Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cleaning Your Hair Without Shampoo and Conditioner

I have discovered a great way to wash my hair without purchased shampoos and conditioners.

Initially, you may want to know WHY would anyone want to wash their hair without the beautiful scented and lathery wonder found in bottled shampoo?  For me, it was simple.... One day, as a teenager, I ran out of1a shampoo and conditioner.  Living far from town and not having a vehicle available at the time, I didn't have the option of purchasing more.  And since I was young and in school, I felt it was EXTREMELY necessary to wash my hair EVERY day.  I couldn't possibly see my friends without my morning shower, teethbrushing, make up, etc.

So my grandmother suggested an 'old timey' method.  Washing the hair with an egg, and rinsing with apple cider vinegar.  My first attempt at this worked well.  The egg lathered nicely actually.  The apple cider vinegar did enable me to get a comb through my hair.  My friends said they could not smell the vinegar at all (though I could).  So for the most part I was satisfied.  But I still preferred and stuck to my store bought shampoos and conditioners.  And made sure I was stocked in these 'necessary' items.

Now many years have passed.  I still have long hair, that neeeeeeeds to be washed.  However with my children, planting, animals, dishes, laundry, etc..... I don't get to shower every day.

With my usual choices of shampoo and conditioner, I felt the NEED to wash my hair usually every 3 or 4 days.  At this point, it was starting to look greasy, matted together on my head.  And... if I had not rigorously brushed it a few times a day..... I was building up a good rats nest at the nape of my neck.  My hair LOVES to get tied in knots apparently.  So I would wash with ample quantities of shampoo and conditioner and then take a brush to breakdown that knotted mess.

Lately however, I have been learning more about store bought soaps.  I have recently learned that many contain chemicals that are known to cause allergic reactions, build up on the scalp, and even contain cancer causing ingredients.  Information can be found on the danger of parabens, aluminum and even lead in many cleaning, health and cosmetic supplies that we use everyday.

I kind of threw up my hands for a while with this information.  What could I do?  I have to CLEAN myself!  I can't go around smelling and looking like a 'dirty hippy'.

But then I found an article that directly addressed psoriasis sufferers and the buildup of shampoo on the scalp making it worse.  I personally have psoriasis and the scalp area is difficult to maintain because of this exact issue.  Too much scrubbing or too harsh of cleansers make it worse.  Not enough scrubbing ot too much buildup make it worse.  I have in the past limited the length of my hair for this very reason.

It recommended cleaning the hair with plain baking soda, made into a paste with water and scrubbed into the scalp.

Rinse with water.

Then rinse the hair and scalp with apple cider vinegar.

Finish by rinsing thoroughly with water.

Even with the 'success' from my teenaged experiment, I was skeptical that it would work, let alone make a significant difference in the health and brush-ability of my hair.  But once again.... I ran out of shampoo and conditioner and it would be several days before I could get to the store.

So I tried it.

I grabbed a box of baking soda and filled a pint jar with apple cider vinegar and went to take my shower.  I poured maybe half a cup of baking soda into my hand and mixed in some water to make a paste.  I then scrubbed it onto my scalp.  I got more baking soda if I felt I missed a spot.  Then I rinsed it clean.

Then with my head back, one hand holding my hair into a clump at the back of my neck I slowly poured out the apple cider vinegar over my hair.  (NOTE!  The apple cider vinegar will not be as warm as your shower and will be quite chilly!  It will also sting if you have ANY little cuts on your body.  You will, however, survive this somewhat harsh treatment.)  INSTANTLY, my hair fell through my hands SMOOTH and SILKY feeling.  The knots literally melted away.

I rinsed thoroughly with water to avoid the smell of vinegar on me.

When my hair dried it appeared and felt QUITE clean.  I was very happy.

After this I was EXTREMELY busy with planting and shoveling up truckloads of manure and putting in a fence for my chickens.  Some seasons around here I just have TOOOOOO much to do!  Because of this, I am embarrassed to admit, I did not have time to wash my hair for 8 days.  In fact I jumped in the shower one morning to do the bare minimum cleaning and jumped out in under 2 mins because there was NO HOT WATER!!!

My hair still looked great!  It didn't get that greasy buildup at the scalp.  It even remained easier to brush than before.

I now use this method to wash my hair always.  I am incredibly happy with it and highly recommend you try it!


  1. I found your blog through the MB website and have been enjoying it. Believe me, I understand about those nape knots. I worked through several just this morning. I've been using the baking soda/vinegar routine for a while and I, too, find it amazing how the vinegar instantly makes my long hair feel silky. And, don't feel bad about not showering and washing hair twice a day like the world tells us we should. We live a similar lifestyle and those kind of adaptations are just part of the deal and really not a bad thing.

  2. Thank you!
    I am really enjoying learning the 'homesteading' life. I have SOOOOO much to learn though. MB is such a great resource. I still feel like a newby.

    1. Well, we've been at it about 20 years and I learn something every day. :)