I decided to stop using commercial shampoo and hopped on the “no poo” bandwagon about 4 months ago. It made sense to me that commercial shampoos contain detergents that strip your scalp of oils. This is turn makes your scalp want to produce more oils to compensate. Your natural oils never get a chance to condition your hair because they are being stripped off so now you need to use a conditioner. So you end up in a vicious cycle and end up having oily hair, fine hair, flat hair, frizzy hair etc. I started out with the baking soda/apple cider vinegar combination and while it was okay, I didn’t love it. Then I started using a shampoo bar from JR Liggetts (like this one) which worked great as it left my straight, thin hair full of volume. But my hair was a little dry. I was able to cut down washing my hair to 3 times a week which was so nice!. I also tried Dr. Bronner’s castile soap (like this one). It worked okay but it also left my hair dry and sort of “knotty”. But I was determined not to use any chemicals on my hair so I continued on.
Then I learned about pH. Soap is made by the use of lye to saponify oils and hence is alkaline by nature. Your scalp pH is around 4.5-5 which is acidic. Baking soda, JR Liggetts and Dr. Bronner’s castile soap are all HIGHLY ALKALINE and will destroy your hair with continued use. Your hair will become brittle over time and your scalp will become irritated and flaky. By using alkaline soaps to wash your hair, you are causing the hair follicles to open and damage the hair cuticles. Over time, this leads to dry damaged hair and an itchy scalp.
So if soap is too alkaline for the scalp, how do you make a pH balanced, chemical free, homemade shampoo that also makes your hair feel clean and soft and voluminous? Well, my friends, I have found the answer!
What are soapnuts? Soapnuts contain saponins which are a natural surfactant. People have been using these for thousands of years in Asia for cleaning. I’ve been using soapnuts in my washing machine for the past 2 months and my clothes come out clean and smell good. Keep tuned for a post about using soapnuts in your laundry soon.
Coming back to shampoo! Soapnuts can also be used to wash your hair. It leaves your hair clean and soft without using any sulfates, parabens or chemicals. And the pH of soapnuts is between 4.5-5 (just like your scalp!)
Shikakai and Amla are two other herbs that is extremely beneficial for the hair. Shikakai makes your hair super soft and amla helps strengthen your hair.
What you will need:
- 3 soapnuts (I use these) or 1 TBS aritha powder (soapnut powder like this one)
- 1 TBS shikakai powder (like this one)
- 1 TBS amla powder (like this one)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 5 drops essential oil (optional)
If using soapnuts, then grind them into a powder using a spice or coffee grinder or your food processor. If using aritha powder, then just add to the other powders. Boil 1 cup of water and then add it to the powder mixture and let it steep for 30 min to 1 hour. After that, strain the liquid into a bottle and discard the pulp. You can add any essential oils at this time to the bottle if you wish. I added lavender essential oil to make it smell divine. Shake up your bottle and squirt it on your scalp and massage. Note that this shampoo will not lather but it will clean. This shampoo leaves my hair super soft and it feels so thick! You will be amazed! Be extra careful not to get this in your eyes because it burns!
This is a one time use shampoo. Prepare a new batch every time you want to wash your hair or prepare a bigger batch and keep it in the fridge for up to a week.
Please also read “How to restore the pH of your scalp” for more information about how important pH is.
Hope you enjoy! Thanks for reading 🙂