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Review: A Week Of Homemade Shampoo & Conditioner

>20 December 2010
 
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Day 1, Monday:

Today I decided I was finally going to give those homemade shampoo & conditioner recipes a try. My stash of toiletries has dwindled, and it is time to make it on my own.

The recipes were super easy to make. I used two chamomile tea bags in the shampoo recipe, and grated a head-to-toe bar of soap that my friend Ms. Addy made since I didn’t have any soap flakes. To the vinegar rinse “conditioner” I added about five or six drops of Sweet Orange essential oil.

I put the shampoo in a spray bottle as was suggested, but the sprayer gave off such a fine mist it would have taken me forever to saturate my hair, so I unscrewed the lid and poured some over my wet hair. Worked much better, but I ended up wasting a lot too. Plus, some of the solution ran down my face and into my mouth. Bleh!

It was a little different ’cause it didn’t feel like there was really anything on my hair. No lather, or thick creamy-ness to rub in. Nevertheless, I did my best to massage the watery liquid into my hair.

After working the “shampoo” in well and rinsing it out, I followed up with the “conditioner”. I’d poured it into an empty conditioner bottle, so I just squeezed that over my head. Again it ran into my mouth. Note to self: Keep your mouth closed next time! I let that sit for a couple of minutes, then rinsed it out.

Observations: I was very pleased that my hair didn’t smell like vinegar, neither wet nor after it dried. I also noticed that there was hardly any residue on my scalp, unlike normally. And I was very pleased, and a bit surprised, that my hair was actually easily brushable. I have pretty thick, long and wavy hair. Normally I use a lot of conditioner and have a lot of tangles to pick out. I was amazed at how clean my hair felt, and soft.

As an added measure, instead of just picking out my hair like I usually do, I brushed it with a large flat brush for several minutes. I read that when you brush your hair a lot it stimulates your scalp to produce natural oils which are then disbursed over your hair as you continue brushing, making your hair more shiny and less frizzy.

When it dried completely it was a little flat. I’m gonna stick to using a pick instead of a flat brush. I like my hair wavy.

Day 2:

Skip. I normally only wash my hair every two-three days. Otherwise it gets too dried out.

Day 3:

The shampoo had been stored in the fridge, so it was CO-O-OLD pouring over my head!! I kept my mouth closed this time though! It felt like there was still residue on my hair after I rinsed. Maybe ’cause I tried rinsing in cooler water, since I’ve heard that’s better for your hair. (I love HOT HOT HOT water!) The shampoo smelled a little funny to me too; not bad, just different. The smell didn’t stay in my hair though.

The conditioner poured on like water again and I wasted a lot of it. I gotta go buy a good spray bottle. Again, it worked nicely. I had some tangles that didn’t come out so great this time, but a little olive oil worked them out nicely. My scalp is nice and residue-free!

Hoping the chamomile in the shampoo really does lighten my hair up a little, and that a nice shine will be noticeable by the end of a week or so of this regimen.

Day 4:

Skipped

Day 5:

Shampoo felt like it left more residue this time. I’m wondering if the soap flakes are thickening the solution since it’s being refrigerated. Not sure if I rinsed out the conditioner well enough, as I smelled the faintest hint of vinegar for the first time after I dried off. Feeling like I need to jump in and rinse off again better.

Day 6:

Just rinsed my hair today. Still felt a little residue-ish, but brushed out nicely with no additional conditioner.

Day 7:

Skipped

Day 8, Monday:

Before hopping into the shower, I poured my shampoo solution into a glass jar so that I could make sure there wasn’t anything funny growing in there before I dumped it over my head. All was fine. But the smell was noticeably stronger.

Tonight gave the worst results of all. After following the same washing procedures throughout the week, this time when I got out of the shower not only did my hair feel like it had a scummy build-up on it, I could see the soap residue on my hair!

Not good.

Maybe it’s the kind of soap I used in the shampoo recipe. But evidently this recipe is really only good for the first day. After that, the results continued to get poorer.

