Friday, August 24, 2012

DIY Non-toxic Shampoo!

Ok, so it’s not my typical type of post, but since people were asking for the recipe and resultsJ

So, why make your own shampoo?  Well, I’ll tell ya: toxicity, cost, and effectiveness.  Yes, in that order.  It was my friend (and Arbonne Associate) Rachel who alerted me to the toxic ingredients in most of my go-to health and beauty products, thus launching me on my “eliminate the toxins!” journey.  (Or craze, depending on who you talk to.)  Unfortunately, I can’t afford Arbonne routinely … and the Environmental Working Group Cosmetics Database that Rachel pointed me to left me feeling really discouraged.  Finding products that were easily available; economical; and non-toxic really presented a challenge.  So I started scrounging blogs for help.

Many people have had luck with the “No-poo” method.  But I had my doubts … and upon reading one bloggers review that it did NOT work well with baby-fine hair, I felt justified in my hesitation.  That being said, if you want a truly cheap and green hair-cleaning product, just go with good ‘ol baking soda, diluted in water.  Then rinse with vinegar to eliminate tangles.  Voila’!  Clean hair.

In any case, I’d also read that Dr. Bronner’s “Magic” Castille Soaps could be used as shampoo, so long as you “Dilute, dilute, dilute!”  However, a couple of months yielded less than satisfactory results.  I have oily scalp, and using the Dr. Bronner’s seemed to simply encourage that.  I needed something definitively formulated for my oily, dandruff-prone scalp and multi-textured hair (a lovely side-effect of three pregnancies: half my hair is baby fine and straight; the other half is more wiry and curly).  I’ve been learning a lot about how certain natural oils and essential oils interact with the skin since beginning my cloth diapering journey; so I knew that while my skin needed gentle moisturizers with the presence of antimicrobial agents, my tresses themselves needed easily-absorbed high-volume moisture.  Then I stumbled across this formula and knew I’d hit pay dirt—it only needed a few modifications.
A note on dandruff:  of the herbal anti-dandruff options found on the web and in books, tea tree oil is the most commonly accepted.  I based the concentrations I used off the advice found at the LIVESTRONG website.  Other essential oils were added according to these guidelines provided by Organic Impact.  
For normal/combination hair, combine:

1.       ½ C Dr. Bronners Baby Mild Castille Liquid Soap

2.       ½ C whole coconut milk (preferably organic)

3.       ½ tsp. extra virgin olive oil (again, preferably organic)

4.       15 drops peppermint essential oil – pH balance for dry or oily hair

5.       (Optional) 25 drops tea tree oil – 5% formula for dandruff treatment

6.       (Optional) ~1/2 tsp guar or xanthan gum—this can function as a thickener, though it seemed to me that the Dr. Bronner’s cut right through it

Mix well and transfer into a bottle.  It’s very runny, so be aware of this when applying.  Although I haven’t tried it, another blog recommended the use of cooled green tea in place of the distilled water to “wake one’s roots” and “invigorate the scalp”.  Might be worth a try someday. 

Review: the shampoo, while runny, blended beautifully.  It cleaned my hair well without feeling overly “squeaky” or stripped.  I opted out of conditioning to see how it played out as is.  My hair, once damp, released its tangles without too much protest; and I was delighted by the manageable texture the mix afforded my hair.  It’s been relatively easy to manage and I’ve not had the urge to itch.  Overall, pleased … and I even doubled its use as a bodywash. 

Since I’d found another recipe that used water instead of coconut milk, I decided to try it for my children’s shampoo (with the exception of the baby, their hair is too long and thick for a multi-purpose baby wash).
For fine hair, combine:

1.       ½ C distilled water (okay, I cheated and used filtered water that had been previously boiled and cooled)

2.       ½ C Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Castille Liquid Soap

3.       ½ tsp organic extra-virgin olive oil

4.       15 drops lavender essential oil—calming and mildly antimicrobial

5.       (Optional) 10 drops tea tree oil—2% formula for cradle cap

Mix as above.  I recommend using a foaming pump dispenser for this one.

Review:  Though the tea tree oil overpowers the lavender a bit, I was impressed overwell with how well this mix agreed with the kids’ hair and skin.  It actually brought out their curls in the same way that the adult formula textured my choppy waves.  And sinceDr. Bronners, along with the tea tree, lavender, and peppermint essential oils have other common uses in the “green household”, the initial investment was well worth it.