Monday, January 24, 2011

Rethinking Beauty: Shampoo and Conditioner

A week ago, I decided to try a new shampoo and conditioner.

Some pics of my do:

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Keep in mind here, I'm an au naturale kinda girl. I style my hair with my fingers most days... maybe with a comb if I'm feeling really spunky. I prefer my natural waves to anything I could get out of a bottle or from a straightening iron. I only have a blow dryer so my mom doesn't have to bring hers when she visits. So take this hair and envision it as you might cut and/or style it per your habits and preferences.

On GOOD's Facebook page, I had read about the No-Soap Challenge, which could also include no shampoo. I'd been wanting to try this and this was just the oomph I needed!

After a bit of investigating, I found this extremely helpful blog which recommends using a mixture of one tablespoon baking soda mixed with one cup water for shampoo, and one tablespoon apple cider vinegar with one cup water for conditioner. (The blog also gives a few reasons for switching. For a more detailed read about the ingredients commonly found in shampoo and the dangers beauty products pose to health and the environment, go to CopperWiki, a "community based collaboration to build world’s largest repository of information about living consciously.")

I made a few changes to the recipes. For the shampoo, I mixed three drops of rosemary essential oil with the baking soda and water in a bottle. To use, I shook the bottle well, wet my hair, applied a few tablespoons of the mixture to my roots only, and massaged for a couple minutes. Massage gets the blood flowing to the follicles and promotes hair growth. Then I rinsed, which brought the baking soda down through the hair to the ends.

For the conditioner, I mixed two tablespoons of the vinegar with the water, plus 1/4 tsp each raw honey and jojoba oil, plus 3 drops of lavender essential oil (I live in the desert and my hair is prone to dryness; my hair needs lots of lovin'). Shook it up. Squirted a few tablespoons on the ends of my hair (from about ears down). I let it sit a few minutes, and then poured a bit more on the top of my head and rinsed with cool water.

That first day, my hair felt just like it would after a normal shampoo and condition. Two days later, I did it again; this time, the hair was rather oily. Two days later, I washed it (the first set of photos), and again the very next day (the second set of photos).

You'll notice that in the first set of photos, the hair has a slightly oily look to it, perhaps like I hadn't washed it for a couple days. In the next set of photos, my hair still slightly damp, it looks like I'd maybe washed it the day prior (which, by the way, is when I think hair looks its best and is the easiest to manage).

The scalp produces an excess amount of oils to compensate for the harsh detergents in shampoo. This oil builds up near the scalp (as you've likely noticeed if you've ever tried to just rinse your hair with water a day after shampooing it and suddenly found yourself in possession of a greasy, gummy mass of hair); however, since most of us either shampoo every day, or keep the hair dry between washes, we never really notice this excess oil because it stays in place near the roots. We wash, the shampoo strips it away, thus forcing the scalp to produce more, thus necessitating a harsh shampoo, and the cycle continues.

So, for a few days to a few weeks after beginning the gentler baking soda "shampoo" regimen, the scalp will still produce more oil than it needs. It takes time to heal. This transition period doesn't last long. Already, as can be seen in the photos, a week after beginning, things are already starting to balance out.

I'm loving it. My hair feels soft and full. I've lessened the number of chemicals my skin (the largest organ of the body!) comes into contact with. I've lessened the amount of toxic crap that goes down the drain. I can use items I already always have in my pantry, thus saving money and cutting back on plastic waste. And, I get to have fun with different essential oils. I'm totally sold on this and will never shampoo or condition my hair again :)

It's recommended that the wash be done two or three times a week, and the conditioner once or twice a week. If you decide to give this a try, find the combination that works best for you. And remember to be patient while your scalp comes back to a less stressed-out, balanced, healthy state.

Per request... wonder what shampoo these kittehs use?


  1. I haven't used shampoo in about a week and a half. All I've done is jump in the shower and rinse it every day. My hair is doing just fine :)

    (Word verification: impicure)

  2. Very cool! My next step will be trying just water. It's a hard water here so I'll still want to do the vinegar rinse.

    What the heck is an impicure? Googled it, and it asked me if I meant epicure lol. All things lead to food and wine, of course! :p

  3. No idea, it just seemed funny :)

    Can't avoid the water softener here. Well, I suppose I could, but that slimy feeling is pretty nasty. Wish there was a viable alternative. All I can find are things that get horrible reviews and end up being greenwashing.

    My hair is short, which helps a lot!

  4. Yep, I'm likely soon moving back into a house with a water softener... hmmmm, I'd never really considered how they work nor the environmental impact.

    Definitely needs some investigating! After I move in, I'll probably disconnect it until I can decide on the best way to run it or save up for an on-demand softener.