My husband and I are constantly looking for ways to lead a more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle. Self-reliance is really the ultimate DIY, if you think about it, and as staunch “do-it-yourselfers”, we try to turn towards what the Earth has provided us for almost everything we need. Our modern society has burdened us with so many crutches disguised as conveniences that it can be hard to sever the cord. As with anything else, the best way to start is with baby steps. You can make safer versions of the cleaning and personal hygiene products around your house by hand, with natural, healthy and cost effective ingredients.
While cost effectiveness tends to be one of the driving reasons to making your own health or cleaning products, other factors should influence homemakers to begin making their own. Knowing where your product came from, knowing all the ingredients going into your product, and knowing how safe your product is for home use are important factors to consider. The first product I chose to make was shampoo, and for good reason, too. Look at your bottle of commercial shampoo; I guarantee there is at least one ingredient you either cannot pronounce or need to be a chemist to know what it even is. Sure, a chemist could draw out the chemical compound sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) for you, but chances are they will be loathe to tell you what it can do to your body. SLES is a chemical compound widely used in the commercial industry for its ability to foam easily, which is why it is widely used in shampoo, toothpaste, and hand soaps. However, most people do not know that SLES is a surfactant, meaning it is great at degreasing as well as foaming, which is why commercial carwashes use it in their soaps. Think about when you are in the shower and you have just rinsed shampoo out of your hair, it feels “squeaky clean,” right? This is not surprising, since that is the purpose of surfactants: they strip away grease. Shampoo does not stop with grease, though; it also strips your hair of the natural oils that keep it healthy. Now you have to add conditioner to your stripped hair and that means coating it in more chemicals to mimic “healthy” hair. Not a pleasant way to clean your hair, is it? Luckily, there are alternate ways of cleaning your hair. Baking soda is one of the most well known shampoos you could use and is great and controlling the amount of oil in your hair without stripping it completely. However, if you are like me and like the foamy, good smelling shampoo, give the recipe below a try and find out how much better your hair feels and looks without using harsh chemicals!
1/4 cup distilled water (you can find this in the bottled water or baby aisle at your grocery store)
1/4 cup liquid Castile Soap (I recommend Dr. Bronner’s® because there are no GMOs in their products)
2 tsp jojoba oil
1/8 tsp essential oils ( I like tea tree for disinfecting properties, but you could use any flavor you like)
Combine all ingredients, add 1/4 cup distilled water, and store in a flip cap bottle. To use, gently swirl to mix the oils and then add directly to your scalp a little at a time until the scalp is covered. There is no need to run it through all of your hair since shampooing is meant for cleaning the scalp.
Once you have made this shampoo, try experimenting with different essential oils and herbs to extract all the benefits they offer. The cost up front may be more than buying the commercial shampoo, but you will save money in the end since you can make this when you need it, and you will not have to buy the ingredients for at least another 4-6 months, depending on the size of your household. To stretch your dollar more, use baking soda in between sessions to control the oil that is in your hair. If you find your hair is getting dry or has static, give yourself a weekend when you are not going anywhere for a deep conditioning treatment. One simple way is to comb warm coconut/olive/jojoba oil evenly through your hair and let it sit for an hour, preferably in a warm place. Then you can gently shampoo and let the hair dry naturally. You may notice that it looks “greasy” but after a few more shampoos, your hair have luster and feel soft. Another way to condition is to dilute equal amounts of apple cider vinegar (with the “mother”) and distilled water. To use, simply spray and comb through your hair after shampooing. Be sure to rinse this out well, or you will smell of vinegar after your shower.
This shampoo recipe is a quick and easy way to start taking your life back from the toxic fetters that corporations have placed on you are your family through the making and selling of untested and unsafe products. There are many resources available, (through books and the internet), that can give you more tips and instruction on replacing all of your cleaning and hygiene products with safer and more effective alternatives.