How to Make Hair Wax
A simple, 3 ingredient recipe that is kind to your hair, people and the planet
As we are still in Plastic Free July I thought I would do something a bit different for this blog post and share with you a really easy recipe for hair wax that you can make at home, plastic free.
A lot of ingredients that go into making soap can actually be used to make a whole host of other skin and haircare products. So when Mr B mentioned that he was running low on hair wax, I had a quick look at the list of ingredients in his current bought hair wax and realised I already had most of them, or an equivalent. So I did a little research online for hair wax/hair pomade recipes just to get an idea of rough percentages of ingredients and then set to formulating my own. My general formulation philosophy is to use as few effective ingredients as possible and to use those ingredients that are kind to your skin (or in this case hair), people and the planet.
So I decided on fair trade coconut oil and fair trade shea butter alongside beeswax to make the hair wax for Mr B. I know that this means this particular formulation is not suitable for vegans but I still need to do more research on vegan waxes such as candelilia wax and carnauba wax. These two are the most common plant based waxes that are used as a bees wax alternatives but unfortunately there are a few ethical issues associated with their production.
Candellila wax is extracted using boiling water and sulphuric acid, often this is done without the provision of any safety equipment in the harsh environment of the Chihuahuan desert resulting in unsafe and harsh working conditions. If you want to know a little bit more about how Candellila wax is made I would recommend watching the Beauty Laid Bare documentary which is available on BBC iPlayer - the pertinent pieces about Candellila wax are found at the end of episode one and the beginning of episode two.
Carnauba wax comes from a palm tree native to Brazil and there are concerns that, much like palm oil, the production of this wax may play a role in rainforest deforestation as well as poor working conditions and pay. This is not to say there are not ethical and sustainable producers of these waxes or indeed alternative waxes which I could use in my hair wax formulation. And I definitely will be doing a lot more research into this, but for now, I was just making a pot of hair wax for Mr B, who is not a vegan and was happy to use a one containing beeswax.
The recipe I formulated was incredibly simple, just 3 ingredients but they all have properties that are kind to your hair. Firstly the beeswax -this can help moisturise and sooth scalp conditions (1) and most importantly for a hair wax it is the ingredient that will give your hair hold! Next is coconut oil - this oil is high in lauric acid which can be absorbed into the hair shaft (because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain structure) (2). It has been shown to moisturise and protect hair from damage (2,3). Some studies have shown that coconut oil may even have a sun protection factor of 7 meaning it could potentially help to protect your hair from sun damage (4). And finally Shea butter - this is full of fatty acids and has anti inflammatory properties (5) meaning not only is this butter moisturising, but it potentially reduces scalp irritation.
So that is the basic base recipe, I also added rosemary essential oil for scent and because it has hair care properties too. But this is completely optional, you do not need to add this if you would prefer your hair wax it to be scent free. The reason I chose rosemary essential oil is because it has been shown to increase hair growth and thickness (6) and due to it's anti-fungal properties it may have potential to help treat dandruff.
Hair Wax Recipe
Makes 100g - perfect for an aluminium tin
50g Beeswax (50%)
25g Coconut oil (25%)
25g Shea Butter (25%)
Optional -1g rosemary essential oil (1% of the total ingredients is the maximum amount of rosemary essential oil allowed for a leave on hair product in the UK)
Note - as this formulation does not contain any water you do not need to add a preservative.
Remember to ensure your work area is clean and you have sterilised your equipment and the tin/jar you are planning on storing your hair wax in and you have clean hands or are wearing gloves (rubber gloves are fine).
I created a make shift bain-marie/double boiler using a heat proof bowl over a saucepan with a couple of inches of simmering water and gently melted the beeswax.
Once the beeswax had melted I added the shea butter and coconut oil and gently melted them and then I turned off the heat.
I mixed the rosemary essential oil into the melted wax, butter and oil and poured the whole mixture straight into a sterilised aluminium tin (I reused the tin Mr B's hair wax had come in) and left it to set up (lid off).
Once it had cooled I put the lid on and that was it. Super simple and plastic free!
Mr B is very happy with it, it is easy to use and it doesn't make his hair look greasy and has a good hold. I think if I make it again I might use slightly less wax, as it is very hard and maybe think about other oils that are known to be beneficial to hair such as Argan oil. Rice bran oil and jojoba oil.
That's all for today - I am off to continue to get my soap formulations ready for submission - not long now!!
Until next time
- Al-Waili, Complement Ther Med. 2003;11:226-34
- Ruetsch et al., J Cosmet Sci.2001;52:169-84
- Rele et al., J Cosmet Sci.2003;54(2):175-92
- Kaur et al., Pharmacognosy Res.2010;2:22-5
- Akihisha et al., J Oleo Sci.2010;59:273-80.
- Panahi et al., Skinmed. 2015;13(1):15-21.
I am Kelly Townsend and this is the Small Kindness Blog. I am a scientist, a bee lover, a rewilding obsessive, and I want to spread Small Kindnesses through the medium of soap. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for your daily dose of kindness (as well as to see how the soap making is going!)