Every day when I check through the site stats (Yes I am a nerd!) I find myself saying the same thing. WOW, so many of you are trying to wash your hair with soap, make your own shampoo, buy chemical free hair cleansers and avoid “harmful” chemicals.  You want answers? Try these…..

Can you wash your hair with soap?

Er, I already told you that this is almost a unanimous NO but go check the facts here and let me know if you have anything to add.

Can I make my own Shampoo?

Hummmmm. Well, I guess so but it will take a bit of doing. You see, the shampoo that we all know and some of you are trying to avoid contain detergents which emulsify (or break up) the dirt. Some commonly used detergents are those like Sodium Laureth Sulphate and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate – AKA Nasty chemicals although I am not sure that I agree with you there BUT….  The “greener’ brands use different detergents ranging from the common but milder Cocamidopropyl Betain to things like cocamidopropyl hydroxysultane or cocoamphodiacetate.  The problem that the home chemist has here is in getting the ingredients -not impossible but  not easy in small quantities.

The next problem is when you finally get your ingredients the “greener” detergents are harder to manage than those nasty chemicals making your shampoo creating a trifle problematic.

So, do we give up?

Of course not. You can try a few of our ideas here to get you started and if all else fails; we will tell you whom to call!

Home Made Shampoo 101.

Soap Nut.

Indian Soap Nut (Sapindus Mukorossi): The fruit from the soap nut tree, which is indigenous to India, has been used for centuries as a detergent for cleaning clothes and skin.  The detergent can be extracted from the fruit by simple boiling the powdered and dried fruits in water and then precipitating it out using ammonium sulphate.  This is a staple ingredient in Ayurvedic Medicine as well as in shampoos and conditioners. There are many different species of soap nut and records of their use in cleaning have been found across the world – from Fiji through China, Mexico through to Central America.

You can get hold of soap nut at health food stores and co-operatives around the world. I found these guys: WILD SOAPNUTS in Queensland, Australia – they even provide recipes for natural shampoo and laundry products, which I will try as soon as I get my hands on some ingredients!

Dry Shampoos – Less is best!

So, if your motivation away from mass-market shampoo is environmental, you can’t go past dry shampoos! They involve less waste and packaging and are more cost effective to transport than the wet stuff and can be just as effective.  Dry shampoos work by attracting the dirt to its self through electrical attraction – a dirt magnet! The dirt has one charge and the shampoo the opposite. On top of that many dry shampoo’s contain absorbent materials such as corn starch, rice bran, clays or oatmeal to “mop up” excess oil. These shampoos are messy to use for a start but can be great for when water or time is a premium!  The important thing here is not to dry your hair and scalp out. It is hard to get the right balance of oil removed from the hair to give a good look. This can lead to irritation or worse still, a bad case of static bed hair! Tragic…

Don’t forget that some surfactants are available in dry form and may be included in dry shampoos. Check ingredient labels if you are buying to make sure that you aren’t setting yourself up for a mass dose of detergent. Powdered detergents can be even more potent as they are 100% active. Couple that with the fact that you may not completely remove them with brushing and you could have a problem.

However, it is not all bad!  Dry shampoos can be easy to make and great fun to use.  Why not get out the cornstarch, mix it with a few drops of your favorite (but not too harsh) essential oil and give it a go. Just be sure to try it over the weekend. Just in case!

Buying Chemical Free Hair Cleansers

Now you know how much I hate it when you ask for Chemical Free! I know what you mean but we do have to find a more meaningful way of articulating this point.  Rant over…

So, you want a product that contains nothing but ingredients that can be grown, harvested and assembled into a product without using too many synthetic additives, process aids or treatments. You want a product that can be flushed down the drain without fear of it killing off your garden or local river and you want a product that will not irritate your skin in any way, shape or form.  OK. That is a big ask BUT possible.

Many companies offer natural or “green” leaning shampoos and hair products. A trip down to the local pharmacist, health food store or even supermarket will open your eyes to the possibility. However, many of the products that you see on the shelf will look and read like the mass-market brands. Why? Well, as I said at the beginning, making a shampoo that doesn’t contain the usual suspects of scandalous ingredients, that works, that is at an acceptable price and that looks and feels like a mass-market shampoo is tricky. This all leads to your more natural product still having the lengthy ingredient list of products whose names you can hardly read. A yawn fest for sure!

Help is at hand, as I saw at the Australian Spa and Beauty Expo at the weekend. There are a number of niche brands out there as well as some larger ones who are taking their “green” credentials to the next level. People like the guys at Pure and Green Organics who have created “Dream Clean” “Day Spa in a Bottle” which I purchased on Sunday. This product is nothing like a traditional shampoo. It is a brown-black in colour and contains little particles of extracts and clay. You massage it into the hair, leave it for a few minutes then rinse off. I have used it twice now and have found that unlike other non-traditional shampoos, I have been able to comb my hair quite easily afterwards.  I am going to keep going with this to see how my hair reacts over a week or so. The Pure and Green Organics product contains the soap nut described above along with some other herbal extracts.

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In my humble opinion, going green is best done carbon footstep by carbon footstep. The world is not going to change in one giant leap so remember, have fun with the ideas above and share with us your green haircare tips.

Want a “Green” haircut in Sydney? We recommend popping to see our friend and Realize Beauty family member Stevie English in Glebe! Tell him we sent you…..

stevie english