Take glycerin for example: a humectant made from vegetable oil (or animal fat) that finds its way into all kinds of body products. It's vaguely edible and made from plants. There should be no problem right? Well... It is made from plants (soy, corn, cottonseed), plants which are often genetically modified. But you can't just go up and press these seeds and expect oil to come out. You can't make the oils at home. They are highly processed and to make glycerin you take a highly processed product and process it more. I try not to consume such processed things, so why would I put it on my body?
Over the years I have experimented with many different hair care products in my quest for finding a natural shampoo that didn't cause any problems for my skin (many products make me break out or get a rash). Sometimes they work wonderfully, sometimes they don't. But they are never quite the same as conventional hair products. In the past I would sometimes cheat and steal some of my sister's shampoo when I visited her. I always loved how my hair felt just after using something like Herbal Essences (note: not very herbal). Then I would start to break out and my hair needed washing again by the next day because it would get so greasy. I don't know what they add to shampoos to make so you can't go very long without washing your hair. It's a racket I'm sure!
Lately, due to frustration, I just haven't been washing my hair. And you know what, my hair is much healthier and softer now. I'm really starting to like my natural oils. And my skin is clearer too when I don't use shampoos, which is a big plus for me!
One thing that I really like to do is to put a clay mask on my hair. I learned about clays and hair from my friend and coworker Risikat. She is an expert on natural black hair care and teaches classes on the subject. She mentioned how good clay masks are for locks. So even though my hair has a very different texture I figured I would give it a try, and I loved it. I usually add clay to shampoo, or to jojoba oil and leave it on my hair for 10 minutes before rinsing it out. Clay is a wonderful, natural addition to home beauty products. Green clay is very absorbent and helps to draw oils, toxic substances, and impurities from the skin and hair. Because it is drawing it can help to stimulate circulation to the skin.
So now I am trying to make a kind of Hair Mud that I can use more regularly. I mixed up some aloe vera gel, green and red clays, distilled water, and some essential oils into a liquid mud mixture. It's very simple and that is kinda the point.
1/4 cup aloe vera gel
3 ounces green clay
1 ounce red clay
10 drops of essential oil* (I used lavender and fennel)
enough distilled* water to make a pourable liquid
*too much essential oil can be overpowering in the mud.
*water needs to be distilled or well boiled to avoid introducing bacteria into the mix.
It's not a shampoo, but is balancing for the hair and helps to wash away excess oils without stripping the hair. One thing to note is that if you stop washing your hair with shampoo, oil production slows down significantly. When you constantly wash out the oils your body goes into oil production super-drive. It takes a few days to weeks to balance out, but the results are worth it in my opinion.
You can purchase clays and many other wonderful herbal products at Mountain Rose Herbs.