Shampoo: Making the Switch to Delicate

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Our hair is made up of fiber, much like wool that comes from sheep or Kashmir goats. With at least 100,000 hair fibers on our head, it makes sense to treat our hair much like we would a cashmere sweater. Most commercial shampoos contain chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate, which strip much-needed moisture and amino acids. Why not switch from the "heavy-duty cycle" to "delicate" and try these natural alternatives?


  1. Castile Bar Soap.
    Shampoo can be as simple as an all-natural, fragrance-free soap. Either grate the bar and make liquid soap, or moisten it and use the resulting lather to cleanse your hair. A little goes a long way! momsAWARE offers a chemical-free, all-natural coconut castile bar soap, available at our Online Store.

    Be sure to use a pH-restoring conditioner such as apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or coffee grounds to bring the hair back to its natural pH level of approximately 5.6.

    Greta Breedlove, author of The Herbal Home Spa, offers these suggestions for shampooing your hair:

    • Wet hair thoroughly and use a small amount of shampoo, a dollop about the size of a quarter.
    • Put the shampoo on your hands. Rub together to form lather before applying to your hair.
    • Use your fingertips, not your fingernails, to massage the shampoo into your scalp.
    • Rinse hair thoroughly, then shampoo again.
    • Rinse again thoroughly, using the coolest water possible for the shiniest hair.
    • Pat hair dry; avoid rubbing.
    • Gently comb hair. (Consider a natural bamboo comb.)
  2. Birch Shampoo.
    Adapted from the book Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond.

    Birch was a major ingredient of nineteenth-century shampoos. Birch contains betulin, which is beneficial for hair loss. (See momsAWARE's article Five Ways to Stimulate Hair Growth for more help on hair loss.)

    The following recipe uses a birch herbal infusion. To make an herbal infusion, pour 2 c. boiling water over 2 tbsp. birch bark or birch leaves. (Herb sources include Starwest Botanicals and Mountain Rose Herbs.)

    Combine ingredients in glass jar. Shake well. This formula can be stored at room temperature for up to 6 months.

    Note: The high salicylic acid content of birch makes it beneficial for dandruff. Add tea tree oil to the above recipe for added benefit.
  3. Egg and Lemon Shampoo.
    Adapted from the book Green Beauty Recipes by Julie Gabriel.
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1/2 oz. olive oil
    • 1/2 oz. liquid castile soap
    • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
    Combine egg yolk with olive oil. Add remaining ingredients and stir slowly. Wet your hair and massage well. Leave on for 30 seconds or more. Rinse with lukewarm water. For oily hair, use even less or no oil.
  4. Rhassoul Clay.
    Rhassoul clay has been used for hundreds of years for skin and hair care. This shampoo method involves some trial and error, but may be worth it for those who desire a thorough cleansing of the scalp and hair.

    To create your clay shampoo:

    Combine 2 tbsp. rhassoul clay with 1/2 c. filtered water. Allow this to hydrate for several minutes until the mixture reaches a spreadable consistency. Add more warm water if needed. This should keep at room temperature for 1-2 weeks, or longer in the refrigerator.

    Directions for shampooing:

    Apply liquid paste to hair and scalp. Comb through to distribute clay mixture. Rinse thoroughly. Comb through again and rinse one more time. If desired, use a natural conditioner like those described in the momsAWARE article All-Natural Hair Conditioner.

    For more information, see momsAWARE's helpful article on Rhassoul Clay.

Transitioning from harsh chemicals to natural alternatives is a process requiring trial and error to determine the best method for your hair. It may take several weeks to strip the hair of the product buildup. Continue to condition your hair with pH-restoring conditioners. If needed, alternate between natural and synthetic options to ease the transition. Gradually introduce more natural options and reduce your synthetic use. Before you know it you'll be enjoying the "delicate cycle" with all of its natural benefits!