Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gelatin Hair Protein Treatment FAQs

Here are some tips and tidbits about my gelatin protein treatment recipe:
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
If you use a whole packet of Knox gelatine (2 1/2 teaspoons, 0.25 ounces or 7.2 grams) in 1/4 cup (60 ml) water that is 12% protein. Which is a lot. And this is only if your finished product is 1/4 cup, including anything else you add.
2 1/2 teaspoons gelatine in 1/3 cup water is 9% protein.
1 1/4 teaspoons gelatine (half a packet of Knox) in 1/4 cup water is 6% protein
2 1/2 teaspoons gelatine in 1/2 cup water is also 6% protein.

Protein additives for hair products are usually recommended at a use rate of 2-5%. If the protein in your conditioner is listed before the preservatives, it is probably around 1-2%. If it is listed after the preservatives, it is probably at a concentration of 1% or less. Bear in mind that not all proteins behave the same in all hair types. Different proteins work better with different hair.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
How long do I leave it on? Leave it on your hair for about 3 minutes. Some people leave it on longer - but don't do that on your first try. There is a point at which your hair has "soaked up" or bonded with all the protein it can and beyond that, no more time will be of benefit.

Should I use heat? That's up to you. I get enough heat from wrapping my hair in plastic and letting the shower run over it a little while (not long). Heat is not absolutely necessary. But some people have better results using heat, whether by wrapping a warm, wet towel around the head, using a blow-dryer, or whatever else you can imagine. Heat speeds up reactions and helps the gelatine spread around to cover every hair (assuming you've covered your hair). I've done this treatment with no wrapping and no heat and got good results. It depends on how much bother you want!
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
Gelatin made my hair too stiff (or too soft).
  1. Did you rinse very thoroughly? One must rinse out a gelatine protein treatment very well.
  2. Did you use too much gelatine? Some people only need 1 teaspoon, or even 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per 1/4 cup liquid (or however much you use).
  3. If your hair is stiff only sometimes - leave out any vinegar or citric acid. Leave the treatment on for less time.
  4. Is it too soon to do a protein treatment? Some people can use strong protein treatments regularly, but not everybody. If too-frequent treatments make your hair stiff or too soft, your hair is telling you it's too much!
  5. Does your hair always respond badly to protein? Then don't use it!
  6. If your hair gets stiff and tangly, try mixing oil and conditioner into the treatment, or using a rich (deep) conditioner afterwards, or just a little extra conditioner.
Should I wash my hair first?©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
This is up to you. I use it on freshly-shampooed hair or "second-day" hair which has been rinsed with water. Some people use this treatment on hair which has been washed with conditioner. There are no rules.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
Will this treatment work for me?
Only one way to find out! As a rule of thumb, fine hair, porous hair, bleached hair, damaged hair (from heat, sunlight, brushing, chlorine) can benefit from protein. Kinky hair can too - and that includes gray hair with a kinking habit. If your hair needs more support or structure ("stiffness"), protein may work for you. If your hair snaps at the slightest tug, protein may help.©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

On the other hand, if your hair strands are coarse (wide, strong, easily visible) and it has plenty of internal suport and stiffness on its own, adding more stiffness with protein may be a hair disaster; though a very low concentration of protein may be beneficial if your hair is also porous and damaged.

If you're not sure: Try a very dilute protein treatment (use 1/4 teaspoon gelatine in 1/2 cup liquid). Or try whatever strength gelatine treatment you wish on a small section of hair first.


  1. Hi, Science-y Hair Blog!

    My hair is fine, very long (wet: mid-back), and very tightly curled. It's chronically dry, develops mat-like tangles, does not seem to stretch far before snapping, and lacks bounce, definition, strength, and body (as opposed to “volume”). It's usually mushy or limper once dried, but usually only mushy when wet if I use cool to lukewarm water to shower (this is a newer discovery, although I've always noticed things don't rinse out well if I don't use warmer water). My hair is unprocessed, and I've only ever used the hair-dryer (low heat, with diffuser) on it, but I suspect it's more porous due to other mechanical damage (dense tangles, snapping, dehydration, etc.).

