I often only find the inspiration to write when I’ve recently traveled somewhere or had an awesome experience. But let’s be honest – most days are really not that blog-worthy. Today was one of those days. Today was also the day I decided to make homemade hair products.
A few days ago, I swept the floor and was appalled at how much of my hair came up in the broom. I frequently pull out a handful here and there, but during a particularly paranoid moment, I began to wonder…
Slowly but surely, am I going bald?
For the past year and a half, I’ve written for lots of natural health blogs like Navitas Naturals and Seagate but then hit the shower and continued to use my cheap-o, chemical-ridden hair products. I’ve come across plenty of DIY beauty product recipes but always wrote them off as too expensive and too much of a hassle.
But maybe, just maybe, 10+ years of dying my hair and slathering on stuff I can’t pronounce had taken its toll on these tresses. Perhaps something a little more natural would prevent me from sweeping so often and stressing middle-age baldness.
Thanks to a couple helpful recipes from my mom, I already have been making my own carpet cleaner, glass cleaner, eyeglasses cleaner, and granola bars for a little while now.
First thing this morning, I hopped on my bike and peddled over, in stereotypical fashion, to Whole Foods. Where else does one find things like guar gum and castile soap?
After scoping out a few recipes on WikiHow and Frugal Living, his is what I picked up for my homemade shampoo:
- Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps: 18-in-1 Hemp Tea Tree Pure Castile Soap, 8 oz. ($5.99)
- NOW brand rosemary essential oil, 1 oz. ($7.99)
- Chamomile tea bag (found in the cupboard)
- Olive oil (found in the cupboard)
Apparently, this recipe is supposed to provide hair with extra moisture and keep it from breaking and getting frizzy. The original recipe recommended tossing in peppermint oil and tree tea oil too, but essential oils aren’t cheap so I eenie-meenie-miney-mo’ed it and stuck with just rosemary.
And here’s what went into the homemade conditioner I made
- NOW brand 100% natural coconut oil, 7 oz. ($6.49)
- Bob’s Red Mill premium guar gum, 8 oz. bag ($5.69)
- Rosemary oil (tapped into the shampoo purchase)
- Water (found it in the tap)
I had also considered a conditioner recipe with apple cider vinegar and honey, but this one promised more “deep conditioning,” so I went with that.
Making the Shampoo
My only challenge in shampoo-making was math. You see, my recipe called for 12 oz. of castile soap, and my bottle only held 8 oz. So this Poli Sci and English major whipped out a calculator and did a series of ratio calculations…not exactly my idea of a good time. In the end, my super-scientific proportions looked like this:
- 8 oz. castile soap
- Just under 3 tbsp. chamomile tea
- Just under 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Just under 1 tbsp. rosemary oil
After heating the soap for a minute in the microwave, it immediately developed a weird film on top. I wasn’t sure whether to scrape the film off or try to mix it with the liquid. So I compromised and did a little of both.
Both the soap and the tea were pretty hot, so after letting the mixture cool in a mixing cup, I poured it all back into the original 8 oz. soap bottle.
Making the Conditioner
Unlike the shampoo recipe, this conditioner required no math and no heat. Therefore, my only challenge in conditioner-making was trying to get the mixture into the bottle for storage. This stuff was thick, sticky, and stubborn. Here are the proportions I used:
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tsp. melted coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp. guar gum
- 10 drops rosemary oil
After relentlessly and unsuccessfully trying to use a knife, a spatula, and a turkey baster, I discovered that the good ole’ fingers worked better than anything else. If you use a tiny 3 oz. plastic bottle like I did, it’s best to use your pinky to push the mixture down and pop the air bubbles.
After cleaning up the huge mess I made in the kitchen, I headed to the shower to give my new concoctions a whirl. The shampoo was much thinner than your average store-bought shampoo, so I had to be careful to not squeeze out too much or let it run off. But surprisingly, the thinness did not affect the lather. This soap actually lathered really well!
Maybe it’s the type of castile soap I bought, which had hemp and tree tea oil, plus the rosemary oil, but the shampoo smells heavily of menthol. This may be a deal-breaker for some shampooers, but I didn’t mind having my sinuses opened up a bit.
The conditioner came out a bit clumpy, but the consistently was very similar to an average conditioner. Perhaps I slacked on my whisking a bit. I’m pretty sure I over-did it on the application though, because after blow-drying, my hair was a bit greasier and more weighted-down than usual.
Is all this fuss really going to make my hair fall out less? Who knows.
Aside from a little extra grease from over-conditioning, it looks pretty much the same as it always does. It’d be silly to try to gauge these products’ effectiveness after just one use, so I’m planning to use them exclusively for awhile until I can make that judgment call and either stick with these recipes or give new ones a shot.
The point is that I finally tried it and I felt good about trying it. I love the idea of using stuff from nature on my body and putting stuff from nature in my body. And although it’s often feels too expensive or time consuming to bother with, I’m excited to try something small out from time to time.
This is a great example of one of the things I miss doing when I’m on the road traveling. Campground bathrooms aren’t exactly the best place for mixing up things like this. Sewing and playing piano are a couple other good examples. I love to travel, but I also long to find a place to call home that feels right to me. It’s a hypothetical place where I can mix up whatever I want and that I’m excited to come back to after a long trip. I have yet to find this place, but I haven’t given up that it exists somewhere.
So I’ll just leave it at that for now, keep on washing my hair every couple days, and circle back on the concept of home when I’m a little bit closer to finding it.
If you are using an actual soap, it will actually make your hair fall out worse. There are a lot of people who do try soap so the info can be hard to find, but any real soap (derived from lye and oils) builds up on the scalp and will cause more hair fallout than shampoo. I know this not only from the web, but from personal experience. It’s fine to wash your hair once in a while with soap (if you are traveling and that’s all that is available) but using it on a regular basis is probably not a good idea.
Thanks so much for writing! Sorry, I just happened to see this. Do you have any recommendations for homemade shampoos or conditioners? I’m actually looking to try some new recipes to cut some chemical products out of my hair routine again.