) water doesn’t necessarily make it a poor conditioner.
When whipping up my DIY mixes, I’ve used as low as 50% water and as high as 90% water. In all honestly, the best conditioner recipes that I’ve used on my hair had around 70% water or more (or 70% water + 10% Aloe Vera juice).
So when you’re thinking about the very concept of making a conditioner, PLEASE don’t let your preconceived views on what you’re making keep you from creating your next DIY holy grail!