Monday, February 8, 2016

Natural Un-Shampoo Quest

Two years ago to the day I posted about the natural swaps I was making for skin/body care.  One of the items I mentioned was using baking soda and vinegar to wash my hair.  In a more recent update post I mentioned that I was not using that method anymore, but I thought it might be interesting (and potentially helpful for anyone who stumbles across this blog in a google search) to provide a full run-down of all the different un-shampoo methods I tried before settling on my current (consistent) method.

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar
This method is most widely referred to as "no-poo" though that term can really refer to any non-conventional shampoo hair washing.  It's the one that started me on the path, but after a couple months my hair was feeling pretty dry and some quick research explained that the BSV method is actually pretty damaging to the scalp because you change the pH so drastically. At this point I researched some other methods and tried the next one people were raving about...

2. Rye Flour
Yup, it sounds pretty weird.  But rye flour is really low gluten and did feel really nourishing to my scalp.  Surprisingly it cleaned pretty well and made my hair feel really soft.  However it wasn't 100% consistent as it didn't work in hard water which could pose issues when traveling, and sometimes was hard to wash out (kind of gross finding a strand of hair coated in dried dough later in the day).  So, on to the next...

3.  Morrocco Method
In my never-ending research for a consistent hair washing method, I stumbled across tons of rave reviews for these products.  They are apparently all natural and the internet had nothing but good things to say about them, so I not very smartly splurged on the full line of products.  After several months of using them, hoping I was still in a "transition period", I gave up with tons of product left. These "shampoos" did not clean my hair well at all - it was visibly greasy and I could smell the sebum on my scalp.  I felt gross.  However ordering this full line of products was not a complete loss, because one of the items that shipped with it was called Zen Detox - essentially just some bentonite clay, for which I followed the directions and put it on my scalp and then washed it out.  And it cleaned BEAUTIFULLY.

To note about MM products before I move on, I will never put them on my scalp again but they work okay as a conditioner for my ends, and also work pretty well as a body wash that doesn't strip all the oils off my skin.  So I can for sure use them but just not in the way they were intended.  There were two products in the line that I did really like, the Blood of the Dragon styling gel and the Pearl Essence Creme Rinse.  Otherwise personally I do NOT recommend the shampoos for a person with fine but thick curly (Caucasian) hair.

4.  Bentonite Clay
I figured I had finally found the holy grail of natural shampoo.  During all of my research though I knew that bentonite clay had a similar pH to baking soda BUT it is supposed to be mixed with vinegar prior to skin application to neutralize it.  This was something that couldn't be done with the BSV method because neutralizing it before washing hair made it ineffective, but the clay still cleaned very well after neutralizing.  Overall though after a while it still felt kind of harsh on my scalp, and I continued to research clays for skincare.

5.  Rhassoul Clay
This is it folks, the real deal.  The internet recommended rhassoul clay as the best clay for skin and haircare, and I found it for pretty cheap on a soap making website and tried it out.  After a bit of recipe tweaking, what seems to work really well is about 2 tbsp of rhassoul clay mixed with some apple cider vinegar, aloe, and glycerin, with some tea tree and other essential oils added, to create a thin paste.  This cleans incredibly well and does not appear to dry out my scalp.  A++++, would highly recommend.  The "shampoo" takes about 30 seconds to mix up and at most I have to use it once a week, depending on outside humidity (in summer I can go 2-3 weeks, winter about 10 days, before my scalp starts feeling greasy), just rinsing with water in between.  I have been using a variation of this recipe, with rhassoul clay as the main ingredient, for almost a full year and it's proven to be far more consistent than any of the other methods - something easy to stick with that doesn't frustrate me after a few weeks.  I wondered for a long time whether I would actually find something that worked or if I'd be forced to go back to conventional shampoo, but this seems like it will be a keeper for life.

On this note I stumbled across the product line Naturalicious yesterday and noticed that their shampoo is made with rhassoul clay as the main cleansing ingredient too (and happens to have a pretty similar ingredient list as the stuff I make myself - so I must be doing something right!).

6. Epilogue - DevaCurl
I learned about DevaCurl products, which really seem to be gaining in popularity, a while ago when getting my hair cut by a DevaCut certified stylist (it is definitely the way to go if you have curly hair and have suffered from bad haircuts your entire life).  When I get my hair cut the stylist washes my hair with these products and my hair does come out insanely curly.  My sisters have been using the DevaCurl products for a while and I bought a set of the products for one of them for Christmas, for which the package got lost and didn't show up until after Christmas when I'd already bought her a replacement set from Chatters.  I decided to use it up myself but after about 2-3 washes I noticed my scalp flaking pretty badly so I went back to the clay.  I am not sure why DevaCurl No Poo made my scalp dry as it appears to be a really moisturizing product, but it didn't work for me consistently.  The gel and the conditioner work really well though, but as far as washing my actual scalp I am sticking with my rhassoul clay.

Overall this natural shampoo journey has been at times extremely frustrating as it took me well over a year to find a method that worked consistently, but I'm glad I stuck with it!  My hair is so much healthier and easier to take care of than it was when I used conventional shampoo and I don't plan on ever going back.

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