Why use 100% natural shampoos?
If you’ve read my article 17 Harmful Shampoo Chemicals You Want to Avoid Like the Plague, you will know by now how important for your health is to not to use shampoos packed with synthetic chemicals.
But then you might be wondering which shampoos out there are truly good for your hair.
Many of the so called “organic” shampoos you find in health food stores may be free of SLS, parabens, and other harmful chemicals, but they may still use synthetic thickeners, preservatives, and antifreeze agents to ease transportation and give them a longer shelf life.
There is a good review from the Ecoluxe Magazine team who have tested the best 100% natural organic shampoo brands available in the market. Click here for the full article.
But if instead of buying commercial shampoos you would prefer to make your own, this article is for you. I have compiled 9 DIY all natural shampoo recipes that are surprisingly easy to do with most ingredients found at home.
You will need to take into account though, that these natural shampoos don’t foam and are not as thick as commercial shampoos, but clean all the same.
I have tried many of the recipes myself over the last year or so, but can not guarantee that these methods will all work for you. It’s a matter of trial and error, as we all have different hair conditions. What I can certainly assure you is that this list will open up your mind to new ways of caring for your hair.
How Does Our Hair Work?
The outer layer of our hair is called the cuticle that has overlapping layers of scales, much like those of a fish or roof tiles. The cuticle covers the hair shaft and protects it.
When the cuticle is intact and lies flat, your hair will feel smooth and look shiny, since the layers are tight together and the light reflects off the cuticle.
But when we wash our hair with chemically laden shampoos, the cuticle layers will open and not fall in place, making our hair feel rough and brittle. Also, the hair will absorb the light rather than reflect it, giving it a dull and lifeless look.
1. Natural Shampoo Bar Soap
I heard in the old days people just used a bar of natural soap to wash both skin and hair.
I tried this out with a good bar of pure castile soap made from olive oil. My hair seemed clean at first but when it got dry, it was a bit stiff and hard to brush.
However, there are actually shampoo bars available on the market made with specific hair-care oils, such as castor oil, coconut oil or jojoba oil. The best option would be to ask for a shampoo bar specific to your hair type and give it a go.
Bonus: bar shampoos are very convenient when traveling as you wont need to carry liquid shampoo bottles.
2. Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar Wash
In the old days, people would rid their hair of dirt and grease with a rinse of water and lemon juice. In some countries it could be pricey to use lemon juice, so one can use apple cider vinegar instead.
Apple cider vinegar rinse works both as a shampoo and as a conditioner.
Vinegar is a tonic that restores the natural pH balance of your hair and closes the cuticles making your hair supple and shiny and prevents an itchy scalp, as it helps blood circulation. It’s also great for tangled hair, as the hair slides through brush bristles more easily when the cuticles are closed.
Dilute ½ to 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with one cup of water. Double the measures according to the amount needed to cover your length of hair.
How to make your own apple cider vinegar:
Next time you eat an apple, recycle your apple rings and cores and place them inside a jar filled with water. Then keep your jar with no lid on in a dark cupboard. Your homemade vinegar will be ready in a few weeks.
3. Baking Soda Wash Followed by an Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
Have you heard of the miracles of baking soda and apple cider vinegar? Both of these are said to clean your hair from harmful chemicals, especially those from artificial hair dyes.
I have been using this method for a while now. It is recommended to use baking soda and/or apple cider vinegar to counteract the harmful chemicals of commercial shampoos.
Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate.
Mix 1 or 2 teaspoons of baking soda with water in a plastic bowl then pour it over your hair. It is recommended to rinse your hair with water afterwards.
Then repeat a rinse but this time add 1/2 or 1 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water. Double the amounts as needed.
You can also make a paste by adding a little water and a tablespoon of baking soda, and rub it into your scalp. It will help blood circulation and also clean the pores of your scalp.
Baking soda is not that effective as a cleanser when mixed with hard water, so if you live in a region with hard water, boil the water for 10 ms before mixing it with the baking soda. (Don’t forget to wait for the water to cool down)
4. Raw Egg Wash
A friend of mine, about 30 years ago, told me she never used commercial shampoos. She simply washed her hair with a beaten egg.
I finally decided to use this method last year and the effects are actually surprisingly good! All the egg’s proteins feed your hair and make it smooth and shiny. It is a bit messy and smelly though, so it could be hard to implement if you are travelling.
Whip a whole raw egg. Wet your hair and apply the egg to your scalp the length of hair. Leave it on for 1 to 5 minutes, for example while taking your shower. It actually absorbs really well into your hair.
Then rinse your hair off with water and apply an apple cider vinegar rinse (add 1/2 or 1 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water). This should take the smell of egg away. If you have blond hair, you could rinse it off with a tepid infusion of camomile tea.
5. Beer Wash
Beer is apparently a great tonic and just like apple cider vinegar, adds shine and volume to your hair. The proteins found in the beer’s malt and hops help rebuild damaged hair. This recipe is also recommended for curly hair.
Use it as final rinse after your natural shampoo method. Only use flat beer at room temperature (beer that has been opened for a day or so).
Work the beer into your hair for a few minutes, then rinse again with lukewarm water, never use hot water.
I have not tried this myself, but will certainly give it a go with alcohol free beer.
6. Rice Water Wash
You may never have heard of rice water shampoo before, but it is actually a very ancient hair treatment.
If your family or yourself cook rice regularly, simply rinse it off with water when boiled and keep the rinse water.
