I love my Lush Seanik solid shampoo, so much so that I also use it as a shower gel when I’m travelling. However, when I tried out Lush’s solid Jungle conditioner, I was in for a disappointment. I hated the scent, was underwhelmed by the effect it had on my hair, and after three uses, it looked like I had already used up half the bar.
So I randomly googled DIY solid conditioner recipes one day, and a week later, I used my first homemade bar. And I am really, really happy with it.
Making your own solid conditioner is actually really easy, once you have the ingredients.
Here’s what you will need (for a 50g bar like mine):
30% (15g) cocoa butter (Amazon)
30% (15g) incroquat* (behentrimonium chloride) (Amazon)
20% (10g) cetyl alcohol (Amazon)
20% (10g) nourishing oil of your choice – argan (which I used because I still had some), jojoba, almond, grape seed, olive, coconut…
- Colour pigments – I didn’t use any, the yellow colour comes from the butter and oil.
- Fragrance oil – I used about 20 drops, but it will depend on the oil you get, just start off with less and increase until you’re satisfied. The options are nearly unlimited – any essential oil, or something more interesting, like clean linen? Acqua di gio? Egg nog? If you forego a fragrance, it’ll mostly smell of cocoa butter (slightly chocolate-y), and possibly whatever oil you used. Search for essential oils on Amazon.
- Other nourishing ingredients like hydrolysed keratin (I used 30 drops, as per the shopkeeper’s instructions), panthenol, silk amino acids or anything else manufacturers like to put on the labels of their hair care products…
You’ll also need:
- Kitchen scales
- A spoon
- Something to melt the ingredients in – I used a small chocolate fondue set, but any tea warmer or a cup over a candle will do. You might need more than one candle to get it hot enough, otherwise the surface might solidify again while the bottom remains liquid.
- Some sort of mould to pour it in – I used a silicone cupcake tin, but you can use anything. You might have to cut it out if it’s not flexible, but that’s only an aesthetic issue. You can even use an old Lush tin!
Once you have everything together, the hardest part is actually over. All that’s left: Mixing and melting!
Measure out the right amounts and mix everything together:
Heat it over the candle and watch it melt (maybe stir occasionally). The incroquat will probably smell weirdly fishy while it melts – the shopkeeper assures me that’s normal, and the smell will be gone once you’re finished:
Pour it into the mould (and watch out, the jar is probably hot):
Let it cool down – preferably in the fridge or freezer for an hour, which will make it a bit harder, but anywhere works. Peel or cut it out of the mould:
Congratulations, you just made your own solid conditioner! Let it rest for another 24 hours before using, as it will still harden a bit more.
I’ve been using it for a month now, and I’m down to half at this point, so it seems 50g will last you for quite a while. It works exactly like the Lush conditioners: Simply wet both the bar and your hair, and rub it between your hands, then use them to spread it over your hair. Or rub the bar itself along your hair – this works well for me because it’s pretty short. Unlike the Jungle conditioner, it’ll feel like normal conditioner in your hair, because the incroquat gives you that slippery feel, detangles and softens your hair and reduces static electricity. Cocoa butter tames and nourishes, as does whatever oil you use. (The cetyl alcohol is only an emulsifier and thickening agent.)
As for the cost, the ingredients I got will yield four or five bars, but it really depends on the kind of oil you use – olive oil or coconut oil is much cheaper than argan oil, for example. Mine with argan oil came to about €3-4 per bar, which is still 50% cheaper than what you pay at Lush!
Now, I have very thick and unruly hair, so this conditioner is perfect for me. If you have oily hair, you’ll probably need to use it a bit more sparingly, and leave out the roots. The oil and butter shouldn’t be a problem but the incroquat might. When it comes to fine hair, however, I think it might be too rich and weigh it down too much. I’ve tried and failed to find a recipe suited to fine hair.
Not only does this conditioner work much better than the one Lush sells, it’s cheaper (if you have the time), easy to make, and fully customisable. The only downside is that I’ve found it to be a gateway project: I’m already planning my next foray into DIY cosmetics…
Happy mixing and melting!
The original recipe (in German) can be found here.
*I am not a chemist, so I can’t really tell you much about the different kinds of incroquat there are. I got (apparently) pure behentrimonium chloride, but there are versions that have added ethyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol etc. As long as it’s a conditioning agent (read the description of the product you’re buying), it should be fine.
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About the Author: Anna is a student of law and human rights in Vienna, Austria, who takes advantage of her uni holidays to travel as much as possible before she has to start acting like an adult. She’d like to be a travel blogger, but previous attempts have not been met with much success as she usually ends up being too busy actually travelling to blog about it. Twitter works just fine, though. It’s her goal to visit all continents before getting a real job, with South America next up this summer.
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