Hair is a type of skin cell made from a protein called keratin. It covers every square inch of our bodies except the soles of our feet, palms, eyelids and lips. At the base of the hair follicles are oil glands, which necessitates a different kind of soap than we use on our skin.
The History of Shampoo
The origin of the word, shampoo is from the Hindi word champo dating back to 1762 – meaning to massage or knead. By the 1860’s, the meaning of champo had changed to applying soap to the hair, but the results of using ordinary soap (made from beef fat) on the hair were not aesthetically pleasing. The hair dried with a film, leaving the scalp itchy and the hair unhealthy-looking. To overcome these flaws, hair stylists added herbs and perfume to boiled soaps to try and achieve a better result. Soaps were originally made from vegetable oils and animal fats. The list included beef fat, palm oil, olive oil, coconut, cocoa butter, hemp oil and shea butter.
With the invention of soap, it became necessary to a use strong alkaline solution to break down fat (saponification), which is the base ingredient of soap. In olden times, wood ashes provided the alkaline lye necessary for the process. If made correctly there was no strong-smelling, eye-watering lye remaining in the final product. By the early 1900’s, commercial shampoos became available but they still contained products made with natural ingredients. It was in the 1930’s that synthetic chemicals were first introduced in the making of shampoos. Currently, there is a running list of synthetic chemicals that are used to make soap. The following are just a few of the more common ones that are important to avoid.
Commercial Shampoo Ingredients
- Parabens are hormone disruptors (having a similar chemical composition to estrogen), masquerading as preservatives and anti-microbials. They are in so many products that most people don’t even realize how unsafe they are.
- Phthalates add to the fluidity of a product (just drop the ph when pronouncing.) They are called plasticizers, which is a dead giveaway that you don’t want to use them. If your shampoo is perfumed, chances are that phthalates are in the mix even if you don’t find them on the label. Phthalates are legally allowed to be hidden in ingredient labels under the term “fragrance.” Some studies have linked this chemical to thyroid disruption.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is found in shampoos as a detergent and foaming agent. It can cause skin and eye irritation. In an effort to make SLS products safer for children, an ethoxylation process was introduced. However, instead of helping it made things worse by producing a more toxic by-product called 1-4 dioxane, a suspected carcinogenic. Like I always say — don’t mess with Mother Nature. There are very few products that are free
of SLS and its toxic by-products.
- Fragrance, as mentioned above, there can be over 200 ingredients in a toxic blend that are not even listed, and that manufacturers are not required to disclose. Even the “fragrance-free” or “unscented” products aren’t always safe. If the label says “no synthetic fragrances” or “natural essential oil fragrance only,” you are on safer ground.
- Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) are foaming agents and emulsifiers that put the lather in shampoo. Foaming agents are typically found in shampoo as well as body wash. Dry hair and skin can be common side effects. You may have heard of the carcinogenic properties of nitrosamines; DEA and TEA are classified as nitrosamines.
- Diazolidinyl and Imidazolidinyl Urea are synthetic preservatives that break down into formaldehyde! So, it’s obvious why they should be avoided. They can cause contact dermatitis and a host of other problems when they are absorbed into our tissues.
Safe Commercial Brands Dr. Carolyn Dean Recommends
The best advice I can give you is to read the ingredient label of the shampoo you want to purchase. Or you can…
Make Your Own
You’ll be surprised at what you can do with a few simple kitchen ingredients. Just remember, since we aren’t using any of the dozens of ingredients that preserve shampoo or make it liquefy and pour well, only make small amounts and store in the dark. When you use these shampoos, shake well and leave on for several minutes as you take care of other business in the shower!
Baking Soda Shampoo
This recipe is for one-use only.
Make a shampoo paste with one tablespoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of water. It’s not going to foam or bubble, but after your hair is thoroughly pasted, just rinse well and you’ll be
amazed at how clean and shiny it leaves your hair.
To more thoroughly remove soap residue, use the following recipe.
- 3 Tbsp baking soda
- 2 tsp liquid honey
- 1⁄4-1⁄2 tsp water
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse
a. Mix first 3 ingredients into a paste (not including the ACV).
b. Thin out mixture if necessary with a few drops of water.
c. Apply mixture to hair and leave on for ten minutes.
d. Rinse hair.
e. Pour on ACV Rinse (recipe on page 5).
Castile Hair Shampoo
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 1⁄4 cup castile soap liquid (Dr. Bronner’s) Castile soap is made with olive oil.)
- 1⁄2 tsp vegetable oil (sesame, sunflower, corn, soy)
a. Mix all the ingredients together.
b. Store in an old shampoo bottle.
c. Use as needed.
