For about a year, I did not use commercial shampoo or conditioner. It shocked some of my friends and family members when I learned how to make homemade shampoo. Many had questions or thought it would make hair unclean. It actually had the opposite effect. My hair remained healthy, I saved money and reduced chemical use in my home.
My hair looked no different while I used chemical free shampoo. Today I have my experience, results and homemade shampoo recipe to share. I became interested in the “no poo” or “no shampoo” movement after evaluating beauty products I use on a daily basis. As part of my efforts to live green, I eliminated, one by one, store-bought products in exchange for organic hair products.
How to Make Homemade Shampoo
What Was I Using Before?
Prior to making and using my own shampoo without chemicals and organic conditioner, I had been using Paul Mitchell products. I had selected these products not because they were green, but because they were “the best.” The brand name denoted high-quality to me as a consumer.
I first had to finish up what was left of my current hair products, as I hate letting anything go to waste if I can avoid it. In the fall of that year I began researching recipes online on how to make homemade shampoo and the best organic conditioner. I began my official no shampoo movement in late October.
When I created my homemade shampoo and conditioner in October I actually used it for close to a year after without ever changing the formula or amounts. I first blogged about it the following January. However, I did decide to adjust how often I would shampoo during that time.
How to Make Homemade Shampoo
First I want to share the ingredients I used in the homemade shampoo and all natural conditioner and how I made it. Then I will go into more detail on how I used the shampoo, how often, how my hair felt and more.
I found when I started using no shampoo many people were asking me questions along those lines – rather than about how to make the recipe – as the recipes is very simple.
Ingredients you will need:
- Baking Soda
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Tea Tree Oil
- Small Air-tight Container
- Leak-Proof Bottle
- Shampoo Brush (optional)
- Mix baking soda and water in a bowl to form a paste.
- Add several drops of tea tree oil.
- Stir the mixture to blend completely.
- Store in an air tight container. (I used a Rubbermaid storage container.)
- Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar with water.
- Store in a squeeze bottle. (I used a no-leak hair color applicator bottle.)
Tip for Success
- Purchase and use a shampoo brush when applying the baking soda mix for the best results.
How Does the Process Work?
Start by rinsing the hair with water. Then use your fingers to apply the baking soda paste (or non toxic shampoo) into all areas of the scalp. Then use the shampoo brush to gently massage your entire head. I know some people just use their fingers or nails but I really like the impact of the shampoo brush.
It also helps break loose any sebum, dry skin or debris that might be on your scalp. Then rinse with water. Next, apply the conditioner by squeezing a bit of the vinegar mixture throughout the scalp using the no-leak bottle.
Use your hands to gently massage the liquid in and distribute the liquid throughout the ends of the hair.
Please Note: Try tipping your head back during the conditioner process, as to be careful not to get the vinegar in your eyes. Then let vinegar solution soak your head while you shower or shave. At the end of the shower, rinse the vinegar solution out. Comb, brush and style hair as usual.
What Are the Results?
Initially I had to get used to the new routine but eventually it became super simple and didn’t take up more time than normal shampoo and conditioner would. I would make up a batch of product maybe once every three to four weeks.
The containers I used were small, but large enough to hold several applications. I would store them in the shower like I would bottled shampoo and conditioner. The first week using the non chemical shampoo was probably the hardest.
I don’t have super greasy hair as some do, but I did have some flaking on my scalp. From what I have read commercial shampoo strips all of the natural oils from the scalp, leading to an over-production of oil. The natural shampoo method allows the scalp to adjust to a more normal state, but takes time to adjust.
Any Bad Side Effects?
The flaking wasn’t a nightmare. It didn’t prevent me from going to work or going out in public. Like I said at the beginning of the post – nobody has noticed a difference in the appearance of my hair.
Initially, the vinegar rinse made my hair feel extra springy. It had bounce. Following regular use I didn’t notice as much bounce longterm. Some people wonder if the “feeling” of sudsy shampoo is missed when using the “no poo” method. I honestly did not miss it. Maybe a little bit the first week but after that I didn’t mind.
I felt better knowing what I’m using on my head, instead of some product full of 30 chemicals I can’t pronounce. Also, my hair stylist had no qualms with my “no poo” movement and actually said she cuts her brother’s hair which is equally healthy – and he only uses water to “shampoo.”
My Hair Type & How Often I Shampoo
My hair type as mostly normal, sometimes dry and sometimes greasy, mostly depending on the season and if I worked out that day. I have long, thick hair. I used the homemade shampoo and conditioner two to three times per week.
On the other days I would rinse my hair with warm water. This process worked well for me and allowed my hair a few days to produce more natural oils again before washing. During those in between days I was more likely to wear my hair up but it’s not totally necessary. I still flat iron my hair periodically and curl my hair.
How to Make Homemade Shampoo
I made the homemade shampoo and conditioner in October 2013 and continued using it for about a year thereafter. What made me stop?
I can’t pinpoint any solid reason. It’s been a few years now but at the time I was growing my hair out even longer and even with the shampoo brush it was increasingly difficult to “manage.” I think “no poo” would work much easier on short hair. I also became tired of making the concoction (got lazy).
The next year I had a baby and I have not used homemade shampoo since, although I found nothing substantially wrong with it. I have not moved back to Paul Mitchell products, however, I am looking to try the Tea Tree Oil Shampoo and Conditioner from Trader Joe’s next.
One thing I did learn from the “no poo” movement was I didn’t need to wash my hair every day. Today I continue to wash my hair usually twice a week.
Do you have any questions about making homemade shampoo?
*This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.