    I make all my own hair care products due to autoimmune issues, sensitive skin, and difficult hair, and use SwiftCraftyMonkey's (aka “PointOfInterest!”) recipes as a guide. I've always used some type of protein in my products, at 2%. I've also tried to make my shampoo as gentle as possible (using lower amounts of cocamidropropyl betaine and SMC taurate), and use EDTA to reduce the effects of our very hard water. (Unfortunately, I do not yet know the pH of our water!)

    I've recently begun experimenting with pre-wash treatments in hopes of remedying my problems, as conditioners don't help (I've tried all weights and potencies; very light ones [Cream Rinses, etc.] are the least problematic), and my hair is sensitive to what's left on it (residues and some leave-on products make heaviness, or limpness, and tangles worse).

    I also recently experimented with the Gelatin Treatment three different ways, but was confused by the results. It seemed as if there really weren't any! My hair neither became more hard or more overly-soft, and all the usual problems remained. The only thing I noticed was that it was coated in a draggy, tacky residue (despite rinsing very well), which made it messier, heavier, and more matted.

    Each time I did the Gelatin Treatment, I applied it to freshly-washed (and towel-blotted) hair, washed with lukewarm water. I used the “full strength” gelatin solution, omitting the citric acid / vinegar and xanthan gum (I omitted the latter because unwanted things always tend to stick to my hair). I also tested the pH, and it was around “5”. The first two times I did the treatment, I used ½ cup of distilled water, leaving it on for 3 minutes and then 30 minutes, without heat. The third time, I used 1/3 cup distilled water and used the blow-dryer until my hair was hard and almost completely dried.

    I was wondering why someone wouldn't notice an effect from gelatin on their hair, even if protein wasn't necessarily what their hair needed to help with dehydration? Thank you so much!

    If you wouldn't mind, I've a couple other questions as well:

    1.- Would a Styling Gel with a low pH (4) cause problems such as increased dehydration and/or mushiness when dried, esp. if your hair is fine and more porous?
    2.- A few times now I've seen mention of using yogurt to hydrate the hair in your articles. I was curious about this, and wondered how you use it / do the treatment, and what your recommendations are? Also, what should you generally expect from a yogurt treatment (if it works for you)?
    3.- Is it possible for hair be over-moisturized but still dehydrated?

    Thank you so much again!
    ~ CaribbeanBlue

    1. Hello Caribbean Blue,
      My guess is that you're not seeing a result from the gelatin protein treatment because your hair might not really need the extra protein.

      Another issue is that, because you regularly use conditioners with 2% protein, your hair has no need for additional protein from a protein treatment. Regular protein use in rinse-out conditioners may be enough for your hair. Or your hair might need protein less often. Film-forming humectants in products (excluding proteins) might be better for moisturizing you hair:

      The tacky, messier, matted result you mentioned actually is a sign of too much protein from the gelatin treatment, especially if you didn't follow it up with extra conditioner, or leaving the conditioner on longer than usual.

      It sounds to me like your hair needs to have the protein balanced out with softness. Protein adds strength, support and rigidity. Conditioners and oils add softness and bend-ability.
      It also sounds like your hair is behaving like low porosity hair. Whether it actually is low porosity or not - some hair acts like low porosity, in which case these tips may help:

