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February 20, 2024 4 min read

Solid shampoos and conditioners are becoming more accessible as stores begin to carry them on their shelves. The problem, though, is there are a lot of poorly formulated solid shampoos and conditioners out there that have really good branding and marketing behind them. Since solids are a newer concept, people will likely attribute a poor experience to solids as a whole rather than that specific brand. The truth is, there are major differences in the performance of solids based on ingredients just like there are major differences in the performance of liquids.

I've covered the problems with most solid shampoos available in stores in the article Shampoo Vs Soap: What's the Difference? If you haven't read that, hop on over and read about the most common problem with the shampoo bars you'll find at your local natural foods stores and farmer's markets (AND big chains like Whole Foods and Natural Grocers).

Like solid shampoo, formulating solid conditioners requires a working knowledge of cosmetic chemistry and hair chemistry. I hear from customers all the time that their previous experience with solid conditioners was very disappointing. Typically, the problems people have with solid conditioners are:

  • Waxy feel
  • Lots of friction
  • Don't produce enough conditioning

Curly hair in particular requires gentle treatment, proteins, and proper hydration. These generic conditioner bars just won't get the job done. Certain key elements are necessary in a solid conditioner made to satisfy the needs of curly hair. These problems with other well-known conditioner bars influenced the formulation of our solid conditioners.

The anatomy of a solid conditioner for curly hair contains the following necessary components.

1. Positively Charged Ingredients

The biggest fundamental difference between lotion and hair conditioner is the charge of the ingredients. Our hair has a negative charge naturally, but the more damaged or chemically treated our hair is, the higher the negative charge becomes.

A conditioner should:

  • replenish our hair strands with moisture and nutrients
  • increase combability by decreasing friction
  • protect it from external forces that can cause damage and breakage.

Only ingredients with a positive charge will meet these needs. These ingredients lay on the outside of the negatively charged hair shaft and are resistant to being washed right down the drain so they can work their magic until the next time you wash your hair.

Lotions and oils are anionic (or neutral) in charge. They do not provide protection or slip, or any of the properties characteristic of a hair conditioner. You'd be surprised how many conditioner bars I've seen that are basically oils, butters, and a small amount of basic emulsifiers. These are definitely going to feel waxy and create too much friction for curly hair without providing any slip or hydration inside the hair shaft.

Our conditioner barscontain a variety of positively charged (cationic) conditioning agents that adsorb to the hair strand to smooth the hair shaft, detangle, and decrease friction between your hairs. These ingredients also do an equally important task; they blend all the ingredients in the conditioner bar with the water in your hair to create the silky, velvety conditioner

2. Emulsifiers & Emollients

Many of our positively charged conditioning agents double as emulsifiers, and we add in some extras to make sure your experience with our conditioner bars is smooth and silky. Emulsifiers blend all the active ingredients with the water in your hair to create the cream that will deliver nutrients to the inner core of the hair strands. Without enough emulsifiers, butters and oils will resist depositing onto your hair because water and oil don't mix! Emulsifiers are an absolute must when it comes to hydrating your hair.

Emollients also contribute to the glidy-ness of your conditioner bar. We include different combinations of emollients to achieve various results depending on the bar's purpose. This category includes the ingredients you are more familiar with like mango butter, kukui nut oil, babassu oil, argan oil, and broccoli seed oil.

Some of our emollients mimic silicones without the adverse effects!

Silicones are commonly used in hair conditioners and styling products to smooth the hair shaft, control frizz, and provide a shiny appearance to the hair. They tend to build up along the hair shaft, however, and are not easily removed. Harsh cleansers containing sulfates are usually needed to strip hair of silicones, so then a vicious cycle occurs; sulfates harm your hair causing dullness and frizz, so you use silicone conditioners and leave-ins to make it look better, but then you need the sulfates to clean it all out!

Our plant-based alternatives provide all the benefits of silicones, but wash out with our mild, coconut-derived shampoos the next time you wash!

3. Hydrolyzed Proteins

Proteins perform vital functions in the human body as well as make up the structure of our hair. They play a huge role in all three layers of the hair shaft; the medulla, the cortex and the cuticle.

In their complex form, proteins can be very large molecules that aren't readily used topically. We make them less complicated by breaking them down into smaller chains of amino acids using a reaction with water to create hydrolyzed proteins. This makes them smaller and better able to penetrate the hair shaft or combine with the outer lipid layer, depending on the specific function of the protein.

We use a variety of hydrolyzed proteins in our solid conditioners to achieve various results. Read the article Proteins: Why do we use them? to learn which conditioners contain which proteins and why.

4. Vitamins

In addition to the nutrients and vitamins naturally occurring in the plant-based emollients, we add dl-panthenol(Vitamin B5) into each conditioner (and shampoo, actually). Vitamin B5 is a natural component of healthy hair. Replenishing this vitamin improves hydration, elasticity, and softness of both hair and skin. This is great not only for your hair but your scalp as well!

The combination of these essential elements results in a solid conditionerthat is perfect for curly hair. Our solid conditioners:

  • Blend right away with the water in your hair
  • Glide on effortlessly to avoid and protect against friction
  • Give your hair slip and moisture
  • Provide proteins and vitamins all the way to the inner core of the hair strand

Ready to give our solid conditioner a try? Take the QUIZ to find the perfect match for your curls.

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