Eco-Friendly Hair Cleansing Experiment #1

Why are you doing all of this? Aren’t you a former Shopaholic?

There’s only one answer.

The real FB is gone and I’m her replacement. Granola Hippy FB.

I kid! I kid.

But to avoid dodging the question, yes. Yes I am a former Shopaholic. But I’ve realized that it applies mostly to technology, shoes and clothes now.

It was at one point in my life, overshopping with makeup with lots of different shampoos and lotions in the past, but it’s not really my thing any more because I hate seeing clutter in the bathroom now.

I also wanted to be more chemical-free this 2009. It was one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

I know, shocking.

I wanted to try and stick to a NY Resolution. WTF?

Anyway, the one last thing to get rid of in the household is my beauty stuff. I am talking about my shampoo and conditioner, because the soap, facial cleanser and moisturizers are DEFINITELY staying.

(I can’t find alternatives for them, other than using the Toner in the morning and at night, but I am not wearing makeup every day, nor going outside every day so all that pollution & gunk doesn’t need to be removed on a daily basis)

What about Lush?

Did you want to hear the real reason or the half-real reason? πŸ˜›

Just kidding.

Reason #1

I find them too expensive for the quality. They sure smell great, and look fun, but I wanted to find a more frugal, eco-friendly, chemical-free solution for everything I can in my life.

Reason #2

I am not 100% convinced that Lush products are any better for the environment than regular shampoos and conditioners.

I know they say they are, but companies say a lot of things they don’t mean because they’re not very strictly regulated.

Case in point: Lush Reincarnate Solid Shampoos – $7.95 for 100 grams

Ouch. So small and almost $10?

Plus, they have perfumes in them, and I’m trying to avoid all chemicals as a test to see if it can be done.

Okay okay. So what’s the toxic nasty in shampoos and conditioners this time?

The main thing to avoid is something called “Sodium Laurel Sulfate”, which apparently can cause hormone imbalances and lots of other nasty icky things.

Here’s a SHORT list of the ingredients in a regular chemical shampoo:

Sodium Laureth Sulfate – used in clinical testing as a primary skin irritant. Tests on lab animals indicate material may cause mutagenic effects.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine – potential irritant and potentially contaminated with or breaking down into chemicals linked to cancer,

Ammonium Chloride – Harmful if swallowed. May be harmful by inhalation. Skin, eye and respiratory irritant

Source: See the entire list of ingredients here.

Wow. SLS is pretty nasty, but it usually ends up in a lot of cleansing products like soaps and shampoos, so trying to get things that are SLS is a good idea.

Anyway, my direct for 2009 was to get rid of as many chemicals as possible.

Yes, I am aware that baking soda and vinegar are both chemicals, but it isn’t 15 different chemicals in a shampoo soup, and those shampoo soup chemicals seem nastier for the environment and for human skin.

I just feel better using as little as possible without compromising on beauty. I AM a girl after all.

Longer addendum on chemicals:

Everything is a chemical. I get it. (read my original sentence above on baking soda and vinegar).

When I say chemicals, I mean it in a layman’s term to refer to chemicals that alter hormones, that are questionable for long-term human usage because they haven’t been proven and odd studies (no matter how frou-frou or out there) are popping up to say that chemicals are not all good in long term usage (which we knew – hell we used white lead in makeup long ago without knowing!).

Stuff I am trying to avoid: SLS in detergents, Teflon coatings, detergents to clean dishes that hurt the environment by promoting algae, BPAs, leeching from plastics, bleach.

THOSE chemicals. Not eco-friendly, human-friendly, odd chemicals.

I am just a girl trying to reduce usage of harmful chemicals that we don’t understand the effects of, and to help reduce my footprint on the environment.

Wait, does Lush contain any of this stuff?

Actually yeah.. it does.

They’re sneaky. On the site, they highlight the ingredients that are Retro in black, and Vegan in green.

But the Retro stuff, like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is one of the environmental nasties.

And just because the other things are Vegan or Natural, doesn’t mean it’s good for your skin.

So… to me, expensive, and not eco-friendly, filled with chemicals..

I think baking soda and vinegar is a better alternative to test out for a while since I’m not working, so no one will have the pleasure of any odd smells. (Other than BF, who loves me anyway.)

So how is dirt actually removed from your hair?

They say rinsing your hair with water does the trick. BF swears by it, but a girl, this is a big fat NO WORKIE for me.

