Homemade Conditioner for Hair (Natural DIY Recipe)

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Homemade conditioner recipe
Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » Homemade Conditioner for Hair (Natural DIY Recipe)

There are a lot of options when it comes to hair conditioner, even natural conditioners. While I like using this deep conditioning molasses hair mask, it’s nice to have something simple for everyday use on hand. This homemade conditioner is simple, convenient, and moisturizes dry hair naturally.

What Does Conditioner Do?

Before we start making our own conditioner it helps to understand what’s happening here. Our hair follicles make sebum which is moisturizing and repairing to damaged hair and split ends. Too much sebum though and we get that greasy hair look.

Some people are able to get by with water washing their hair or baking soda, but the majority of us rely on shampoo. While shampoo is necessary to keep the hair and scalp clean, it also strips it of necessary oils. Conditioner helps add these back in.

The Best Way to Condition Hair

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your natural conditioner:

  • Focus on the ends of the hair. Adding too much to the scalp can make hair look greasy. Remember, the scalp is where sebum is made but it can have a hard time getting to hair ends.
  • Apply generously and leave on for a few minutes before rinsing. This gives the conditioner time to work its magic.
  • Condition more than you shampoo, especially with textured and curly hair. Shampooing too much isn’t healthy for hair which is why I don’t shampoo every day. A good DIY conditioner though can help keep hair healthy and strong through the week.

Choosing a Good Natural Conditioner

Anyone who has ever walked into the shampoo aisle at the local big box store knows just how many conditioner options there are. And that’s not even counting all of the ones sold online or in specialty stores. Even the homemade conditioner options can be overwhelming.

Typical store bought conditioner has a thick, lotiony consistency. Homemade conditioners can range from apple cider vinegar to coconut oil, to smearing mashed avocado on your tresses. While none of these DIY options are bad, they’re not as easy or shelf stable. Avocados don’t last a week on my counter before going brown, they’re sure not going to last as a conditioner in my bathroom.

Certain ingredients like aloe vera and shea butter are good for hair, but they’re hard to incorporate into a homemade hair conditioner recipe. Some homemade options can cause buildup on the hair cuticles, making hair feel greasy.  If you need something to help with product buildup on the scalp, then try a DIY scalp scrub.

While I use coconut milk in my homemade shampoo, its short shelf life and fickleness are why it isn’t in this natural hair conditioner.

Homemade Natural Conditioner

I wanted to create a recipe that didn’t need replacing every few days or made up on the spot. I wanted something that would stick to hair for a bit and work on the strands, so not an herbal hair rinse. Most importantly, I wanted something that was simple yet still worked.

Customizing Your DIY Conditioner

We obviously don’t all have the same hair. Thin hair needs different treatment than thick or textured hair. This recipe can be customized so it meets your specific hair needs. It may take a little tweaking to find your perfect recipe, but the template is the same. First let’s get into the ingredients used, who they work for, and possible substitutions.

The Best Oils for Homemade Conditioner

Since shampoo strips the hair’s oil we need to add some back in. Just rubbing some oil into hair though can quickly get messy though… and then we’re back to overly greasy. While I like using straight up oil for a deep conditioning treatment, it’s too intense for everyday use.

This homemade conditioner uses oils in the recipe, but not too much. Which oils we choose are just as important though. Here’s a breakdown of some of my favorite hair healthy oil options to use in DIY conditioner.

Castor Oil

Castor oil is one of the best ways to grow stronger, longer, healthier hair. It’s great for the scalp and helps with hair loss, breakage, and dandruff, among other benefits. Castor oil has antioxidants that help hair to be smoother with less frizz. I use diluted castor oil as an overnight hair treatment, but it’s also an easy addition in a DIY conditioner.

This oil is thought to balance scalp pH and can help restore hair and scalp health after using harsh hair care products. Many people have seen impressive hair growth with this one.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil makes a mean mayo, but it’s also great for hair and skin health. Saturated and monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil and avocado oil, sink deeper into damaged hair.

Argan Oil

Argan oil has become a bit of a trend lately, but it has a long history of use in certain cultures. Argan oil is a rare oil that isn’t as cheap as some other options, but well worth it. I like mixing some into my hair care products because a little goes a long way here.

