Let’s be honest: hair care is tricky business. We want to use products that are going to leave us with clean, shiny, voluminous hair, but also that are dangerous or damaging. Essentially, we want a natural shampoo that does the same thing as conventional, minus the potentially toxic chemicals and synthetic additives. Bonus points if it doesn’t come in a single-use plastic bottle.
Finding a natural shampoo, however, that works for your hair type, doesn’t blow your budget, and give you the glorious, goddess-like hair that you’ve always dreamed of.
Why Switch to Natural Shampoo
Before we get into our options for natural shampoos, we must first discuss why we should be concerned in the first place.
Traditional shampoos are full of chemical ingredients that are of potential concern to our health and/or the environment. These chemicals include (1):
- DMDM hydantoin
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Diazolidinyl urea
- Polyoxymethylene urea
- Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (Bronopol)
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Fragrance (a term for up to 100 different chemicals)
These chemicals can have a variety of unwanted effects in our bodies, such as hormone disruption, which then causes a whole host of health problems and illnesses. I don’t know about you, but those certainly aren’t things I want to be massaging into my scalp multiple times each week. (1, 2, 3)
While there are many options for you to purchase natural shampoo, sometimes, to get what you want, you have to do it yourself. Learning to make your own natural shampoo is the solution that every woman (and man!) needs.
Ingredients for Natural Shampoo
Most ingredients that go into natural shampoos are ones that you may already have in your kitchen. The key is figuring out which ones work for you and your hair. This will be different from one woman to the next to the next. Here are a list of potential ingredients to be used in your DIY natural shampoo:
More specifically, raw honey. Among many of honey’s properties is its antibacterial nature and slightly acidic pH. This helps to balance the scalp and fight dandruff. Honey does not strip your scalp of the natural oils it produces that are necessary for healthy, bouncy, shiny hair. Instead, it helps to moisturize, leaving your hair softer and less frizzy.
- Coconut Milk
Coconut milk has plenty of hair-nourishing nutrients in it. It contains niacin and folate which promote blood-circulation in the scalp, vitamin E, and fats that fight hair damage and naturally condition your hair.
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has incredible antibacterial and antimicrobial properties thanks to the medium-chain fatty acids that it’s made up of. When used on the right hair-type, it can promote hair growth, moisturize the scalp, and fight infections and fungus.
- Olive Oil
Olive oil is amazing for your hair for so many reasons. It protects the keratin in your hair (the hair-building protein), locks in moisture to keep your hair soft, while also removing the sebum that builds up on the scalp. A build-up of sebum prevents new hair follicles from forming, which then impedes hair growth.
Olive oil is also fantastic for treating dandruff and split ends.
- Avocado Oil
The monounsaturated fatty acids in avocado oil help to lubricate your hair and make it shiny and strong. Vitamin E and B work on the scalp to strengthen hair, promote growth, and repair damage.
