written by CJ Hathaway, CECP

About a year ago I ditched commercial shampoos and conditioners completely and started making my own using a couple simple ingredients: baking soda for shampoo, and apple cider vinegar for conditioner. Yes, that’s right!

If this sounds a bit crazy, you’re probably wondering why in the world I’d give up regular shampoo and conditioner for plain old baking soda and stinky vinegar.

The main reason was that I wanted to avoid the toxins and chemicals found in most commercial shampoos and conditioners.

Did you know that some products labeled ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ actually contain dangerous ingredients, including things like a known carcinogen called 1,4-Dioxane? In fact some products that claim to be organic actually contain a very small amount of organic ingredients.

And did you know that chemicals absorbed through your skin are far more dangerous to your health than chemicals ingested through food or water? This is because your digestive system breaks down chemicals and toxins and then, as best it can, flushes them out of the body. However the same harmful chemicals applied to your skin get absorbed directly into your blood stream, ultimately making their way to your organs.

Of course there are some wonderful, truly pure products out there, but they’re not always easy to find and they can be expensive. So cost and convenience were also factors in my decision to ‘go rogue’ with hair products. And for me, it’s just plain fun to mix up my own potions!

These homemade products are so easy to mix and use, and they work at least as well as, if not better than, any commercial products I’ve tried.

Some reported benefits of using baking soda ‘shampoo’ include:

• Clarify hair and scalp (removes chlorine discoloration and residue from hairspray, gel, conditioners, etc.)
• Doesn’t strip natural oils (when you first start using it, hair may be either oily or dry for several weeks until your scalp adjusts)
• Add volume
• Eliminate dandruff / itchiness

If you’d like to give it a try, here’s how I make my baking soda ‘shampoo’:

• 2 Tbsp baking soda (good quality like Bob’s Red Mill)
• 2 cups water (either filtered or distilled water).
• A few drops essential oil such as lavender or rosemary (optional)

Put in a jar and shake until the baking soda is completely dissolved (it will pretty much look just like water) then pour into a squeeze bottle (perhaps your old rinsed out shampoo bottle)

To use, wet hair, shake bottle, then squeeze ‘shampoo’ onto scalp starting at crown, and adding more as you work around head, massaging into scalp and through hair (if your hair is dry, skip working it through hair as it can be drying).

Of course it’s not going to suds up like regular shampoo, but you’ll get used to that. Leave it on for a couple minutes and then rinse well.

I follow with a conditioning rinse of apple cider vinegar, benefits of which include:

• Balances hair’s PH level
• Eliminates dandruff
• Tames frizz
• Adds volume and shine

To try the vinegar rinse………..

Just mix up 1 part organic apple cider vinegar with 4 parts water (filtered or distilled) in another squeeze bottle

Optional: add some essential oils like rosemary, lemon or lavender. In addition to their therapeutic benefits, essential oils will help neutralize the strong vinegar smell. Vinegar can darken blonde hair over time, so to counter this effect you can add some chamomile or lemon essential oil (check out the article “Natural Hair Care” below for additional essential oil suggestions).

Be sure to tilt your head back so the vinegar doesn’t get in your eyes, then squeeze onto scalp, massaging in and working through to ends of hair. Let sit for a few minutes and then rinse thoroughly (don’t worry, the smell rinses out well).

Then just style your hair as you normally would.

You can use this baking soda and vinegar routine in place of your old shampoo and conditioner, or just use it occasionally for deep cleansing and clarifying.

There’s lots of information on the Internet about baking soda ‘shampoo’ and vinegar ‘conditioner’, so I encourage exploration of different recipes and techniques. As with anything, this routine will work well for some people but not others. Fortunately there’s an easy way to determine if it’s right for you…. just ask your subconscious and then muscle test for the answer (or ask your practitioner to check for you)!

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