I’m gonna have to shower again in the morning, and wash my hair well with a traditional shampoo. I might make another batch of the conditioner rinse to use though. That seemed to do really well.

So, my overall conclusion…

Obviously I won’t be making this exact homemade shampoo recipe again. I would like to experiment with others still.

Anybody have any recommendations on which kind of soap flakes I should try using next time?

I do like the vinegar rinse. I’ll probably keep using this one for now.

No, I didn’t get any comments on how shiny my hair looked, like I’d hoped. Probably ’cause the residue problem actually dulled my hair more than anything! Ugh.

What about you? Have you tried any homemade shampoo or conditioners? Have you tried the “no poo” thing? I’d love to hear how you’ve been experimenting as well!

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37 Comments »

  • Lanna said:

    I’d recently tried the baking soda wash and ACV rinse for a few weeks. Same problem – I ended up with more buildup and crud/fuzz getting stuck in my hair than before. So back to the Trader Joe’s shampoo/conditioner every few days (I also skip days – makes my hair/scalp less oily overall).

  • Pam W. said:

    I haven’t tried a homemade shampoo yet. I’ve been sticking to organic ones, though, even though they cost a little more. My hair seems much healthier with it than with the conventional shampoos. I did try using apple cider vinegar for my rinse/conditioner for a couple of weeks. At first, it seemed fine, but by the end of the couple of weeks, my hair (which is coarse, but normally shiny and not lacking in moisture)starting looking and feeling very, very dry. I think whether the vinegar rinse works for you is very dependent on hair type, amount of natural oils, etc. I read online about some people who love it, but it didn’t work for me.

  • anita ross said:

    I have tried the baking soda method and like it. However I only do it once a month now with a vinigar rise. Have you tried using the irovy soap flakes it is a pure soap as well. It may have been something in the homemade soap. Different lard or fat used. The regular shampoo with the tea in it works great. You may want to use lavender oil or something if you are concerned about smell. I just use plain vinigar for my rinse and it works fine. If you find your hair a bit dry at first to a hot oil treatment once a month. Is your hair oily that you have to wash it every second day if not just do every third day. I wouldn’t use the borax one it seems a bit harsh though safe to use. Just twick a bit to your preference.

  • Tiffani said:

    Half the time I use a homemade shampoo bar a friend makes the rest of the time I use Head and Shoulders because of scalp dermatitis. I can’t use the vinegar rinse at all! My hair is coarse and thick. No matter how much I rinse after the vinegar my hair still smells like vinegar.

  • dilli said:

    take the bar soap out of your mix of shampoo and you will get rid of the residue it is leaving in there, use a castile liquid soap if you must use soap in you poo for better results….. only rinse with vinegar rinse every three to four weeks .. personally i would also skip more days in between washes.. what we think of as hygienic here in the states is obsessiveness .. i would also suggest having a trial of more than just a week.. It takes a month or a few before our heads accustom to the new routine and start to get healthier again..

  • Jenn said:

    Kendra, I think you are very brave to even attemp this. I have a thing with my hair (guess it’s vanity) and I would be scared to try this. My grandma swears by the vinegar rinse though. Also, do you color or highlight or hair? Cuz I wonder if the vinegar could have some kind of chemical reaction with the hair color? Not sure, I’m no expert.

  • Caroline said:

