Unless you are making your own hair products (and even if you are) you are probably adding chemicals that cause buildup on your hair. A lot of them are designed to do that. For instance if you have dry damaged or chemically treated hair, you have probably been using shampoos & conditioners (and maybe other products) to counteract that. It works! At least, it LOOKS like it works. Silicons in hair products are in there because they coat your hair. All of a sudden you have sleeker, shinier, less frazzled looking hair. It's kind of like putting make up on a zit. The more you put on the worse it gets. ANY film forming ingredient will cause some buildup on the hair. See my post on making shampoo bars to see some of the ingredients that work really well in body soap you might want to avoid in hair soap. I see a lot of posts on the internet about a period of adjustment your hair has to go through (where it just looks & feels like crap) before you start to see the benefits. I believe that "period of adjustment" is not your hair getting used to the shampoo bar, but your hair giving up all the stuff that has been deposited on it that does not rinse off. Seems like a nice clarifying shampoo before starting on the shampoo bar journey would nip this problem in the bud! Hard water, or water with calcium in it can also cause buildup. I have found that a diluted vinegar rinse (and rinsed OUT of your hair) can help combat the buildup problem.
I am going to recommend a simple, effective hair conditioner to you after studying everything I could find including Susan Barclay-Nichols of Swift Crafty Monkey fame's wonderful blog of highly detailed information. She doesn't know how much she helped me, and definitely deserves some credit for this conditioner. would also like to thank Evik at curious-soapmaker.com. Both have wonderful resources!
BTMS-50 main ingredient Behentrimonium methosulfate is a cationic quaternary compound which is made from Colza, a rapeseed/canola relative. It's form is flakes. It improves the feel of the hair, controls static & makes it easy to comb. It is positively charged & your hair is negatively charged, so there is an attraction. There are other ingredients containing BTMS. You can find BTMS 25 & BTMS 225 (one of them is exclusive to Canada, I think it's the 225). They all have different additives to cut down the naturally stickiness of the BTMS itself. BTMS 50 is 50% BTMS, the 25 & 225 are 25%.
Some technical info on BTMS from Susan's site:
I do not like preservatives, but they are a necessary evil if you are going to store or sell products. You don't want your beautiful concoctions to form big globs of mold, or worse contain bacteria or mold you CAN'T see, but it's there, anyway. Any product that contains water needs a preservative!!! You are on your own there. I make tiny tiny batches & store in my fridge. This recipe does not contain a preservative but you DO need one if you make more than you will use in a couple weeks & don't mind storing it in the fridge.
For a thick, substantial conditioner I used 6% BTMS-50 and 94% distilled water
Put both together in a jar & place that in a water bath & heat to 180 deg F.
The BTMS will melt & stir, froth, beat so that the water & BTMS are thoroughly combined. I found a frother works great after it's all melted. The cooling is kinda tricky. You can place in ice or cool water bath & keep stirring until cool. I have never had it separate back out, but I guess that's why you are supposed to keep it mixed up while cooling.
This was too serious a conditioner for me. I went down to 3% BTMS with 97% water. It's still a lot of conditioning.
Since I have hard, nasty water I sometimes use a diluted vinegar rinse. Hmm, vinegar preserves pickles, right? I wondered if BTMS would have any problem being dissolved in vinegar. I used 97% vinegar & 3% BTMS and it worked beautifully! I can apply this directly to my hair (in moderation) or I can put about 1/2 to 1 tsp in a glass of warm water & douse my hair. No more vinegar rinse!!!
I have to qualify this. It is summer time & I do not really need a conditioner. My shampoo bar is working well. The BTMS-50 conditioner is not new or a new idea, the vinegar/BTMS IS a new idea.
You can add all kinds of things to this conditioner. Some people like to add conditioning oils, but be careful. You might want to try it plain, first. It works pretty good!