While conventional conditioners also have other ingredients I want to avoid, it’s easy to add argan to a homemade conditioner. Argan helps repair dry, damaged hair and reduces frizzy hair. It works by smoothing the hair shafts and adds shine.

Argan oil is full of:

  • Vitamins A and E
  • Antioxidants
  • Omega-6 fatty acids
  • Linoleic acid

Jojoba Oil

Technically jojoba is a wax, not an oil. It works perfectly in hair and skincare because it closely mimics our own sebum. This helps it to moisturize without leaving an overly greasy feeling. Jojoba helps reduce frizz and is full of nutrients our hair and scalp need. You’ll find:

  • Vitamin E
  • B-complex vitamins
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Chromium
  • Iodine

Coconut Oil

While coconut oil is really popular, it’s actually not my favorite for hair. Because coconut oil helps the hair hold onto protein better, it doesn’t work for all hair types. Some people find it very drying and it makes their hair brittle.

Then there’s the issue of temperature. Virgin coconut oil is solid at room temp, but starts to melt when the temperature rises. You may find that certain DIY products become rock solid in winter and too drippy in summer with coconut oil.

That said, if you have finer hair and want to add in some healthy coconut oil it can be done. The little bit of coconut oil added to this DIY conditioner shouldn’t be enough to really affect the consistency.

How to Make a Customized DIY Conditioner

My hair is thinner and runs on the greasy side so I don’t need to add too much oil. Those with thicker, textured, or dry hair can increase the amount of oils used. I recommend trying jojoba regardless of hair type since it so closely mimics our own sebum. The other oils can be swapped out for what you have on hand or what sounds good.

Microbes Love Water

I don’t use a lot of water in my skincare recipes because they start to grow icky stuff faster. Bacteria and fungus love moisture and homemade conditioner definitely has moisture. Because this recipe uses water it needs to be clean and microbe free. Bottled, distilled water is ideal, but boiled filtered water is the next best option. Hydrosols will also work and have a slightly longer shelf life. There are tons of different hydrosol options that work well for hair, like lavender, tea tree, or rose.

You can either use hydrosols for the entire water portion of the recipe, or just add some to your distilled water.

This recipe uses a natural broad spectrum preservative to improve the shelf life. If you want to make a new batch every week and store it in the fridge, then you could maybe skip the preservative. Just keep in mind that touching a jar of conditioner in the shower is going to be a breeding ground for microbes.

By using a pump bottle or a squeeze bottle it eliminates the touching it with your hands part. Even if you do use a preservative, I think the bottles are better options than a jar here.

The Best Natural Preservative

I used Leucidal Complete because it’s easy, readily available, and has natural ingredients. It has to be used at 2-4% to be effective, so I’ve included it at 4% here. Leucidal is ECOcert approved for certified organic products and is on the Whole Foods approved ingredients list.

Since you’re not likely to send your homemade conditioner to a lab for stability testing, we can’t know how long the shelf life is exactly. However, adding a natural preservative and following common hygiene measures (like don’t use dirty hands or leave it in a hot car) means it should last for several months at least.

Mixing It Up

A few of my DIY recipes rely on emulsifying wax. This stuff magically lets oil and water mix together to create a creamy consistency. While I love natural beeswax for candles and salves, it won’t do the job here. Emulsifying wax also helps to thicken the product.

There are several different kinds available, some more natural than others so be sure to check the product labels before buying.

Adding in Essential Oils

Essential oils are another great way to customize your conditioner, plus they smell great! For this recipe I used a blend of tea tree essential oil, rosemary essential oil, and lavender essential oil which are nourishing for hair and scalp. Here’s a more complete list of the different options and which essential oils are best for hair.

Homemade conditioner recipe
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4.35 from 138 votes

Homemade Conditioner Recipe

This natural homemade conditioner is easily customized for different hair types. Use your favorite skin safe essential oils to create your favorite scent!
Prep Time5 minutes
Active Time15 minutes
cooling time15 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Yield: 6 ounces
Author: Katie Wells

Materials

Instructions

  • Place oils, glycerin and wax in a heat safe glass bowl. Place the bowl on top of a pot filled with water to make a double boiler and bring the water to a boil.
  • Stir occasionally until fully melted then remove the bowl from the heat.
  • Stir in the water and/or hydrosol. Once the mixture is warm but no longer hot, stir in the Leucidal Complete and essential oils if using.
  • Continue to stir frequently until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. The fridge can help speed up the process but make sure everything is well combined first.
  • Transfer the conditioner to a squeeze or pump bottle and store away from sunlight and excess heat. For an even longer shelf life keep it in the fridge.