      1) It is better to use products with a pH between 4.5 and 7. If you are making your own and testing with pH strips - pH strips can be very inaccurate in hair products. It is better to test with a pH meter. A too-low pH product, if used regularly could cause dryness or a brittle feeling. Mushy-feeling? Maybe. It would depend on the ingredients. If you're using aloe vera - that can cause a dry, rough feeling, tangles and dullness in some people's hair.
      2) Yogurt in deep conditioning treatments provides lactic acid, which is hydrating. There will be some proteins and amino acids small enough to "work" as a protein treatment. The fats and cholesterol (in full-fat or low-fat yogurt) can be very helpful for some people's hair. Depending on your hair and your rinse-water, you need plenty of conditioner with yogurt. I don't use yogurt at all because it tends to make my hair very tangly when wet and dry. Some people find it hydrating.
      3) It is possible for hair to be over-conditioned (over-softened) and still dehydrated. Because you make your own conditioners, we can talk ingredients. Let's say you made a conditioner with 7% BTMS and a little oil and some hydrolyzed wheat protein. The BTMS detangles wet hair very well and the Cetyl alcohol component softens a bit. The wheat protein should hydrate - but if your hair is low porosity and "average" width, that wheat protein might make it feel dry instead! The 7% BTMS might actually be too softening - leaving your hair feeling overly soft, but still dry.

      I would tweak that recipe something like this because you said you hair likes lighter conditioners: 2% BTMS, 2% Cetrimonium bromide or Cetrimonium chloride, 2-4% Cetyl alcohol. 2-3 drops of your favorite oil. You need a good humectant, so let's say you add panthenol (I use powder panthenol, so my % would be about 0.5% because too much of that makes my hair limp). But you could also use Sea algae or sea kelp extract too for good hydration, or another humectant - but not glycerin.
      If you use the larger amount of cetyl alcohol, you'll get a pretty thick conditioner. It should have good slip. The film-forming humectant will give your hair good hydration. Cetrimonium bromide or chloride (Cetrimonium bromide is my favorite, but not many suppliers carry it) is light and can penetrate the hair a bit whereas BTMS only works on the surface. That should be a more-hydrating conditioner. I often dilute this with water a little when I use it.

      Hard water definitely makes conditioner build-up a bigger problem. If you have city water - call the local treatment facility and ask them what the pH is. Higher pH magnifies the effect of the minerals in water.

    2. Hi, Science-y Hair Blog!

      I can't thank you enough for your very thoughtful, detailed response. It has given me a lot of hope, and I think clarified why no matter what I've done, my problems remain. A lot of what you shared I never would've guessed!

      Yes; after the gelatin treatments, I sometimes used less cream rinse and/or left it on for a normal amount of time (4 to 5 minutes).

      Unfortunately, I do use pH strips! We haven't been able to find a pH meter which sounded to be of good quality and was more affordable. We were wondering if there's one you would recommend?

      It's interesting that you should mention aloe vera! Recently I made a spray-mist of 10 grams distilled water and 6 grams aloe vera juice, which I applied a few drops of Sunflower Oil over. Both times I used it I noticed no improvement in hydration, and the second time – when I used a much greater amount of the spray – my hair became even messier, limper, more matted, and snapped off even easier. A couple years ago I noticed a similar reaction when I used fresh aloe vera gel (diluted). I'd forgotten about that until recently, and have used 10% aloe vera juice in my conditioner and shampoo for some time now.

      After receiving your response, I made new products, omitting aloe vera, proteins, reducing panthenol to 0.50%, and omitting glycerin from the shampoo (glycerin has caused terrible residues for me in the past). I made the conditioner with 2% BTMS-50, 2.5% Cetyl Alcohol, 2% Cetrimonium Chloride, 3 drops of Sunflower Oil, and 0.50% panthenol.

      I also was able to use the new products, but was disappointed at the results. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind helping me again to assess the results, nor me asking more questions?

      The first thing I noticed was after using the new shampoo. Previously when I shampooed, it felt stiff and hard, almost “plastic-like”, and became a matted mess that was impenetrable and squeaky. But with this new formula, all I was aware of was that it was very dry and densely tangled. Then I conditioned as usual.

      Once finished showering and applying Styling Gel (to damp hair), I noticed my curls seemed even limper, and “too soft”. Once it was dried, all the usual problems remained, but on top of being limp, it was now “overly-soft”, had an "unsubstantial" feeling, and lost quite a bit of its former bulk. It was messy and fuzzy, and adding more gel didn't help. It was an odd combination of “too heavy” (limp, overly-soft) and “too light” (fuzzy, “weightless”). I did accidentally use far too much shampoo, and have been more often lately.

