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Ten Alternatives to Shampoo

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At the start of this year I began an experiment with my hair.  The purist in me was tired of putting toxins into my body, the spendthrift in me was weary of pouring so much money away on these toxins and the optimist in me was persuaded by our bodies ability to cope without reliance on products! I was in a wash-every-other-day-routine and was a slave to dry-shampoo. I knew there had to be a better way.

In a typically extreme move  I totally gave up shampoo and have in the last 10 months put everything from a homemade nettle brew to mustard powder on my hair! It has gone quite wrong at times but ultimately my hair is a million times more healthy, voluminous, and grows much faster. Plus I can go away for weeks at a time and need nothing for my hair but a good bristle brush. This really appeals to my hopes of living more simply and with less impact on this beautiful earth (even though I am rubbish at this in lots of ways.)

Here are TEN options I have played with- and sometimes made a lot of mess with! Most are the BEE’S KNEE’s for me and the rest are the dog’s whatchya’s for others…

One- Water! Oh groan, I know, I’m sorry.  What kind of an alternative is this?! I hear you cry. The best, truly. It took me 9 months to realise it was all my hair needed – and now it has been one month since anything has been on my hair at all. The key is in the massage- as you soak your hair, get your fingers stuck in, pushing away at your scalp and any particularly grease-o bits. I do a five minute massage every five days. My hair is thick and voluminous and does whatever I want it to do. Whooppiiee for H20!!

Two- Bicarbonate of Soda/ Baking Soda. This gets your hair SQUEAKY clean. I make a little paste with a spoonful and a few drops of water and rub it into my scalp.  I leave it for a few minutes before rinsing.The only reason it isn’t number one is because it isn’t free and I’m a cheapskate – and also my hair gets a bit bicarb weary after too many times in a row, brittle and waxy and needs a bit of Number Three Action:

Three- Egg. I use the whole egg, whisked in a cup. I pour over my head and massage in. I leave for a few minutes and rinse well.  It leaves my hair SO clean and SO soft and shiny. However, the water must be cool! I have had a couple of scrambled disasters venturing into too warm territory….

Four- Soapnuts. These are a natural cleaner and work incredibly well. My hair is like silk after- certainly the closest to shampoo I have found. I heat them in water on the stove for 10 minutes, whiz them with my hand blender and use the liquid. I am too lazy to make this my Go To alternative, but use it if my hair has become filthy. Buy them here and use them for cleaning a million and one things!

FiveRhassoul Clay. This is LOVELY stuff. For skin and hair.  It not only cleans but also conditions. I make a paste with two spoonfuls and boiling water. Once cool I smooth it into hair, after a few minutes I brush it through hair and rinse off. It is truly divine but a little on the expensive side for my thrifty self. (But doesn’t come close to the expense of good shampoo.) Buy it here!

Six- Henna. This is my once-every-six-weeks deep treatment! I mix up about ten spoons of it with hot water to make a paste. Once cool I apply it all over and leave it for two hours. (Epic I know, I use a plastic bag and grips to keep it all in place.) It needs a SERIOUS rinse, and a good brush, but my hair after is brighter, cleaner, softer.

Seven- Tea. This relies very much on the massage bit too, and the result is the same as water except you get a nice smell! Some people swear that the different aspects of the tea change your hair – chamomile adding a special softness, for example.

Eight- Lemon. Lemon has some seriously potent anti-bacterial properties and can work as a lightener for people wanting to be blonder.  Squeeze the lemon straight on to your greasy roots, massage well and leave for a few moments. I found it to be slightly drying.

Nine- Tea Tree Oil. Full of incredible properties! You would probably need a little bit too much of this to work solely as an effective shampoo. However added to the bicarb paste, the lemon or the water only wash, this makes a lovely difference. Tea tree oil is perfect for people with scalp issues, dandruff etc. In fact, one person I am VERY close to but who shalt remain nameless has had a life-long scalp issue fixed with this method!

Ten- Mustard Powder. Nettles. Mayonaise. Ketchup! These were all possible contenders that simply didn’t cut it for me! In theory they should work- they have the right mix of either anti-bacterialness or emulsifier/ acid shizzle and the internet is jampacked with people on whom these work. It just ALL depends on your hair.

A note on conditioner- Nearly all of these, bar the clay and the egg need a rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. I use a splash in half a cup of water and throw it over the ends of my hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse out. It’s a WINNER.

The biggest lesson in all of this is to not give up  and be a brave old soul – trawl through this community until you find your hair type and give things a crack! Often different hair just needs different proportions of things. Would love to hear what your routine is and if there is some magical thing I haven’t tried!

PS ‘Scuse the well posey picture! It is seriously the only shot without a beehive from the last six months! It was when I was 5 months No Poo and taken by Jenny Harding when Pretty Nostalgic mag popped over.

28 responses »

  1. Wow! Your hair looks seriously great! I’m just not sure I’d be brave enough for this experiment. And I do so love a wash & blow dry in the hairdressers too. I’m probably a list cause but well done you!

  2. Your hair does look glossy. I am a hairdresser with the most greasy of hair and at 41 it shows no sign of drying up. How do you combat grease?

