Wednesday, July 2, 2008

So That's What The Chemicals Are For

In my quest to switch over to biodegradable beauty products, I bought The Herbal Home Spa by Greta Breedlove. It is chocked full of recipes for homemade hair and skin care products--perfect for a DIYer like me.
One of the first recipes I decided to try was homemade shampoo, basically because it is easy to make. You steep some fresh herbs in a cup of boiling water; add 2 tablespoons of liquid Castille soap and a teaspoon of almond oil to it; mix and use. I used lavender for my first batch of shampoo because, according to Greta, it is a good herb for brunettes. I've also got a giant bush of it in my front yard.
Unlike the organic shampoos in Whole Foods, this stuff is cheap. My 32 oz bottle of Dr. Bronner's Castile soap was $12, and my 8 oz bottle of almond oil was about the same price. So $25 keeps me supplied with biodegradable shampoo for at least a year.
I felt a prick of apprehension, however, when I made my first batch of lavender shampoo. As you can see in the picture, it looks more like dirty dish water than shampoo. But Greta's words echoed through my head: "Achieving great looking hair is not difficult, nor does it need to be expensive. With a few common kitchen ingredients and some specialty herbs, oils, and flowers, you can create a variety of treatments that your hair will respond to quickly."
Time to put those words to the test. I get in the shower and pour some shampoo in my hand. It's so watery it just runs down my arm. I bend over and squirt the shampoo all over my head. I manage get a little lather going, not as much as I'm used to, but enough to feel like some cleaning is happening. Maybe it's the nasty, endocrine-disrupting parabens in typical shampoos that create the mounds of creamy lather. Who needs those?
Then I try to rinse the stuff out. Instead of that squeaky clean feeling you get after you shampoo, I felt like I had gunk in my hair. I rinsed and rinsed, but my hair felt coated in oil--almond oil, to be exact. I gave up and got out of the shower. Oh well, at least I didn't rinse any unpronounceable, harmful chemicals like Steareth-4 or Tetrasodium EDTA down the drain.
The next day, I felt like I had gone on a 3-day camping trip without a shower. My scalp itched and my hair was a greasy mess that I kept pulled off my face with several barrettes. By the afternoon, I was fearful that my hair actually smelled bad, and was afraid to go out in public. I hopped in the shower. I tried to psych myself up use my homemade shampoo, but couldn't stand the thought of adding more oil to my greasy hair. I guiltily, gratefully slathered Kirkland Signature Hydrating Shampoo all over my head, rinsed, and the gunk was gone.
I feel a little let down by Greta. How does greasy gunk equate to "great looking hair?" She has to be smoking some herbs to use that shampoo on a daily basis. This experiment made me realize that as much as I want to rid myself of products full of harmful toxins, they are put in there for a reason. I'm too used to certain standards of cleanliness to go back to the way women in the 1800's must of felt like after they washed their hair.
But there must be a happy medium. I just ordered all-natural Golden Wheat Shampoo from Mountain Rose Herbs and am going to give that a try. Lesson learned--making shampoo is best left to professionals.


brightmyer said...

Wow - I've never made homemade shampoo! I do make a homemade sugar scrub for my face and bathsalts for the tub. I'm willing to try the shampoo as well, but I would need a conditioner too. Any suggestions?

the mama bird diaries said...

Although you are more adventurous than me with the homemade shampoo... I am too trying to switch to all paraben free beauty products.

You go girl. Keep us posted.

Kathleen said...

what a shame, it really did smell great but looks, and smells, can be decieving! I watched a program with people who did use any shampoo ever, with some weird results, must tell you about it one day!

EatPlayLove said...

I only wash my hair every other day, so I think I cut out on my toxin exposure that way! LOL!