- Shea Butter
Though most often seen as a body moisturizer, shea butter can do wonderful things for your hair as well. Vitamins A, E, and F provide UV protection to your hair, and along with other nutrients and fatty acids, collagen production in the skin of your scalp. A healthy scalp equals healthy hair. (1)
- Egg Yolks
What can’t eggs do, really? Vitamin A helps hair produce its natural moisture, which prevents a dry scalp and dandruff. Vitamin E protects against UV rays, while Vitamin D promotes texture and shine. Yolks also contain lecithin, a protein that reduces frizz and protects against breakage and brittleness, and finally biotin which works at the follicle level to keep your hair healthy from the root all the way to the end. (1)
- Almond Oil
This is another fat and nutrient-rich ingredient that repairs damage, strengthens your hair, and promotes new growth. (1)
- Jojoba Oil
Actually a wax ester, this product is quite close to the oil produced by our own skin. Because of this, Jojoba oil is perfect for balancing out our natural oil production. (1)
- Castor Oil
The anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil can be quite effective against folliculitis, dandruff, and scalp infections. Its nutrient qualities can also help to balance the scalp’s pH, support keratin production, and promote stronger, less-frizzy hair. (1)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Highly effective at creating a hostile environment for the bacteria that cause dandruff, this vinegar balances the pH of your hair, gets rid of tangles, and can help you kick dandruff to the curb once and for all. (1)
- Essential Oils
Each essential oil is going to have different properties that promote different qualities in your hair. When picking them for a natural shampoo, you must consider both your hair type and which hair problems you have. (1)
- Castile Soap
Made of olive oil, water, and lye, castile soap is both biodegradable and non-toxic, making it a cleansing powerhouse for your hair. It can come in a variety of forms, but the liquid form is the easiest to use when making your own DIY natural shampoo. (1)
- Aloe Vera
This gel-like substance from the Aloe Vera plant contains enzymes that get rid of the dead skin cells on the scalp that block the hair follicle from receiving the nutrients it needs to generate new hair. This, in turn, promotes healthy hair growth. (1)
How to Make Natural Shampoo
Making your own natural shampoo can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make it as complex or as simple as you want it to be, really. Some people prefer to make shampoo bars for easier traveling, however many of us just prefer to mix a few ingredients together and call it a day! It all depends on what you want.
Follow the following recipe for a fast and easy natural shampoo:
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ⅔ cup castile soap
- 30 drops of essential oil (your choice)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients into an empty bottle, shake it up, and you’re done!
As always, make sure you’re using all organic ingredients. The great thing about this recipe (besides how simple it is), is that you can change it up and make it so that it suits your hair best. You may want to use a different oil than coconut oil, perhaps you want to add some honey, and of course, you can choose whichever essential oils you want based on your hair needs. For example, for a natural dandruff shampoo, consider adding honey, egg yolk, or apple cider vinegar to the mixture.
This recipe can be easily adapted to suit all different hair types, from straight, fine hair to thick, coarse, curly hair. All of the ingredients listed can also be adapted to making your own natural conditioner, so you can have a chemical-free hair care routine from start to finish.
DIY Natural Dry Shampoo
Of course, some days we just don’t want to be bothered to wash our hair! In those instances, many of us are used to reaching for the dry shampoo to cover up greasy roots. Commercial dry shampoos aren’t immune to the nasty chemicals in other hair products, but making your own is simple and makes it easy to avoid!
Check out this recipe for dry shampoo:
- 5 drops of essential oil
- ¼ cup arrowroot powder for light hair
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder + 2 tbsp cocoa powder for dark hair
Mix in a jar or containers and use a makeup brush to apply to the oily parts of your hair. If you don’t use a makeup brush to apply it, make sure you comb it through.
Other Natural Shampoo Products
If making your own shampoo and conditioner really isn’t for you, there are plenty of natural products for you to purchase. Keep these things in mind when shopping for natural shampoos, conditioners, and dry shampoos:
- Ingredients: know what ingredients work for your hair and which ones don’t.
- Be prepared to have to shop around and have a few failed attempts. Just because one natural shampoo purchased didn’t work for your hair doesn’t mean they all won’t.
- The learning curve: depending on the product, washing your hair with natural shampoos can be quite a different experience. They won’t necessarily lather the way you are used to, and the way in which you massage them into your scalp may have to change. Give yourself a few washes to get used to this.
- Look for products that come in reusable (aka not plastic) containers. Better yet, look for natural shampoo bars that come in little to no packaging whatsoever.
- Read labels carefully, and watch out for products that say they are natural or organic but aren’t as good as they seem. Always read the ingredient list, look for the chemicals listed above, and if you see something you don’t recognize, look it up. As a tool, you can check out EWG.org’s skin deep database for shampoos to find out which ones are up to snuff.
The Bottom Line
Everyone’s hair is different and everyone’s shampoo and conditioner needs are different. That being said, I don’t think there is a single person out there who’s hair “just doesn’t work” with natural hair care products. Depending on the level of damage and how unbalanced one’s scalp may be, the adjustment period can sometimes be a challenge. Don’t give up – your hair and your health will thank you.
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