    The experience you had is exactly why I don’t use homemade laundry soaps, but use detergent instead. Many people don’t notice the soap residue that is being left on their clothes or damaging the washer until it is too late. Also by machine drying their clothes are replaced pretty regularly. I was amazed again this week at how well my clothes are holding up. I realized that I was using a towel robe I made when I was a teenager over 30 years ago, it isn’t hardly faded or that thin! I haven’t machine dried most things for at least 20 years- especially not underwear with elastic waistbands. It last SO MUCH longer than when I used a dryer!
    I think the most economical hair solution currently is stocking up on coupon/sale stuff. If things go so badly that shampoo is hard to find, you might want to research the “no wash” method for a back-up. I saw a girl in college that did this and there are instructions online. She kept her hair covered basically for weeks, months even. Eventually it adapted or something and looked “normal” even without washing. My DD has been a “no poo” girl for some time, using only a conditioner and water, but she has extremely curly hair. I am not so brave and really like the “feel” of Pantene 2in1. In the winter I try to go as many days as I can, wearing my hair up as it gets oiler. 4 is about my max.
    I read once that diluting shampoo with half water actually makes it work better, as it gets through to your hair quicker. I tried that and it seems to be true. The best way if you can’t the hang of using such a liquidy product is probably a bottle like you use with hair color, where you can squirt out a controlled amount.
    I never used shampoo on my kids unless there was actually food or something in their hair until they were at least 3, maybe even 6. Washing with plain water every day left it clean enough. Same with soap. Children don’t make the protein in sweat that makes a smell, and so realistically there is not much need to wash their bodies with soap unless you are removing actual dirt, like on their hands.

    This is brings up an idea you might want to blog about…some self sufficient lifestyle changes are not always “better”, so perhaps those skills are best learned but then saved for necessity, not incorporated into everyday life. Hand crank grain grinding comes to mind.

  • Wendy said:

    I am a “retired” hairstylist. I’ve tried a few homemade solutions myself but liked my bottle of baking soda and water the best (about 1/4c. bs to 12oz. water). I only used it every other day or so and the natural oil production slowed down and I could go longer without having oily/smelly hair. I used the vinegar too and had similar results – good at first and then residue and tangles. I would have continued with the baking soda but I still color my hair and it does tend to remove the color quicker. Remember that regular shampoos (sodium laurel sulfate, etc. are used to degrease engines) will strip the natural oils from your hair and scalp, but this causes MORE oil production (so you need more shampoo and hence buy more shampoo more often). Baking soda will not strip the oils so it may take a few days/weeks to get your oil production to slow down after having to replace stripped oils for years. If you have medium/long hair always use a pick on wet hair, the brushing is for DRY hair and use a natural boar bristle brush to stimulate the scalp and carry the oils through the strand for shinier healthier hair.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Jenn,

    No, I don’t color or highlight my hair. Nothing. It does seem like it might dull it though. I have no idea, really.

  • Laura D said:

    I tried “no poo” for MONTHS and my hair never adjusted. It’s just too oily for this method to work, but it seems to work well for some people! I know with “no poo” there’s an adjustment period of up to six weeks–at least that’s what I read! So you might have better results if you give your hair time to adjust?

  • liz said:

    Kendra, I have been doing the No Poo method (from Keeper of the home) for about a month now. Pros: Cheap!, my hair dose seam to be cleaner,and it’s non-toxic. Cons: lots of tangles! I have long hair too and have been trying to use the vinegar rinse, but still, lots of tangles. And I guess because of the tangles I am “shedding” hair. I never had a problem with that. Also with this method I have notice my hair looks pretty oily towards the end of the second day I guess my hair is getting used to it? (I also wash my hair every other day.)

    I’m wondering, which vinegar rinse I should be using. I was using apple cider vinegar. Does anyone know if white vinegar would work any better?

  • Megan Jenelle @ A Blossoming Homestead said:

    Thanks for giving us the scoop! I have tried the no poo method before. It worked alright, but the baking soda was a little too strong I think. We had Christmas early with my husband’s family, and his mom bought me some organic shampoo. I tried it with the conditioner I already had, but a few days ago I decided to try an apple cider vinegar/water mix for conditioner. It worked great! I am loving it! Like you, I am still on the hunt for a homemade shampoo that really works great (plus stays on the frugal side as well!)
    Thanks for the post! Merry Christmas!
    ~AFG
    Megan Jenelle

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Liz,

    I was using white vinegar. I wondered the same about whether I should be using the ACV!