      From reading your articles, I guessed that the “weightless” result was from the over-shampooing, and the “overly-soft” result from using conditioner that overburdened my hair. I wondered if omitting proteins were partially to blame for the overly-soft quality, but since it sounded as if my hair displayed symptoms of using too much protein and needing balance, I hesitated to reintroduce them without addressing the conditioner first.

      I also wondered if you've a special way of preventing over-shampooing and of knowing “the right amount" to use? (As a note, I need to wear gloves during showers due to hand eczema, which can make textures [as of hair and residue] difficult to feel.)

      Also, I'd a question about conditioners, as I've noticed similar problems with an Incroquat CR Cream Rinse as to BTMS-50 conditioner (limpness, etc.) In your article on low porosity hair, you suggested using a conditioner that either didn't contain cationic conditioning ingredients or that contained one with a shorter carbon chains. (Incroquat CR has a long[er] carbon chain.) I also looked at the ingredients of the conditioners you cited, and noticed they seemed like a very different concept than the conditioners I've made. I was wondering if you've recommendations for making a low-porosity-suitable conditioner like that?

      Thank you so much again, and I'm sorry if I overwhelmed you with so many questions!
      ~ CaribbeanBlue

    3. Some people cannot use aloe - it can cause dryness, tangling, dullness and "flash-drying" (hair that dries very quickly after wetting). Great ingredient - but not for everybody.
      When I use a conditioner like the recipe I posted, I actually dilute it in half or more during application (I didn't mention that). I'm not sure I like the thickness (this is a new-ish recipe for me) - next time I'll probably skip the cetyl alcohol. I prefer "cream rinse" texture too. In hard water, I have a terrible time getting cationic conditioners to work in my hair - it gets limp and dull very easily. Currently I have a (salt) softener on my shower for my skin's sake.

      In the past I made my cationic-free conditioner with 5% cetyl alcohol and about 2% Emulsifying wax, plus a humectant and preservative and a couple drops of oil. In hard water, this had plenty of slip. Working with this formula and preservatives can be tricky - some preservatives don't get along well with the E-wax. *One must blend this formula a long time for stability.* If you needed more slip, Cetrimonium chloride might be suitable in a low percentage - 0.5% to 1%, maybe? This was my conditioner formula for years before I got the shower-softener. I tried various thickeners to stabilize it but never liked the result.

      I use a pH meter for field water testing, you can get them for about $30 from, though you do need calibration solutions to calibrate the meter. For making conditioner, you may not need one if you use distilled water and your preservatives are pH appropriate. For shampoos, you might need one.

      I'm not sure what detergents you're using in your shampoo. Sulfate-free shampoos are notoriously difficult to get any "slip" in. Especially if you get build-up easily and have sensitive skin! How much of which detergent are you using? I do have a formula that works well with my family's very sensitive skin.

  2. Yes! Hard water is extremely difficult and frustrating... I also have a cationic / ionic-exchange water-softener in my shower, for my sensitive skin and difficult hair. It helped a little, but not very much. (Our water is almost “as hard as it can get”, according to the scale our local water report provides.) It wasn't until I incorporated EDTA into my shampoo that my hair wasn't extremely dull and shineless anymore. My father said that beforehand, it appeared “spray-coated”. After using the EDTA, he said that although it wasn't “shiny” and “glossy”, it was more reflective in light. (I use 0.20% disodium EDTA.)

    It sounds like application method is very important for lower porosity hair, or hair that behaves like lower porosity, when it comes to using conditioner! How much water do you diluted your conditioner in, and when (prior to or during the shower), and what kind of water (filtered or distilled) do you use? Do you dilute the conditioner regardless of whether it's thin or thick, cationic-free or cationic? In what way does this help?

