Every American household has at least one bottle of shampoo. It’s just one of those basic hygiene items that we can’t do without, right? Chances are, you’ve never considered the ingredients in your shampoo, and even if you have you’d probably never guess that any of them were considered toxic chemicals. The truth is that chemicals in many of our hygiene products are full of chemicals that aren’t regulated by the FDA, and can have harmful effects on our bodies; even our shampoos.

The good news is that for pennies on the dollar, there are ways to make your own shampoo using natural ingredients, and you don’t have to sacrifice your healthy, shiny locks. In fact, regardless of your hair type, there’s a natural do-it-yourself shampoo recipe that will cleanse your hair while maintaining the shine, moisture, or volume that you need.

Baking soda is the most basic ingredient in a natural shampoo. In fact, if you’re using a several products in your hair, a simple cleanse with about a tablespoon of baking soda mixed into a cup of water will act as a clarifying shampoo, freeing the chemical buildup that tends to leave residue in your hair and on your scalp. Create the mixture in a small bottle, using more baking soda for thicker hair, or less if you have fine hair. You may have to play around with the mixture a bit to find what works best for your hair, but this is the simplest DIY recipe, and probably the best transition into using natural, homemade shampoos.

Many of us have a hard time switching to the natural shampoos because we miss the feeling of lathering the shampoo through our hair. Unfortunately, that “foaming” that gives us the false sense of cleanliness comes from the chemicals and detergents added to shampoo that actually strip the hair of its natural oils. So, for a DIY shampoo with more lather, try using 1/3 cup of liquid castile soap, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and a teaspoon of coconut oil or almond oil mixed with water. Depending upon how soapy you want the mixture, you can use anywhere from 1/3 cup to 2/3 cup of water.

Start by mixing the baking soda and castile soap together in an empty bottle. Shake the bottle to combine the ingredients, then add the water and coconut oil and shake it again to mix it well. If you prefer, you can add 5 to 20 drops of essential oils, as well. The mixture may feel a little watery for your liking, in which case you can try adding a teaspoon or so of xantham gum to thicken it. You can also forgo the baking soda, and try coconut milk, ground oats, or honey to add shine, volume, or moisture to your hair.
Finding the best recipe for your hair can be a trial and error process, not to mention the “detox” that your hair and scalp may go through as you transition from using chemicals and detergents to more natural options. You’ll want to give your hair a couple of weeks to get used to the switch before you swear off your homemade shampoo altogether.

You may even want to try making a more pH balanced shampoo to start off with, using about 1½ cups of coconut milk, 1¾ cups of pure Aloe Vera gel, and your favorite essential oils. If you struggle with dry hair, adding Vitamin E oil or sweet almond oil will help add moisture. With this recipe, you’ll mix your ingredients in a bowl with a wire whisk, and pour into ice cube trays. Once frozen, you can place the cubes in a freezer bag or other container, if you like.

You’ll take one out the night before you need it and keep it in a small container in the fridge (once in the refrigerator, the shelf life of this mixture is about a week), using a dollop about the size of a quarter when you’re ready to wash your hair. Work the mixture into your scalp first, then, move it toward the ends of your hair. Allow it to soak into your hair for at least 30 seconds, and rinse thoroughly. This shampoo won’t have the lather of the previous recipe, but a little does stretch a long way, so you won’t need much.

If your hair has a waxy feel to it, you can use an apple cider vinegar and water rinse (a 50:50 mixture will work well) as a conditioner. As with any of the homemade shampoos, an acidic solution can help balance the alkaline in the castile soap or baking soda, so a rinse with either vinegar or lemon juice may aid in cleaner, shinier hair, while acting as a conditioning rinse.

The best thing about making your own shampoo is the liberty to experiment with the ingredients to create the perfect recipe for your hair, all while saving money on expensive shampoos and conditioners. With results like these, your hair and your purse will thank you.

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Judy Greenway