  • yvonne said:

    Something I have done which works great with the vinegar rinse solution is to put it in a mustard bottle or something with a similar, small squirt opening.

  • Pam W. said:

    I used the apple cider vinegar–tangly and very, very dry hair after a couple of weeks.

  • Pam M. said:

    I switch back and forth between Trader Joe’s natural tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner and homemade shampoo with a cider vinegar rinse. I actually like the way my homemade shampoo seems to give my hair more body (or weigh it down less) than store bought. I’ve tried “no poo” briefly but never felt like my hair was clean. To make my own shampoo I use about a 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of castile soap and then fill up the rest of my 1 liter bottle with an herbal tea I boiled from my herb patch this summer. I just bottled and froze the extra tea so I can pull it out as needed to make shampoo. I’m sure tea bags would work as well. This last batch I actually added a little baking soda to the bottle as well. I’ve only used it once though, so I can’t really comment on the results. I think the castile soap would work much better for you than the soap flakes.

    I always add a little essential oil to my diluted cider vinegar and that takes care of the smell. My hair tends to tangle badly as well, but the cider vinegar works just fine for me. Hope you find something that works for you!

  • Cheryl said:

    Thanks for trying this and letting everyone know the results.
    I always water down regular shampoo. About 1/3 bottle of shampoo to 2/3 water. Rock back and forth till about blended. The soap will melt into the water after a couple days. I think reg. shampoo is too harsh – so have used watered down version for years (also helps the pocket book!). I believe I get a ton more suds too, with the watered down version.
    I use vinegar and water rinse about once a week. My hair always feels softer. I use ACV.
    Thanks again – for keeping us all informed!!
    Cheryl

  • Mandie said:

    Hey Kendra! I tried no poo for about a week, and kinda liked it. But my hair is super dry and curly, so I also apply olive oil in a spray bottle directly as my conditioner. That’s killed my frizz issue. I can’t put it on my scalp, but I spray it on and rinse a little (to let the hot water melt it over the entire long length). I have to use a flat brush since it’s so easily dredlocked, but if I go a day without washing my hair, it mats. I’ve been using Burt’s Bees shampoo for a while, but only every other washing or so, with the olive oil each time. I can go longer between haircuts, but when it’s time – it’s time. Glad to know it’s more about the cut than it is the conditioner.

  • Kimberly said:

    I’m starting year three with just baking soda and vinegar. I have thick, wavy, long hair. I used a natural soap this week while traveling and can’t wait to really wash it now that I’m home.

  • Lenn said:

    Ok, first off, the baking soda/water paste works best for me and I have long, VERY thick, wavy hair.

    Secondly, did you use the right kind of brush? It HAS to be a natural, boar’s hair bristle brush or else it won’t distribute the oils like it should. I got mine at Sally’s for about $8. Generally I’d rather cut off my own arm than pay that much for a brush, but it was majorly worth it, especially with the money I save on hair products. I brush with it about every other night for about 100 strokes or so. It takes at least that much to brush all of your hair with it.

    Third, you may want to try shampooing less often. I use the baking soda/water paste about once a month and the rest of the time I do nothing at all or just rinse my hair with plain water. This gets very funny looks from friends, but my hair never flakes or stinks or gets too oily. I was shocked since I was a religious once-a-day hair washer with expensive brands. Now my hair is healthy, shiny, and grows noticeably faster. Please don’t let this one bad experience stop you from trying more options…I tried 3 or 4 different things before I found what worked for me.

  • Renae said:

    I have just started trying homemade hair products. This past week I have washed my hair (long, wavy/frizzy, easily tangled) with a cup of water with 2 T baking soda. It was… odd. Didn’t feel like it was doing anything – no suds, etc. And, yeah, I got it in my mouth, too! After rinsing I sprayed a half and half mixture of water and ACV onto my hair. I didn’t like the smell in the shower, but it rinsed away and didn’t smell like that anymore. I also then used a SMALL amount of coconut oil on the middle and ends of my hair (not scalp). All in all, my hair was okay. The coconut oil had a nice light fragrance. It feels good, and I only washed my hair twice this week because it seems to not get as oily! Now if I could just figure out something to use to help boost the waves into curls. I had been using a spray in product from the store that helped make really nice curls, but as I’m trying to get away from all that, I don’t know what to try. Any ideas??

