Since we made the commitment to eliminate single-use plastics from our life, we’ve been experimenting with a lot of new products, some good, some bad. Today, I’m going to tell you about the really bad. I mean REALLY bad: my hair still looked wet 24 hours after showering and my husband kept calling me “greaseball”, that’s how bad. From what I’ve read, there is a transition period when switching from a chemical-laden commercial shampoo to a natural shampoo, but for me, the transition period lasted for a month and a half AKA it didn’t end.
We’re often asked whether our goat’s milk soap can be used as a shampoo, and we usually say yes, but not for the long term. (I’ve tried it, and I wasn’t pleased with the results.) Soaps, and many of the shampoo bars on the market, have an alkaline pH, which makes them a poor choice for maintaining healthy hair. If I’ve learned one thing from all of my research on natural shampoo, it’s that it’s all about pH. Hair is happiest and healthiest when its pH is somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5. This acidity helps to protect the scalp from fungi and bacteria growth. Using an alkaline shampoo will disrupt the pH balance of the scalp. Some people claim that this doesn’t matter, as long as you rinse with something acidic, such as apple cider vinegar, but I did not find this to help much.
I knew I wanted a pH balanced natural shampoo, so I scoured the internet for a recipe that I could make with the ingredients I already had at home. I found one that used coconut milk, castor oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, and essential oils. What was odd about this recipe was that it wasn’t stable at room temperature, which makes sense, since the coconut milk and the honey would require the use of a preservative. Following the recipe, I made shampoo cubes that I stored in the freezer. I thawed one cube every other shower, and kept the thawed shampoo in a Mason jar in the refrigerator when I wasn’t using it. The shampoo had a pleasant smell and a creamy consistency, but it didn’t seem to lather well (which can be normal for natural shampoos). I knew before I began using this recipe that the first few days (or even weeks) would be rough as my scalp adjusted to produce less oil. What I didn’t know is that my hair would turn into a sad, greasy mess for the entire month and I half that I stuck with this recipe, or that it would become progressively more greasy.
I’m a firm believer in learning from our mistakes, and what I learned is that pH balanced hair care products are best left to the professionals! This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my quest to find a sustainable alternative to buying shampoo in plastic bottles. I’ve found a few companies that sell natural shampoo in recyclable aluminum bottles (and will even provide shipping labels to return the empty bottles to be reused). I am currently testing a product called Beauty Kubes, which are little cubes of shampoo (like sugar cubes) that you crumble in the palm of your hand and rehydrate in the shower
April 2020 update on Beauty Kubes: I’ve been using Beauty Kubes for about a month now and I think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread! I use one cube per wash, and wash my hair every other day (in part to cut down on the cost, but also because I’m busy as a farmer and a mom). You may be able to get by with a half a cube, or you may need to use two, depending on the length and thickness of your hair. Beauty Kubes are made in Great Britain and can be ordered online from a few different sustainable retailers.
2 thoughts on “DIY Shampoo Fail (And Why We Don’t Make a Shampoo Bar)”
I hear you! I have not washed my hair with “shampoo” in 2 years. This past year I have been washing my hair with bar soap that is formulated to be used as shampoo. I haven’t been greasy, but lately I haven’t been happy with the health of my hair. I do feel the swing in ph from an akaline wash to an acidic rinse is not kind to my hair (that’s because I tend to go 5 days in between washes. I can’t imagine how it might be if I washed everyday). However, there are still other natural alternatives. Search for herbal shampoo recipies using amla, reetha, and shakakai powder. These powders are lower on the ph scale, and are great for hair. You can also play around and add horsetail, marshmallow root, nettle, etc.. to get a product tailored to you. I’m going to start going in this direction for “day to day” washing and save the shampoo soap bars for when I do oil masks on my hair. Hope this helps!
Thanks for sharing, Monica!