I told an old man I work with that I was writing a blog. I told him I had billed it as “a pot luck of content from a momaholic, workaholic, growthaholic hippie in a fiscally responsible sheepskin.” True to his personality (I love his dry humor) he asked me what a growthaholic was and wondered about my use of the word hippie. He was actually around in the 60’s you see, and though he didn’t rank himself as one, he’d certainly hung around a few bead-wearing, pot-toking flower children. He got me thinking, though…I really haven’t come clean yet on just how dirty a hippie I am. So (gulp), here I go…
I haven’t washed my hair with shampoo since Thanksgiving. Gross, right? Not really. Most shampoos contain detergents that strip hair of the natural oils that make it soft and strong, include unnecessary chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin, and I have yet to find a store brand that doesn’t use abundant packaging. After learning about some alternatives to store-bought shampoos, the dirty experiment ensued.
I started out with a baking soda mix (1 tbs. baking soda to 1 c. water) I read about on Simple Mom. It cleaned my hair just fine and once I got used to the absence of suds (thanks for that misconception, Madison Avenue) I could stretch a single batch for a week without skimping. Later, after indulging in an essay on herbal care for healthy hair from LLEWELLYN’S 2009 Herbal Almanac, I added a carrot shavings & rosemary sprig tea to my baking soda mix. This has proven an excellent combination for my hair and not only does it feel stronger and thicker, I haven’t had any dandruff or dry scalp problems yet this winter. Plus, since I use the shavings from peeled carrots I’m cooking anyway and the sprig of rosemary is from one of the three bushes in my yard, the expense is whatever a tablespoon of baking soda costs me every other week.
I’m going to share some of my methodology in case you, too, want to try going poo-free.
1) If you’re using perishable ingredients like I am you should be conscious of their storage. I haven’t smelled any funk in my mix yet with the batch sizes I’m making, but you can believe I’m sniffing it before applying. When I make the carrot-rosemary tea, I pour any extra liquid (after straining) into an ice cube tray to freeze and then pop the cubes into a plastic bag I keep in the freezer. The cubes can be heated at a later date for another batch.
2) You’re not actually washing your hair here; you’re focusing on the scalp. Just massage the mixture into the scalp, pouring more on as necessary. The oils come from the scalp anyway, so the hair gets cleaned in the process.
3) The carrot-rosemary tea is specific to normal hair. A good vinegar rinse is beneficial to all hair types, but some herbal ingredients are uniquely suited to hair types. I’ll list some specifics below so you can pick ingredients that suit yours.
4) The objective is NOT to complicate your life. Select ingredients that you have on hand or that are readily available to you. Or, if that’s not an option, figure out something you can cultivate in your yard or add to your shopping list easily and inexpensively.
Now, as promised, here are some ingredients you may find beneficial by hair type. You can try essential oils or teas, certainly, but you may also experiment with other processes if you’re game. I can’t imagine that you would damage your hair by mushing up some avo and combing it through your hair, for example. Still, it won’t hurt to do some research on proportions, combinations and applications if you’re talking about something potent like an essential oil or an ingredient you’re not familiar with.
For Dry Hair: lavender, rosemary, ylang-ylang, jojoba, avocado
For Oily Hair: lemon, bergamot, geranium, cypress, jojoba, lavender, nettles
For Normal Hair: sweet almond oil, rosemary, carrot
To Enhance Color (both natural or dyed), try an herbal rinse. Steep selected herb in boiled water for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Strain and pour over hair repeatedly, using two bowls or basins to catch the mixture each time you pour. This works best just after washing your hair (I let it start steeping before I hop into the shower). Keep in mind, this is not going to produce dramatic effects, just help with hair health and shine.
Red Heads: calendula
So there you have it- my dirty little secret. Mother Earth inspires an experiment and saves me a couple of bucks in the process. I hope this post inspires you to try something off the grid, too…it can be fun:) Remind me to tell you sometime about how I’ve been washing my face with oil and the not-so-successful coffee-ground exfoliating soap I made…
Oh, and I dream of the day when I can start a commune with our closest friends, too…it takes a village. How’s that for hippie? 😉