Saving Money: “DIY” shampoo and conditioner

Alright.  It’s been quite sometime since I first started talking about making my own shampoo and conditioner.  Definitely before our trip to Europe, as I was in super-saving mode back then.  But, if I’m being honest, the DIY hair care has been a bigger journey than I had expected and intended!  So, let’s chronicle the journey here, and finally reveal the secret of how I am now cleaning my hair!

My DIY shampoo adventure began with wanting to save money, but I was also interested in being eco-friendly.  All those chemicals in regular shampoo aren’t good for your body, but they are also not good for the environment as all that luscious lather goes down the drain and into the water system.  I had been buying natural and organic shampoo for a while, but those pricey indulgences add up!  So I found this instructable which taught that all I really needed was plain castile soap, distilled water, and some essential oils.  Awesome!  

But it soon became clear that it was really difficult to find plain old liquid castile soap.  All I could find in the liquid castile soap department was either Dr. Bronner’s or Dr. Woods. (Why everyone has to be a doctor to sell castile soap, I don’t know.)

I was also getting interested in the “no ‘poo” option which I had first read about on another blog:  There I learned that I didn’t even need soap!  I just need baking soda, water, and apple cider vinegar.  What?!  That sounded too crazy to me.

So, I combined the two ideas.  For a while, I washed my hair with either Dr. Bronner’s or Dr. Woods castile soap, and the conditioned it with a small amount of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and lots of water.   The result?  The ACV rinse was an AMAZING de-tangler.  I could run a comb straight through my long hair after a shower.  But after a while…the castile soap was starting to dry out my hair.  Also, when I washed with it, it made my hair feel sort of sticky/gummy and I NEEDED the ACV to get that feeling out.

Then we went to Europe, and I used whatever shampoo was available, and enjoyed the pleasure of “having my hair back” (figuratively, of course….I didn’t lose my hair using castile soap….just the feel my hair used to have).

When we returned, I bought two different hair care options.  I bought some all-natural (pricey) shampoo and conditioner, AND I bought an old school shampoo bar.  I wanted to test out the bar, which claimed I wouldn’t even need conditioner because of its essential oils, but I wanted a back up in case it failed miserably.

The bar didn’t exactly fail–it just made my hair feel the way it did when I washed it with castile soap.  So…back to square one.

Throughout this whole ordeal (which was about 6 months, I’d say), I was 1) still intrigued by the whole “no ‘poo” idea, and 2) dealing with some itchy scalp issues that I had before I even began this shampoo hunt.

So, what did I do?  I did some more research on “no ‘poo.”  And I learned a lot.  Did you know that shampooing your hair daily wasn’t at all common until Farrah Fawcett made it the thing to do in the ’70s?  You can read about it here.  By shampooing our hair daily, we’re actually stripping it of important oils and sebum, which then causes the scalp to go into crazy over production of oil….which then causes the hair to look greasy the next day.  Really, we don’t need to wash our hair more than 2 or 3 times a week.  Even less if we want!

So I took the plunge.  I went no ‘poo.  I haven’t used shampoo or conditioner in over a month!  There was a small transition period, but it’s the summer so I don’t have to see anyone :).  Now, I’m washing my hair about every other day, sometimes less.  And I’m using baking soda and ACV.

The process?  I put about a Tablespoon of baking soda in a plastic cup and fill it with about a cup of water. I work this mixture into my scalp (the baking soda is for cleaning the scalp, the ACV is for conditioning the hair).  Then I rinse it out.  Then I take about a Tablespoon of ACV in a plastic cup, fill it the rest of the way with water, and use it to condition my hair by rinsing only the ends, not the roots (the vinegar on the roots causes more oil production).

The result?  Awesome!  My hair is soft, shiny, and my scalp is much less itchy!  And I don’t have to wash my hair every day!  Here are some pictures to prove I’m not lying:)

These are my roots (where oil is most noticeable) in the evening on a day when I've cleaned my hair with baking soda

Here's the side view that same night.

Here are my roots the day before I need to clean my hair again. The hair is pulled back to help hide the oiliness.

The hair away from the roots still looks clean though !

But when I let my hair down, you can see the greasiness at the roots.

The funny thing is that I am quickly turning to baking soda and vinegar for EVERYTHING.  Cleaning countertops, scrubbing sinks and toilets, washing mirrors, making pickles….the list goes on!

I should also mention that for some reason, when I stopped using shampoo, I also stopped using my face wash (which always made my face itchy and in dire need of lotion).  Now I just massage my face with water in the shower, and I’ve nary a blemish nor an itch since!

So now that you know my “dirty” little secret, do you think you’ll try cleaning your hair without shampoo?  While you think about it, I’ll go snack on the result of another vinegar adventure:

Until next time, may all your kitchens and bathrooms be stocked with baking soda and vinegar, and may all your homes be happy!


About Cathy G Gilbert

I am veggie-loving, community college professor who lives, teaches, and writes in Central IL.
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2 Responses to Saving Money: “DIY” shampoo and conditioner

  1. Pingback: A Year with the Stigma | The Stigma of Lot 26

  2. Pingback: NaHCO3 is my favorite chemical compound | The Stigma of Lot 26

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