    That sounds quite a bit more difficult to work with than a typical conditioner formula! How disappointing... Was is the difficulty in emulsifying the cationic-free conditioner that prompted you to switch back to cationic conditioners? Also, did you notice trouble with wax in the cationic-free conditioner? I've noticed waxes among some conditioner ingredients, or in recipes, and it always sounded as if it might cause residue or build up.

    We're hoping to purchase a bottle each of Trader Joe's “Citrus Fresh” and “Tea Tree Tingle” conditioners soon, to see if that type of formula is less problematic. Until then, I thought I'd try a conditioner using cetrimonium chloride and cetyl alcohol, and see if that's less problematic than BTMS-50. I'll also continue to omit proteins until I find a conditioner that seems to “work”, as the proteins seemed to cover up / counteract the most obvious signs of conditioner-related trouble; most particularly, the overly-soft texture. (I suspect this made the source of the problems more difficult to pinpoint.)

    Thank you! We'll look into those! I'm guessing a pH meter would be the most helpful for making hydrating sprays (thin, watery formulas), using ingredients like marsh mallow root? I'm unsure of what to do for a hydrating spray, especially at the present... If we can find it, boiled marsh mallow root as a base was a consideration, as it sounds like even those types of formulas (using non-cosemtic-grade ingredients) can be well-preserved with Optiphen Plus? We're very sensitive to toxins including mold, so ensuring everything I use is well-preserved is very important.

    Currently I use 15% SMC Taurate Paste and 10% Cocamidopropyl Betaine in my shampoo, which, from what I read, is considered “dry hair shampoo levels” of surfactants. Before that, I formulated with daily use shampoo levels of surfactants (8% SMC Taurate, 5% Betaine). It seemed to work alright for cleansing natural oils, but I'd difficulty removing residues, especially from the thicker styling gel and conditioners I was using. It also required a lot more thickener (I use Crothix) to get it adequately thick, which caused a very draggy texture – almost like room-temperature glycerin – and a residue of its own. Using higher amounts of surfactants meant I only needed to use 1% Crothix, which doesn't seem to cause problems.

    I've been washing-rinsing-and-repeating with about a quarter-sized amount (sometimes a little more or less) applied to the scalp and length separately, since my hair is so long, and there's a lot of it. I thought I'd try measuring it with measuring-spoons as I do with my conditioner, and starting with a teaspoon for the scalp and length, and shampooing only once. I considered going back to daily use shampoo levels of surfactants, too, but I still have a some concerns about that … namely residue, including that from increased Crothix.

    1. I put a Shower Sticks softener in the shower for my eczema. It softens the water (I recharge it with salt weekly). That necessitated a switch back to conditioners with cationics - my hair was tangling too much.
      If I'm using a thick conditioner with cationics in it, I rub it in my palms, then fill them with water. The result: A thin, wimpy conditioner! So yes, dilution is really helpful for low porosity hair - dilution and good distribution.
      I did NOT dilute my non-cationic conditioner. I used that straight out of the bottle and it was medium-thick and creamy. You can use more of it because it's not bonding to the hair - so you need to coat your hair a little more carefully.

      BTMS is definitely more likely to give you that "overly soft" feeling. If you back way off to just 2% BTMS and nothing else but humectant and preservative - it might be better.

      I have zero trouble with E-wax in conditioner. It's just cetyl alcohol and Polysorbate 60. It's really NOT a big deal to mix it extra - maybe just a few minutes. But you must have an emulsifier with cetyl alcohol and if you're not using cationics, then you need something like E-wax to emulsify.

      For a spray, you can use marshmallow root (it's softening) or extremely dilute flax seed gel. Optiphen Plus will preserve it, but I wouldn't expect more than 3-4 weeks shelf life. It might go longer, but if you have mold sensitivities - play it safe.
      I make a really simple shampoo. I use Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate as a base so it's thick enough to pour (about 5%) - it thickens in cool water. I use Decyl glucoside only - it's the only detergent my scalp gets along with regularly. I use 20% of that, which is only 10% active ingredients. Not a good de-greaser, but it works great in hard water. The pH of that is high, so it has to be brought down with help of pH meter.
      If your detergents were working for you - maybe you need a different thickener like a starch or xanthan gum instead of Crothix.

