Phthalates, Polyethylene Glycol, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), Propylene Glycol, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Parabens, Petroleum, Mineral Oil, Dimethicone…. And the list goes on and on. What are we talking about? The common ingredients of ordinary shampoo. Or let’s re-write the aforementioned list of “big bad chemicals” in this way – toxic substances, scalp irritants, harsh detergents, anti-freeze components, carcinogenic chemicals, allergens.
The frightening thing is that we use all of these chemicals pretty frequently and usually spend no or very little time thinking about the long-term consequences of putting them on our scalp. For instance, how many of you have judged the quality of a shampoo by the amount of foam it produces? Well, one has nothing to do with the other. The truth is the more Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (read “a very harsh soap”) shampoo contains, more it will foam.
The word „fragrance“cannot mean anything bad, right? Wrong! Whenever you find fragrance among the shampoo ingredients know that that can sometimes mean the presence of over 4,000 different chemical ingredients.
Actually, shampoo is (or at least it should be) a combination of water, salt, essential oils and plant extracts but for the sake of prolonged shelf life, the manufacturers add the above chemicals to it. Then they put it all in pretty packaging, add a nice fragrance to it and subject it to powerful marketing so to distract you from the harmful ingredients they contain.
The good news is that you really don’t need to buy these industrially made shampoos because you can make your own that are as efficient as the purchased ones but at a fraction of the price. DIY shampoos take very little time to make, and most importantly they are completely natural and safe for your health. Yes, homemade shampoos do not come in flashy bottles, they don’t smell of French perfume and they don’t foam like crazy but the long-term benefits of using them outweigh all of their superficial features.
Last but not least, switching to DIY shampoos takes a bit of getting used to. The first week is the hardest because your hair and your scalp need to adjust to a shampoo that is not a mixture of harsh chemicals. Give it three weeks and we are pretty sure that your hair will thank you for being persistent by becoming healthy, shiny and strong.
As for the recipes for DIY / homemade shampoos, here are the five that we really liked that also won’t break the bank.
1. Baking soda
This is one of those extremely cheap but incredibly useful products that are wonderful both for the skin and hair. The only thing that you have to remember when using baking soda is that it will sting if it gets in contact with your eyes so make sure that this doesn’t happen.
Recipe Instructions: mix one tablespoon of baking soda and one cup of water in a small bottle and shake vigorously.
You will also need to shake the mixture every time before you use it. This quantity is enough to last you for a week. Just apply it onto your hair, rub for few minutes and rinse generously with warm water. For best results, use this shampoo every third day. If you have hair that is more on the dry side, make it a habit to use homemade conditioner after washing it with baking soda. The recipe is at the end of this article. Also, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (we recommend tea tree which also fights dandruff and itchy scalp).
2. Castile Soap + Essential Oils
For those of you who have never heard of Castile Soap, this is a soap made from vegetable oils like olive oil, jojoba oil, hemp oil or coconut oil. You can find castile soaps in your local health food stores or large supermarkets. They don’t contain animal fats (like beef or mutton fat) as industrially produced soaps. Castile Soap often comes scented with essential oils.
For this particular shampoo recipe you will need:
– ¼ cup of distilled water,
– ¼ cup of Castile Soap (in liquid form),
– 2 teaspoons of jojoba oil,
– 1/8 of teaspoon of peppermint oil, and
– 1/8 of teaspoon of tea tree oil.
Mix the soap and the essential oils first and add distilled water in the end. There is another variation of this shampoo. Mix ¼ of distilled water with ¼ cup of Castile Soap, ¼ cup of Aloe Vera, 1 teaspoon of glycerin and ¼ teaspoon of avocado or jojoba oil. This mixture is excellent for dry hair.
3. Coconut Milk
This homemade shampoo is an excellent anti-dandruff shampoo and it also nourishes the scalp.
Mix ¼ cup of Coconut Milk, ½ cup of Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s comes highly recommended), ¼ cup of vegetable glycerin (to thicken the mixture), 2 teaspoons of coconut or jojoba oil and three to four drops of essential oil (Geranium, Ylang Ylang or whichever your prefer). Store in plastic bottles and shake well before use.
4. Tea Shampoo
This shampoo will leave your hair squeaky clean, shiny and smelling really good.
– 1 Gallon of brewed tea (if you choose chamomile, know that it will lighten your hair several shades)
– ½ cup of baking, soda
– ¼ cup of Castile Soap
– 3 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum
– 10 drops of essential oils.
If you don’t know where to buy Xanthan Gum, which is also a great conditioner in itself, most big supermarkets sell it in their baking goods isles. Or, alternatively, you can purchase it online. Although it is not particularly cheap, the best thing about Xanthan Gum is that a little goes a long way.
