As an avid beauty bargain hunter, I'm always looking for new ways to make my monthly toiletries haul more pocket-friendly. But when it came to considering trying everyday household products to wash my hair, something always seemed to hold me back. Devoted to the pearlescent shine and fruity fragrances of my favorite shampoo and conditioner combo, my hair follicles always mentally recoiled at the idea of washing my hair with dish soap, assuming it would leave my long locks brittle, damaged, and incredibly lackluster.
But after a procrastinatory Google search one afternoon on the "no-poo method", I was left pretty intrigued. Not only were there some great shampoo and conditioner alternative recipes available which cost mere pence to concoct, I also started to realize how brainwashed I'd been by the beauty industry's "shampoo is a necessity" myth. My reason for balking at household product shampoo alternatives had always been the fear of damaging my hair.
In actual fact, shampoo is a natural-oils-stripping detergent, depriving your hair of the sebum that helps to keep it hair soft and strong, and causing your hair to compensate by over-producing oil, leaving it prone to grease far sooner than it would be naturally. A relatively new product of our consumerist society and beauty myth-induced aesthetic insecurities combined, shampoo was originally created to replace the use of soap in hair washing at the start of the 20th century, when water in civilized areas became more alkaline. As a result of its oil-stripping ways, the dastardly beauty industry was subsequently also able to market us an artificial protectant: conditioner.
Over the last 100 years, the marketing of hair cleansing products has been so effective that the majority of us have bought into the myth that damaging, chemically-saturated shampoo is an essential part of our daily cleaning routine — which is actually a total lie. If you're looking to try the all-natural route to haircare, or simply want to cut your weekly spend, there are plenty of weird but surprisingly effective natural products which you'll easily find lurking in your kitchen cupboards. To give your hair the all-natural overhaul it's been waiting for, give one of these wonder products a go!
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda is perfect for cleansing your hair of chemical build-up while also being slightly alkaline, very gentle, and ridiculously cheap to use. To create your own baking soda 'poo substitute, start by combining one tablespoon of baking soda with one cup of water. Please note, this simple recipe is so open to customization, so experiment and see what ratio works best for you — those with fine hair may need a smaller quantity of baking soda, whilst those with very long, thick or curly hair may need more. Then grab an old rinsed-out water bottle, pour in your mixture, and shake hard to ensure all of the baking soda is dissolved. Perfect!
Mildly acidic, apple cider vinegar is great for counteracting the slightly drying effects of the baking soda, and makes an amazingly effective replacement for conditioner. This multitasking beauty can detangle your hair follicles, seal your cuticles, and right your hair's pH — and what's more, it's incredibly economical, requiring only around a teaspoon of vinegar to one cup of water on average (depending on how dry or oily your hair is naturally). Take an old water bottle, fill with your vinegar and water concoction, then shake to ensure an even mix.
3. Egg Whites
Feed your moisture-hungry hair with your breakfast! Simply take 2-3 eggs (depending on the length and thickness of your hair), separate yolks from whites, and work the egg whites through your roots to the tips, rinsing thoroughly afterwards. If you're still pining after your beloved shampoo this will act as the perfect natural replacement for you, as the bacteria-combating enzymes contained in egg whites cause them to full-on foam; removing dirt, oil and impurities quickly and easily. What's more, you'll be left with an ultra-shiny, super-soft barnet. When you can buy your hair cleansing products at 6 for $1, why even consider the expensive, chemically-saturated alternative?
4. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is gentle, antibacterial, protects your hair from damage, and offers a gorgeous healthy shine. You can use a natural aloe gel to dramatically improve the health of your hair between washes by softly massaging into your scalp, then rinsing as you would shampoo. Alternatively, here is a simple recipe for a all-natural aloe-based leave-in conditioner, using the sap from a garden plant - bargainously brilliant!
5. Green Tea
As a born-and-bred English Rose, I love a nice cup of Rosie Lee, but who knew my hair did, too!? What's more, different types of teas can have different follicle-friendly uses. Green tea contains more electrons than standard black tea, making it the perfect add-on product for giving your hair a dazzling shine. Simply soak three green teabags in a small pan or bowl of boiling water, allow to cool, then remove the teabags and soak your hair with the tea mixture. Rinse after 10-15 minutes, then rinse and condition your hair with one of our natural shampoo and conditioner alternatives to really lock in that shine.
If you're still not 100% sold on our apple cider vinegar method, why not try honey as a deep-conditioning hair masque instead? Simply mix around 1/2 a cup of honey with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (again dependent on hair length and thickness), smooth it into your washed wet hair, and leave for 15-30 minutes, concentrating on your lengths and roots. Then simply rinse it clean and enjoy your newly-moisturized 'do!
7. Corn Starch
Overslept? Rushing out for drinks or a hot date after work, with no time to wash your hair? My friend, there are more natural alternatives than just blindly reaching for the nearest can of dry shampoo, so why not have your own ready-made batch on standby instead! This is one of the cheapest, simplest dry shampoo recipes around. Simply fill a salt shaker with corn starch, shake gently into the roots of your hair, then brush through, removing the excess dirt and oil from your hair like magic. Again, this recipe is unbelievably easy to customize. Want scented dry shampoo? Add dried petals such as rose or lavender, and store in a cool dry place for two weeks in a jar with a tight lid. Tada! Gorgeously fragrant-smelling follicles!
Alternatively, if you have dark hair and get sick of brushing away those tell-tale white smears, mix your cornstarch with cocoa powder for deliciously chocolatey-scented brunette dry shampoo!