I was never a girl that could go days without washing her hair. A lifelong athlete, I grew up having to wash my hair once and sometimes even twice daily. I was convinced I had greasy, oily hair and bought shampoos to help combat it. I believed that the more I washed my hair, the more I would be able to subdue the unbearable oiliness. However, I later learned I was totally wrong in my assumptions.
What I was actually doing was stripping my hair of oil every time I washed it with clarifying shampoo. In return, my scalp was overproducing oil, so the daily washing of my hair was actually contributing to its high level of oiliness.
This shampoo recipe took a long time to develop. I knew I would have to formulate my own as soon as I discovered that the “organic” clarifying shampoo sold at my commissary in Germany was actually highly toxic.
If you’ve ever lived in Germany you know the water can wreak havoc on your skin and hair. The water’s high mineral content makes it very hard, resulting in a drying effect. Despite how many times or how many clarifying shampoos you use, both your skin and hair never feel quite “clean.”
So, combine the hard water and the greasiness of my hair and the result was an absolute mess. My hair was oily at the roots and felt like straw near the tips. Something had to change.
I had researched how switching to washing your hair with baking soda could help regulate the amount of oil your scalp produced by removing the years of product build-up. I had made all natural shampoos in my kitchen, but I still felt as if they left my hair feeling terrible. I was desperate for anything at this point, so I took the leap and tried out baking soda shampoo .
Many people are wary of switching to washing their hair with baking soda because of the adjustment period for your scalp, which could last anywhere from two weeks to two months. This timeframe is when your scalp is still producing oil at the high level from your conventional shampoo days, so your hair seems even greasier than normal.
However, when I decided to go shampoo-free my husband was deployed and I didn’t have a job, so I just sucked up the adjustment period and had greasy hair for about a month. It was pretty gross at first, but the results have been great.
I had to experiment with the amount of baking soda. Too much and my hair would have terrible dandruff. Too little and my hair would feel gross. And baking soda recipes off the internet wouldn’t cut it because they were all optimized for soft water.
So after a lot of trial and error, I formulated this recipe. I now can go four days without washing my hair before it gets funky, even with my daily trips to the gym. The costs for both of these recipes are negligible.
Baking Soda Shampoo
- 2 cups water
- 2 tsps baking soda
- 1-3 drops peppermint essential oil
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a rolling boil. Once water is boiling, slowly add the baking soda, stirring constantly until the baking soda is dissolved. Remove from heat once the baking soda has completely dissolved. Let sit until water is at room temperature.
They key is that you want the water to have a slippery, almost slimy, feeling. This is what works with hard water. Once cooled, pour mix into a squeeze bottle (I used an old shampoo bottle). Add 1-3 drops of peppermint essential oil and shake before each use.
When showering I like to apply this shampoo to dry hair to ensure I’ve washed all my hair. I then let it sit for a minute or two while I shave. Then I wash it out. It’s a process at first, but it doesn’t take any longer than it did with my conventional shampoo.
After my shower I spray in conditioning spray that helps detangle and soften my hair before I dry it.
Apple Mint Conditioner Spray
- 2 cups water
- 2 caps-full of apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil
Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle (I found mine at the PX). Shake and then spray on wet hair before combing and drying.
My hair has finally been freed from its oily curse and it’s never felt softer or more manageable. While it was a process up front, the result has been mind-blowing as well as a money and time saver. Also, I know no matter where we are stationed in the future, I can get my hands on these simple ingredients.
Have you tried the no-shampoo route for hair care? If so, what were your results? If not, would you ever consider trying it?
* Learn from my mistakes. If you go to a stylist, always mention that you use baking soda shampoo before having them wash or apply product to your hair. If they fail to use a gentle shampoo, your hard work of getting your hair product-free will be lost and you’ll have to start from scratch, oily adjustment period included.