Friday, January 18, 2013

why i don't use shampoo

Yes, it's true! I don't use shampoo and conditioner...

I hope you'll be intrigued enough, rather than grossed out, to read on!

I've been going shampoo free since the beginning of November, after trying to for a month last summer! I have to say before I go any further here that my hair IS clean, and looks and feels more healthy than before!

I had never heard about how to clean your hair without commercial shampoos and conditioners until I read the book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider. I thought, Whoa that's weird! and felt no desire to try it. But as I read her reasons and what exactly is in our shampoos, plus how much healthier it is to make your own, I was curious... It couldn't hurt to give it a try, right?

I saw it as exciting adventure to do something totally out of the ordinary. It felt totally counter-cultural, in a rebellious kind of way! Hee hee! :) It became my little secret, because I certainly wasn't going to tell anyone and risk grossing them out, at least before I was sold on it, which I didn't even know would happen. So I kept my secret mission to myself, but of course I had to tell my mom! And she was sworn to secrecy- especially from my cosmetologist family members!

What's the big deal with shampoo?

Is it really that evil?? Uhhh NO! :) It's definitely NOT the most important health change out there. But because it does contain chemicals and isn't really the healthiest option, it's worth looking at the other side- because there ARE other options besides just walking down the store aisle. Here's the reason I decided to stop buying shampoo and make my own:

Did you know that people didn't always use shampoo? People have only been using shampoo for the last 100 years. Before that, they just used a good ole bar of soap! That was before we started adding all kinds of stuff to our water, like minerals and such. Once we did that, the soap wasn't as effective in alkaline water and essentially left a residue (or as we call it "soap scum") in our hair, making the scales on your head stand up, and making your hair weaker, rougher and a big tangled mess! So shampoo entered the scene! The only real benefit was that it could work in both hard and soft water BUT unlike soap, shampoo is a detergent, which is harsh, and strips the hair of all it's natural oils! That led to the introduction of conditioner to replenish some of those oils. Now we have to shower more often because our hair produces oil faster to compensate for the oils that we strip out day after day, and conditioner oils don't stay in our hair long enough! Our scalp and hair need those natural oils, and the longer that we strip those out, the weaker our hair becomes, causing damage and breakage over time!

Do you know what's in your Shampoo? 

Shampoo contains chemicals, that you don't want in your hair OR on your body! One ingredient that I'd like to point out that shampoo contains is Mineral Oil, which is a byproduct (what's left over) of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil. It's added to create an artificial shine as a thick layer of oil all over our hair.

Mineral oil cannot absorb into your skin like other oils do, so it sits on top and forms a barrier preventing oils and toxins from being released as a normal part of your skin's lifecycle. This is one of the reasons you'll find that the more shampoo you use, the more often you need to use it. In the long run, coating your hair with mineral oil makes it weaker, and more prone to damage.- babyslime

So the more you use, the more you need. It's a cycle of stripping out natural oils, replacing with thick mineral oil that sits on your skin and hair. By not using shampoos and creating your own safe replacements, you are essentially returning your hair to its most natural, healthy state!
For an in-depth look at the harmful chemicals in shampoo, visit this blog.

Another reason to consider is cost when it comes to going Shampoo-free

Now, I know that Shampoo isn't THAT expensive! It's not like cutting shampoo out of my budget is going to create a huge amount of extra money for me! But how about this: because our hair is coated in unnatural oils and chemicals, it takes more unnatural products to keep it looking or feeling the way I want! Thus the creation of sprays, and gels, and waxes and detanglers and mousses, etc...

I also seemed to have a problem with a dry, itchy scalp, so I had to purchase special products and shampoos to try to help with that. And I was buying special shampoos for the kids- did you know the "tear-free" versions actually have a chemical that will numb their eyes if it gets in there? Wow! No thank you! Now what I make/buy can be used by the whole family, so it's safe for us all, plus it's cost-effective to not have to purchase different soaps for every member of the family. To purchase the ingredients needed, it costs about $5 which would last for a very long time! Maybe like a year or more? When it comes to buying commercial shampoo, it costs about $5 for one bottle, which might last around a month for one person? Definitely cost effective when you look at it like that!

No, I don't believe Shampoo is inherently evil, but I do think it's unnecessary! And so it feels good to cut out the cost! I've been aspiring to living a more frugal, simple and natural lifestyle and I believe making my own shampoo helps me live this way! Not only am I saving money by making it from a few simple ingredients that I already have in my pantry, but my family can all use the same product safely!

In addition to making my own hair clarifier ("shampoo") and rinse (Yes, I'm getting there- recipe is coming up next!), I've purchased some Dr. Bronner's Castile soap for our family to use (We like the Peppermint scented kind)! It can be used for your hair or body. I use it for the kids now, and Tim is using it too! And it also can be used for many household cleaners, dish soap, laundry soap, and more!

--I love that it doesn't leave behind a residue or build-up on our skin (this has always bothered me about soap!) Castile Soap is made with pure and simple ingredients- castile soap and essential oils!
--I also love that it's a Fair Trade Product, meaning that it wasn't made through the use of slave labor! --And I love that it lasts a LONG time and is more cost-effective than other soaps.

Here is How to make/use your own shampoo/conditioner replacement: 

Hair Clarifier

Baking soda has become a staple in my house as it is a main ingredient in many of my homemade cleaners and toiletries! You probably already have this in your house, and can buy it very cheaply!
It works great for hair, and very gently clarifies hair from chemical build-up!
This recipe can be tweaked to fit your specific needs, but here's what I do:

Mix 1 Tablespoon of Baking soda with 8 oz of warm water, and shake to dissolve baking soda! That's it!
(I also add a few drops of an essential oil, since I was having an awful time trying to comb my hair out after washing my hair. The few drops added just enough extra oil that I could comb through my hair much more smoothly! Plus it's adds a nice scent as well- Orange is my favorite!)

