I see a lot of recipes for homemade conditioners. I even have one listed on the blog. These conditioners are good to make in a bind because they utilize items that you can typically get in your pantry/kitchen. Eggs, honey, banana, avocado may be easier to reach for but they lack certain ingredients that store bought conditioners have.
So, while I say Yay! to the occasional grocery based, home made conditioner, I implore you to get good quality store-bought conditioners. These will help you even more on your healthy hair journey.
Quaternary compounds – These leave a positive charge on the hair and are responsible for that soft feeling you get from your conditioner. Apart from slip, these compounds make hair more manage and allow for good combability. It doesn’t stop there. Some quats (as they are commonly called) can even temporarily “fill in” damaged parts of the hair, making it look healthier. Hydrolyzed Proteins – These are pure magic for hair. They hold moisture in the hair. Actually hold on to it so that so that hair stays moisturized for a lot longer. You will gain the most from it if it is present in your leave-in conditioner as it is not rinsed off. They also have the ability to enter the hair shaft and strengthen the hair. As a shameless plug, the Natural Nigerian Leave-In Conditioner contains more than one hydrolyzed protein. Yep, it is pretty fantastic stuff and is naturally my conditioner of choice. Here’s a picture: Okay, shameless plug over 🙂
To be clear, humectants like Glycerine and Honey will attract moisture from the atmosphere and that will rely greatly on the humidity in the area where you reside. While that is really helpful, with hydrolyzed proteins, you don’t even have to go looking for moisture. It utilizes even the one in the conditioner.
pH – Conditioners are made to fall within a certain pH (Usually 3.5-5.5). Hair thrives at this pH. A slightly acidic pH helps close your cuticles after they have been lifted during the washing process with your alkaline shampoo. This closing of the hair cuticle protects the delicate hair strand and even aesthetically helps hair look smooth. Home made conditioners do not take this into account.
Effectiveness – Store bought conditioners can easily be measured quantitatively for effectiveness. Store bought conditioners rely on qualitative assessments. Basically, it is down to how the person that uses it feels about it. The scientist in me needs empirical data!
A word on size – size matters when it comes to the effectiveness of a conditioner. Some things that need to be absorbed to do their work have to be at a particular molecular size in order to do that. While this is usually considered when formulating products, with home-made conditioners, it is not a consideration. We just whip it up and apply.
Now, am I never going to whip things up for a home made conditioner? Nope. From time to time imma do that but will always follow it up with a proper leave-in conditioner. Majority of the time, I will be applying a proper emulsion to my hair as a conditioner as a rinse-out.
Should we talk about what sort of ingredients to look out for next? Let me know!