Homemade Hair Conditioner Recipe

Homemade Hair Conditioner Recipe

When my hair conditioner ran out before I found another clearance deal, I decided to see if I could make my own. After a few rounds of experimenting, I ended up with a conditioner that I like better than any commercial conditioner that I’ve ever tried. It takes me less than five minutes to make; costs very little to put together; and leaves even my oldest daughter’s crazy-long locks easy to brush. I also love that I know exactly what’s in it (not much) and that I can pick a different fragrance every time I make it.

Want to try my recipe for yourself? Here’s my latest formula (recently tweaked for longer shelf life):

Hair Conditioner Supplies

To make your own hair conditioner you will need:

Measure Out the Guar Gum

Step 1: Measure 1-1/4 tsp of Guar gum into an empty squeeze bottle.

Measure and Add the Carrier Oil

Step 2: Add ¾ tsp carrier oil (I used jojoba in this example.)

Add Essential Oil for Fragrance

Step 3: Then, add several drops of essential oil (I used peppermint oil this time).

Add the Distilled Water

Step 4: Add the distilled water. Then, stir/shake until the mixture is smooth and clump-free, and your conditioner is ready to use!

Tips:

  • One of the benefits of making your own products is that you can customize them to meet your needs. If after making a batch you find that you want a conditioner with more or less oil, simply tweak the recipe until you hit the right amount for you. Want a thicker consistency? Just bump up the amount of Guar gum.
  • Combine two or three different essential oils to create a fragrance blend that is uniquely yours
  • Clear condiment squeeze bottles work beautifully as conditioner bottles
  • The carrier oil and essential oil used in this recipe can also be used to make lotion bars, bug repellent bars and lip balm

Calculating the Cost:

Here’s a look at what it costs me to make a batch of hair conditioner:

Using jojoba, peppermint oil and Guar gum, it costs me $.60.

Using coconut oil, lavender oil and Guar gum, it costs me $.94

Compare that to the $7.99 that most of the natural brands sell for, and that’s a great deal. When I was buying conditioner, I always tried to spend $3 or less for a bottle. This blows that right out of the water.

Ways to Extend the Shelf Life of Your Homemade Hair Conditioner:

This hair conditioner recipe is preservative-free, so it will eventually break down and go bad. I’ve made changes to the recipe since I first posted it to ensure that you get maximum shelf life out of each batch, but there are a few things that you can do to make it last even longer. Here are my recommendations:

  • Keep the lid closed between uses
  • Avoid storing the bottle in direct sunlight
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations
  • Do not use tap water in place of the distilled water (It usually contains chlorine, fluorine, and other chemicals, which will cause the conditioner to go watery)
  • Right-size the recipe for your family. This recipe is a good size for my family of four, but it might be too much or too little for your family. I’ve halved, quartered and doubled this recipe with good results, so just tweak it to your needs
  • To keep your conditioner from going watery or bad before you’ve used it all, make a two week’s supply at a time

Comments

  1. Kimberly says

    I love this idea! I want to customize your recipe to add honey to it. It would be a great addition because of the acidic ph, anti microbial properties, and natural moisturizing properties. Can you give me an estimate of how much honey you would add to customize this recipe? Thanks!

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi Kimberly,

      I haven’t tested it with honey, but it sounds like a great addition. I would start with a small amount – one teaspoon maybe – and adjust from there until you get a consistency that you’re happy with. Let me know how it goes :)

  2. Jessica says

    I tried making this today, I think I should have added the guar gum befor I heated the water? Either that or added less of it. It thickened so much I couldn’t get it in the bottle. I wound up adding aloe (moisturizing) and honey (anti-fungal/anti-bacterial) and I think almost 2 more cups of water to thin it enough. I also added more oil and essential oil to make up for thinning it’d so much. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t give feedback on how it works for me, but I have great hopes!