    2. My father made the water-softener by hand, and said the design was based on a Shower Sticks Softener! However, we rarely recharge it. I didn't think I noticed much of a change after recharging it, but perhaps more happened than I realized. My father also thinks we definitely ought to recharge it a lot more, so hopefully we can do so every week from now on as well.

      So, diluting the conditioner is more to make it lighter, weaker, and more spreadable, and not necessarily to impact any penetration or moisturizing? Would you use enough conditioner for it to be somehow “noticeable” in your hair if used undiluted, and then dilute that, or actually use less conditioner than you might think you need (since you'll be increasing the volume by diluting it with water)? I always use two heaping tablespoons to cover my hair plus get enough slip to detangle with less pain and damage.

      Okay! Perhaps I should give the 2% BTMS-50 and no Cetyl Alcohol a try. Would that also be excluding cetrimonium chloride and the few drops of carrier oil? (I also use essential oils in my formulas.) I'll give the Trader Joe's conditioners a try too, just in case.

      Hmm... It sounds like marsh mallow root and flax seed probably should be avoided. I would likely only use a little hydrating spray at a time, and I don't shower that frequently. Instead, perhaps I can try very diluted conditioner – once I find one that isn't problematic – and/or diluted Styling Gel. I make a very thin Styling Gel with 0.5% Dehydroxanthan Gum, which, as I understand it, would also be a film-forming humectant and suitable for moisturizing. Do you need to use much film-forming humectant for a hydrating spray to "do its job"?

      Unfortunately, I'm unsure if the surfactants work for me or not. The SMC Taurate doesn't cause dried out skin in as small amounts as the sulfoacetate/sulfosuccinate blend I once used did. (Oddly, heavier conditioners weren't as much of a problem with the sulfoacetate/sulfosuccinate formula as with my present one.) My present formula can cause my scalp and surrounding skin to look and feel “scorched”, but I guessed that's because I use too much for my dry and sensitive skin.

      Is it relatively normal – depending upon the hair type – for the lengths of the hair to become densely tangled after applying a little shampoo to it (enough for thin watery lather to manifest)? My hair is already densely tangled when I enter the shower, but even if I manage to detangle before shampooing, it's densely tangled again afterwards; and seemingly after the first quarter- or nickel-sized amount of shampoo. It's done that with both sulfoacetate/sulfocuccinate and SMC Taurate Paste.

      It was the sulfoacetate/sulfosuccinate blend that to make the daily use shampoos, and which required almost 5% Crothix. Since SMC Taurate Paste has more thickening properties, perhaps making a daily use shampoo without much more than 1% Crothix is possible, and worth a try. But I'll also investigate other surfactants and thickeners just in case – particularly the ones you mentioned. It sounds like you don't use cocamidopropyl betaine along with decyl glucoside?

    3. I recharge my softener weekly for our moderately hard water. Very hard water probably needs to be recharged more often, maybe every 4-5 days(?) - and backwashed every 6 months. Ion exchange resins get saturated with minerals pretty quickly. The resin has to be specified to work in your pH level too.

      I never use much conditioner. So I start with a small amount (1/2 to 1 teaspoon, depending on how concentrated I've made it) and dilute that as much as I need. As long as you have good distribution, it won't change the effect of the conditioner, it will just make it less overwhelming for your hair. You can just make a really dilute conditioner to use full strength - but then we can end up with some really runny products that aren't easy to apply and you'll go through the bottle too quickly.

      I always like to add a couple drops of oil to my conditioners - even lightweight ones. It's really subtle - but it lends a nice feel to the product and hair. 2% BTMS and a humectant might be just right. It will be fluid, but not too runny.

      Flax seed gel might be a really good hydrator - but you won't be able to get it to spray (other than a wide "stream") unless it's very dilute! Flax gel is viscous. But wonderful stuff for so many hair types. People with coarse or dry hair often like marsh mallow root in products. I find it a little overwhelming.

