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How To Make Hair Styling Products... Start your Own Business

From gels and creams, to waxes and pomades, making hair styling products has never been such big business, offering such diversification.

hair controlHair styling preparations are required for both men and women, to improve the control and manageability of hair, to impart lustre, and to maintain a hair style despite the various environmental conditions to which the hair is submitted (wind, humidity, dryness, cold, heat, sun, etc.)

To discover how to start your own business making hair shampoos, conditioners and styling products, click this link.

The relative importance of these factors varies with fashion, from one country to another, from age to age, and according to the state of the hair. It also differs notably between male and female users – men generally consider adequate control as the prime requisite for a hair dressing, with gloss as secondary (although this is subject to fashion) and as such men’s products have been classically based on the use of oleaginous materials. Women first look for products that give a pleasing appearance to the hair, but at the same time they require good hold; they do not want a product which renders the hair heavy, and which tends to make it lank or greasy.

The trend in women’s hair fashions has encouraged softer and freer styles. The increasing use of the brushing technique has led to an increase in the demand for products. These products enhance disentangling and create a greater need for products that protect, strengthen and/or improve the condition of the hair. This has occurred at the same time as the extraordinary development of conditioners.

The article below provides an overview into the basic formulating requirements for making hair styling and finishing products.

With the AustraLab program, you don’t need to understand the chemistry of making hair care products – I’ve done all the hard work for you. The formulations have been thoroughly tested for efficacy and ease of manufacturing.

hair styling products

Manufacture of Hair Styling Products

All the methods attempt to form a film or closing on the hair for maintenance. The methods that can be used are:

A film on the hair is obtained on evaporation of water from water-soluble materials like gums, protein derivatives, water-soluble synthetic polymers.

A film/coating of anhydrous materials can be achieved by purely physical means. This method is applicable to fats of vegetable, mineral or animal origin. However, the film/coating is quite greasy. This problem has been overcome by availability of some fatty esters.

Emulsions can form film or coating with much more ease. Dilution of any phase can be accomplished in a water-in-oil or oil-in-water type emulsion.

Another method that can be utilized is to make a solution of water-insoluble materials in volatile solvents like alcohol and apply to the hair. Volatile solvents evaporate, leaving behind a film on the hair.

Using absorption process, film can be deposited on hair. Properly formed films made by this method resist rinsing, handling and sometimes even washing. Such a phenomenon is exhibited by cationic substances.

It may also be noted that sometimes the effect can be achieved with lower concentrations and an increase in the concentrations dissipates the effect. The point of concern in such preparations are firmness of dispersion materials, freedom from irritation or sensitization.


Wave sets

The former formulations of wave-sets were based on natural gums like gum karaya, acacia, tragacanth and and quince seed. These natural products have varying physical properties according to climate, soil, method of collection. In addition to this, they yield dull and brittle films which may crumble and may become sticky in humid weather.

Synthetic polymers soluble in water-alcohol mixture have largely replaced natural gums. These products can be formulated with a film-forming material, plasticizer, solvent (water-alcohol), perfume and color.

Later, hair setting or styling gels became popular. Hair setting lotions due to low solid content cannot form gels. Thickening agents like carboxy polymethylene resins have become extensively used for making gels.

Hair Rinses

For many centuries, vinegar and lemon juice have been used to remove lime soap after shampooing. Subsequently, solutions of polybasic acids like citric acid, and tartaric acid were used. These were marketed in solid formulations with instructions to make solutions for rinse. Single application packages were also available. These sometimes also contained color and were called temporary color rinses.

The products made with quaternary ammonium compounds are available as emulsions or creams. The earliest quaternary ammonium compounds that were used alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. A simple cream rinse can be prepared with alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and glycerol monostearate. This cream rinse should be diluted to about 15 times before use. While selecting quaternary ammonium compounds their skin irritancy should be taking into consideration. Usually concentrations of 0.1% lose the irritantcy and are still effective in their action on the hair shaft.

