UPDATE 10/31/2014: I get a LOT of questions about this recipe. Some people love what it does for their hair. Other try waiting through the detox and still can’t get results they love. I wish I had the answer, but natural hair care is tricky. In fact, you can read what I now recommend for natural hair care in this post. Thanks for stopping by! ~Robin
My all natural shampoo recipe is one of my more popular posts. So why am I giving you another shampoo recipe? Well, because I’ve grown. I’ve learned. And I’m not afraid to admit it when there’s something better. Something like a pH balanced shampoo recipe.
Especially when one of YOU guys helped me see the better solution.
My original shampoo recipe, like so many out there online, uses a base of castile soap. For me, this recipe was a great solution to my no ‘poo problems… and I felt a whole lot better using it verses commercial shampoos full of toxic (or very expensive natural) ingredients. And if I only had the option between my castile shampoo recipe or buying something in the store, I’d still stick with the homemade stuff.
Luckily, there are more options.
The comment that helped my poor little scalp
Some months ago I got a comment from a reader named Amanda on my shampoo recipe. Here is some of what she wrote:
Using highly alkaline solutions on your hair (baking soda, bronners soaps, etc.) though it feels soft and manageable that is really the disulfide bonds in your internal hair structure being weakened by the alkaline solution.The colors and perms that are performed use this method to work, they “open up” your hair to deposit the color or permanent, then a clarifying shampoo is used to “close” your hair and lock the color or permanent in. To then bring your hair down to it’s proper pH a acidic solution (apple cider vinegar) when using a alkalinic cleanser is used, this is called clarifying. This dual process is not healthy for your hair or your scalp. (…) This is why so many shampoos on the market advertise that it is pH balanced. Because that is very important. So forcing your hair to go up to an 8 or 9 and then forcing it back down to a 4.5 in a short period of time is very damaging. -Amanda (awesome TYB reader)
Why restoring your scalp’s pH is important
I did a little research and found some amazing information on the importance of proper pH for your scalp. In fact, problems with fungi or bacteria on your scalp is likely due to being too alkali. This is often the result of using a product with a higher than 7 pH that strips away your naturally acidic sebum that fights against bacteria. That sebum can help prevent hair loss from dandruff, bacteria, or fungus.
Your scalp, like your skin, ranges in pH between a 4 and 7.
Liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) has a pH around 8.9… much more alkaline.
Confession time: While I loved my all natural shampoo for MANY reasons, I did notice that after using it for so many months that my scalp wasn’t liking it so much. I was often complaining to my husband of a dry and itchy head… and sadness ensued. I blamed my hard water. Got a water filter… which helped, but not like this new shampoo did.
A pH balanced Natural Shampoo Recipe
I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but it was that swell Amanda who left this gem in that little comment section. It’s a super simple recipe. And I experimented with it for several weeks. By about the third or fourth use I LOVED the results I was seeing.
But what I didn’t love was the short-term supply of the recipe.
Because the recipe has a pretty short shelf life of about one week, I found myself going through more ingredients than I could use before it went bad.
Fear not! I have solved that problem.
I put my little bird brain to the test and came up with a way to enjoy this super simple recipe without having to make it every single week or waste any bit of the ingredient goodness.
So enough blabbing! Are you ready for the pH balanced shampoo recipe? I thought so.
UPDATE: There are a lot of great questions about this shampoo in this post that I have answered in my All Natural Hair Care Guide.
All Natural pH Balanced Shampoo Recipe
Graciously given by Amanda, adapted and “reworked” by yours truly.
1 can of Coconut Milk (or about 1 1/2 cups if you like to make it yourself.) (like this)
1 3/4 cups pure aloe vera gel (like this)
Optional: Essential oils (learn how to get my favorite essential oils at wholesale prices here.)
1. Mix both ingredients in a bowl using a wire whisk to fully incorporate.
2. Pour mixture into ice cube trays. (I used two full trays.)
3. Put in freezer and wait a few hours until frozen completely. At this point you can transfer them to some sort of bag or container, or just keep them in the trays.
To use: Take one cube out before you want to use it (at least the night before) and keep it in a small container or bowl in the fridge until you are ready to shower. Use as you would normal shampoo (about a quarter size amount).
Work into the scalp and then move toward the ends of your hair. Let sit for 30 seconds or so and then rinse completely. This will not lather… so don’t keep adding more thinking it will get your hair “more clean.” Like all good things in life, a little goes a long way.
Place any remaining mixture back in the fridge to use next time you wash your hair. The shelf life of each cube is about 1 week in the fridge. Just be sure to take a new cube out when you use up the other one.
NOTE: I’d highly recommend giving this shampoo some tries before judging it. Even if you’ve been doing ‘no poo there can be another detox phase (usually MUCH shorter than the original switch from conventional shampoos). I found that my hair was a little greasy and my scalp slightly flaky for the first couple of times I used it. By the fourth it was great, though.
Also: Check out the comments for any tips or tweaks made by other readers who may have hair similar to yours.
The beauty of coconut milk and aloe vera gel
I’ve talked about why coconut milk is so yummy for your scalp in my deep conditioner recipe. The saturated fats help repair damaged hair among other things. And aloe vera is also great for keeping the cuticles of your hair closed and healthy.
But these two lovely ingredients also have a lower pH that’s under 7… much more aligned with your scalp’s natural pH.
Do I still need a conditioner?
Hair care is personal and tricky. I have super short pixie hair so I find that I don’t need to “condition” after using this shampoo very often. But for longer hair, you might. the pH of apple cider vinegar is typically between 4.25 and 5 if undiluted (I’d always use it diluted when rinsing your hair). Depending on your scalp using an AVC rinse may be a good way to bring your scalp back to it’s natural pH. Experiment and see what works for you.
One last note: If you have really dry hair you may want to add some Vitamin E oil, jojoba oil, or sweet almond oil to the mixture before freezing.
I love this shampoo.
Not only does my scalp feel better and the itch has gone away, but this recipe is so easy! And frugal. And at the rate I wash my hair (about twice a week… and I can get about 2 or 3 washes out of each shampoo “cube”) this batch will last me more than 6 months! Huzzah!
What do you think? Are you ready to try an all natural pH balanced shampoo?
NOTE: Due to an never-ending cesspool of spam, I have made the tough decision to close comments 14 days after the original posting of all posts. Sorry to anyone left out of the conversation. I just needed to spend less time monitoring spam and more time with my kids. Best wishes, Robin!
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