      • Erin says

        Hey Jessica,
        When I make it, I add the guar gum before I heat it. When my husband makes it, he adds it after. We seem to get the same results either way. I would recommend giving it another go with just the guar gum, oil, water and essential oil, and come up with a consistency that you’re happy with before adding anything else to the mix. I transfer my conditioner to the bottle when it’s still hot, so it hasn’t fully thickened yet. That makes it easy to pour. Just trying to troubleshoot here: I also pull my conditioner off the stove as soon as it starts to boil. Letting it go longer may be the cause of it being too thick. Let me know how it goes for you :)

        • katie says

          Did I miss something in the directions? I didn’t see anything about heating this recipe until the comments. Is this supposed to be cooked?

          • Erin Huffstetler says

            Nope, you didn’t miss anything. In the original recipe, I heated the ingredients. I’ve since figured out that the conditioner lasts longer when you don’t heat it.

  3. Sandi says

    i made this today and this didn’t detangle my hair. did you have a different experience? or is it different once the hair is dry?

  4. Ana Rodriguez del valle says

    The xanthan gum did not dissolve completely, there were still clumps of it in the water after boiling. Is that okay?

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi, Ana.

      It should be fine to use. Since you had trouble getting the gum to dissolve, I would recommend adding it to cold water next time you make a batch, and then stirring the entire time.

  5. rachael giglio says

    I made this today for the first time and was impressed by how easy it was and how quickly I could comb through my daughters (curly) hair after her bath! I used xanthan gum because gaur gum was not readily available and i did end up with lumps, but mostly because I forgot to keep stirring it. i just put the whole mixture through a sieve before I added the oil and EO. I used coconut oil and grapefruit essential oil for a nice citrus scent. thanks so much for the recipe! I look forward to girls with much more manageable hair (since we have been foregoing conditioner altogether).

  6. Courtney says

    Hi Erin!

    I was wondering what oz your squeeze bottle is?

    I can’t wait to try this recipe since I have psoriasis on my scalp and I hear that home remedies such as this are just as good or better than the harsh prescriptions that doctors can prescribe.

  7. Emily H says

    After a couple days the consistency changed to thin liquid and wasn’t thick at all. Is that normal? It also didn’t work as well once the consistency changed. I used lemon essential oil..

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      I’ve had mine go liquid a few times. Fortunately, I can tell you why that happens and how to fix it :) First the nerdy why: The ions in tap water are what cause the conditioner to break down over time and go liquidy. If you want to avoid this problem, just switch to distilled water. Another option, is to make smaller batches, so you’re using them up faster. Hope this helps.

  8. Melinda says

    Hi Erin,

    I was just wondering why you boiled this recipe. I was thinking of just placing all the ingredients in a blender instead. Do you think that’d work?

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi Melinda, my thought behind boiling is that it would sterilize the water to extend the shelf life of the conditioner. However, when my husband makes it, he doesn’t bother with the boiling anymore. I don’t see why making it in the blender wouldn’t work. I say give it a shot :)

  9. Helen says

    I made this today and my hair feels clean and soft. I used xantham gum and it has all dissolved. I did give the bottle a good shake when I first poured the conditioner in. I also used olbas oil so it’s really refreshing! I’m a brunette so I’m going to try adding sage to my next batch.
    Thank you!!

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi Erika,

      I don’t have curly hair, but I use as much conditioner now as I did when I was using store-bought. Hope this helps.

  10. Sheridan says

    Hello there, when I made my conditioner it went rancid on me, with an off smell and it separated into clear liquid on the bottom with brown particles floating on top. Do you have any idea? Thanks!

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hey guys, I’m running a few experiments now to see if I can’t improve on the original recipe. I think a small tweak will eliminate the separation problem. Stay tuned for an update :)

  11. Amanda says

    Hi! I used a very a recipe very similar to this one, but added shea butter and it left me hair very soft BUT very oily. Any suggestions? Do you think it was the Shea?

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi Amanda,

      I do think the shea butter is to blame. It’s a pretty heavy oil, and in its cooled form, it’s a solid, so I think it’s going to tend to kind of sit on your hair. I’d give it another go with a different oil.