This batch will last me 3-4 uses. I store it in a plastic squeeze bottle I had laying around and use a small to pour the baking soda in. You could put it in old shampoo bottles, and even double or triple the recipe.

To use, get your hair thoroughly wet in the shower. Concentrating on your scalp, squeeze some in different places all over your scalp and massage it in. Start at the crown, and work it in all over your scalp. There isn't really any lather. You can include the rest of your hair, but as the baking soda mixture clarifies the scalp it'll naturally clean the rest of the hair. After a minute or so, rinse it out just as you would shampoo!

ACV Rinse

Apple Cider Vinegar is another ingredient to have on hand not just for your hair, but for other household cleaning as well! It is mildly acidic and works well to counteract the baking soda. That's why it's a great replacement for conditioner. It detangles the hair folicles, seals the cuticle, and balances the hair’s pH balance.

Mix 1 Tablespoon of ACV with 8 ounces of water, and give it a quick shake.
I put this in a leftover spritz bottle. This mixture will last a LONG time! I think I'm only on my 2nd bottle of it!

To use, after you rinse out your baking soda clarifier, spray/squirt your ACV mixture the ends of your hair and rinse out after a minute or so.
*No, your hair will not smell like vinegar- don't worry!*

And there you have it! That's all I do!
The only other product I use on my hair is a little bit of hair spray! I no longer need the baskets of hair products, because my hair is so much healthier and holds a style so much better! My hair feels so good and so healthy! There have been different concerns as I've gotten used to cleaning my hair this way, but I've figured it out and tweaked it along the way. Nothing the internet can't help with!

In fact, I used Shampoo/Conditioner last week just because I wanted to feel the big soapy lather, and soft hair! Well, my enthusiasm was short lived when a little while later, my hair started to feel oily and nasty! It just didn't feel right! You see, when you use the baking soda and ACV mixtures, you don't have to wash your hair quite as often because your scalp isn't producing those natural oils as quickly as when you're using shampoo. I wash mine about 3 times a week now.

Shampoo-free 3 months!
Washed 36hrs ago and still looks/feels freshly washed!

 Here are some other tips posted by

• You might have a transition period that lasts from a few weeks to a few months, where your hair reacts with excess oil to the lack of shampoo. This is perfectly normal. It’s used to having its oils stripped, so it might take time for the oil to stop producing so heavily in protest.
(Mary Beth here! My transition period only lasted about a week and was really no big deal!)

• I hear that eventually, you can wean off baking soda and vinegar all together, relying only on water in the shower to remove dirt and oil. I haven’t gotten there yet.

• If you find that your hair is too oily (after the transition period), try using less vinegar, or not using it all together. Some people also use lemon juice instead of vinegar as their acidic clarifier.

• If your hair feels too dry, use less baking soda, or try using honey instead of vinegar.

• I don’t need anything else for my hair. I stopped using pomade, which I previously used religiously to cut the frizzies. My hair is amazingly pliable, and can hold styles without my needing to do much of anything. I’m thrilled with the results!

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Alright so there you have it! Hopefully you stayed with me through this whole journey! I know that was a lot of information! If you have any questions or tidbits to share, please comment below! I can't promise to have all the answers you need, but use the resources below to help answer any questions or concerns as well!

Here are a few other sites to check out on this topic:

babyslime- For lots more in-depth information on commercial shampoo, as well as trouble-shooting when it comes to going shampoo-free/your hair type.

Simple Mom - another personal story of going shampoo-free


  1. Hmmmm....This is very interesting. I might have to give it a try. I only use shampoo and conditioner, no other gels, so I'm not putting as many bad things in there. You bring out some good points. I'm looking forward to reading about all of your other products you're making.

  2. I tried this awhile back but didn't stick with it. I can't really remember why. I think I might give it another try. I might even try it on my girls. I have one with really curly hair and I don't use shampoo for her, just conditioner, but I wonder if this would keep some of the rat's nests away. I didn't know that about the eye numbing of tear free, that doesn't sound good at all!

  3. I think I might try this!! My hair is always so oily and stringy. Hopefully this will help. You said you use it with your kids. I use Johnson and Johnson with Jade. Is it safe to use with her and her eyes?

  4. Just so you know, I am doing this...TODAY! I bought a lemon eucalyptus oil and rosemary oil from NOW...I have a couple days of shampoo left in my shower, that I'm leaving there as a security blanket, but I am washing my hair with the clarifier and the ACV rinse...TODAY! :-) Do you use Bragg's ACV?

  5. This is my 6th week without shampoo or any other products. Just simply water!
    For me when I was using shampoo my hair would be greasy before 12 hours after showering! First two to three weeks was a pain because how greasy my hair was all the time and all the itching aswell. Now on my 6th week it´s still a bit greasy but far from when I started. My hair looks amazing if I let it dry by itself and about after 24 hours it starts to get alittle greasy. I think that in 6 more weeks my hair will be really awsome all the time and I will probably not shower it more than once a week. Saves time! :D Good luck, if you want to try it. STICK with it. It will be amazing if you give it time.

    1. I've heard of people just using water, but I had never met anyone or read a testimonial from one who had! So thanks for sharing! I'm glad that it's working out for you! Yes, the key is to stick with it!! :)
      Thanks again for sharing your experience!

    2. I know this post was written a while ago but just found you after researching homemade shampoos. I'm 8 days into a 30 day NO soap/shampoo/conditioner and was wondering if you're still using just baking soda and apple cider vinegar?


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