Notes

The shelf life if using a preservative is about 6-12 months.

No Time to DIY?

That’s why I made my own line of natural haircare products… try my own Wellnesse Conditioner for soft, manageable hair naturally!

This article was medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, a board certified family physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

How will you customize this DIY conditioner? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

35 responses to “Homemade Conditioner for Hair (Natural DIY Recipe)”

  1. Ruby Avatar

    Mine turned out pretty thick, it should be okay to add a bit more water, right?

  2. Anna Avatar

    Where I live, I can get 2 types of emulsifying wax : Olivem 1000 emulsifying wax and
    Polawax vegetable emulsifying wax. Do you know which would be best for my thin dry hair? Thank you for everything. I love your site and recipes. It is very generous of you to share.

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      The type of emulsifying wax likely won’t make much of a difference with hairtype, it’s just to combine the oil and water based ingredients.

  3. Kristin Buus Avatar
    Kristin Buus

    If I wanted to use Castor oil, would I use it to replace one of the other oils , or just add it in to the recipe (and in what amount if this is the case)? Thank you!

  4. Christianna Love Avatar
    Christianna Love

    Awesome recipe, thanks! Mine turned out a bit lumpy. Should I have added the water gradually? Thanks!

  5. Sarah Marie Avatar
    Sarah Marie

    If I’m using castor oil, because it’s what I have on hand, how do I dilute it? Diluted water? 1:1?

    1. Serrina Avatar

      Hello, when I added the water to the oil after removing from heat it made the oil hard and didnt blend. I used a emulsifier as well. Did I use the wrong emulsifier?

  6. Kendall Avatar

    Does the conditioner solidify at all? I followed the recipe but it remains a liquid. I had to add bentonite clay powder to it to get it to thicken up. Wasn’t sure if I missed something 😉

  7. Liz Avatar

    Thank you for this recipe! Can’t wait to try it. I have Leucidal® SF COMPLETE Broad Spectrum Preservative. Is that the same thing you suggested for this recipe?

  8. Sheryl Avatar
    Sheryl

    Sodium chloride is not a good ingredient for hair. I would buy your products if you didn’t have that in it, such as your shampoo for curly hair.

  9. Allesondra Avatar
    Allesondra

    Is a hydrosol that contains leucidal complete sufficient? Or does it need to be two separate ingredients?

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      A preserved hydrosol has enough preservatives in it just to slow microbe growth in the hydrosol, you’d likely need to add more to cover the other ingredients in the recipe.

  10. MC Avatar

    Is the glycerin essential to add to this recipe? Or could shaking well before use help if it’s left out?

    Wondering if it’s worth buying a $15 litre of a product for 1 tsp that I don’t know what else to use it for. Any other suggestions on how to use glycerin if it is essential?

    Thanks!!

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      You could leave it out but it may affect how well the hair is conditioned. If you do choose to get some, there are plenty of ways to use it! It’s beneficial for the skin and can be used to make herbal glycerites for those who don’t want alcohol-based tinctures. Here are a few recipes that use it. https://wellnessmama.com/remedies/glycerite-tincture/ https://wellnessmama.com/beauty/silky-niacinamide-moisturizer/ https://wellnessmama.com/beauty/vitamin-c-serum/

      1. Liz Higbie Avatar
        Liz Higbie

        If you didn’t add the preservative, how long would the shelf life be?

  11. Jennifer Avatar
    Jennifer

    Do you recommend any leave in conditioners to apply to dry, thick, frizzy and wavy hair?

    Thank you.

      1. Kate Avatar

        Hi love your blog!!
        can I replace wax emulsifier with bee wax? And do I have to use preservative?
        Thanks so much ?

        1. Shirley Quinzel Avatar
          Shirley Quinzel

          Bee wax won’t work, unfortunately. And you can leave out the preservative, but it’ll reduce the shelf life from months to around a week.

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