How to make the Tea Shampoo:
Brew the tea for 5 or 6 minutes, remove it from heat and let it cool a little bit for another 5 or 6 minutes. Strain the tea if you are using tea leaves or if you are using tea bags, remove them before adding baking soda (it will fizz a little bit). Allow to completely cool. Add Xanthan Gum, and Castile Soap (in that order) while constantly stirring. Xanthan Gum will cause the mixture to slightly foam. When the shampoo has completely cooled down, add essential oils. And that’s it. The Tea Shampoo is ready to use!
5. Bar Shampoo
Whether you are a soap making expert or a complete novice, you will really like this recipe because it is affordable, smells fantastic and makes hair shiny and clean. It does take more time to prepare compared to the other recipes we have given you, but it is well worth it in the end. These are the ingredients you will need:
You can also add a few drops of fragrant essential oil (Rosemary, Lavender) to make it smell better.
Also, instead of coconut milk you can use regular distilled water.
- Mix water and coconut milk in a heat resistant glass bowl. Slowly add the lye (it may cause a small volcanic-like eruption so be careful and don’t touch it). This mixture can make the mixing bowl pretty hot so protect your hands. Allow it to completely cool down. Put essential oils and beeswax in a pan and heat until they are all melted. It is very important to do all of this on low heat. Oils and beeswax SHOULD NOT boil. Pour the melted oils and beeswax into a crock pot, stir well, slowly add the lye/water/coconut oil mixture and continue stirring. After that, take a stick blender and blend the entire mixture for at least five minutes or until you reach the “trace consistency” (it is the point where the oils or the fats in your soap have successfully mixed with your lye solution). Once the mixture resembles a pudding, cover the pot and cook the soap on a low heat for about an hour. By the end of cooking, the mixture should be completely transparent and that’s your cue to turn off the heat.
- For soap molds you can use silicon loaf pans which you can find at most supermarkets. If you want to, now you can add essential oils. Pour the mixture into mold, allow the soap to cool for 24 hours, remove it from the mold, put it on a cutting board and cut into one inch thick bars. Leave the soap bars somewhere airy so it completely hardens.
This conditioner comes highly recommended and although its main ingredient is apple cider vinegar, it will not leave your hair smelling of one. The beauty of this conditioner is that it is very effective and it is suitable for all hair types.
You will need only two ingredients
– 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (we like the raw, unfiltered, organic kind like Bragg’s) and
– 1 cup of water (you can use tap water). This is enough for eight ounces of conditioner.
Mix the two ingredients well and put them in a clean squirt bottle. Shake well before use, apply to wet clean hair, massage into scalp for two minutes and rinse with warm water. Once your hair is dry, it will not smell of vinegar. Trust us!
Tips for keeping hair manageable, thick and shiny
- Controlling static – you can do several things to tame those annoying flyaway hairs. Don’t shampoo your hair too often (two or three times a week is enough). Avoid drying it with a hair dryer. Massage a tablespoon of virgin olive oil into your scalp once a week and then rinse generously. Apply a little bit of coconut oil to the ends of your hair avoiding the scalp.
- Oily hair – Citrus essential oils (lemon, lime, orange) work wonders for oily hairy. Just add a few drops to your shampoo. Once every week or two, mix two egg yolks with two teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Massage it into scalp, leave for 10 minutes and rinse well with warm water.
- Thinning hair – Make a shampoo with whole oats, baking soda and water (blend up all of the ingredients). Make sure that you add oats slowly until desired thickness. Or you can try this recipe: mix one cup of warm water, one tablespoon of baking soda, ¾ of tablespoon of cornstarch and ¾ of tablespoon of oatmeal flour. Apply to wet hair, massage vigorously for a few minutes and rinse with warm water.
- Weak/very fine hair – Use this hair mask once a week and the results will amaze you. Because this mask is rich in protein, it will help strengthen the hair while making it really shiny. Mix ½ of yogurt (we recommend Greek yogurt, preferably the organic kind), 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 egg. Apply it to your scalp after you have washed your hair. Massage gently for a few minutes, leave it on for another 15 and then rinse generously with warm water.
If you have read this article from top to bottom and you are still skeptical about trying DIY shampoos, all we have to say is don’t knock it before you try it. It might be a bit messy at first and it will take you hair approximately three weeks to get used to the new “shampooing” regime but the end result will encourage you to continue and abandon mass produced shampoos for good. After all, what have you got to lose? All of the ingredients we have mentioned are completely natural and safe and, in the long run, you will save more than a few pennies.
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