Monday, August 31, 2009

No-poo, AKA Homemade Shampoo!

What we need to keep our hair clean, soft, and shiny is soap. The end. But if you use shampoo, what you're doing is stripping your hair's natural oils, which creates a need for conditioner, which makes your hair limp and greasy, which creates a need for more shampoo... and on and on. It's the ideal situation for advertisers!

Add to that the fact that shampoo, even the fancy salon brands and many organic formulations, contains sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate (an industrial surfactant used to de-grease engines -- it's also an irritant that has been rumored to cause everything from skin lesions to cancer), and you too might be motivated to switch to a more gentle, natural product to suds your locks!

Because shampoo strips the natural oils from your hair, it causes your scalp's sebaceous (oil-producing) glands to go into overdrive to keep your hair moisturized -- that's why people like me have to wash their hair every. single. day. to keep from looking like, say, Amy Winehouse after a three-day bender. So when you go "no-poo," your scalp will probably have a little adjustment period while it figures out how to regulate, after which you'll find yourself going longer between shampooing. It took my hair maybe 4 washes to get jiving.

Here's the skinny on how to make a simple, crazy cheap "no-poo" that gets the job done and leaves your hair soft and healthy. (Thanks to Ivory and T.L. over at my FAVORITE blog ever, Little House in the Suburbs, for this awesome technique which I tweaked.)

Grate a bar of plain soap (like Ivory or homemade soap) without added glycerine and put it in your blender. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil* and about 1/2 cup warm water**. Blend, dribbling more water in a bit at a time until the mixture looks like thin pudding. Weird, I know, but that's what it looks like! Scrape the sides of the mixer down and blend again, adding any essential oils you like. I added lemon oil, tea tree oil, and wintergreen oil. Funnel into your shampoo bottle and you're done. It should be thinner than normal shampoo -- it will thicken slightly as it sits, and you want to be able to get it out of the bottle!

Then make a scalp-soothing conditioning rinse that will also de-tangle and smooth your hair. Mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and four cups of water in your old conditioner bottle or another bottle with a cap or a squirt-top.

Now. The use of this stuff is a leeetle bit different than normal shampoo and conditioner. Scrub up like normal shampoo, but when you rinse, really rinse well, until your hair squeaks when you run your hand down it. (I was VERY worried at this point, y'all. My hair felt WEIRD. But hang in there, ok?) Saturate your hair with the vinegar rinse, making sure you get all your hair, even the underside!***

Give it a good rinse, and you're ready to go! Smooth, soft hair with no chemicals!

It helps in the first few days if you give your hair a good once-over with a natural bristle brush a couple times in between washings -- it distributes the natural oils down the hair shaft, which is a GOOD thing! And even though my hair was weird and a little oily the first few days, it was never as greasy as it used to be when I skipped a shampoo (or two, God forbid).

I love this stuff, you guys. I'd totally encourage you to break the shampoo-conditioner cycle and give no-poo a shot.

* I eliminated this, because it was making my hair (not scalp) oily. If you have really dry hair, you can leave it in. I use the remaining, oil-containing stuff as body wash and it's amazing.
** Blondes can substitute brewed chamomile tea, brunettes can substitute brewed black tea, for all the water in this recipe.
*** This is the point at which my fears began to subside. Oh, it feels like hair again! I can do this! And don't worry. It's not going to make you smell like a pickle!


DanaMichelle said...

Laura, you told me once where you got your tea tree oil and I got some but I forget where I got it from! Can you remind me??

Laura said...

Dana, here's the link!

DanaMichelle said...

Have you ever tried their orange or lemon??

Laura said...


Homemade Shampoo said...

If most people's glands are in overdrive from overuse of shampoo, it makes me think that this is putting undue stress on the body.

Natural is often the best way.

Laura's Dad said...

From SaveOnScents, I just ordered some of the following:
Tea Tree Oil
Eucalyptus Oil
Lemon Oil
Orange Oil
4 1-ounce samples

I'll let you know how they arrive.

Laura's Dad

DanaMichelle said...

Have you gotten them yet? I'm really wanting to make some lemon smelling goodies!