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How To Make Conditioner At Home (With One Herb)

How to make conditioner at home


Life is good and beautiful when it’s kept simple.

And this homemade conditioner recipe is also very simple. Made with just one ingredient – marshmallow root – it does everything that a good conditioner is supposed to do. It nourishes and detangles hair, seals in moisture, and leaves hair looking soft, bouncy and lustrous.

Don’t confuse marshmallow root with marshmallow sweets. But the name has a link. In the olden days marshmallow sweets were made using the gummy/gluey properties of marshmallow root. Not anymore, now the sweets are made using gelatine.

Marshmallow root: Where does it come from

Marshmallow Plant

Marshmallow Plant

As the name suggests… it comes from marshmallow plant. I didn’t know about it until I came to the UK. And I am so happy to have found this fab herb.

Marshmallow is a perennial herb that bears hibiscus-like flowers and grows to a height of 6-7 feet. These plants are usually found on the banks of the river and in salt marshes by the sea and in other damp areas, hence getting its name ‘marshmallow’. Marshmallow is native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Central and Western Asia.

The root of marshmallow is rich in mucilage – which means it gets really gooey when prepared with water. It doesn’t sound pretty, but this slimy substance has some amazing benefits.

From a sore throat and laryngitis to acid reflux, it brings relief by coating the irritated tissue linings. After your insides are all good and coated, marshmallow’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions give them chance to heal naturally.

These same properties are also great for soothing and relieving your scalp. It will aid in treating scalp problems like eczema, psoriasis and dry scalp.

And for your hair, the mucilage provides the much-needed slip for easy detangling and combing.

Marshmallow Root Makes a Fab ConditionerMarshmallow root

  • It deep conditions hair and hydrates every strand
  • Leave hair soft, shiny and bouncy
  • The slippery mucilage makes detangling very easy
  • It promotes hair growth (due to its high content of plant proteins and vitamins)
  • Tames frizz and flyaways
  • Greatly reduces split ends and hair breakage
  • Soothes dry and itchy scalp

Marshmallow root is a must-try: if you have dry, brittle hair, or if you are struggling with knots, frizz and lifeless strands

It’s moisturising and emollient qualities makes hair really soft and creates a silky shine. While the slippery substance – mucilage – provides slip like a conditioner and makes detangling very easy. So you will have no more hair breakage.

High in plant proteins, marshmallow nourishes and thickens hair strands as well as promotes healthy hair growth. Regular use of this herb, will make your hair smoother and silkier, increase manageability, and restore lustre and bounce.

People with scalp conditions that are irritated, red and flaky might find it useful, too.

Why make conditioner at Home?

Because you have full control over what goes into it. Store bought conditioner have ingredients such as dimethicone that can clog hair follicles, artificial colour and perfume that can irritate your scalp, and other nasties. Also, certain conditioners may cause stunted growth or even hair loss.

How to Make Marshmallow Conditioner

To make a basic conditioner you only need marshmallow root and water. But you can personalise the conditioner by adding other optional ingredients given below. If you want to choose one, I would choose between aloe vera gel or apple cider vinegar (AVC).

You will need:

Optional add-ins (you can use one or more)

  • 1-2 teaspoon aloe vera gel (gives hair body, bounce and gloss)
  • 1 teaspoon almond oil or macadamia nut oil (provides extra moisture, especially useful for dry, coarse hair)
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil (adds fragrance; soothes dry flaking scalp and promotes hair growth
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerine or raw honey (it helps capture the moisture from the air to keep your hair moisturized, and it also helps with curl definition and frizz reduction)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar ( AVC clarifies as it conditions the hair and scalp, and revitalizes dull hair)
  • 2-3 teaspoon orange juice or lime juice (citrus juices remove residue build up; stimulate the scalp and help fight dandruff)

How to make

There are 3 ways you can make marshmallow conditioner.

1. Simple and easy: add marshmallow root and water in a bowl/jar, give it a stir and let it sit overnight (or 6-8 hours). Strain and you’re done!

2. Steep in hot water: place marshmallow root in a bowl/jar and pour 1-2 cups of boiling water over it. Let it steep, covered, until cool. Strain and use. (add any optional ingredients you like.)

3. Make a strong conditioner

  • Add marshmallow root and water to a small pan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let it ‘steep’ until cool.
  • Strain the liquid and it’s ready to use!

If you wish, you can add the optional ingredients to the cooldown liquid: aloe vera gel, almond oil, lavender oil. Shake/stir well and use. (you can feel free to use any carrier oil or essential oil you like)

Tip: Soak the marshmallow root in water for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Soaking helps release more of its properties into the water, and therefore make stronger conditioner.

marshmallow root in water

Add marshmallow root and water to a small pan


Homemade conditioner

Bring to a boil


marshmallow root conditioner

Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let it steep, covered, until cool. Strain the liquid and you’re done!

Marshmallow root hair conditioner

Marshmallow root hair conditioner

Here’s the freshly made marshmallow root conditioner.

Marshmallow root hair conditionerHow to use

Wash your hair as usual. Pour the conditioning rinse slowly over hair and work through from roots to tips. Also, rub it into your scalp and let it sit for 4-5 minutes. Rinse with water and let your hair dry naturally.

Tip: You can use a squeeze bottle to pour the conditioner on your hair

More Herbs that you can add in the conditionerhibiscus hair conditioner

I really like to combine marshmallow with hibiscus. It makes a lovely red colour conditioner and is very effective in softening and smoothing the hair. Hibiscus also seals the cuticles – this helps to remove all your knots and tangles with ease as well as adds incredible shine to it.

Play around with other herbs and see what works for you. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Hibiscus (use 1 tablespoon dried flowers)
  2. Shikakai (use 2-3 pods): Due to its saponin content, shikakai makes a cleansing conditioner, ideal for oily hair. It balances scalp pH and makes hair soft, silky and bouncy. (you can also use soap nut or reetha instead of shikakai).
  3. Basil leaves  (use 1 tablespoon): basil adds lustre and shine to dull hair; also helps to soothe the irritated scalp.
  4. Chamomile flower (use 1-2 teaspoon): Along with conditioning, chamomile adds highlights to blond hair.
  5. Slippery elm (1-2 teaspoon): Similar to marshmallow it’s high in mucilage and makes a fantastic addition to homemade conditioner.
  6. Oat straw (1 tablespoon): Add softness, body and shine to hair; also brings out highlights in blond hair.
  7. Rosemary (1-2 teaspoon): helps condition hair and scalp; adds dark highlights

How to thicken the conditioner?

I don’t mind using thin liquidy conditioner.

But if you want your conditioner to be thick like store-bought, add natural thickeners like guar gum or xanthan gum.

Sprinkle about ½teaspoon guar gum/xanthan gum to the liquid conditioner and blend it with a hand mixer – till it thickens up.

You can also try whisking with a fork; it will take a bit longer.

How to Store Homemade Conditioner

Without preservatives, it will keep for up to a week. But if it works for your hair, you can make a large batch and freeze it in ice cube trays.

Use 2 to 4 cubes depending on the length of your hair.

Where to Buy Marshmallow Root

You can find marshmallow root at a health food store. If not, it’s available online. Click here to buy marshmallow root online.

Happy creating! 

And enjoy your soft, shiny, beautiful hair!

What do you think? Have you tried marshmallow root before? What did you make? Share your thoughts…


You may also like:

Ditch Conditioner, Use Hair Rinse: 6 Hair Rinse Recipes for Gorgeous Hair

3 Conditioning Herbs for Dry Hair


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