      Dehydroxanthan gum is a film-former on its own. It's even better added to flax gel (hydration-wise) or some other hydration-promoting ingredient. You don't need much humectant in a spray to add some softness and flexibility to your hair - with sprays, mist-ability is a big issue. If your spray gels up, it will come out in a stream.
      More in next comment about shampoo...


    4. Your shampoos would be more slippery if you were thickening with salt - which is tricky and only works with anionic surfactants. Polyquat-10 and Polyquat-44 and Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride are lubricants added to mild shampoos to reduce tangling - but they can also create build-up and irritate sensitive scalps.

      Detergents in general tend to be tacky and make hair tangle. Careful manipulation of hair helps a lot (move your hair around as little as possible during washing). Wash 1 section at a time (sides, half of the back), hold the hair down with one hand and with shampoo spread on your fingers, weave fingers in under hair to massage the scalp with your other hand.

      I don't think your surfactants are cooperating with your hair and skin, though. You might try decreasing the concentration again to see how your hair and scalp respond. Or you might need a different detergent. Feel free to ignore "mild" labels and just use what works. If you want to use a stronger detergent, just reduce the total amount and you'll still have a mild shampoo.

      Your Sulfoacetate blend detergent was making your more accepting of conditioner - probably due to being too strong. It made your hair more hydro-philic.

      Yes -I use Decyl glusocide alone. Cocamidopropyl betaine does great things for my hair, but I would need to use it with something for re-fatting the skin or my skin dries out and itches. That adds cost and extra steps and more potential for irritation, so I just work with a single, mild detergent. I've been making the same shampoo with only Decyl glucoside for 4 years or more. Occasionally I need to use a clarifying shampoo, but usually I use mine every day or every other day.

      I use a starch thickener with my shampoo because the starch is non-ionic. (as is the detergent). Xanthan gum is anionic - so you can run into issues with some preservatives when pairing a non-ionic detergent with an anionic thickener. And my husband's scalp doesn't get along with xanthan gum.

      Something for you to consider: C14-16 Olefin sulfonate is one detergent (in the class alkyl sulfonates) that tends to be good at removing cationic build-up. If you need a clarifying shampoo occasionally, that's a good detergent to try. Maybe not for a daily shampoo (unless you use it *very* dilute and add plenty of humectants).

      For hair that tangles a lot in the shower - that is partly the tackiness of detergents, but if you're using regular oil treatments, you'll get fewer tangles and they'll melt away when you add conditioner. See here:
      Good luck!

    5. Oh my! Thank you so much. I told my father about needing to recharge the softener much more often for very hard water. It sounds like we'll be looking into a pH meter, too. Hopefully that can tell us something about our water pH. I was wondering which brand you buy from Amazon?

      I'll make another batch of conditioner just omitting cetyl alcohol and cetrimonium chloride, and do some experimenting with that as well. I'll also use less conditioner, dilute it with water (if it's a cationic conditioner, that is!), be much more careful of hair manipulation during shampooing and conditioning (which I've never really done), and go back to experimenting with pre-wash treatments. I'll also try diluting my shampoo until I can switch surfactants.

      I tried Flax Seed Gel a few years ago, but I ran into a number of troubles with it. This could be because of other ingredients I was using (like aloe vera) or my general hair care routine, though. Could Irish Moss or Glycine Betaine similarly increase the hydrating abilities of Dehydroxanthan Gum in a hydrating spray? I'm considering purchasing these as alternative film-forming humectants to panthenol, which I've always included in the Styling Gel.
      I'd another question concerning Hydrating Sprays... If you make it from a pre-made, pre-preserved product which you've diluted with distilled water (and possibly added new ingredients to), do you need to add more preservative?

