The Case Against DIY Deep Conditioner

The Case Against DIY Deep Conditioner

DIY recipes are a great way to control the ingredients that go into your hair and potentially keep the more wasteful products out, but they come with some drawbacks. Today, I want to explore why you should NOT make and use a DIY deep conditioner.

Pin photo from Karolina Grabowska on Pexels!

I’ll be honest. This post was originally supposed to be a DIY deep conditioner recipe, but then I realized a couple things: (1) a lot of recipes call for things like avocado and banana, and I am not willing to put food products in my hair, and (2) it doesn’t make sense for me to small amounts of the necessary ingredients. These reasons alone were enough to turn me off, but let’s go into detail about these and more reasons to NOT make your own DIY hair products.

1. You use food products that you could be eating.

This one doesn’t apply to every DIY deep conditioner, but many use a food item. For example, common ingredients used in DIY hair care include olive oil, avocado oil, avocado flesh, banana, coconut oil, egg, honey, and Greek yogurt. All of these, arguably, would add more value to your diet than they would to your hair.

Photo of a brown egg on a wood soap rest next to a bottle of Africa's Best hair oil. Over the photo are the words "DIY Egg protein hair mask - zero waste win or pinterest fail?"In all likelihood, when an individual like you or me buys these ingredients, they would go to the grocery store. (I’m guilty of this myself when I try to make DIY products.) Alternatively when a company buys these ingredients, they’re more likely to buy in bulk and have the option to get them from a wholesaler. The issue is that as an individual, you’re likely to buy food-quality which could be eaten, whereas companies might buy off-spec ingredients that would otherwise go to waste.

2. They require you to buy ingredients in plastic.

Photo of plastic bottles of essential oils, jojoba oil, vegetable glycerine, and the plastic wrapper from a bar of soap. These ingredients were used to make DIY shampoo.Similar to the last point, this one doesn’t apply to every DIY deep conditioner and it’s an issue with the batch size an individual makes versus a company. As I learned first-hand when I made my own African black soap shampoo, you often need to buy ingredients in order to make a DIY recipe. While this does allow you to control the ingredients you put on your hair, it might not be the most sustainable option. You might end up buying a small amount of an ingredient – like vegetable glycerine, essential oils, carrier oils, coconut milk, or shea butter. Again, an individual might only be able to buy a small amount of the ingredient, where a company could buy a lot of it in bulk and cut down on waste. Companies might also have more recycling options open to them or deals with a manufacturer that aren’t available to individual consumers because companies buy in larger quantities.

3. They’re time consuming to make and they have a short shelf life.

Food ingredients I mentioned before, like banana, avocado, yogurt, and eggs, should be used immediately so they don’t spoil. Ingredients like coconut milk might be able to be refrigerated, but shelf life is likely still only a week or so, meaning that you’d be making your conditioner nearly every wash day. For me, wash day is already long enough, and I don’t want to add another 30+ minutes to make conditioner each time.

4. It’s better to support the Zero Waste industry.

Collage of zero waste conditioner options, including Plaine Products steel bottles, Tree Naturals and Ethique conditioner bars, and Consciously Curly Co's glass jar.Companies like Plaine Products, Ethique, Tree Naturals, and Consciously Curly Co make zero waste hair care for people concerned about the environment and the ingredients that go into their hair. There are also a number of individuals on Etsy who make low waste hair products and even these small businesses are probably able to buy in bulk to avoid the issues mentioned earlier. Often the products from these companies are slightly more expensive, which I acknowledge is a barrier. As these are more widely adopted by those who can afford them now, the price could come down. In addition, zero waste will become more mainstream and bigger companies will start to adjust their packaging and practices.


I understand that the reasons I’ve listed above may not be convincing to you and may not apply to you. There are a number of reasons for making DIY deep conditioner and other DIY hair products, including that you can control the ingredients going onto your hair (which has potential for both environmental and hair benefits), you can save money by buying in bulk, and you get the satisfaction of making something yourself. I don’t mean for this post to dissuade you from making your own products if that’s what works for you. 

For me personally, the reasons against DIY outweigh the benefits. I’d much prefer to buy conditioner and deep conditioner from a good company, like Plaine Products in reusable metal bottles or a conditioner bar from Tree Naturals.

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