  12. louise says

    I used physillium husks to thincken because i could not find guar gum. I also used agar agar but it didn’t thicken much. The husks worked brilliantly. I also used almond oil because it is one of the most deeper conditioning oils. Castor would be better but more expensive. I put eucalyptus oil and rose and it smells amazing :)

  13. Alysia S. says

    Do you have to have the Guar Gum to make this? I know it won’t be thick. Is there something else that can be use to thicken it such as arrow root powder or cornstarch? I like the idea of making my own conditioner for economic reasons and also because i know what is in it. We have 7 heads of hair in this household and all a little bit different.

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi Alysia,

      The guar gum does a nice job of thickening the ingredients, but you can certainly use a different thickening agents. Some of my readers have made it with arrow root powder, and I’ve been meaning to try a batch with corn starch. I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t work.

      • katie says

        So, I couldn’t find guar gum at any of my local stores, and used xantham gum instead … boy was that an adventure! It definitely didn’t mix smoothly, ended up creating what looked like record sized amoebas. But, most of the batch actually thickened up nicely, so I broke out a strainer, poured it through, and ended up with a nice little bottle of conditioner. It worked nicely on my hair this morning (I have a thick mop that’s permed so it’s hard to keep moisturized without using a ton of goop) still feels great. Now I’m just waiting to see how it works on the hubby :)

      • janeto says

        If you don’t use organic cornstarch, it will be genetically modified with pesticides. tapioca starch is another alternative but suspect you’d have to use more to get the thickening result vs guar or xanthum gum.

  14. Sarah says

    After updating the recipe, I don’t see an amount of water listed. How much water should be used with the other ingredient amounts listed?

  15. Peggy says

    Your recipe sounds great and I can’t wait to try it! Minnesota winters are dry and I’m trying to find a recipe where I can leave it in my hair to keep it moisturized as well an cut down on the static electricity and frizziness, think it would work?

    • katie says

      Maybe using avocado oil in the conditioner would help. Or making a small spritz bottle of distilled water, 1 or 2 tsp of jojoba, or grapeseed oil, spray very lightly on ends as soon as you get out of the shower? I do this sometimes – but I wash my hair almost every day.

  16. Ann says

    I’m anxious to try this. I have all the ingredients on hand except guar gum. If I use xanthum gum or corn starch do I need to heat those or can I just shake it too?

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi Ann,

      If you use xanthum gum, I think you’d be fine to follow the recipe as is. Cornstarch, however, would probably need to be heated. I haven’t made a batch with cornstarch yet, but from my experience with making pudding, cornstarch requires heat and a good bit of time to thicken. Hope that helps.

    • katie says

      I make this using xanthan gum, but use a whisk because shaking wasn’t working for me. I don’t heat my batches and it works well. The hardest part has been finding EO blends to cover the vinegar smell, which has actually been my husband’s only problem.

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hey, Jaqueline. If you use tap water, it will go watery and bad after a while. I now use distilled water in mine, which slows the process down. You could either try that, or go to making a smaller batch (one that you’re able to use before the conditioner breaks down). Hope that gives you some ideas to try.

  17. Chrissy says

    Thanks for the post! I just finished puting this together. I used peppermint and jojoba oil. Can’t wait to try it out! I put it in a mason jar with a pump so we’ll see how that goes. I think I may put in a bottle (like you have posted here) the next time though.

    • tali hudek says

      HI Chrissy,
      I have found the hand soap pump bottles work well. They often go on sale for $.99 and the pumps are actually of quality! I washed the soap out of the bottle and the pump with hot water. This works well with my castor oil and grape oil hand moisturizer.

  18. Amanda says

    If I used coconut oil as a carrier, do you think coconut water would work instead of distilled water (with no essential oils added)? Or would that be overload? I’ve heard that coconut water is very good for you, and it would certainly smell good. :D

  19. brenda says

    So, I’m excited about a “real” homemade conditiner that has some thickness to it….I haven’t tried yet. My question is this can I use this in a fabric softener recipe in place of the storebought conditioner that all the recipes call for??!!

  20. Hannah says

    Hi,
    I made this recipe and it has been great! I used distilled water and xanthan gum and sterilized my bottle. However, my conditioner became VERY stinky after 9 days. I did a half recipe from the one you listed. What has your experience been with the conditioner going bad? Do you have any tricks for longer shelf life? Thanks!