Hair grooming preparations

The groups of hair dressing preparations are: brilliantines, alcoholic solutions, two-layer systems, hair tonics, gum-based hair dressings, oil-in-water emulsions, and water-in-oil emulsions.



hair gel brilliantineBrilliantines overcome dull appearance of hair. The main function of a brilliantine is to impart a measure of grooming and sheen to the hair. There are two types of brilliantines – liquids and solids. Mineral oil with a small quantity of color and perfume forms a liquid brilliantine. Another liquid constitutes mineral oil 75% and deodorized kerosene 25%.

The coupling agents may be added to keep the product clear on storage. Materials like vegetable oils, fatty alcohols/esters, non-ionic surfactants can solubilize perfume oils.

Vegetable oils are liable to become rancid, therefore, use of antioxidants in hair oils containing vegetable oils is necessary.

Solid brilliantines are used for unruly or kinky hair where greater grooming is required. These products are invariably opaque. Opacity of these products increases with increasing proportion of waxes.

Alcoholic solutions

Alcoholic solutions as hair dressing can be prepared diluting viscous oils with alcohol. It is possible to get wetting action first and deposition of thin layer of oil next after evaporation of alcohol. Castor oil is soluble in alcohol and therefore enjoys a unique place amongst fixed oils.

Oil-in-water emulsions

Good pouring, spreading and attractive cream-like properties make oil-in-water emulsions immediately acceptable. It does not give greasy feeling and can be easily removed by shampooing. Since emulsions are vulnerable to microbial growth, preservatives soluble in oil phase and soluble in water phase should be added. Desired grooming can be achieved using mineral oil of low or medium viscosity. Other materials like petroleum jelly, waxes are added to increase the body of the emulsion. Gums have also been used to increase fixative properties, viscosity and stability of emulsions.

Water-in-oil emulsions

In spite of difficulty to prepare water-in-oil emulsions, hair dressings of this type are popular among men and women. These products are smooth lustrous creams which give excellent grooming and high sheen to the hair. The film deposited on the hair is water-resistant and this makes this type of hairdressing useful to swimmers. Water-in-oil emulsions have a greasier feel but not as pronounced as in the case of brilliantines.

Several types of emulsifying agents have been used to prepare water-in-oil hair dressings, polyvalent soaps being the oldest of them. Calcium stearate and oleates were used earlier but it was subsequently found that magnesium is more stable. A combination of emulsifiers has been found more useful than any singular emulsifier. Zinc and aluminium stearates have been used in combination with other emulsifiers. Vegetable oils, waxes and lanolin can be added for desired attributes in the product.

Manufacturer of hair grooming products


Liquid brilliantines or hair oils are manufactured by mixing of miscible ingredients in a suitable mixing tank. However, when liquid brilliantine is based entirely on low viscosity mineral oil, solubility of perfume may be a problem. Therefore, solubility of the perfume should be pre-determined. Perfume can be made oil-soluble by using deodorised kerosene or isopropylmyristate. Before adding perfume, it is first dissolved in deodorised kerosene or isopropylmyristate. Then added to the bulk. Perfume and color are thoroughly blended. For bright and crystal-clear appearance, the bulk finished product may be filtered. These products should be processed either in stainless steel or high density polymer vessels. Antioxidants (oil-soluble) should be mixed in a part of oil and should be added to the mix with stirring.

hair pomadeSolid brilliantines and pomades are prepared by melting and mixing all the ingredients except perfume, color and preservatives (anti-oxidants) mixed with a stirrer. The heating is carried out in a water jacketed vessel. Colors and anti-oxidants are mixed in warm oil which will not cause solidification of the bulk. This mixture and perfume is added, as the cooling occurs but well before solidification in mixing vessel. Materials should not be worked when partially solidified, otherwise, air bubbles will be permanently incorporated. The product, while hot is run into warmed jars and these filled containers are allowed to cool slowly in a warm room.

Alcoholic solutions

Alcoholic solutions of fatty materials, are manufactured by process of mixing. However, the equipment should be such that would not permit evaporation of a significant amount of alcohol.

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