Thursday, January 24

Small Steps: All Natural Hair Care

I've always had long, fine hair. Years of working in food service put me solidly in the habit of washing it every day to scrub out the odor of rancid grease which, as you can imagine, was rather hard on my hair. My husband has always been more generous about buying me good shampoo and conditioner than I have been about buying or using it for myself.  It was painful for my frugal heart to cough up good money on products I then washed down the drain when they frequently failed to give me the cooperative, non-frizzy hair I wanted anyway.

I read a lot about natural hair care; there's a tremendous amount of information online and honestly, it's not all encouraging. People talk about the horrible detox phase as they strip years of gunk build up off their hair, the off smells from bad vinegar rinses, time spent making their own products, and online sources for buying six different ingredients you'd never otherwise have in the house.

Rosemary Mint Herbal Shampoo Bar from Frugally Sustainable
Finally, I found something that looked like it might work for me: all natural Shampoo Bars from Frugally Sustainable. (The first link takes you to the recipe to make your own, the second to her Etsy shop to buy them pre-made.)

I decided to give it a try in the middle of December while thoughts about Small Steps were fomenting in my head. Since I was working from home for a couple weeks, I figured if it all went badly and my hair was a train wreck it wouldn't matter - no one would see me! Lol.

When my shampoo bar arrived, it smelled amazing. (Several scents are available, and I chose Rosemary Mint.) I washed my hair every day, and definitely noticed a change in texture when I made the switch. It wasn't sticky, exactly, just kind of coarse - like I could feel the build up oozing out. Rather unappealing, but it only lasted about three days - far less than I'd expected. I also started using a Cider Vinegar Conditioning Rinse (1 part apple cider vinegar to 3 parts water, plus a couple drops of the essential oils of your choice [optional] for scent).

What a difference! The texture of my hair has completely changed since I started this new regimen. It is dramatically softer, no longer gets oily or frizzy, and is less prone to static. As an unexpected bonus, I discovered that it didn't need to be washed every other day (as had been my practice the last couple months). I use the cider vinegar rinse every other day but I now wash my hair only once a week! If you'd told me two months ago that I'd ever say that, I'd have told you that you were crazy! 

Needless to say, this Small Step has resulted in even more positive results than I expected and I'm very happy. For $6 a bar (which will last forever, even with my long hair since I only have to use it once a week), I don't expect to get into making my own any time soon - I'll buy a handful, stash them in the closet and be good for the rest of the year. As for the rinse, it works out to $1 a gallon... I think I can handle that!

Quick Tips:

Don't skip the rinse - there are lots of rinses out there, including herbal based ones that are equally cheap and easy to make if you decide you don't like the vinegar option, but the shampoo doesn't condition alone so make sure you pick some kind of rinse to use with it. Also, seriously consider investing two bucks in a spray bottle for your rinse. It's faster and easier than pouring it on, and you won't waste any!

Use the right shampoo for your hair type - I got the rosemary mint because I liked the scent, but probably should have gotten lavender because I have lighter hair. It doesn't really matter, unless you color your hair though.

Lather first - lather the shampoo up in your hands and then apply to your head. Don't rub the bar directly on your head - it's hard to spread out and work in, and you'll use way more than you need. You can buy little mesh soap bar nets for $1 that make it super easy to work up a lather, if that helps.

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