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I love my Lush solid shampoo bar (Seanik), so much so that I also use it as a shower gel when I’m traveling. 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. And since it’s solid, it’s perfect for travel just like those store-bought Lush liquid-free toiletries.
Solid Conditioner Bar Ingredients
Here’s what you will need (for a 50g bar like mine):
30% (15g) cocoa butter (Amazon)
30% (15g) incroquat*/behentrimonium chloride (MakingCosmetics.com)
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…
*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.
- 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…
- 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 mold 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!
How to Make Solid Conditioner Bars
Measure out the right amounts and mix everything together (except for fragrance – leave that until later).
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.
Once the main ingredients are all melted, take the container off the heat and stir in your fragrance oil of choice.
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.
How do I use this conditioner bar?
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.)
Are conditioner bars expensive to make?
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!
Who does this conditioner bar work for?
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 customizable. 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!
Alternate Recipes for Solid Conditioner Bars
- Conditioner Bars, Heirloom Body Care
- Solid Conditioner Bars, In My Soap Pot
- Solid Conditioner Bar Recipe, Saponista
How to Store Solid Conditioner Bars
The key to making your solid shampoo and conditioner bars last longer is to store them properly and keep them dry. So, after you use your bars in the shower, you need to make sure you are setting them out of contact with water, and in a place where moisture is draining off of them.
When you are traveling this can get a bit difficult because we are often sharing showers, staying in hostels where we have to pack up our supplies immediately after use. My best tip is to pat your bars dry with the edge of your towel.
If possible, leave your soap containers open in your hostel locker or on the sink while performing the rest of your beauty routine. For optimal drying, stand up on its side if not round.
Travel Storage Ideas
Lush bar tins – These are great for travel, but you have to make sure your bar is as dry as possible before storing or else they will melt and stick to the bottom of the container. Storage hack: Place a piece of wax paper in the bottom of the tin so it doesn’t stick to the bottom!
Soap Saver Bags – I’m not sure this is a great idea or not. I love that the bags let your bars air dry better. You can even tie the bag to the outside of your backpack when out in the wilderness to air dry.
However, the bag will soak up a lot of soap/conditioner and applying the bag to your hair is probably not a great idea… I guess you can use the bag remnants as body wash.
Wrapping in Beeswax Wrap – I’ve seen that some people will transport their solid bars in a small piece of beeswax wrap. This probably works best if you are able to dry your bar out as thoroughly as possible before wrapping.
EZ-Pouch – JR Liggett’s have an EZ-Pouch made for travelers. It’s composed of water-repellent material and comes equipped with the EZ-Strip, which wraps around the bar for easy insertion and removal from the pouch.
Ready-Made Solid Conditioner Bars
Guardian Solid Conditioner Bar
Aloha! Conditioner Bar
Beach Baby Body Goods
Assorted Solid Conditioner Bars
Big Pressed Conditioner
Hemp Conditioner Bar
Unscented Conditioner Bar
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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.