Thursday, July 22, 2010

DIY Animal-Free Shampoo

A fair bit of this blog's focus in its first few years was anti-consumerist in nature. Tips on how to wean yourself off the sort of materialistic self-indulgences were always qualified in some way with an emphasis on using methods free of animal exploitation, of course, but my intended message was as much about living a more simple, affordable and sustainable life as it was about being vegan. The important thing is that these aren't mutually exclusive. Veganism can be expensive, depending on how reliant you choose to be on commercial products to substitute the commercial products you used previously. The thing is, though, that it's easy to cut costs by making things from scratch. Often, using this approach also means living the sort of life that's more gentle on the planet's resources -- the resources upon which all other animals (human or non-human) also rely. Even if pinching pennies isn't a motivating factor for you, think of how all of kinds of simple little changes in how you consume could add up and make a difference.

Cleaning products and personal care products are sometimes highly toxic, often overly-packaged and unless you specifically choose ones that are designated as vegan, invariably end up using animal ingredients and involve heavy animal testing. Also, unless you select products that are organic or where the emphasis is placed on using natural ingredients that are mostly plant-derived, your products, regardless of being animal free, will still contain harsh chemicals which are no better for your own body than for the environment. So what's a penny-pinching and environmentally conscious vegan to do? Experiment with making your own stuff. For instance, you can start with one particular product, like shampoo.

This Instructables post on DIY shampoo is actually one of my favourites. It describes a whopping ten different ways to make your own shampoo, catering each to individual preferences or needs. Starting off with a basic recipe, the author of the instructable moves on to provide variations to stimulate, quench, soothe, de-flake, shine or rejuvenate your hair. She throws in one variation for the sake of its amazing smell (coconut and vanilla!) and one for a dry shampoo. Her final -- "No 'Poo" -- is one of the most basic recipes imaginable, using baking soda, water and apple cider vinegar. Please note that the author isn't vegan and that these recipes are mostly "accidentally" animal-free, except the last one, where she mentions the option of adding honey. Please leave the honey for the bees and while you're at it, check out a better variation of a "No Poo" recipe here at the Big Raw & Vegan Blog.

For those with hair prone to appearing greasy near the roots, do what my old Hungarian roommate in university used to do and apply a little bit of cornstarch to the roots, lightly rubbing it into your hair and then combing it out well with a fine-tooth comb. The cornstarch absorbs the grease and anything else stuck to your hair thanks to the grease. The important thing to remember when using this method is that it can be messy (so do it over a sink) and that you should start with the least amount of corn starch you can, adding more as you need it; otherwise, you'll end up with a lot of white powder in your hair and... will have to wash it! Well-dried arrowroot can apparently serve the same purpose (and pose the same problems if you go to heavy on it).On the other hand, for a moisturizing "shampoo", I've found several references online to taking a ripe avocado, mashing it with just enough baking soda to make a paste, then rubbing that into your hair and massaging your scalp well. Rinse it out well when done and your hair will supposedly be left very soft.

For more DIY shampoo recipes, a few Google searches will bring up hundreds, many of them similar variations on the ones I've mentioned or to which I've linked. All it takes is a little trial and error until you find the one that's right for you, which is what you'd do shopping around for a new store-bought shampoo, anyway. In this case, however, you don't have to plunk down $7-12 to test something out since many of the ingredients you need you can find at home or buy in smaller quantities.

If you have a favourite recipe for homemade shampoo, please share it below. If you try any of the ones I've mentioned, do please leave a comment to let me know how it went. Expect a My Face Is on Fire post on homemade hair conditioner over the next few days and in the interim, if there are any other products for which you'd like some DIY suggestions, just drop me a line.


vegan0 said...

We haven't tried shampoo yet (with a Whole Foods nearby, it's pretty easy to have a choice of animal-free shampoo options - although, cheap, they are not) but we have been making our own bar soap for a long time now. A little complicated, requires some hardware (all of which we use regularly for other kitchen purposes) and takes some extra caution with lye, but a batch lasts a long time, it's fun and definitely cheaper than store-bought.

I'll have to try out some of the shampoo recipes listed - thanks for the post. As of late, I've been less than pleased with the brand of shampoo we get (the cheapest vegan brand WF carries) ... thyme scented shampoo doesn't do it for me.

Anardana said...

I just use pure soaps on my hair. I go on etsy and order from women who make their own soap, indie-style. I like the ones that are pretty much just olive oil, coconut oil, and the stuff that makes soap soap-ify (lye). I avoid the ones with glycerine in the ingredients, because that makes my hair sticky. Good soap works perfectly fine for hair.

M said...

Thanks for sharing this!

Zucchini Breath said...

Hey, thank you very much for linking to me. I just saw this :)

M said...

It was my pleasure!