Saturday, November 20, 2010

Homemade Shampoo Journey

Parabens, phthalates, sodium laryl sulfate, animal by-products, dyes, and perfumes.  The majority of beauty products that litter the shelves today have unrecognizable ingredients most of which I can't even pronounce.  As the years have went by, the products we put on our skin and hair have become more commercialized and less pure.  We have strayed away from what Mother Nature has provided and traded in her bounty for chemical laden products cooked up in labs.  The birth of my son was my personal catalyst to lead the cleanest life I possibly could, and that meant taking a good, hard look at not only the things I was putting into our bodies, but on them as well.

Becoming a mother made me slow down and take stock of what I was bringing into our home, putting in our bodies, rubbing on our skin.  I had a rare opportunity to take something in its purest state and alter his whole existence.  Was I going to tarnish his unblemished system with processed junk and hormone disrupting chemicals, or was I going to feed his soul with whole, beautiful, pure food and products?  There was no doubt in my mind.  I began by making every ounce of food that went into his mouth.  No baby food out of a jar, not even once.  It evolved from there.  I began thinking- if I wouldn't give it to him, why would I put it in my mouth, or on my body?  And so began my journey of finding a balance between living in this mass produced, convenience driven society and somehow getting back to the basics.  Eating the foods that the Earth provides.  Buying and using products that don't damage our bodies, our planet, our utter existence.  The use and advocacy of natural beauty products was a logical next step for me.

The more research I did on the chemicals that were so common in the products that fill the beauty aisle, the clearer it became that I needed other options. I've tried many of the natural beauty products out there, and there are some really good ones.  I loved the Burt's Bees line for my son when he was a baby, and I occasionally still use it.  I've tried almost all the natural lines out there, and while I was generally satisfied with their quality, I had two major problems with them.  They were all considerably more expensive than their big name counterparts and most still had some chemicals in them.  On one bottle, it said "92% natural ingredients".  While that may be leaps and bounds better than the products whose only natural ingredient is water, I knew I could do better.

 The more I delved into the world of "natural" products, I was shocked to find out that the FDA does not regulate ingredients in cosmetics whatsoever except in regard to color additives.  What does that mean for us consumers?  Basically, it is up to the individual cosmetic manufacturer to regulate themselves and they are allowed to put whatever they like into their products.  They can call it natural, when in reality it contains many ingredients and chemicals that we would not expect to be in something labeled natural.  And as if things couldn't get worse, cosmetic manufacturers are not even required to register with the FDA, to provide any information about their ingredients, or file any reports with the FDA related to cosmetic related injuries!  Is that sheer lunacy or what?  To read more about the lack of regulation of the cosmetic industry click here.

After arming myself with the knowledge about all the hazardous products I had been using, one thing was certain- I had to start making my own.   I started by looking at the ingredient list on the back of my favorite natural products.  Then I thought about the things that my great grandmother would have had available to her  in her hair washing hay day.  I used both of these tools to come up with my own homemade, 100% natural shampoos.  In reality, shampoo is nothing but soap, water, and fragrance.  Companies fill their products with chemicals for the same reason the food industry uses high fructose corn syrup.  They are cheap, convenient and plentiful.  All these additives are not only detrimental to our bodies, but those same chemicals you are putting on your hair are getting washed down the drain and harming our environment.  For more information on the toxicity of the chemicals found in the shampoo you are likely using please read this article.

The Environmental Working Group has a cosmetic safety database that is the most amazing tool I have found for learning about what chemicals your  favorite beauty products contain.  You can search a wide variety of products, from bronzer to eyeliner, to hairspray and conditioner.  You type in the brand name, such as Bumble and Bumble, or Pantene, and it will give you the ingredient list as well as a rating on a scale from low to high hazard.  You will be appalled when you discover what you have been putting on your body all these years, I know I was.

The true test of homemade shampoo was, will my hair feel as good as it does with store bought brands?  I have to tell you- the difference was drastic.  I know it probably sounds a little far-fetched, but I noticed a difference from the very first shampoo.  My hair was less frizzy, much softer and had more shine, which surprised me because after I had rinsed the shampoo out, my hair felt squeaky clean, almost to the point of feeling stripped and dry.  As I dried it, I feared the worst, but to my amazement it was in the best condition I had seen in a long time. From one shampoo. Seriously.  I have a ton of hair.  It's thick, long, and  tends to be on the coarse side.  One shampoo was all it took to notice a vast improvement in the texture and appearance of my mane.  I was intrigued and excited as I thought about what state my hair would be in after a few months of using my own concoctions.  Chock up another win for Mother Nature's bounty.  The ultimate provider.


  1. Hi Chanda, I am Jenn's mom and I am enjoying reading your blog. Sounds like my hair is like yours so I would love to make the shampoo. Do you plan to post the recipe?

  2. Hi Pam, I am glad you enjoyed reading my blog. I will post the recipes today. I hope you try them and love them!!

  3. Love your blog Chanda...very inspiring to say the least!!! I love that you did a post on smoothies. I try to make smoothies everyday for the kitchen at work and I've gotten most of them hooked! I haven't been sick once this year so far and I attribute most of that to these smoothies. I've been adding spinach to the past few and nobody has even noticed:)

  4. Hi Annie... thank you for the compliment. We have been drinking fruit smoothies every morning for years and the addition of greens has really changed our lives. I too give credit to the smoothie for our family's resistance to illness- I haven't been sick in years :)