Natural Shampoo That Works

Natural Coconut Milk Shampoo

We are not on municipal water here and we don’t have a septic tank.  All our grey water goes into a reed bed, so we are careful to minimise our use of chemicals so that we don’t kill the reeds and create a stink!  In most cases the natural option is cheaper, healthier and more effective – although you might have to experiment a bit to find out what suits you.

Shampoo is an issue if you’ve been used to the sleek, glossy, full-volume, untangled hype of the chemical stuff, especially if you have long hair.  But it’s not worth dying for!  Most commercial, non-organic shampoos contain SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) & SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES) and they are probably the most dangerous of all personal care products.  Just because there is no immediate noticeable effect doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful in the long-term.  Why take the risk?  In animal tests ( and why have that on your conscience for a shampoo?) they have been found to cause eye damage, depression, breathing difficulties, diarrhoea, severe skin irritation, immune system damage, corrosion and death. According to the American College of Toxicology states both SLS and SLES can cause malformation in children’s eyes.

DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (momoethanolamine) TEA (triethanolamine) are also in most main brand shampoos, often appearing as Cocamide DEA or MEA, Lauramide DEA, etc. These are hormone disrupting chemicals and research has shown that they are implicated in the increase in liver and kidney cancers.

I want to make life easy for my immune system, not more challenging!

I’ve been mostly underwhelmed with the organic shampoo options.  They are expensive, hard to find here and tend to leave my hair feeling life-less and just not that clean.  I prefer my home-made option, which we also use as a body wash and hand wash.

I have long hair and I don’t take care of it – it gets sun-damage over the summer and windblown in the winter.  I don’t condition or colour it and can barely be bothered to get it cut once a year.  But it’s healthy and shiny and virtually without grey.

Natural hair

coconut milk shampoo recipe

Here’s the recipe:

  • one can of organic coconut milk (400ml)
  • 400ml liquid castille soap
  • 200ml vegetable glycerin
  • a few drops of essential oils of your choice ( I use rosemary mostly)

Mix the ingredients and pour into a used shampoo bottle.  This makes quite a bit, so I put the rest in the freezer and defrost when I need a refill.  You only need to use a small amount and don’t be put off by the fact that it’s quite runny.  It lathers really well and smells gorgeous.  Initially I used aloe vera to improve the texture of the shampoo and neutralise the pH, but the end result was still a bit ‘claggy’ which built up over a few weeks.  The vegetable glycerin gives a squeaky clean feel and adds to the shine, with no build up.  I wouldn’t go back to store bought stuff even if it was available and I had cash to throw at it.

Castille soap is made from olive oil and caustic soda.  Dr Bronner’s is the most well-known brand, but there are others – I usually use the hemp and almond version. You can make your own, and I’ve tried this, but it makes it a lot more work and the result tends to be inconsistent as it’s temperature and humidity dependent – sometimes it’s too thick and other times too runny.