Goal #19 Completed: Make my own shampoo and conditioner
So if you have been reading along with my blog, you know I am trying to eliminate chemicals in my food and products, buy more local products, make what I can and cut down on my waste -specifically plastic. Well, shockingly one of the places you will find the most chemicals in your house is your bathroom.Lets think about it: toothpaste, mouth wash, scented hand-soap, shampoo, conditioner, special body wash, ex-foliation mask, mascara, foundation, eye shadow, perfume, ect ect ect. Well these are all things, well most of them, that we need to get through our weeks – however since we are not ‘eating’ theses chemicals somehow we have justified that they can have anything in them. In the US, the ‘cosmetic products’ are not regulated.
So the main thing in most commercial shampoos is sulfate -Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). So what is SLS? In short it is a surfactant and the lathering agent. Wiki says it is ‘SLS is a highly effective surfactant and is used in any task requiring the removal of oily stains and residues. For example, it is found in higher concentrations with industrial products including engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash soaps. It is used in lower concentrations with toothpastes, shampoos, and shaving foams. It is an important component in bubble bath formulations for its thickening effect and its ability to create a lather.’ SLS is dangerous and has been linked with a carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. This compound is irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. It is suspected of causing damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. … dioxane can contaminate cosmetics and personal care products such as deodorants, shampoos, toothpastes and mouthwashes. And sadly in 2008 the Organic Consumers Association found dioxane in almost half of tested organic personal-care products. [thanks wiki]
In addition to SLS, conventional shampoos have a variety of other chemicals. Like Preservatives -They do this to prevent bacterial or other growth and to extend the shelf life – these preservatives have been speculated to cause hormone disruptions, allergies, and scalp irritation. Examples include: iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazonlinone and parabens. Then there are thickeners, stabilizers, ph balancers, colors (which are just for the looks, and we all know the dangers of say Red Dye 5) and fragrances (which can cause irritation and have there own set of dangerous chemicals they are made from).
Yikes, huh? Many of these have not been tested enough to even know what side effects could come from them in 5, 20 or 50 years. That is enough for me to want something natural. I don’t want to chance getting nerve damage, hormone disruption, organ failure or cancer from my shampoo. Also, many of these are in the ‘gentle’ baby products! Big name baby products have been caught having one more bad chemical – Formaldehyde. Ah! What are we allowing to happen to the babies – it is a no brainer to not allow your kid to bath in a carcinogen! Why are the Governments allowing this. However, the EU has stepped up and banned 1,4-dioxane in personal care products!
The industry says that they believe that these trace amounts will not harm you – and maybe such is true if you only used said product one in your life and no other products. But we use them everyday with many other products that also have trace amounts. So this is why I have decided to make my own shampoo and conditioner – I am not going to take the chance of not knowing what is in my products. The ingredients I am using have been around for ages, and if you were to take them ‘apart’ you could eat them all. There are many no ‘poo campaigns going on around the community – a few different methods. Some are just to use the conditioner, others are ACV and baking soda and some are using bar soaps. I am choosing the ACV and baking soda route.
So here is my ‘journal’ so to speak of the first few weeks:
Wash 1-3. I washed only with ACV (apple cider vinegar).. it was diluted in a 1 to 10 vinegar water ratio. I tried to see how little i could use this time – forgoing the baking soda – to spend less and waste less. Firstly, I have never been able to brush my long fine but thick hair so well before in my life! This looked like it might be a miracle way to wash my hair. The first time I let my hair air dry.. but it was terribly oily.. I know they say that there is a ‘breaking in’ period, so the next time I dried it – my logic was that it might evaporate some of the oil 🙂 Sadly my hair was still oilly, the roots only were though – the rest was great! Really great! So my third was I doubled up and washed twice – this did make it a tid bit better – but I still did not feel that I could go to work with my hair like this..
Wash 4. I decided that I needed to try the baking soda wash. I added 1 tablespoon baking soda to a 500 ml bottle, then added water. I know the baking soda to water ratio is suggested to be higher – but baking soda is not super common in Norway. When I washed with this and rinsed with the ACV water – there was a definitive improvement. But not enough. My hair was good for a few hours.. but then got ‘chunky’ – you know when your hair is oily and separates itself in to large strands, almost like dreads. So since I have always had some of the worlds most oily hair I decided that I should work this out so I did not look like my hair was wet – when it was just oily.
Wash 5. I decided to add more to the equation to help. I took a 500 ml bottle, added 3 tablespoons baking soda, one teaspoon of oil and one teaspoon of Dr. Bronners. So then I topped it off with water, gave it a shake and then tested it. I used about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle plus the ACV rinse, and the results were great. My hair is not oily 3 days later, brushes through great and feels so incredibly soft. At this point it is my plan to stay with this. It still is costing next to nothing to make – yay! Since I don’t wash my hair everyday.. then I think that I can just make a new batch every week or so – and it is so simple to make.. it is not like I will have to slave in the kitchen for hours to get it.. maybe 2 minutes.. more like 45 seconds though!
At the moment I have ‘my shampoo’ in a reused plastic body wash bottle and my conditioner in a spray bottle. I would like to find a non plastic way to go about this – but glass is dangerous in the shower and I have yet to find a stainless steel container that would work – but I am on the lookout! So what do you think? Do you have plans to rework your hair care?
[top photo via]
UPDATE: I am now using the baking soda mix and acv wash just every other weekend. I have some ‘baby powder’ to sprinkle in if it starts to get oily – which is also great to help styling it!
UPDATE MARCH 2011: I am no longer washing my hair with ACV and Baking Soda. While it is a great way to clean you hair, I still wanted to go more natural. Read all about it here.