    • The idea behind it is that our hair produces so much grease as a result of being wiped out daily with shampoo. Once your hair readjusts to it’s own oil balance it produces loads less. In my case it was MASSES less! Now what it produces is much less greasy and much more oil/ almost waxes that can be massage out. It takes some time- for me about 6-8 weeks initially and then getting better and better every month since. x x

  3. Wow, I use all sorts of styling products. I admire your sprit Gal!!! Ill just stick to my aveda, its the nearest thing to eco. Shame its damn expensive. But keep it going!!!

    • Ah yeah, it’s the expense that is my biggest motivator! Can’t stand putting money into the pockets of corporations!! x x

  4. Your hair looks soooo healthy! I’ve often thought about trying natural shampoos but never got round to it…might give the egg a go 🙂

  5. I am soooo not brave enough to take this challenge….

  6. Wow, you are amazing…I really want to try it…but I’m scared! My main problem is I haven’t got time to do much with anything for me.

  7. Wow your hair is BEAUTIFUL!! I’m on bicarb and ACV about once a fortnight and would NEVER look back. I recently bleached my tips though (yeah I know horrible horrible toxic stuff), but coconut oil makes it soooooo much better. Totally awesome hair moisturiser.

  8. Ditto on all the compliments Lucy!! GREAT HAIR! You inspire us all 🙂 I had a hair/head crisis last year, where my scalp just gave up on anything remotely chemically/smelly etc… It was crying out! I found that Simple shampoo and conditioner which is not that ‘simple’ but seems to be the only thing (besides not washing/natural alteratives!) that it liked. I think my head crisis will be even more impressed with some of these, as its still not quite right! Thanks for all the ideas! Also stoked that Hania gave some advice about when she runs and how she copes with yucky sweaty hair! Ax

    • Honestly I reckon your head will LOVE the tea tree oil options!! Look forward to hearing how you get on – be brave!! x

  9. I’ve been wanting to ditch the chemicals for a while and this has given me a bit of encouragement, so thanks. I saw a friend earlier this week with curly hair who’s ditched the shampoo so it obviously isn’t just for you straight-haired types!

    • Curly hair works SO amazingly, no, hair-slick-scalp transition business for them! Jealous.

      I am slowly eliminating more and more chemicals. The last thing to go will be my mascara. A tube lasts me years though, so won’t have to worry until I’m forty at which point I’ll probably be over this fad. (KIDDING)

  10. Good post! First off let me say that I’ve been visiting your blog off-an-on for a while now and when I finally decided in late September to venture into blogging, you were right there in my “blogs I follow” list, I only had to wait to get a blog and then follow. I know I could have followed before, but I kind of did anyway, since I had you bookmarked and stopped in – I just kind of got more serious, lol!

    Anyway, as I’ve started into a greener lifestyle, making my own household cleaners now, etc. I’ve thought more than once about shampoo alternatives. I found your post to be both educational and inspiring (thanks!). I had thought of trying it with either baking soda or egg (btw, your comment “scrambled disasters venturing into too warm territory” has me actually LOL, no kidding!). Can I ask your advice on this subject? When I shampoo now I use a shampoo/conditioner mix and then follow up with a conditioner. While the conditioner is in, I have to use my “pick” to go through my hair – if I don’t I pull so much out that it’s horrible. So I guess my question would be what would I use in place of the conditioner? Would I make my own “detangler” with conditioner – that would be defeating my whole purpose though! I’m so close to going shampoo-free, but the tangly-hair thing is big with me so if you can ease my mind with a suggestion, it would be so helpful!

    Oh and your hair looks gorgeous! Yay for you!! That’s great that we readers get the benefit of all your experimentations. I imagine you’re right about another thing, and that is that our hair would have to readjust to not having shampoo (or should I say “not having all the natural oil stripped from it)?

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  14. Hey Lucy. I read this blog when you first posted it and I thought … It’s not for me! BUT…. I have been trying to simplyfy and cheapify my life so I washed my hair one last time at the end of Novemeber and now I am at least 7 days in to not washing. I have noticed that it needs a condition so will try the apple cider vinegar tomorrow but other than that I have gone straight to just water with a little bit of tea tree oil. It’s fabulous! Thanks so much for the insight and inspiration. I am hoping I can go the distance and keep it up. Last time I tried this I got to 1.5 weeks and gave up 😦 so bring on the new year and the no shampoo!

    Oh and congrats on the wee one on the way! Can’t wait to see photos and more musings especially on having a toddler and a new baby 🙂

  15. Ok update. I have got to day 11 and was all good until I went for a swim in the sea and my hair felt all yucky so tried tea tree oil and then vinegar again but still was feeling not great. So tried the baking soda and then vinegar and it actually feels clean! I am also planning on experimenting on making my own home made shampoo with natural ingredients. Keep you updated : )

    • Oh SO impressed you made it to 11 days!! Glad bicarb worked out, there is a lovely recipe out there for coconut milk shampoo. Breaking your hair’s dependence on chemicals would be best first though, so NICE ONE!!!


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