• Ivania

DIY natural hygiene & skincare, Pt 1: Shampoo

In late December last year I decided to try going "no 'poo." I tried it once, when I was about 15 but gave up pretty quickly. My hair was perpetually greasy, the baking soda rinse made it feel weird and I loathed the lingering smell of the apple cider vinegar.

About 3 months postpartum, my hair started to shed like crazy (moms, you know the struggle). I knew it was normal, but my scalp also started to react to my shampoo and it was itching a ton. I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on a more "natural" brand, a) because it's so expensive and b) I wasn't convinced it would make a difference. So I decided to try ditching shampoo again. I also knew that if I wanted to stick with it, I'd have to do a lot more reading first. I knew I didn't want to use baking soda and vinegar again, so I looked into alternative hair washing methods. I learned that the ph balance of what you use is very important! Baking soda is too alkaline and vinegar is too acidic to use on hair. And combining them is no good. You can read all about it here, I found the article super helpful and I loosely base my new hair washing method on what I read in it. I decided to give soap nuts a try, since that's what was recommended. I bought a bag of them at bulk barn and did some experimenting.

My first few attempts involved just boiling 5 shells or so in some water for a few minutes. The blog that I linked above has some recipes for hair wash, but I kinda wanted to try doing my own thing before going out and buying a bunch of stuff I didn't currently have. I let the liquid cool, and poured it in my hair while I showered. The results were...not great. My hair felt like I'd rubbed half a bottle of styling cream in it, it had a weird residue and looked super greasy. I initially dismissed this as the dreaded "detox" phase of ditching shampoo, but after a solid month, I decided something needed to change.

I read that harder water can leave a heavy residue in hair that isn't being shampooed, so I bought a water softener for my shower head. Sadly, this did not make a difference.

I then read another blog post (that I can't find now) about combining citric acid with the soap nut liquid if you have hard water. I squeezed half a lemon into the soap liquid and gave that a try.

The result was amazing. My hair felt clean and similar to how it felt when I used shampoo, minus the awful awful itching! I've now been using this super simple recipe for a little over a month, and I love it. My hair loss has lessened considerably, my head doesn't itch, my hair has a bit more wave to it and it's so much cheaper than buying shampoo!

If you're interested in giving it a try, here's what I do.

Ivania's Soap Nut Hair Wash

You will need:

3 ish cups of water (unfiltered is better if you have it)

4-5 soap nut shells

Half a lime or lemon

3-4 drops of essential oils of your choice (I love rose and lavender)

A small pot

A sieve


  • Put the shells and water in the pot and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce it to a simmer and leave it for 30+ minutes, but watch that it doesn't all evaporate! I usually take it off once there's about a cup of liquid left.

  • Let cool. Remove the shells (I like to squeeze them out first). Add the lime or lemon juice.

  • Strain the liquid through the sieve, into a small measuring cup or a peri bottle (something that makes it easy to pour over your hair).

  • Add your desired essential oils.

Use within 24 hours. You can try making a larger batch and store it in the fridge for up to a week. I don't do this, because I try to only wash my hair once a week, so there's not much point.

To use, Wet your hair in the shower or bath. Pour the soap mix onto your scalp and massage it in for a minute or two. Leave it in for about ten minutes, then rinse it out, scrubbing your scalp well with your fingertips as you rinse.

That's it! If you're only just starting to go no 'poo, you may not find it does much right away. I recommend committing to a solid month or two before you give up! If, after that time, your hair is still super greasy, you may want to try playing around with the recipe. Every head of hair is different and you'll need to do a bit of trial and error to see what works best for you.

If you have a DIY hair cleanser you love, I'd love to hear about it! My goal is to eventually replace all of my store-bought products with affordable, home-made ones. So far I've got;

  • Shampoo

  • Face Cleanser

  • Moisturizer

  • Toner

  • Deodorant

I will do individual posts at some point and then link them here.

I'm still wanting to add:

  • Perfume

  • Lip Balm

  • Shaving Cream

  • Toothpaste

If you have recipes for the above, please send them to me! I love trying out new stuff.



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