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi Hannah,
      I’ve been meaning to stick a bottle in the fridge to see if refrigerating it might help to extend the shelf life, but I keep forgetting to do it. I just make a small batch, so we use it before it has a chance to go bad. It’s super easy to make, so I don’t mind making a batch every week or so.

  21. Catie says

    I was wondering your thoughts on a tiny bit of Vitamin E oil as a bit of a preservative to keep the shelf life a little longer?

    Recipe looks great! I have permed hair and am looking to use as little processed product for it as possible (there’s propane in my store-bought mousse!) Can’t wait to go home and whip up a small batch!

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      I think Vitamin E would be a great addition. If you find that it extends the shelf life, I’d love to hear about it.

    • Karis says

      Sorry, I meant to say that this solution was for those who choose to use xanthan gum instead of guar gum.

  22. Lynn says

    I’ve been looking for a formula, can’t wait to try it-just need the guar gum. I think using peppermint will add some antispetic properties, too and help shelf life. Thanks!!

  23. Becky says

    I have Lavender EO on hand, so plan to use that in this recipe. I also have almond oil for the carrier oil. What I was wondering is whether I can use a homemade coconut milk instead of the distilled water for both the fragrance and the softening properties for my thin, fine hair? Thanks!

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi Becky,

      I think it’s certainly worth a try. I can’t see any reason that it wouldn’t. It may shorten the shelf life, but you could just make smaller batches, if that’s the case.

  24. Becky says

    Oh, forgot to mention that I plan to try the corn starch option, since that is what I already have on hand.

  25. Lisa says

    Good morning, Im wondering if I added a little vitamin E oil or maybe a little tea tree oil to the mix….would that preserve it so it might last longer and not go rancid so soon? What are your thoughts on this?

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      I think it’s definitely worth a shot. Tea tree oil is anti-bacterial and a mold inhibitor, so I think it would be a great addition.

  26. D says

    Thanks for this. The perfumes used in a lot of commercial toiletries set off my allergies, and the hypo-allergenic stuff is hellishly expensive.

    I just used regular olive oil in mine, which seems to work fine. I found another recipe somewhere for extracting rosemary oil (there’s tonnes of it growing in my garden and it’s one of the few fragrances that doesn’t make me sneeze), so I might give that a go next time.

    • Erin Huffstetler says

      Hi Amybeth, I suspect you would end up with something more like a conditioning mask. It would probably be a lot harder to wash out than the conditioner made with the gum, but who knows. It might be worth a try :)

  27. Breanna smith says

    I just tried this. Waiting on my hair to dry. I didn’t cook the water. I made some green tea in the water by microwaving. I used one teaspoon of sweet almond oil and 1/2 teaspoon of vitamin e oil. My hair gets really dry. It’s almost “butt length” so I take extra care to hydrate. I use guar gum. I put it in the hot tea yet I still had clumps. Before I tried mixing it with cold water and it was one big massive clump. What could I do different? I used peppermint and rosemary essential oil. This evidently along with the vitamin e is a preservative. I didn’t know it. I just love how it feels. Waiting on my hair to dry to see if it’s oily then I’ll adjust the recipe accordingly. My hair combed through just fine. I hope it has a longer shelf life. I just made some diy coconut milk conditioner and it went bad sooooo quick. I was gonna use the bottle today but I couldn’t. I made coconut cheese in the bottle. It spewed all over me from the pressure when I opened it. That has a puke factor out of this world. I hope this works. Thanks for the recipe.

      • Erin Huffstetler says

        Yay! Glad to hear it worked well for you. You mentioned having clumps in the finished product. I suspect they would go away if you were to stir longer. You could probably also use an immersion blender to break them up.

  28. Nicole says

    has anyone tried to use Gelatin instead of the Guar or Xantham gums? any thought on the benefits (or lack thereof) with using gelatin?
    I have been using herbal rinses with white or ACV instead of shampooing on a daily basis. I love the result. My daughters won’t touch the stuff so this could be a great alternative
    thanks agian

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