To start with let's do a little background to inform you of what should be in a conditioner bar, why those ingredients are there and what it will do for your hair - and you!
Did you know that most well-known liquid conditioners on the market contain 80%+ water?
Our conditioner bars are not bulked out with water to try and fool you into thinking that you are getting more conditioner for your money, in fact they contain no water at all just top-of-the-range high grade salon standard ingredients, so they leave your hair feeling and looking silky smooth and tangle free - and they don't come all package up in plastic either!
So how does a proper conditioner bar work?
Well - and forgive a little bit of science here - basically, our hair and skin are negatively charged (anionic), so for a conditioner to really work its magic on our hair, it needs to be positively charged (cationic). The only way it can do this is to use positively charged ingredients and other ingredients that assist the positively charged ingredients in doing their stuff.
BTMS-50 (which contains 50% active Behentrimonium Methosulfate), and the largest ingredient in our bar is a positively charged (cationic) compound derived from the natural oil of the Colza plant (shown below) and is known to be one of the best detangling ingredients in the world.
This amazing ingredient, BTMS, is able to ‘adsorb’ to the surface of the hair (adsorption is when the molecules sit on top of the hair, as opposed to absorb or penetrate the hair) in a process called ‘substantivity’.
Just like a magnet, this positively charged cationic quaternary compound (BTMS) is attracted to our hair and coats our negatively charged hair fibres.
When hair is damaged or chemically treated, it has a higher pH and higher negative charge. This is due to an increase in cysteic acid that forms when the disulphide bonds in the hair are broken and not reformed. However, the positively charged conditioning agent will be more attracted to your hair and is going to adsorb more.
As BTMS is hydrophobic (a bit like cats!), it will resist removal by water alone - so thankfully it won’t wash off when you rinse your hair after applying it in the shower but it will wash off when you next shampoo your hair.
Why is it important that the conditioner is attracted to our hair?
Well, by adsorbing to our hair in this way, the conditioner enables the hair cuticle to lay flat. This makes our hair silky, smooth and lustrous with the ability to hold a style. It reduces the force required to brush or comb the hair resulting in less tangling, fewer broken hairs and less static electricity on the surface whilst simultaneously increasing softness and shine.
The aim of any conditioning product should be to maximise the adsorption and substantivity of positively charged ingredients so it can impart these numerous benefits to us, resulting in the type of hair we want - strong, lustrous and healthy!
Most conditioner bars on the market with BTMS tend to use BTMS-25 (25% active Behentrimonium Methosulfate only) which is far more widely available and less than half the price of BTMS-50, though nowhere near as effective. Not only do we use BTMS-50 but we are supplied this without the petroleum ingredient Butylene glycol and instead are able to add Propanediol (corn-based) ingredient instead, resulting in a far more eco-friendly product. The remaining ingredient is plant derived cetearyl alcohol, a fatty acid which further enhances the adsorption process.
We also include Cetrimonium Chloride, another cationic compound which prevents static in and ‘build-up’ in hair (residue left on hair primarily from styling products).
In order to further increase this adsorption process of the conditioner bar we have included another fatty alcohol, plant derived Cetyl Alcohol, which also encourages more adsorption of BTMS.
You will also find we include vital hydrolysed cationic plant-based proteins, such as vegan Oat protein and Vegetable Keratin, also known as ‘non-occlusive film formers’, as these have a similar proteinaceous structure to our hair and skin and therefore easily and naturally adsorbed by them.
Another wonderful film former ingredient for our hair is D-L panthenol (pro-vitamin B5). This makes our hair shine without oil or greasiness.
Panthenol is also able to penetrate the hair cuticle and bring moisture to the cortex, enabling good manageability and pliability of the hair as well as giving it more body. Studies have also shown that if left on our hair for just two minutes before rinsing, it can swell the hair shaft, making it appear thicker thereby helping to add that extra body many seek!
Silicons such as Dimethicone and Cyclomethicone are found in many hair and skin care products, though they’re not eco-friendly because they are not biodegradable.
However, we have managed to research and find silicon alternatives that are derived from plant based, readily biodegradable ingredients and are eco certified. They offer incredible slip and shine to hair even whilst wet and are excellent additional ingredients for our conditioner bars.
Further moisture is added to the cationic ingredients and film-formers through a small amount of butters and oils, such as Shea butter, Cocoa butter, Apricot, Almond and Argan oil, all of which will coat the hair strands to increase lubrication and moisturisation.
In our oily bars, we switch Shea and Cocoa Butter for a light Orange butter, which acts as a good cleaner for oily hair, due to its high limonene content.
Butters and oils alone won’t add any conditioning properties to our hair as they are non-ionic (neutral) rather than cationic and therefore not ‘substantive’, yet there are a number of conditioner bars on the market that rely on oils and butters as their main conditioning ingredients alone, which simply won’t cut it.
This is the same for apple-cider vinegar, popular for those using traditional, alkaline ‘soap’ bars (studies are now showing they may cause long-term damage to hair, due to the natural high pH of soap bars) or bicarbonate of soda as a ‘shampoo; and vinegar as an acidic ‘conditioner’ after-rinse.
However, vinegar is also a non-ionic ingredient and will therefore not adsorb to your hair strands and so by definition is not able to reduce the combing forces and friction to your hair.
Many of the ingredients we use from BTMS-50, to panthenol, Shea butter, proteins and the silicon alternatives are also important ingredients in skin care products, giving the skin a powdery feel, as well as adding moisture and glide. That is why our conditioner bar is able to double up so well as a shave bar for both men and women!
Unfortunately, many conditioner bars on the market (and traditional conditioners) have very little to no cationic ingredients, using large quantities of butter and oils, which as we know will moisturise but not condition your hair and in some cases can leave it heavy and limp.
There are also conditioners containing a large amount of petroleum based ingredients which we absorb, synthetic fragrances and even harsh, sulphate based ingredients such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate which is not only irritating to skin but is anionic (negatively charged), so strip and wash rather than condition the hair.
With skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema on the increase, it is important to use gentle products on both our skin and scalp, which is also why would don’t use any ‘fragrance’, as this is synthetically produced and can be a harsh irritant for many people.
So instead we opt for natural, plant based essential oils for both their amazing scents and therapeutic benefits.
We have four wonderful blended scents including ‘Botanical’ (with relaxing Lavender and Geranium), 6 oil ‘Herbal’ blend (with refreshing Spearmint, Rosemary and Lime), Woodland (including calming Vetiver and Patchouli) and organic Sweet Orange, which has a cheerful and uplifting scent.
To fully complement your hair type we have created ingredients specifically to suit from either a normal/dry hair variant or an oily hair variant - so you can choose.
Each large bar will last 35-50 washes with our smaller bar lasting 18-25 washes. They are all shipped in a sealed compostable clear bag in the UK from corn and presented in a recyclable and re-usable aluminium container.
Give your hair real treat and try one out today…..you won’t look back and your hair will thank you for ever!
Best wishes for better hair,
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