Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's in Your Shower? Shampoo or No Poo

For the past two years...maybe three, I've been in search for the perfect homemade shampoo and conditioner/rinse. This search began with the desire to save money but as I researched, I found a whole "No Poo" Revolution going on out there. I already knew that many shampoos were filled with a few a lot of undesirable ingredients but as I learned more, I became more aware and more convinced that "no poo" was the way to go. I've found things that work ok and even not so great. I'm still searching for a hair care regimen that works best for me. I'm not giving up.

The key is to find the shampoo and rinse that work together...for you. The most popular hair care in the "no poo" world is by cleansing with a baking soda paste (simply add water to baking soda), rinse and follow with a cleansing rinse of diluted cider vinegar. Many have huge success with this combination. For me it works in cycles.  Baking soda tends to make my hair amazingly soft but sometimes (I think when I use too much) my scalp becomes a little flaky or my hair becomes excessively oily (which may be due to too much ACV). I dunno. I think my biggest problem is not measuring. My finger scoops aren't consistently the same size. Cider vinegar seems to work well but if I get the combo wrong my hair is crazy greasy. I'm not a high maintenance girl but I don't like being greasy.

Conditioning Rinse

My recent conditioning recipe, pictured at the left, is a combination recipe. I made this to deal with winter static. The rinse works good for my daughter, who has thick, curly hair, however it is too oily for my fine hair. Can't remember all the ingredients but I am going to assume by the color/consistency that it has an oil or two, such as coconut, sweet almond or olive oil.  I do remember adding the vinegar (good thing that was in the picture) as well as a little lavender essential oil. I reused a grapeseed oil bottle wrapped in duct tape and topped with a "bottle pourer". The duct tape will prevent the glass bottle from breaking when dropped on my porcelain tub (amazingly this hasn't happened....yet). The rinse is runny so the bottle pourer helps slow down the flow of the rinse. Not much is needed - maybe a tablespoon. Diluted lemon juice can also be used as a hair rinse.

Honey Bear Shampoo Container
Homemade shampoo is also runny and my little, re purposed honey bear is perfect for housing my shampoo. Again, not much is needed. A tablespoon goes a long way. The castile soap makes a good lather. The dispenser is perfect for depositing just a tad of shampoo to the top of my head and prevents waste. It's also plastic which means I won't break it! I've had a problem with labeling my shower products. Permanent marker on both plastic and glass will smear off when it gets wet in the shower. Solution? Write on your container and cover writing with packing tape. Make sure container is dry or the packing tape won't stick.

When I use baking soda in place of shampoo, I keep a wide mouth jar filled with baking soda. During my shower I scoop a little into my hand and carefully add a little water to make a paste. This will not lather but as I've learned, clean can occur without lather. Another no poo technique is to shower less often (when you switch to a no-poo regimen, your hair doesn't need to be washed daily) but showering is a luxury that I can't live with out. A shower wakes me in the morning and motivates me for my day. On days when I skip my shower the only thing on my mind is a nap. I justify my frivolousness by taking lightening quick showers. 2 minutes may be an exaggeration, maybe 5 minutes. I do know that I am the quickest shower-er in the family. I may have to time myself tomorrow to find out just how quick I am. ;)

My most successful homemade shampoo was a shampoo bar. I LOVED this soap but making bars of soap is a little lot more time consuming. I found that the constant distractions in my day result in inconsistent or botched batches of soap. A botched batch of soap means a waste of precious ingredients and a waste of precious time. This kind of soap making has to be reserved to the wee early morning hours or weekends. Here are a couple of simple shampoo recipes that I have tried and liked. I think the key is to find what works for your hair. The second recipe uses chamomile tea but this can be altered by using your favorite herb.

A few herb options:
Rosemary: good for the scalp and helps strengthen the hair 
Nettles: stimulates hair growth
Eucalyptus: fights dandruff
Chamomile: light colored hair

Shampoo Recipe:

1/4 c. water
1/4 c. Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap (I have substituted this by using shavings from botched soaps.)
2 T. Rosemary
2 T. sweet almond oil
1/2 T lemon juice
1/4 T. lavender essential oil
Bring water and rosemary to boil - steep - cool - add remaining ingredients. I like this recipe but I can only use it for a week or two before it makes my hair to greasy. The following recipe has similar results. I think maybe I need to cut back on the oil.

Shampoo #2:

Boil 2 cups of water, steep 6 tea bags of choice (I used chamomile) for 20-30 minutes, add 2 T. castile soap and 1 t. vegetable oil. That's it. Pretty easy.
Google "no poo" and you will find tons of resources from recipes, the experiences of others, as well as convincing arguments that will cause you to want to switch to a more gentle substitute. My theory is that I should care not only for what I put in my body but also for what I put on my body.

5/22/2012 UPDATE ~ Since this post last year, I found that Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap is the best for me. I mix 1 part soap to 3 parts water. It is very runny but you need very little. I no longer need a conditioning rinse. My hair is clean and soft. Easy, cheap and it works!

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