Deep conditioning is a vital part of any curly haired’s wash day routine. And for me personally, it’s my favorite step. There’s something so deliciously decadent about goop gliding through my curls, defining and moisturizing them. Ooh, I get shivers just thinking about it. Plus. I really enjoy the fact that once my DC is on, I can let it sit for hours. It’s the only step of my hair routine that I can do passively, and I fully embrace that fact. If I can get a break from doing my hair, while still doing my hair, I’m not gonna pass up the opportunity.
Because it’s my favorite step, you can bet that I’ve experimented with a wide variety of different deep conditioners: thick, light, expensive, cheap. If you can name it, I’ve probably had it in my arsenal at one point in time. And throughout that time, I’ve learned a lot about the ingredients that my hair likes and the ingredients that my hair could do without.
This realization prompted me to create my own deep conditioner, so I could get the vital ingredients that my hair craved without all the filler ingredients and at a quarter of the cost. Yup, those ingredients that you assume you’re paying for when shelling out $20 on a 16 oz deep conditioner? They’re actually super cheap. The ingredients are very cheap! In fact, the real price you pay is time spent making the recipe. If you’re like me and your time is well-spent making DIY hair recipes, then I do hope you enjoy spending your hard-earned time on this one.
Something to note* My hair LOVES fats, and that’s what I consider a good deep conditioner to contain: a ton of fatty acids, some amino acids, and some additional nutrients and oils?
Coconut Milk – 6-8 oz
Aloe Vera – 3/4 of an adult leaf
Avocado – 1/2 an avocado
Moringa Leaf* – 3 tbs
Avocado oil** – 1 tbs
About The Ingredients
Coconut milk ($2) is bursting with medium-chain fatty acids, the most prominent of these is lauric acid, which can penetrate the hair shaft, nourishing it and stimulating growth. The majority of the fats in coconut milk are saturated, which typically aren’t good for you, but with coconut milk it’s the opposite; they’re great for you and your hair (or at least mine). It’s also got tons of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Iron, Folate, and Magnesium. Plus, I love how thick and frothy it makes my DC. It’s definitely the base.
Aloe Vera ($1) is my holy grail of hair food. Adult plant leaves are so cheap at my local farmer’s market, and it always leaves my hair defined, moisturized, and stronger. It’s a humectant, which means that it helps attract moisture from the air, and it contains mucopolysaccharides, which are super important in helping retain moisture. It also contains antioxidants in the form of vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E. And it has 20 of the 22 amino acids, including 7 of the 8 essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and what is your hair if not protein chains growing out of your head? Nothing. It’s nothing if not that. My hair has always been kind of on the fence about aloe. When I’ve tried products containing aloe, my hair was in love. But when I bought pre-made gels that claim to only contain aloe vera :insert eye roll: they always end up leaving my hair a sticky mess. And then I tried fresh aloe leaves, and boy am I glad I did. Something about a fresh leaf just hits different. I also think of it as my balance to the coconut milk. A bit of vinegar to the coconut milk’s honey, if you will. Where the coconut milk is thick, frothy, and fatty, aloe vera is gelatinous, viscous, and stark. That’s why I really like using them together.
Avocados ($5) are chock-full of vitamins and good fats that my hair absolutely loves. This fat, differing from the coconut milk, is monounsaturated fat. Most of this fat comes from oleic acid (Omega-9), which has a regenerative and healing effect on the hair. It’s got vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, all of which are known for the the improvement of hair, skin, and nail health, plus it makes my hair so soft!
Moringa Leaf ($10) is a supplement you may or may not be familiar with. Made from the Moringa plant, Moringa Leaf contains plenty of hair-happy qualities. It’s filled with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc, Potassium, Calcium, and Protein, along with a bunch of other nutrients that are really great for your hair. I use Moringa in the form of powder, but I’ve seen Moringa oil as well. Recently I’ve been on kind of an ayurvedic health kick, adding Moringa Leaf, Bhringraj, Hibiscus, and Fenugreek into my regular Amla, Shikaikai, and Henna-laden shelves. And the best thing about these supplements is they’re not very expensive and you only need to use a little, so they last a long time.
*I used this recipe on my hair, and then I added Fenugreek and Henna to it for more moisture and strength (respectively). After seeing the results from the additional Fenugreek and Henna, I’d definitely replace the Moringa with Fenugreek the next time, and maybe add a little Moringa and Henna (if necessary).
Avocado Oil ($10) is one of my favorite penetrating oils. It’s lightweight, so you won’t really notice it, but it adds vitamin E, lutein, and fatty acids, all of which contribute to hair health and growth.
**The better oil to put in this recipe would be Jamaican Black Castor Oil. It’s more of a sealing oil, and I love using it with my deep conditioner, but I hadn’t restocked when I made this recipe, and hair DIY is all about adapting to what you have.
How to Make
Start off with the aloe vera leaf. It should be fully adult leaf; you’ll want to avoid trying to use the little aloe vera leaves you’ve been growing on your kitchen windowsill; working with small aloe vera leaves can only cause frustration and heartache.
A full-grown, adult leaf is about 20 inches in length. Start with the juiciest side and cut that baby up, extracting the gel. Be sure to avoid including the external skin or latex in your harvest. The aloe should be cut into pieces no longer than 1.5 inches. The bigger the cuts of gel, the harder it may be to blend them smoothly.
Once you’ve extracted the gel, place the pieces into a blender, and add about a cup of coconut milk. Then blend, baby, blend!
Once the mixture is blended well, you’ll want to add in the avocado.
I found this bag of frozen, pre-chunked avocados at Costco for $5. That’s right, $5. I used to use fresh avocados, but ultimately the ripeness of the fruit affected the quality of my conditioner. Plus I’d get anxious if my avocados were ripe but I didn’t feel like making my conditioner, or if I wanted to make my conditioner but the avocados weren’t ready. Talk about frustrating! So I was really happy when I found this bag of frozen avocados for so cheap. I just use what I need and put the rest back in the freezer. I highly highly highly recommend.
I add about 6 oz of avocado chunks to the mixture and blended it again.
Then, I added the Moringa Leaf, but in the future, I’ll be using Fenugreek.
Blend blend blend…
Last was the avocado oil. I always always always have to use an oil in my recipes, but the double avocado was kind of an overkill in this recipe. Though it may have helped, I don’t think that it helped as much as Jamaican Black Castor Oil would have, which is what I plan to use in my next batch.
And voila, a healthy, green deep conditioner, ready for the using. I love making my own deep conditioner, and I especially love the green color. Something about the green makes me believe that it’s healthier than my other deep conditioners, filled with plants and other natural, organic stuff that my body (and hair!) crave.
I usually keep it in a glass jar, and pour some into a bowl when I need to use it. Don’t let it sit out on the counter for too long though; someone might think that it’s an avocado dip.
After I’m done using it, I put it in the freezer to preserve it for my next wash day. I let it thaw out overnight before I use it again. This batch usually makes a little more than 16 oz, and I can use it for two or maybe three washes.
The Avocado, Moringa Leaf, and Avocado oil are the most expensive, but once you have the ingredients, they’ll be sure to last you a long time. The only ingredients you may need to continuously re-stock are the coconut milk and the aloe vera ($3!).
If you’re into DIY, and have the time, I highly suggest giving my recipe a whirl! I’d love to see how it works for y’all.