Store it in a bottle and dilute it with some water, otherwise your hair can get very starchy.
7. Liquid Castile Soap mixed with coconut milk
Washing your hair with a bar of shampoo soap or just liquid castile soap (natural soap made from olive oil) can leave your hair a bit dry and rough.
That is why many DIY shampoo makers on the net recommend mixing liquid castile soap with coconut milk.
Coconut milk is a natural surfactant (helps mix oil with water) and will add some lather to your DIY shampoo. It also conditions your hair nicely.
Add 3 tablespoons of liquid castile soap to ½ a cup of coconut milk. Best to read the label and buy a brand with no added sugar or preservatives.
You can also add: (not compulsory)
10-15 drops of essential oils to add your favorite scent
2 teaspoons of melted coconut oil or olive oil for extra shine
1 tablespoon of aloe gel as an extra moisturizer
2 teaspoons of vegetable glycerin also as an extra moisturizer
Because the liquid castile soap and coconut milk mixture will only last for a week, it is recommended to prepare a batch and freeze it in small portions. For example, you could pour the liquid into ice cubes or mini muffin trays, and leave them in the freezer for a few hours until solid. You can then put all the frozen portions into a container or plastic bag until needed.
You will need to thaw a portion out the night before your shampooing.
I wanted to try this out, but had no access to coconut milk ( I live in a small town where no one cooks curries). So I thought of using dairy milk instead, as I heard that milk is a good skin moisturiser. And lo and behold, the result was indeed fabulous and my hair was really nicely conditioned.
So I did more research on milk shampoos and found the recipe below, the milk and honey wash.
Use no more than 3 tablespoons of castile soap to half a cup of milk. You might be tempted to add more as the mixture looks just like a glass of milk.
When I eventually got some coconut milk from a big store in town I gave it a go. I mixed 3 tablespoons of liquid soap to a half a tin of coconut milk. I did not notice much of the liquid soap in the mixture, so I kept adding some more, until I got 8 spoonfuls! When I did my shampooing, my hair ended up covered in sticky soap even when it dried. I managed to take it out with a raw egg shampoo wash and an apple cider vinegar rinse.
8. Milk and honey
Milk and honey are known for their natural cleansing and antimicrobial properties. Apparently the two combined do a good job at cleaning, conditioning, and moisturizing your hair.
Blend 2 tablespoons of honey to ¼ cup of milk.
If you are travelling, you can buy small quantities of honey and milk. When needed, pour them into a squeeze bottle and shake until blended.
9. Dry Shampoo
You might have to go out in a rush to a meeting, or be in bed convalescent, or have no access to hot water, or you would prefer to save water and electricity, and have no time nor opportunity to wash your hair out.
Not to worry, just use dry shampoo.
All you need is an absorbent ingredient such as oatmeal (ground oat flour), arrowroot powder or cornstarch as your base. It will absorb the oil on your scalp when left on for a few minutes. Then you just brush the powder off.
Mix your oatmeal, arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch (Non GMO) in a salt shaker or a recycled parmesan cheese container. Sprinkle only on your scalp by dividing your hair in sections with a comb. Massage your scalp and let it sit for a few minute so it can absorb the oils. Then brush your hair until no powder is visible. That’s it.
Additions to your recipe:
You can add your favorite essential oils to your powder base for added scent.
If you are brunette, you can add sugar-free cocoa powder to your cornstarch base so it blends with your color. Or add cinnamon if you have brown hair. You will smell amazing!
How to Thicken Your Natural Shampoo
Simply blend oatmeal flour, cornstarch or arrowroot powder to your favorite DIY shampoo recipe, et voila!
Apple Cider Vinegar as Conditioner
Whatever shampoo method you go for, it is recommended to follow it up with an apple cider vinegar rinse (or any other vinegar if you have no access to apple cider vinegar).
When your DIY shampooing is done, apply your vinegar rinse. Massage your hair and scalp with it, especially the ends. Let it sit for a couple of minutes.
You will need to experiment a bit with how much vinegar to water you should mix, according to your hair type and your area water condition. But as a general rule, dilute ½ to 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water.
You can choose to give your hair a quick water-only rinse, or leave your vinegar rinse on, which is recommended for long hair as it helps it to keep tangle free.
When your hair is still wet it will smell a bit like vinegar, but once your hair is dry, the smell will all be gone.
Keep a small plastic bottle in your shower with some of your apple cider vinegar. In another squirt top bottle or old shampoo bottle, mark two measurement lines, one for your vinegar and one for your water. Pour ingredients and shake the bottle when you are ready for a wash.
Add Herbs or Essential Oils to Your Vinegar Conditioner:
You can add scent to your shampoo or conditioner by adding essential oils or dipping fresh herbs in your vinegar bottle.
All hair types: 6-8 drops of rosemary, lemon or tea tree oil.
Oily hair: 6 to 8 drops of bergamot, lavender, sandalwood, or ylang ylang.
Dry scalp and dandruff: 6-8 drops of peppermint, eucalyptus or sage.
When you go off commercial shampoos, you are most likely to have a transition time where you hair is more oily than usual. It could take a period of 2 or 3 weeks until your hair goes back to its natural oils and pH balance.
Let me know how you get on with your experiments, and please share with us in the comments section below of any DIY shampoo tips you have heard of. This way we can all learn from each other.
And now we’re all set for a cheap and healthy haircare life style.