It doesn’t work for girls with long hair, who like the fluffy feeling of clean hair.

But, since BF swore by it, I tried just rinsing my hair with water which they say gets rid of 90% of all the dirt.


However, the 10% left behind is oil, and dirt that isn’t easily removed, which makes my head and hair feel ICKY since my hair is longer.

It does not work unless you plan on rinsing your hair every day (which I don’t, since I wash my hair every other day, and I really don’t see how water can get rid of the oil in your hair without scrubbing your scalp.

but if you have short hair, go for it. BF has short hair, he scrubs his head with a wash cloth and water, and it gets out ALL of the oil, and it really looks and feels fluffy.

I petted his head today as a test after he showered.

Baking Sodas Other Fabulous Uses

Counter Cleaner/General Scrub
It works GREAT if you use it to clean your counters (with just a bit of water). The scrubby action of the baking soda is way better than any chemical BF has tried.

Facial Cleanser
I have also successfully used it on my face by mixing it with my facial cleanser to create a quick and easy scrub. The granules of the baking soda are so small, they won’t tear your pores, but I should caution you to be gentle anyway.

Baking Sodas for the Hair

I had tried baking soda to clean my hair before. Only once.

And I hated it, but I thought I’d give it another shot in the name of being a Guinea Pig for your reading pleasure.

I think I may have also done it wrong and not have given it a fighting chance.


Okay, who was I to know that you are only supposed to use ONE tablespoon of baking soda to a cup of water?

I basically poured a handful of baking soda into a bowl, added the same amount of water to make a thick kind of runny paste and spread it through my hair.

DO NOT try that at home, kids.

It was clumpy, it made my fingers feel weird, my hair felt really dried out and gross, and I had to try and work that into my SCALP? It was just not getting into my scalp, but I did feel it cleaning the oil off (I guess the scrubby action works there too, and probably soaks up some of the oil in the mean time).

No can do with a baking soda paste, however.

Apparently a baking soda solution is the way to go, with one table spoon to a cup of water.

I’ll try that in the next experiment.

I rinsed the paste out of my hair.


Never, ever, mix baking soda with white vinegar.

I have not tried this, but I’ve been told it is not pretty.


I rinsed again to be sure I got all the baking soda out.

Then I tried white vinegar poured into a cup with 2 parts of water (1 part vinegar, 2 parts water).

It felt all right in my hair, but BF was tsking me all the way while panicking that I was going to burn my hair off.

It didn’t burn off my hair, but it didn’t seem to do much as far as I could tell.

I let my hair dry and..


It worked and it was surprisingly good.

<---- No seriously, I felt like my hair was like that, but a bit fluffier/drier. My hair feels very clean, just as clean as if I had shampooed it.

The one feeling I hate is that I do feel like my ends are a tad too dry.

I almost want to do a leave-in conditioner on the ends or SOMETHING. I hear coconut oil is the best natural conditioner for your hair.

But is it possible that my hair looked even shinier than usual? No, right?

Well it does. Or maybe it’s just a placebo effect.

Either way, I’ll take it!

But I want to make some changes for the next time because what I went through was NOT pleasant and I would NOT want to do that every 2 days, even for a couple of minutes.


Wrong Vinegar Used

I did some Googling after, and apparently I am supposed to use APPLE CIDER vinegar, not WHITE vinegar.


Apple Cider Vinegar has 4% acid in it, and White Vinegar has 5%.

It may not seem like a big deal to be 1% more, but as we all know in compounding interest, it counts.

Also, Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is derived from apples and white vinegar is not. Apparently ACV is supposed to be used on your hair, as it is more gentle.

Apple cider vinegar is rich in alpha-hydroxy acids, helping to dissolve fatty deposits on the skin’s surface and reducing scaly conditions, promoting a softer, smoother appearance. This miracle fluid also regulates the pH of the skin.

I guess you can actually use it to soak your tired, dry, scaly feet in and it helps your skin rejuvenute.

No kidding!

Okay, white vinegar? Out. It stays in the kitchen for cleaning.

Cannot wash my hair daily

You are also not supposed to do it every single day (Baking soda + ACV).

I wash my hair once every two days to let the natural oils build up, but after the second day, I feel icky. I can go a third day if I have to, but it turns into Ponytail day.

Will take time for hair to adjust

They also say it takes about 6 weeks for your hair to get used to not being so chemicalized (sp?), so I’m going to do this right up until I leave for the weekend.

Stay tuned!

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.