  • Debi said:

    I’ve been doing the ‘no poo’ method for almost 3 years now. I love it. I did make some adjustments though. I use only about 1 tsp of baking soda to 1c water. I hold the end of my hair out of the way and pour it all onto my scalp. I let my hair down and massage in. Rinse. Then I mix up just regular white vinegar about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp to 1c water in a squirt bottle and use maybe a tablespoon at a time on only the lower half of my hair. Rinse. This seems to be the balance than works best with my hair. I wash it about 2x a week. I let my hair air dry before I brush it, I like the texture of my hair better when I do that and it doesn’t seem to knot up as much.

    I know I’m late in my comments but it’s working really well for us after I tweaked it.

    Oh and I have to kinda re-tweak after having a baby. It also seems to be helping my daughters eczema (?) on her scalp.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Thanks for your tips Debi!

  • Brooke J. said:

    I make a homemade shampoo and I love it, I buy a conditioner (burts bee) because the ACV rinse made my hair look greasy, and I have to shampoo daily, but by using a purchased conditioner I can go a few days.

    Shampoo

    1/4 c water
    1/4 c liquid soap (I use dr bronners castile)
    1/2 t light veg oil (I use olive oil)

    I keep it in a condiment squeeze bottle. A little goes a long way and it bubbles up very nicely.

    I also added a few drops of peppermint and tea tree EOs. That small amount lasts me a good amount of time at least a month, I have shoulder length hair. It is thinner than store shampoo, but it works very well for me.

  • Niki said:

    Have you looking into a cleansing conditioner instead? I tried the no-poo a couple years ago and it really didn’t work for me…my hair was way to sticky and greasy (and I did it for a whole summer). Then I tried a homemade shampoo like you listed and I had the same problems… dry, frizzy and lots of residue (used Dr Bronner’s liquid castile). Now I’ve switched to a cleasing conditioner and I LOVE IT! I still do an ACV rinse about once a week (love that too) use a boar’s brush about 2x a week. Adding ACV to a bath is really nice too… softens your skin like nothing else. Personally, I don’t mind the smell but I guess some people might.

    For the person who mention hair loss… that’s actually normal. We lose about 100 hairs a day. If you’re not washing everday, some of those hairs won’t fall out completely until you do. So if you wash everyday, you lose a hundred. If you was every other day, you might see 200… etc. For me, I’m on a once a week regimen so, yeah, there’s a lot of hair in the tub when I’m done. But my hair isn’t any thinner than it was when washed everyday.

  • Jessica Rigsby said:

    another thing I would like to suggest is using a glass olive oil dispenser for your shampoo and conditioner…..http://www.amazon.com/Glass-Vinegar-Dispenser-Cruet-bottles/dp/B002PXB4SC/ref=sr_1_10?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1316019370&sr=1-10

    also i have been making the change to no-poo methods as well and i have enjoyed it. yes there is an adjustment period and the same recipe won’t work for everyone but just adjust it. another perk to using a acv rinse is no lice for the kiddos!! :)

    here is the recipe i use method # 2
    http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?p=365

  • Peggy said:

    Does castile work good in well water? Our water leaves a white residue when boiled. I also have fragile hair because of thyroid. If someone can help me get my heathy hair back I would be happy.

