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I decided to make my own beauty products somewhat recently. I found out that there are so many toxic ingredients in the products we use nearly every day, and I knew there had to be a better way to feel fresh, clean, and beautiful, without putting cancer-causing products on my skin. Did you know that our skin is our body’s largest organ, and is capable of absorbing up to 60% of what we put on it? And that something known as “fragrance” in our beloved beauty products is unregulated, and can contain up to 300 different chemicals? I don’t know about you, but that is just NOT okay with me!
I read about how castile soap is very natural, vegan, and clean. I bought some Dr Bronner’s Hemp Rose liquid castile soap. I made it my personal mission to include this in a variety of products. I found this recipe for coconut milk castile soap shampoo, and decided it was a perfect starting point. I mixed it up in an old shampoo bottle and used it the next day while I was showering. I can say that it was definitely not the best for me. It left my hair feeling soft, but it was also dull, greasy, and felt like it had a film on it. But, I digress, I actually used my store-bought conditioner after using this the first time. I don’t know if it was that, or if I had put too much oil in the shampoo. The only oil that I had on-hand at the time was olive oil. If I had it, I would have used a different oil, maybe argan oil. I only put in about a teaspoon, but apparently the mixture wasn’t right for my hair.
That night, I decided to “fix” the shampoo. After all, I had used a majority of the castile soap that I had just bought for $4, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I knew the recipe was good, it just needed a little bit of work. I put more castile soap in the shampoo, and added some honey (for shine!). I also brought a pan of water to a boil and gathered some herbs out of my “apothecary”. I used common mallow, calendula, rosemary, nettle leaf, chamomile, and sage. I put them in the boiling water , covered the pan, and let them simmer for about 20 minutes.
After simmering, I strained the herbs from the water and, using a funnel, poured the herb water into the shampoo bottle. I filled the bottle up and had some left to spare, so I put the rest of the water into a large measuring cup with some apple cider vinegar. The vinegar-herb water I used for a hair rinse. Apple cider vinegar helps balance your hair’s ph and gives it a nice shine. It can be a little stinky at first, but once it dries you can barely smell it. In fact, the next morning, the hubs said I smelled like soap.
I took a big mixing bowl and the measuring cup with the vinegar-herb water into the bathroom, hung my head over the side of the tub. I placed the large mixing bowl under my hair to catch the rinse so I could use it a few times, then poured the measuring cup over my hair, rubbing it all around and making sure to get my scalp. I repeated this rinse several times, until I felt like I got all of my hair covered. I can’t even explain how much this helped! I don’t think I’ll be using store-bought conditioners any more (and, of course, soon I’ll make my own conditioner – baby steps here!). The next day my hair felt bouncy, shiny, and I felt like it even enhanced my curls! The film was no longer there, and there was absolutely NO frizz.
Since I only wash my hair every two days, I didn’t wash it that next day but instead just enjoyed the soft, clean feeling of my hair. The very next day, however, I washed my hair again with my homemade shampoo. It felt so clean and soft, I couldn’t keep my hands off of it! I even had my friends and family feel my hair. They all said that it felt super soft. My daughter also said that I smelled a little like a grandma – well, I am! And I actually like the fresh, herby scent. If you don’t want to smell like a grandma, just alter the herbs you use. You could add mint, rose, or lavender to the shampoo to help it smell more to your liking.
Here is the loose recipe for my homemade shampoo.
1 cup of canned coconut milk
½ – ¾ cup of liquid castile soap
1 tsp vitamin E, olive, almond, or argan oil
Optional: 10+ drops of essential oils
That’s the base. Then here’s the fun part! Approximately 1 cup of water, with herbs simmered in it.
I say this is the fun part because you can customize it to your liking, or your hair type. I literally used herbs that I had foraged myself (except for the rosemary – that came from a spice jar in the kitchen; and the chamomile – I used chamomile tea!), so it was super cheap.
These are the herbs I used, and why: Nettle (yes, stinging nettle!) helps hair growth due to the high nutrient content, helps treat dandruff, and adds shine to dull hair. Rosemary is very well-known for its effect on hair health. It conditions the scalp and leaves a nice shine on the hair. It also helps to condition the hair, relieves itchy dry scalp or dandruff, and helps promote hair growth. Sage helps combat hair loss and baldness, reduces dandruff, and prevents clogged hair follicles. It is said to help make your hair thicker, shinier, and stronger. As an added bonus, it helps darken hair and therefore is super helpful in treating grey hair. Calendula is a superstar in skin health, so it really helps treat the scalp. It has regenerative properties that will help your hair grow thich and strong. Please note: using lots of calendula can actually dye your hair, and while a light highlighting can be fine, you don’t want your hair to turn out orange from too much calendula! Chamomile helps nourish the hair and scalp, and is excellent for dry, brittle hair. It helps seal in the hair’s moisture and strengthens the hair, making it super soft but strong. Note: chamomile also is a natural hair dying agent, too, so be careful not to use too much. Mallow also helps moisturize the scalp, and helps to soften and smooth the hair. It helps to prevent breakage (no more split ends!) and helps hair grow faster.
My first thought with mallow is the thick mucilaginous “goo” that it produces would be a good thickener for the shampoo, which right now is really watery. Unfortunately I didn’t achieve the mucilage with the mallow. Normally when you boil mallow in water, you get a thick goo. For some reason it didn’t happen this time. Maybe it was the combination of the other herbs with it in the water? I’m just going to have to try it again later with just the mallow to see if that will help thicken the shampoo.
The best part of this shampoo is that it’s totally customizable! You can use whatever you have on hand, or tailor it to your hair’s needs. And you can feel good about using it, as it is completely safe and chemical-free. I hope you’ll join me in making some for yourself!