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June 2, 2010

Herbal Shampoo

Have you ever thought about making your own shampoo? I plan to make a shampoo bar one of these days. Right now I'm still researching the subject.

In the meantime, I received the latest newsletter from Learning Herbs, which included a recipe for herbal shampoo. I had some of the needed ingredients, and went to the local health food store for the others. (It isn't really local; I had to drive 45 minutes one way to get to the store, but I did have other errands to run in that town as well.)

I brewed the rosemary and rose petal tea and left it overnight. The next day I mixed up the ingredients, and tried it for the first time. I have read many times that you have to give natural shampoo a week or more before you decide that you don't like it, so I expected my hair to feel "different", which it did. The shampoo is low-sudsing of course, which didn't surprise me. Most commercial shampoos include harsh surfactants like sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), a cheap foaming agent. SLS degreases your hair by stripping the hair shaft of its natural oils, and irritates and dries out your scalp as well.

I was happier when my hair was dry. And happier still after the second washing. I think this will work out just fine, and I'm very pleased that I'm not using toxic chemicals on my head!

Since I didn't have all of the ingredients called for in the original directions, and because my hair is on the dry side, I changed the recipe a bit. I used sweet almond oil instead of the jojoba oil, and instead of the rosemary essential oil, I used a few drops of tea tree oil. Using more than a few drops would have given it a too-strong odor for my nose. I also did not have enough aloe vera gel on hand, so just used what I had. Next time I will use the recommended amount of aloe vera gel, and lavendar essential oil instead of tea tree eo.

Interestingly, the contents separate into three layers: a thin layer of oil on top, a brown liquid in the middle (the water brewed with the rose petal and rosemary) and an opaque layer on the bottom. That must be the castille soap, which was clear in its original bottle. You definitely have to shake the shampoo bottle before using. It's not a pretty color, doesn't have the pretty fragrance of commercial shampoo (at least, not when you use tea tree oil), and is just a little thicker than water. We are so programmed for rich lather, luscious fragrances, and a thick shampoo texture; this shampoo will not measure up if that is your expectation. But it's all-natural, herbal-infused, and can be customized to your hair/scalp/color, and those are features you'd pay a premium price for at the store.

I plan to keep using this. I just wish it would "tint" my grey hairs back to their original brown.

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