  • Amy @ Heritage Homamaker said:

    I like to use my own homemade soap to wash my hair and ACV as my rinse. You can find my soap recipe on my blog. Here’s the link:
    http://heritagehomemaker.blogspot.com/2010/11/ugly-as.html

  • Renda said:

    I have been experimenting with homemade shampoos and conditioners for about two months now. I started with just liquid castile soap, but It left my hair too oily feeling. I tryed just the ACV and water rinse and it really didnt work for me. I did a lot of research on the web and found many many recipes. It left my hair sticky and dry feeling. I tried adapting what I was using and finally found one that works well. I have found an homemade herbal shampoo and conditioning rinse. I will be experimenting with more herbs when I get them for now this seems to work well. I am also working with adding cornstarch and oatmeal flour to the mixture to thicken it just a wee bit to make it easier to pour in my hand to put on my head without wasting alot.
    What I use is an ifusion of 2 tbs Chamomile flower (because it is a good herb for blonde hair and good for hair), 2 tbs Rosemary, and 2 tbs lavender. I add 2-4 tbs liquid castile soap. 1 tbs aloe gel.
    I then use a leave in rinse of an ifusion of 2 tbs Rosemary, 2 tbs Chamomile, 2 tbs lavender, and throw in 2 tbs Rose petals. Then add 1-2 tbs lemon juice or ACV…This seems to work pretty well with my hair…it is really a matter of experimenting with what works well with your hair and your hair type. Hope this helps… Just research herbal shampoos and conditioner and you will find what herbs will work best for your hair…

  • Renda said:

    Oh, and to the shampoo I add 1-2 tbs of light oil, I have been using coconut oil, I would like to try jojoba oil when I get my hands on some…

  • Reinette said:

    I haven’t read all the comments above so forgive me if I repeat something already mentioned. I have very thin, oily hair and even with good (i.e. expensive…) shampoo my hair is flat and greasy by the afternoon. Then I tried the baking soda and water recipe and it works and absolute treat as my hair seems thicker and stays grease free for the entire day. I add in a few drops of essential oil and currently my hair smells of oranges, yum. But here’s the reasing for this posting – I mix a teaspoon of Xanthum gum with some warm water and then add the paste to my shampoo (500ml / 1 pint) and give it a very good shake. By the next day it has thickened nicely and is almost the consistency of ‘normal’ shampoo so I don’t end up with it in my mouth like Kendra :) Don’t add too much gum though, as it will make the shampoo feel slimy. I’ve read somewhere that a bit of cornstarch with also thicken it, but I haven’t tried this method. I imagine I would have to make the shampoo with warm water then for the cornstarch to work properly.
    By the way, I keep my shampoo is a sports drinks bottle – the type with the drinking spout as it’s so easy to squirt the liquid directly onto my hair. I’m a keen cyclist so I get these bottles in goodie bags all the time and I have dozens of them.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Reinette,

    Great tips!! I especially love the idea of using a sports drink bottle. Genius! :)

  • Patricia said:

    I started using Apple cider vinegar with mother a while ago. I actually bathe in it at night a couple nights per week. I tilt my head back into the water to drench my hair. I then soak for about 20 minutes. My skin is clearer than it has ever been. My hair is healthy and full. I just brush my hair while it is wet with the vinegar water to scrub my scalp and use a wash cloth for my body. When I am finished,I shower to rinse. Apple cider vinegar with mother acts like a healing agent for skin. I have psoriasis of the scalp, and I suffer less

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Thanks for telling us about the vinegar with the mother, Patricia. I didn’t realize how good the ‘mother’ was for your skin.

  • kellycupcake said:

    I put two pumps of castile soap in with my baking soda/water shampoo now a days. only since summer started and pool chemicals/sunblock are a daily thing. I put a bunch of lemon peels in my vinegar/water jar. let it sit for a week and you get a punch of citrus that really kills the vinegar smell.

  • Michelle said:

    I make my own shampoo bars. The oils used make a wonderful lather. I only need to wash my hair about every three days. It works for my husbands thin oily hair and for my thick wavy hair…and I color too. I use coconut oil for my conditioner after I shower. I’ve been doing this for about a year and couldn’t be happier with the results.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    You wouldn’t be willing to share your recipe, would you Michelle? It sounds lovely :)

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