Chamomile Shampoo for Blond Hair
- 2 Tbsp loose herb or 6 teabags
- 4 Tbsp of soap flakes
- 11⁄2 Tbsp vegetable glycerine
a. Steep the herbs or teabags in 11⁄2 cups of boiling water for 20 minutes.
b. Remove the herbs and discard.
c. Add the soap flakes and allow the soap to soften.
d. Blend in the glycerin.
e. When cool, pour into an old shampoo bottle.
Here’s another shampoo for the blonds in the audience.
- 1⁄4 cup liquid castile soap
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 2 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest (grated from the lemon rind)
a. Thoroughly mix the ingredients.
b. Heat for a few minutes but do not boil.
c. Cool then strain and store in an old shampoo bottle.
Dry Hair Shampoo
- 1⁄4 cup aloe vera gel
- 1⁄4 cup liquid castile soap
- 1 tsp vegetable glycerin
- 1⁄4 tsp vegetable oil
a. Mix ingredients together.
b. Store in an old shampoo bottle.
c. After massaging through your hair, let it sit for several minutes.
d. Rinse well or use an ACV rinse.
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
OK, I’m way out on a limb here. I could have done a whole new module on hair rinses but it sure makes sense to add it here! For more manageable hair use a vinegar rinse. Some people use distilled white vinegar, some use apple cider vinegar. I prefer apple cider vinegar (ACV) because it’s the same level of acidity as healthy hair. It’s a good conditioner and removes soap residue.
- Mix 1⁄2 cup apple cider and 11⁄2 cups of water.
- Use an old shampoo bottle to hold the mixture.
- Shampoo and rinse hair and then pour the vinegar mix through your hair.
Don’t worry, you won’t smell like a salad for long. ACV kills germs that may be feeding on your dandruff and it’s an incredible treatment for dandruff as well. If your dandruff is out of control so that there are patches of flaky skin on your scalp, you can rub undiluted ACV into your scalp, let it sit for 30 minutes and shampoo. After several treatments there will be no more scaly dandruff.
An alternative way to use ACV is as a nightly scalp massage. Mix 1 cup of 50:50 ACV and distilled water. Place in a spray bottle and every night use about 10 sprays and massage into your hair and scalp.
Coconut oil is another treatment for patchy, scaly dandruff. The same directions apply rub coconut oil into your scalp, let it sit for 30 minutes and shampoo.
Hair Care Tips for Damaged Hair
What type of damage am I talking about? It can be from hair dye, sun bleaching, or hair that has become dried out after a long winter of indoor heat. My hair is short and grows like a weed, so I haven’t needed to use oil treatments, but it looks so easy, I think I’ll give it a try. Deep conditioning is not a daily routine, you only need to do it once or twice a month.
Olive Oil Deep Conditioner
Who hasn’t heard of olive oil treatment for repairing damaged hair and making hair stronger and
- Work 2 Tbsp into dry hair and scalp.
- Cover with a shower cap and wrap a towel around your head for a spa-like treatment. Or
if you don’t want to have plastic rubbing on your skin, just use an old towel.
- Leave on for at least 30 minutes. Some people leave the oil on for several hours and get
even better results.
- You can have a clay bath while waiting and then shower and shampoo.
Variation: You can substitute Grapeseed oil or Moroccan Argan oil.
Avocado Deep Conditioner
If you use conditioners, here’s an easy one for you to try with two variations. The oil in avocado along with mayonnaise makes your hair shiny and healthy.
- Mash one small ripe avocado into a medium-sized bowl.
- Mix in 2-4 ounces of mayonnaise.
- Massage from your roots to the ends of your hair. Do it in sections for full coverage.
- Cover with a shower cap to increase the temperature and leave on for 30 minutes.
- To drive the oil in deeper, wrap a damp towel over the plastic or heat your covered hair with a hair dryer.
- Rinse out with water then with shampoo.
Variation 1: In step 3, use 2-4 ounces coconut milk instead of mayonnaise
Variation 2: In step 3, use 1 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp honey and 1 egg, along with the avocado.
Honey & Egg Deep Conditioner
- 3 tsp honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
a. Break the eggs into a blender.
b. Add the honey, lemon juice and olive oil.
c. Blend for 15 seconds
d. Massage the mixture evenly through your hair.
e. Use a shower cap to cover your hair.
f. Leave this pack on for 30 minutes.
g. Rinse first then use shampoo to wash your hair.
Warning: Don’t make the mistake of using these recipes if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. After all, the message in this module is that “you are what you absorb.”