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My Supernatural Hair Care Routine

Have you found a hair routine that's non-toxic and effective? Once you begin to overhaul your body care items in search for more natural alternatives, it seems that shampoo and conditioner is the last to go.

Be Your Own Healer

Once you begin to overhaul your body care items in search for more natural alternatives, it seems that shampoo and conditioner is the last to go.

It’s hard to find a hair care routine that is nontoxic AND effective.

 
When I started on my “no-poo” journey, I did countless hours of research in search for the best, most beneficial ingredients to use on my hair. I of course first looked at my local health food stores to check out their hair care options, but I was not impressed with the ingredient panels and knew that the DIY route would be a better option for me if I wanted to keep it as pure as possible. The problem with most shampoos is that they have some sort of soap or detergent (sodium lauryl sulfate being one of the worst offenders) that actually irritate the skin as well as strip our scalp of its natural oils which causes dryness, itchiness, and dandruff. Other than the sulfates, shampoos and conditioners also generally have some sort of chemical preservative such as parabens, as well as toxic fragrances amongst many other questionable ingredients (you can find more details on why these specific ingredients are so harmful in our Top 5 Nasties to Avoid in Personal Care Products post).
 
So, from my research it seemed that most DIYers were really into using baking soda as their shampoo. Baking soda is devoid of any nutrients, it is simply the compound sodium bicarbonate. This didn’t seem like a great option to me due to the high alkalinity of baking soda, having a pH of 9. The skin’s sebum has a protective layer called the acid mantle, this acid mantle (as you would expect) is slightly acidic, with a pH of about 5.
 
Many recipes online include using paste made of baking soda and water as the shampoo, and following up with an apple cider vinegar (with a pH of around 3) rinse for the conditioner. This seems even more counterintuitive because you are putting something on your scalp with an extremely alkaline pH, and then immediately following that up with an ingredient that is super acidic. This can cause stress and damage on the hair when used for a prolonged period of time; it may cause your hair to feel clean at first, but will most likely cause harm when used long-term.
 

After more research, I learned about an ingredient that seemed very promising: light rye flour


 

Rye flour has a pH of 5.5, which matches our skins sebum almost perfectly. It also is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), which is actually the specific vitamin that a well-known company puts in their Pro-V” formulas. This compound is promoted as making their hair care products effective (they call it the “Legendary Pro-Vitamin B5”), except theirs is the synthetic kind.

 

Pantothenic acid is great for strengthening the hair follicles and improving blood flow to the scalp, it also increases hair growth and helps with thinning hair/bald spots.

 

Rye flour is a gentle way to wash the hair that will cleanse the scalp without the danger of stripping away any natural oils like baking soda might do. Apple cider vinegar (must be diluted!) is a great conditioner because it helps to constrict the hair follicles, sealing in the moisture so they don’t dry out. It has also been shown to reduce dandruff because of its anti-bacterial properties, help with tangles and frizz, increase shine and volume, and is even able to unclog congestion and residue built up on the scalp (basically reversing the damage from using conventional shampoo and conditioner).

 

Now for the fun stuff! Here’s what I actually landed on for my optimal hair washing routine:

Shampoo: 2 Tbs of unbleached light rye flour + 2 Tbs of filtered water stirred together to make a paste. These amounts are flexible and dependent on how much hair you have/how thick you want the paste, don’t be afraid to play around with the ratios and find what works best for you! I get my rye flour from Bob’s Red Mill. The LIGHT part is very important, dark rye flour is course and gritty and will not be fun trying to wash out of your hair. I take the paste and start massaging it into my scalp, then pull it through the rest of my hair. Then, I leave this in for a couple minutes and rinse very thoroughly to make sure to get all the flour out.

**Warning: this is NOT viable option for people with celiac disease because rye flour contains gluten.

Alternative option: If you have a sensitivity or allergy to rye flour or if you are finding that this recipe is not moisturizing enough, raw honey in warm water is another great shampoo choice. Take 2 Tbs of raw honey and dissolve in a cup of warm water, can also use warm tea as the liquid (just has to be hot enough to melt the honey). Honey really boosts the humectant properties of this shampoo, making your hair shiny and soft. Raw honey is also extremely antibacterial and therefore very cleansing for the scalp.

no poo method

Conditioner: 1 Tbs of apple cider vinegar + 1 cup of filtered water, mixed in a cup or a glass spray bottle (glass is important here because the vinegar is acidic and will eat through plastic containers causing contamination). I then just pour that mixture onto my scalp and hair after I wash with the rye flour paste. You can also get creative with this mixture by adding different herbs for added benefit depending on hair type. For blonde hair, I recommend adding some lemon juice and chamomile tea, both of which are great for bringing out natural highlights. If you have darker colored hair, then you can mix the ACV with black tea or a rosemary leaf infusion to bring out any natural darker tones. Red heads would do well with rooibos or hibiscus tea, and sage leaf tea is a great option for anyone wanting to darken grey hair. Any hair type would benefit from nettle leaf tea, which controls dandruff and also has tons of minerals such as silica which strengthen the hair and promote growth. Another way to boost this recipe would be to add a couple drops of essential oils, hint: rosemary is amazing for hair growth and smells amazing too (with added cognitive benefits)!


I hope that you found these pure and simple recipes for DIY hair care helpful. Please let me know in the comments below if you try any of these ideas out and what your experience is!


About the Author

Ariel Welch is a passionate herbalist and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. She studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she received her BS in Neuroscience and BA in Psychology, then at the Nutritional Therapy Association where she became a certified NTP. Through her own wellness journey, she has found power in using food as medicine as well as the magic of plants and nature. She works to educate and empower people to take charge of their health and heal themselves using holistic lifestyle interventions.

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