Yes. That’s a bottle of homemade shampoo shining like a beacon in my windowsill. It’s only special because it took me so long to find the right recipe.
Little by little I’m trying to replace all of my health, beauty and cleaning products with things I make using only natural ingredients. After I successfully made deodorant and a few different hand and lip balms, shampoo seemed as though it should be next on the list. And it seemed like it would be easy to find something that worked. But it wasn’t. Not at all.
First I tried baking soda to clean my hair and apple cider vinegar as a conditioner. This method works wonders for lots and lots of people, but not for me. I tried the baking soda as a paste on my hair. I tried it diluted in water and poured on my head. I tried it with apple cider vinegar and without. All I ended up with was a flaky scalp and greasy hair.
In the midst of experimenting with the baking soda method I went to the hairdresser for a cut. When I arrived I reluctantly took my hair out of my pony tail and explained I’d been trying something new with my hair but it hadn’t been working very well. She didn’t judge me at all, but suggested I at least use some Dr. Bronner’s once a week to make sure I was actually cleaning my hair (I took this as a gentle way of letting me know my hair wasn’t clean). So when I left the hairdresser I tried Dr. Bronner’s, but it might have been even worse than the baking soda and apple cider vinegar combo. In fact, my hair was the perfect texture for dreads. And even my always supportive and encouraging husband touched my hair one night and suggested that maybe, just maybe, I should try something new.
And so I did. It’s so nice to not be dirty anymore. Seriously, there was about a month during which my hair was in no way acceptable in polite society. But now I can exit the house without a hat or scarf on my head. I can even get close to people. These are luxuries I now realize. It’s pretty great to have them back.
This shampoo is based on the amazing resource found here at The Modern Herbal. It provides a grid of ingredients, what each does, and provides suggested herbs and oils for different hair colors and types. (ETA: The Modern Herbal site is no longer and I can’t find a replacement for this great resource. However, The Nerdy Farm Wife has a helpful base shampoo recipe that you might find useful until I can find a better resource). I have normal dark hair and so I created the recipe below following the framework provided by The Modern Herbal.
- 1 cup distilled water
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary (to soften and enhance dark hair)
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender (to soften)
- 1/3 cup almond Dr. Bronner’s castile soap
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet almond oil (to moisturize)
- 25 drops rosemary essential oil (to enhance dark hair)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable glycerin (to moisturize)
1. Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the herbs. Cover and let infuse 20 minutes.
2. Strain herbs from water, then let the water cool. When cool add all other ingredients to the infused water. Transfer to a container.
3. Use as often as you would traditional shampoo.
This recipe makes about 8 ounces. I placed mine in a travel container. My only suggestion for this shampoo is to store in plastic. Through trial and error I learned that glass bottles, while preferable, keep liquids in the shower very cold and very cold liquids on the head are not ideal first thing in the morning. Also, the lather of this shampoo is not such that you can place the shampoo in your hands and work it through your hair. It requires you to dot the shampoo along your scalp in various places, then work through your hair, rinsing normally.
It might be that I was filthy for so so long that I forgot how special being clean was, but I’m really thrilled with my hair these days. It feels good, looks good and smells good. And my husband no longer recoils at the sight of my head. All good things.