For those of you who are tired of toxic chemical leave-in conditioners, here’s a recipe for a natural leave in conditioner and hair detangler that’s cheap, leaves no residue, and can be made in under 5 minutes! This recipe works for curly and straight hair, hydrates dry hair, and doesn’t contain ingredients that could weigh down hair (coconut oil, shea butter, etc.).
I was only six years-old in 1991. I can remember like it was yesterday begging my mom for big hair. Not just any big hair. I wanted 1991 big hair with Shirley Temple style ringlet curls.
Big hair was an important accessory needed to complement my bleached denim overalls and tie-dyed shirts. It was that year, my mom finally spoke the words I had waited so long to hear (it seemed like “so long” as a six year-old) , “YES!”
The big day finally arrived. My mom turned our living room into a full-working beauty salon. A few hours later my first perm was complete. I ran to the my parent’s bathroom to check out my new do.
The excitement only lasted for so long. Perms only last so long. Within a few months my hair went back to my natural straight locks.
Even after the style of the ’90s passed (although the clothing of today is starting to reflect the outfits I wore in first grade…who decided to bring back faded overalls and super high-waisted pants??), I’ve longed for big curly hair. Maybe it’s one of those “the grass is always greener” scenarios. I want what I can’t have– gorgeous curls!
Three years ago, my second child, Londyn, was born. The greatest surprise of all appeared around her first birthday with the sighting of a ringlet curl. Today, Londyn is 10 years-old and has gorgeous curly hair. I’m now living vicariously through Londyn.
I’ve learned a lot about caring for curly hair over the past few years. Like curls just can’t be combed with a “regular” hair brush. Oh no, that’s a recipe for pure disaster, at least that’s been my experience with Londyn’s hair. Curly hair must be delicately cared for in very specific ways. A gentle comb and leave-in conditioner and detangler are essential to maintaining Londyn’s curly hair.
Thankfully, a DIY leave-in conditioner and detangler recipe is very easy to make. Not only is it super easy to make, the ingredients work better than most store-bought products (in my opinion)! In fact, I’ve tried a lot of hair detanglers on Londyn’s hair over the last year, and by far this natural homemade version is the best. I’m excited to share this simple recipe with you!
What are the best ingredients for a natural leave-in conditioner and detangler?
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Glycerin: Glycerin is a sugar alcohol derived from plants or vegetable fats (there is also a synthetic version which I recommend staying away from). Glycerin is used in many beauty products due to its moisturizing properties. Glycerin is known as a “hygroscopic.” This means glycerin pulls moisture from the air. This is why glycerin makes a fantastic leave-in conditioner and detangler! On its own glycerin can destroy the hair and strip it of moisture, but when diluted glycerin softens the hair and even reduces frizz. I recommend this glycerin.
1 Tablespoon Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe vera gel comes from the aloe vera plant. The gel (found inside the leaves) is great for moisturizing the skin and hair. Aloe not only attracts moisture to the hair, but also seals it in. Aloe also contains many minerals which are beneficial for the body (including the hair and skin!). I recommend this aloe vera gel.
Lavender Essential Oil: This ingredient is completely optional. If you would like to add essential oils for scent, I recommend going with an oil that may provide some beneficial properties to the hair. Orange, lavender, and rosemary essential oils are great for natural hair care. Some folks suggest that lavender essential oil is helpful for hair growth. I’m not sure how much substance there is behind this claim, but if you want to try a natural hair growth option, then go for it. It can’t hurt. My favorite brand is Plant Therapy.
You can also use other natural ingredients to make homemade leave-in conditioner, from shea butter to coconut oil, but I prefer the ingredients listed above. Heavy oils and butters can weigh down hair, depending on your hair type. The goal of my recipe, and the ingredients used, is to provide hydration and aid in detangling hair strands, without needing to wash out the leave-in conditioner (that’s the whole goal of a LEAVE-IN conditioner).
If you’d like to experiment with other natural conditioning ingredients, explore 13 natural leave-in conditioner recipes from healthline.
How to make natural leave-in conditioner
Making DIY leave-in conditioner and hair detangler can be done in under 5 minutes and doesn’t require any special tools. Just grab a small squirt bottle (you can even reuse an old hair care bottle), add the glycerin, aloe vera, distilled water (distilled water is best to use to minimize bacterial growth), and essential oil (if using). Place the cap on the bottle and give the ingredients a good shake. That’s it! You’re done.
How to use DIY leave-in conditioner
Use homemade leave-in conditioner just as you would any store-bought product: spray the conditioner generously on hair strands, let it sit for a couple of minutes (to work its detangling and conditioning magic), then comb through the hair. I recommend using a wet brush or comb, particularly if you have thick, curly, or tangled hair. leave-in conditioner & hair detangler = magic moisturizing hair juice
What is the best natural hair conditioner?
What about wash-out conditioner that you use in the shower? Or natural store-bought leave-in conditioners that are sulfate-free and don’t use toxic ingredients, like parabens, in the formulas? If you’re looking for something natural that you don’t have to DIY, here are the best natural hair conditioners that I’ve tried and love…
- True Botanicals: True Botanicals is known for making non-toxic products that really work and rival conventional products. This is the shampoo and conditioner that I’ve been using for years now. And yes, I use this on my color-treated hair without issue.
- Innersense Beauty: The Pure Inspiration Daily Conditioner is made for all hair types, and the Color Radiance Daily Conditioner is formulated for color-treated hair. This brand also makes fantastic shampoo. Innersense also makes natural hair care products for detangling and styling. The leave-in conditioner is a reader favorite.
- Josh Rosebrook: Josh is known for beautifully-formulated natural skincare and hair products. Josh’s hair line includes shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, a hair mask for dry and brittle hair, and style cream for texture and definition.
- Dessert Essence: The best budget-friendly natural shampoo and conditioner. You’ll find this brand in most health food stores, online, and even some conventional stores. This brand makes various hair products and they all get rave reviews and are budget-friendly.
Homemade Leave-In Conditioner Hair Detangler
- 1 TB aloe vera gel I believe you can also use pure aloe juice.
- 1/2-1 TB vegetable glycerin this amount depends on your hair. I recommend starting with 1/2 TB and working your way up to a higher amount. Almost 1 TB is perfect for Londyn. Some people may need more or less.
- 5 TB distilled water
- 10 drops lavender essential oil or orange or rosemary or your favorite essential oil (should be kid-safe if using in a child's hair)
- In a 4-ounce spray bottle, combine all the ingredients: aloe vera gel, glycerin, water, and essential oil.
- Give the bottle a gentle shake until the aloe vera is combined. That's it! Store the natural leave-in conditioner and detangler at room temperature.
- Shake the bottle, spray hair strands generously with the leave-in conditioner, allow to rest for a couple of minutes in hair, then brush with a wet brush or comb.