Lockdown was the push I needed to research how to make homemade shampoo, and swap to a natural only eco hair routine, and this is what my regime looks like after two months.

Sustainable living has always been something I aspired to. However, despite my best intentions, the lure of cheap hair masks and high street shampoo brands was still too convenient. 

Then lockdown struck, and I suddenly became unable to justify the products I had become reliant on as essential items worthy of a trip to my local Boots, I had found my ‘Why’.

So between baking banana bread and zoom calls, I started researching sustainable alternatives and discovered a world of natural remedies including some homemade shampoo recipes.

Why make the change to homemade shampoo?

By making some simple changes, it is not only kinder to my body, saving money and the planet, but my hair looks better than ever- win, win. 

I now regularly create hair products by using different combinations of some staple eco-friendly ingredients. You may even already have them in your cupboards. The results will match any products that you will find on the High Street.

The homemade products also come without the guilt of buying another plastic bottle (keep reading for recipes!).

Yes, there may be some level of financial investment if you don’t have everything already. Still, if you do the research, you can find products to suit any budget, and it will save you money in the long run.

I made an effort to ensure I was buying sustainable, cruelty-free and vegan products and still found everything I needed without breaking the bank. 

The ‘no-poo’ journey

The first transition I chose to make was to go “no-poo” which means giving up commercial hair products in exchange for natural equivalents.

I have very fine, frizz and grease prone, bleached hair, so was sceptical that anything but standard shampoo would cut it. But, armed with baking powder, apple cider vinegar and some pure Argon Oil, I began the transition.

There is a warning in any no-poo transition guide that you are going to need to prepare yourself for some extreme greasy hair days. Luckily, lockdown brought the trusty headband back into fashion, and who is looking at anyone but themselves on Zoom anyway?

When I started my transition to no-poo, I followed Lucy Aitken Read’s Happy Hair guide to the letter. However, two months on, I feel confident to listen to my hair as to when it is time to show it some love, generally in the form of a DIY scalp scrub or hot oil mask.

Now the days of daily hair washes are behind me. I can happily go 4 or 5 days before washing my hair with a baking powder rinse, plus my hair feels and looks so much healthier, shinier and thicker. Three cheers for no poo! 

Homemade shampoo recipes & tips

A successful hair product is as individual as the person using it. It requires time and patience to work out what is right for your body and lifestyle.

An undeniable perk of homemade remedies is that it allows you to take control and experiment with ratios and ingredients. This is something you cannot do if you are relying on premade products.

Coming up are some recipes and proportions that I currently use. You should, however, play around with ingredients and measurements and find what suits your body!

1. Baking Powder Rinse

A baking powder rinse is the bread and butter of a lot of a “no-poo” routine, and it is simple as it sounds.

All you need is a squeezy bottle, some baking powder and water and you have your new favourite shampoo.

I usually go for about 1 teaspoon for 100 ml of water, but if you have dry or brittle hair, you may want to lower the baking powder ratio.

You then squeeze the mixed liquid directly into the roots of your hair, giving it a good scrub into the scalp.

It is especially important to do this when you’re first starting the transition. You want to move all of the residues of commercial products that may affect your scalp creating the good natural sebum you need.

Even though this is arguably better than shop shampoo, you still want to stretch out how long you go in between washes.

Some find rinsing their hair with just water helps bridge the gap, but I tended to tie my hair up or have it in tight plaits and wait it out!

2. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

apple cider vinegar rinse
Apple cider vinegar

An ACV rinse is the natural follower to a baking powder wash and happily steps up the job of a conditioner if you are looking for shine and frizz reduction.

The ratio here is 5:1 water to vinegar. It is very similar to the process of a baking powder rinse except you should focus more on the hair than the scalp. I tend to use my fingers to rub in down to the ends of my hair.

The first time I used ACV on my hair, I was paranoid that my hair would smell of a chip shop until my next wash, but I can ensure you the smell goes by the time your hair is dry again.

3. Exfoliating and Cleansing Scalp Scrub

The perks of scalp scrubs span from stimulating hair growth to tackling dandruff and if they aren’t already part of your hair care routine – I suggest getting them in pronto!

I use fortnightly before washing my hair and while in the shower massage into my scalp (wet hair works best) for a few minutes.

It then requires an extensive rinsing before washing your hair correctly, so make sure you have the time before starting, be warned- it can get messy!

1 tablespoon: Melted Coconut Oil

1 teaspoon: Used Coffee Grounds

A few drops: Tea Tree Oil

½ teaspoon: Corse Salt

½ teaspoon: Sugar (I find Muscovado works best)

Some people add baking powder or apple cider vinegar to their scrubs to help balance the PH of their hair. However, since giving up shampoo and conditioner, I use baking powder to wash my hair anyway so don’t feel the need to include it in a scrub!

4. Hot Oil Hair Mask

I apply this as an alternative to conditioner the day before I wash my hair on the alternating week to a scalp scrub and tend to sleep with it in for maximum glossiness. However, if you don’t vibe with oily pillowcases then leave it in for a minimum of half an hour before washing it out!

Argon Oil

Olive Oil

Coconut Oil (melted)

A few drops: Tea Tree Oil

How much you use depends on how long your hair is, so use your common sense, but I would recommend keeping the oils with an even ratio.

Heat these together (not too hot though!) and apply evenly through your hair. To help keep the heat in, dampen an old t-shirt with warm water and use as a hair turban!

Give homemade shampoo a try!

So there we go – the staples of going “no-poo”. I promise you it is not as scary (or as gross) as you think and it may even be one of the most liberating decisions you make! 

So why not consider looking at what’s in your cupboards before heading to the shop for your next beauty products and making some swaps to a more ethical beauty routine?

Your body, the planet and your bank balance will thank you later. 

If you do create any new recipes, have any tips or want to share your journey to “no-poo”, I would love to hear from you! Tweet me @EsmeLeitch or tag me in an Instagram @ezzyrose

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