I recently graduated college, which is a pretty big change, and it’s inspired me to try making some smaller changes too. With that in mind, I decided to make the transition to natural, homemade shampoo.
Store-bought shampoo has all kinds of chemicals (seriously, what the hell are ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate and methylchloroisothiazolinone?) that mess up your scalp’s natural state. Many shampoos advertise that they remove the oil from your hair, but when your scalp notices that there’s a lack of oil in your hair, it works overtime to compensate. In the end, shampoo causes your scalp to produce even more oil than it does naturally, which throws your hair off balance. That’s why, if you don’t shampoo for a couple days, your hair feels oily enough to start a grease fire.
Homemade shampoo, on the other hand, doesn’t strip your hair. It works in conjunction with your hair and scalp to keep everything in a soft, smooth, just-enough-oil state of being. If you want to try out homemade shampoo for yourself, here’s my recipe.
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup liquid castile soap* (Dr. Bronner’s is pretty much the go-to on this one. I like the rose-scented one, but the unscented baby mild is great for sensitive skin.)
- 2 tsp jojoba oil (you can use a different carrier oil if you want to, but I like jojoba oil because it is closest in pH to our skin’s natural sebum)
- 1/8 tsp peppermint essential oil
- 1/8 tsp tea tree essential oil
- 1/2 cup aloe vera gel (Lily of the Valley is a great brand)
- 1 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional, but it gives the shampoo more body)
- 10-15 drops of essential oils (also optional, but will make your shampoo smell delicious and will give you aromatherapy benefits)
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Use a whisk to make sure the aloe becomes fully incorporated (no chunks). Put the shampoo into a bottle, and you’re done! Shake the bottle before every use.
* Castile soap (like most soaps) is naturally alkaline, but our scalp is naturally acidic. That’s where the jojoba oil and aloe come in. They are both also naturally acidic, and they help balance the pH of the shampoo so your hair and scalp stay happy.
Some people like to do an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse after shampooing. It helps rinse the soap out, keeps your hair from getting greasy, and also keeps your scalp’s pH balanced. I like to use this version from Reformation Acres. It makes my hair feel really soft. If you don’t like that version, though, just use 1-2 TBS of ACV mixed with 1 cup of water.
If you switch to homemade shampoo (which you should, because it’s amazing), you should know that there is an adjustment period. For the first couple weeks or so your hair might seem extra oily. This is normal. Your scalp is still used to overproducing oil, but without the chemical shampoo to get rid of those oils, you’re in grease-fire mode. The ends of your hair also might feel damaged. This is also normal. Chemical shampoo coats your hair so you don’t notice the damage. Homemade shampoo doesn’t coat your hair, so the damage is more noticeable. Once your hair and scalp adjust, though, your hair will be so soft you wan’t be able to stop running your fingers through it.
Those are the basics of homemade shampoo, and I hope you give it a try. Remember to do your research, though. Different natural ingredients don’t work the same on all hair types. What works for someone with thick, oily hair might now work the same for someone with thin, dry hair. Don’t give up, though, if the first thing you try doesn’t work. I’ve been using homemade shampoo for about a month now, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my body. My hair feels so much healthier, softer and fuller. So give it a try!