This is your hair off heroin

“Commercial shampoo and conditioner are like heroin for your hair” – Umbra

They call it ‘no ‘poo’. No ‘poo is washing your hair without commercial shampoos and conditioners. Yes, an alternative to shampoo is soap. No, that is not what I’m talking about.

Have you ever read your bottle of shampoo? Here is one:

Water, ammonium laureth sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycol Distearate, Cocamide MEA, Dimethicone, Cetyl Alciohol, Fragrance, Sodium Citrate, Polymethacrylamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, PEG-14M, Dihydrogenated Tallowamidoethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Choride, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiozolinone, Ammonium Xylenesulfonate, D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Blue No. 1

Whew! Go ahead, read them out loud. I dare you not to giggle. I have a chemistry background and even I found myself laughing as this or that name went on & on.
Even ‘natural’ shampoos and conditioners can have a lot of ingredients, although, granted, many of them are oils or extracts of plants. I have tried various bulk products from the local natural foods store, but have been dissatisfied.


My issues with shampoos are several:
1) Nasty and/or unnecessary ingredients that I don’t want polluting Puget Sound
2) Bottles bottles bottles. Sure you can ‘recycle’ them, but why have to?
3) Build up on hair after very short time
4) Best ones are $$$$

I knew there were alternatives, so when I saw this video on Grist, I jumped at the chance to try something really different.

In the photo above, I am using two 16 oz bottles (what I had on hand).
Bottle 1 (‘shampoo’) = 2 c water + 2 T baking soda
Bottle 1 (‘conditioner’) = 2 c water + 2 T apple cider vinegar
Seriously. Watch the video for explanation. Here I want here to summarize my experience with this regimen.

1) Technique. My first few uses were awkward because unlike commercial shampoo, these solutions are not viscous. At first I tried using the same technique as shampoo: pour into hand, apply to hair. Because these solutions are just amended water, you can imagine that not very much of it made it to my head. Instead, I have taken to applying the nozzle directly to my head. Tilt head, liberally pour, scrub. Apply to new spot on head, pour, scrub. You might think this takes a lot of time, but it really depends on how much hair you have. With commercial shampoo I often had to wash my hair twice in a row. That took time, too.

2) It is very important to use enough of each. You need to use enough baking soda solution to clean your hair and enough vinegar solution to rinse out the baking soda. At first I wasn’t using enough vinegar to neutralize the baking soda. Think of baking soda water as salty. Think of your hair after you’ve been in the ocean. Kinda ‘dirty dog’, no? Sorta sticky and unmanageable? Liberal use of the vinegar wash fixes that.

2) I have a lot of thick hair, so I refill these bottles after about 4 hair washings.

3) While in the shower I wash my face with #1 followed by #2. Squeeky clean.

4) When I wash my hair, it is clean clean clean. Light and clean. I love it. It makes me wonder why more people don’t know about this very inexpensive alternative to hair heroin. Plus, I appreciate that I’m not contributing to polluting our waterways. We don’t even know the ways in which these complex ingredients affect aquatic biota. And do not presume that these chemicals will magically disappear in the wastewater treatment processes. All sorts of pharmaceuticals make their way through ww-treatment and into fishes. Here is a recent example.

4) Caveats and considerations. Some people say your hair has to ‘detox’ on this regimen for a few weeks during which time your hair is more oily or what-not. I don’t remember this, but it may have been true. I have heard people say this method does not work well if you use ‘hard’ water. Hard water has a lot of minerals in it that would bind up the bicarbonate of the baking soda and could also neutralize the vinegar. You’d either have to use more of each in the same amount of water, or use distilled water instead of tap water. FYI: Water hardness maps of USA and Canada.

You might think I’m funny-lookin’, but I love my hair off heroin.

Disclaimer: This hair-do has benefited from absolutely no primping. I simply washed it, towel-dried it, then went about my day. My point is that I recognize it could look a lot better with some styling.

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This entry was posted in DIY, Health, homemade soap, household cleaner, soap. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to This is your hair off heroin

  1. Erin says:

    When I tried making shampoo at home (still with soap though), I put in some guar gum to make it more viscose – you could try that if you want something with a little more gel to it. It doesn’t take much – maybe 1/4tsp per cup or less.

    p.s. yes, I’m procrastinating at work and now feel like looking through soap recipes 😉

  2. Todo says:

    Maybe mine was going through detox or I wasn’t using it right at your place? My hair felt oily and dead with it. Maybe more #2?

  3. jkmcintyre says:

    Both are likely true. You also have a lot of hair and would risk not using enough of either especially at first when you don’t know how much you need!

  4. Anne B says:

    This is really interesting! Sounds like a fun science experiment if nothing else…but it just so happens that I have been really fed up with commercial shampoos lately so I am going to give this method a try.

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