Most women today don’t think twice about what they’re putting on their hair and scalp, but have you ever looked closely at the ingredients on your shampoo bottle? The majority of salon and drugstore brand hair products are full of lab-synthesized chemicals including known carcinogens, allergens and endocrine disruptors. See the top ten beauty product toxins to avoid.
The problem with washing your hair with toxic ingredients is that they don’t just clean your hair and rinse away. Toxins can enter your bloodstream through your scalp and make their way to your vital organs. In other words, anything you put on your body ends up in your body.
If you want to detoxify your hair care routine, the best thing you can do is wash your hair with all natural products made with safe ingredients. There are natural shampoos on the market, which are a perfect solution for some people, but many natural hair products are very expensive. Most DIY natural shampoos are affordable and just as effective.
A note about natural cleansing methods: If you have been using conventional shampoo and conditioner all of your life, your hair will most likely have to go through a transition period, or detox phase. During this phase your scalp will take some time to get used to your new natural cleansing method and overproduce sebum for a while. The dreaded transition period can range anywhere from two weeks to three months, depending on your hair type, texture and new hair care regimen of choice. The key is to be patient and learn to work with oily hair during this time. Don’t be hasty to give up and switch back to your old shampoo. Soon your hair will be beautiful, clean and free of toxins.
5 DIY Natural Shampoos
1. The No ‘Poo Method – Baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar
The No ‘Poo method is very common among natural living enthusiasts, because it’s simple and works very well. The baking soda is used as your shampoo. You can mix baking soda and water (1 tablespoon of baking soda per 1 cup of water) together in a squeeze bottle and apply to wet hair then rub in and rinse. Or, you can dip your wet fingers into a container of baking soda and rub it onto your scalp, then rinse. I found that the second method worked better for me.
The apple cider vinegar is used as a conditioning rinse. Combine one part vinegar with three parts water in a squeeze bottle or a spray bottle. Wet your hair with the mixture, leave on for a couple minutes, and then rinse thoroughly.
Concerns: It’s not pH balanced. Some people say that this method dries out their hair after using it for an extended period of time, but I haven’t experienced this.
Best for: Any hair type
2. Liquid Castile Soap
For a few months, I experimented with making my own lathering shampoo using liquid castile soap diluted with water (about a 1:10 soap to water ratio). I liked this method because the lather felt similar to regular shampoo, although the mixture was much runnier than I was used to. After a few weeks, I found that this method was drying out my hair. My hair is very prone to dryness, so I found that I had better results when I added a small amount of olive oil (about one teaspoon per 16 oz. bottle) or followed with an apple cider vinegar rinse.
Concerns: Can make dry hair feel tangly without using a conditioning method
Best for: Fine, straight or oily hair
3. Clay Mask
This method can be fun and will make your hair feel soft and voluminous when done properly. Mix equal parts of bentonite clay or rhassoul clay powder with water or apple cider vinegar, and apply generously to damp hair. Rhassoul clay is less drying than bentonite. The amount of clay you need depends on how much hair you have. I have very long hair and need about 3-4 tablespoons of clay powder. You want the mask to be thick and completely cover your hair. After applying, leave the mask on for 10 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with warm water until the water runs clean. You can also follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse for extra moisture and softness.
Concerns: This method is time consuming, so it isn’t best for those who need a quick shower.
Best for: Fine, straight or slightly wavy that is normal to oily
4. Water Only Washing
This method can be tricky but rewarding. The transition period may last longer than the above alternatives. Water only washing is the most affordable way to clean your hair, because you don’t need to buy any products or ingredients. It consists of breaking up your scalp’s natural oils by combing and brushing them through the length of your hair and then washing with hot water. I tried this method for a while but found that my hair was too fine and looked weighed down with the leftover oils. For those who wonder if using only water makes your hair smell bad, it doesn’t. It won’t have a fresh scent like you might be used to but will just smell neutral.
Concerns: If you don’t spend enough time distributing the oils through your hair or washing, you might look super oily, especially if you have fine hair.
Best for: Curly, thick, coarse or dry hair types
5. Shampoo Bar
I used a Burt’s Bees shampoo bar (now discontinued) several years ago when I was still using conventional shampoo and conditioner most of the time. I didn’t find that there was any transition period for me, which is good news. Some people who make the switch to shampoo bars do experience a transition period, though. Overthrow Martha has a great post all about the different types of bar shampoos and which brands are best for different hair types.
Concerns: Shampoo bars may not perform well in hard water. If you have a filtered showerhead, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Best for: Any hair type – best brand for your type will vary
Have you tried any of these natural shampoo alternatives? It’s fun to experiment and find out what works best for your hair.
About the Author
Alex Hinton, founder of Caretactics, blogs about natural living, real food, mindfulness and wellness. Her goal is to share information that will lead you to improve the world by caring about others, the environment and yourself.
Photo credit: DepositPhotos.com / babenkodenis
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