      Yesterday, I thought very carefully about my experiences with SMC Taurate, and realized it does indeed cause problems. The most obvious problems were increased limpness (in places I don't apply conditioner, such as the crown) and curls being more weighed down – even my afro-textured curls own were almost straightened, or very limp. I guessed it was due to SMC Taurate being a conditioning surfactant; but since reading your articles “Hard Water and Your Hair” and “Cationic Compounds in Cosmetics”, I suspect it's also due to its anionic nature, and that it's causing several types of build-up. It might also partially account for why my hair is more easily over-conditioned.

      I've decided to try avoiding anionic surfactants, and to switch surfactants to Decyl Glucoside. (I'll make sure to do some experimenting with using and not using Cocamidopropyl Betaine with it, and see how my skin and skin do.) I'll also get Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate to use as a thickener instead of Crothix. I've already got Citric Acid, so I'm hoping the pH will be relatively easy to lower.

      Unfortunately, I don't have nor have used a clarifying shampoo! Could I make one simply by substituting Decyl Glucoside with C-14 Olefin Sulfonate in any given formula? I'm guessing that since C-14 is mildly anionic, it would be best to use a cationic-free conditioner when I use it / clarify?
      I was unable to find C-14 at our usual suppliers, but I did find an “Sodium C14-16 Alpha Olefin Sulfonate” on Amazon. Does that appear to be the same thing?

      It sounds like using a cationic-free conditioner might be best until I can change the shampoo formula.

      I can't even begin to thank you enough for all your help!

    6. Irish moss is a good hydrating ingredient. Glycine betaine (from Ingredients to Die For, "Vege Moist") is also a good hydrating ingredient. Other sources for that may not be selling exactly the same product and the wrong product tends to give off a fishy smell.

      Sodium C14-16 Alpha Olefin Sulfonate is the same as C14-16 Olefin sulfonate. It's not a mild detergent, but if you dilute it enough, it should be okay to use occasionally if you need it.

      Decyl glucoside alone is not used very often. Shea Moisture has one shampoo with only that (I think - if not, they used to). I use about 3-4% glycerin which helps the foam (more bubbly than foamy) stay stable. My hair is not a big fan of glycerin, but it seems to be okay in shampoo. It's not a great detergent for oily scalps, but at 20%, it will get the dust, pollen and most product residue out of your hair (unless it's really oily or tacky stuff) without "frying" your scalp or hair.
      Other detergents are great for other people - if you have a really picky scalp or hair, then finding the right detergent becomes more difficult.

    7. It's from IngredientsToDieFor that I'll be purchasing the Irish Moss and Glycine Betaine.

      Okay. Thank you! I'll try low levels of C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate to make clarifying shampoo, and maybe also dilute it before using. I've just one question left: should C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate not be used on its own, because it's not mild?

      Decyl glucoside sounds like a good starting point for my sensitive, dry scalp and “picky” hair!

      Thank you again for all your help.

  3. How do you feel about those soy or coconut aminos you can buy at a store (for example, Bragg's?)
    It seems like they're recommended to add to diy conditioners to give yourself a boost of protein, but I'm wondering if I should do gelatin first and then do the aminos at a later date. I used to do these protein treatments (with Knox) all the time when my hair was relaxed, but that was years ago and I'm realising I haven't done a single protein treatment since going natural.

    I assume the gelatin proteins are larger than the aminos, from what you have said, and I don't think I never used the aminos before and I'm not sure I should try that first or the gelatin.

    1. Hello Phoenix, Soy aminos like Braggs are probably fermented by bacteria or yeasts - which means the proteins will be higher in molecular weight (larger). Though reading their label, they list individual amino acids - which tend to be small (and hydrating). So I'm not entirely sure about that - but I think I'd lean towards the "proteins are larger" based on how the product is made. Which is great for hydration and supportive qualities. Compared to the gelatin treatment, the protein content is lower, which is probably appropriate for hair that isn't relaxed.

      You might try protein on shed hair you've saved and taped or tied together, or on a small strand before applying either treatment to all of your hair. Sometimes hair that does well with the gelatin treatment when it is more porous, still does well with the gelatin treatment when less porous - but it needs to be more dilute and left on for less time so the effect is less intense. Good luck and apologies for the late response - W