The search for a satisfactory all-natural shampoo is not going well for some of us, especially those with allergies, problem hair, or simply a preference to eschew chemicals. On recommendation from those who praise the old-fashioned castile soaps that can be used, allegedly, for virtually any hygienic purpose at all, the decision was made to buy some of the Dr. Bronner’s brand of liquid soap to use as shampoo. The various websites (too numerous to mention here) listing methods of making one’s own shampoo, free of artificial chemicals, instructed the mix of this base and water, or any herbal infusion of your choice, in a 1:1 ratio, for the most part. Others claimed 3:1 (water to soap) or 2:1. No clear prevalence appears to take the lead so all three ratios were explored.
The first ratio sampled was 3:1, with the “3” referring to a chamomile infusion. This particular herbal tea (with no additives) is the preference for those with blonde hair. Unfortunately, the instructions on all of the websites proclaiming the wonders of this, as well as other herbal infusions, never mentioned that there will appear very tiny particulate matter floating around in the mixture. No matter how often you strain the infusion, the same results will occur. Your shampoo mix will therefore be somewhat tainted.
Next, the 1:1 ratio was explored. The resultant shampoo was strong enough to turn even the oiliest hair quite brittle. As in the first case, chamomile herbal tea was the other half of the blend. Frankly, this concoction could probably be used to scrub down the entire shower stall. This certainly was not desirable.
Last, the 2:1 ratio was settled upon, using plain filtered water. Once again, this was too harsh. Stripping even greasy hair of its natural oil is not a good idea, as the scalp will only produce more oil to compensate. Overly-dry hair is not healthy hair.
In each case, an alarming situation was discovered: the castile shampoo leaves residue that coats your hair. This, in turn, shows up on your brush and comb. You will observe it as a slimy yet powdery grime that clings to each hair, and builds up on your scalp. Repeated washing only adds more of the residue, and rinsing it no matter how often with vinegar, as suggested in the aforementioned websites, does nothing. Some claim to get benefits from apple cider vinegar, others say white vinegar. Some also claim to water the vinegar of your choice down (usually the ratio is 1:1), others advocate using it straight. It really won’t matter—you’re stuck with this thick goo. The only solution is a clarifying shampoo followed by the vinegar rinse, again and again, until your hair is free of this stuff.
While there are also websites claiming you need to use Dr. Bronner’s for at least a month or more before getting rid of these deposits, this makes no sense. The idea that the gunk is really just all the chemical residue from previous shampoo brands won’t stand up to the fact that this substance was not there earlier at all. Adding more of the same product will only clog up your hair follicles, mess up your scalp, and cause your hair to break off eventually.
The truth is that this product is really a soap, not a shampoo, and that doesn’t change. Soap does, indeed, no matter how natural, leave residue. It may work well as a body wash, since that can be easily scrubbed and rinsed off in the shower. Hair and scalp, however, are much more difficult to rinse clean because of the delicate nature of hair in general. Repeated rough treatment of hair causes it to become damaged.
At this time, no suitable natural shampoo has been found that works well on every type of hair, which does not also contain ingredients many people wish to avoid. All saponified products are going to have, at some point in their manufacturing process, contained lye. This is what many of us prefer to leave out of our hair, but face it, it’s not possible. Those who advocate using baking soda only will also have the residue problem, not to mention simply no clean hair from this method. The hunt will go on…
For a description of one other consumer’s bad experience with Dr. Bronner’s as shampoo, see: www.accidentallygreen.com/my-lovehate-relationship-with-castile-soap/