Intentional, thrifty and toxin-free beauty has been a slow process for me. This face wash was a defining moment. I was stunned by how many people viewed my little post and it made me realise I’m not alone in this love of homemade beauty. Something in me woke up, something that had been left snoring behind the couch for many years.
When I left school I had dreams of starting a natural beauty business, but to be honest I don’t think I was in the right space and time to tell everyone that putting food on their face would give them the most lively of all active ingredients – the fresher, the simpler, the better. My heart was willing, but not my head. So I kept my musings, potterings and recipes to myself.
It takes confidence to openly question the way we do things, the way we’ve always done things. A confidence I didn’t have then and I’m not sure I have now, but I press on anyway, because I think it’s really important that we question everything we do, now more than ever.
The World Health Organisationis concerned about the health impact of the chemicals we’re exposed to in personal care products. These luxury items can be loaded with crap, which is just bizzare and so unnecessary. The companies that do it are only looking to cut costs. Some cosmetics also like to wear big boots and stomp all over humble carbon foot prints when we only have this precious decade to turn things around.
Is there something you know, but are afraid to tell people about?
To me, it’s logical to make simple beauty bits whenever possible for many reasons. It’s empowering to know how to do these things, because companies often like to make it sound so complicated and out of our reach.
Making shampoo is fun and economical, especially if you buy your liquid Castile soap in bulk and use it to make hand, body and face wash too and use the same essential oils. It’s also lovely knowing that we aren’t rubbing unnecessary toxins into our heads.
A battered fire helmet, on the other hand, is essential, according to a certain big brother…
This shampoo recipe has been a while coming. Since making this shampoo for children, I’ve read a lot of books and journals to get to this recipe. Interestingly, there are similarities between Mrs Beeton’s 1861 recipe, Henley’s 1907 formula, 1970’s The Handbook of Natural Beauty and the current recommendations. This is a good sign that something is working.
I love this homemade shampoo, even though it doesn’t lather the same way my old shampoo did. When I read all the chemicals it took to make that perfect lather it seemed like quite a price to pay for foam. However, if you have long thick hair this will take more effort and product, because lather helps shampoo spread through the hair. Oily hair may not like this recipe when I trialled it, it worked for some and not for others. It may be because it can take a little while for the hair to adjust to this simpler process. We didn’t have any adjustment issues, but ‘you are all individuals’, as Monty Python’s Brian once said.
Mrs Beeton, 1861, suggests using, ‘a penny’s worth of borax’, but I’m suspicious about borax in my shampoo, so I’ve gone with the No-Poo crowd and used some bicarbonate soda instead, because it’s a very mild cleansing alkaline salt. Rosemary is tonifying and all round amazing for hair. Orange is cleansing and rebalancing. Lavender is healing and soothing. Aloe vera* is excellent for nourishing the scalp, but I have listed it as optional because I recently discovered that it’s nearly impossible to buy aloe vera without a preservative. I do use it, because I’m not a purist about these things, but I am selective about where I buy it from.
You can use a herb ‘tea’ to make the shampoo the same way I made this foaming face wash, but this will shorten the shelf life to one month. Whereas, the shampoo recipe below with essential oils should be fine for at least six months, but as always, be guided by any changes in the smell.
The apple cider vinegar spray is a must. You could even try using this after a normal shampoo if you’re not ready for the whole homemade shampoo thang. I’ve always had terrible luck with traditional conditioners, but the acidic vinegar removes all traces of the alkaline shampoo, smooths the hair fibres and rebalances the pH.
As ever, the wonderful thing about a homemade product is that you can adjust it to suit you, perfectly. Is it a bit drying for your hair? Add some more boiled water or a teaspoon or two of macadamia, grape seed or coconut oil (melted). Would you prefer a deeper clean? Reduce the water or add some extra Castile soap. Although, I do have to get bossy – only make one change at a time, people! And always make a note of any changes.
I’m currently testing a shampoo recipe for itchy scalp and dandruff and I will let you know as soon as I’m happy with it. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to look into.
Makes about 8 fl oz (US cup size) or 250ml (UK & AUST cup size) Saves about $8 (based on average natural shampoo costing $10, although I’m embarrassed to say my old one cost $28) Does not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfates, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Mureth Sulfate, Siloxanes, Derivatives of Lauryl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol and Olefin Sulfonate Reduces carbon emissions and water use
½ cup liquid Castile soap ¼ cup boiled water, cooled ¼ cup honey (not for babies under one year old) 1 tablespoon bicarbonate soda (US: baking soda) 15 drops orange essential oil 30 drops lavender essential oil 15 drops rosemary essential oil 1 tablespoon aloe vera (optional)* Sterileor very clean squeeze lid or pump 8 fl oz or 250ml bottle
Mix all the ingredients in a bottle. Label with ingredients and date.
To use: Test on a discrete spot for skin irritation. Give a good shake. Squirt the shampoo straight onto wet hair to reduce wastage, as it is quite runny. Massage into scalp and through hair, being careful to cover all the hair, as it won’t lather in the way commercial shampoos do. Rinse well. Follow with the apple cider spray – this is a must!
Apple cider conditioning spray
Makes about 180 ml or 5 fl oz 4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar ½ cup boiled water 15 drops orange essential oil 10 drops rosemary essential oil Sterile or very clean spray bottle
Mix all the ingredients together in bottle, label with list of ingredients and date.
To use: Test in a discrete spot to check for skin irritation. After the shampoo has been well and truly rinsed out, shake the spray bottle and give the hair a good dowsing with the apple cider vinegar spray. Rinse out really well. Have a look at how your hair is responding and if need be make some adjustments mentioned earlier.
Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine