For years, the belief had held that one could only have beautiful if they use expensive shampoos and other salon products. Most of us mistakenly conclude that we are doomed to lifeless tresses and split ends if such items do not fit into the budget. Fortunately, this is not necessarily true. While many factors determine hair appearance, from the environment to diet, the shampoo also plays an important role.
When it contains the right ingredients and pH balance, it removes impurities from the hair and scalp and can transmit beneficial nutrients into each strand. Expensive products perform these functions, but a homemade shampoo can do the same if you know where to start. For those on a tight budget who nevertheless demand the best, making customized shampoo at home is an ideal choice.
Making a shampoo base is a complicated procedure, which, while rewarding, is more trouble that it is worth for the beginner. For this reason, I recommend that you purchase a pure soap base to which special ingredients can be added. Some health food stores stock pure shampoo, a liquid soap specifically designed for use on the hair, but few of us have access to such shops.
A more widely accessible alternative is the internet, where you can find numerous vendors of high-quality shampoo base. When choosing a supplier, pay attention to customer ratings, testimonials, and ingredient information. Make sure that the product is pH balanced for hair, as overly acidic or alkaline shampoos have poor effects on delicate tresses. Also, ensure that there is substantial glycerin content in the shampoo.
This ingredient, the natural byproduct of the soap making process, works to moisturize and coat the hair with a protective layer. You can buy shampoo base either in liquid form or in a powder to which you add water yourself to save on shipping costs. If you choose the latter, prepare it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and transfer it to a shampoo bottle.
Another option for those disinclined to online shopping is to make a basic shampoo from readily available items. Even the cheapest shampoo available meets basic pH requirements, so buy a bottle, preferably a clear brand. For each cup of shampoo (non-antibacterial liquid soaps also work well), add a cup of water and two cups of glycerin, which can be found in the baking section or in craft stores. To thicken the mixture and hold everything together, stir in a half cup of borax, which is available in the laundry department. Let your shampoo set up for a day before use.
Certain vitamins are believed to have strengthening effects on the hair when applied via shampoo. Among these are vitamins A, B, and E. If you want to increase the beautifying powers of your shampoo base, simply add the contents of one to four vitamin capsules per cup and blend. You can get the vitamins and extra moisturizing benefits by using certain nutrient-rich vegetable oils. Add a tablespoon of any of the following to a cup of shampoo: wheat germ oil, almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, or grapeseed oil.
The plant kingdom is overflowing with species that are beneficial to the hair. Depending on the plant you use, you can achieve enhanced highlights, intensified dark tones, high-gloss tresses, or bouncy volume. For any of the recommended herbs, you can either use essential oil or make an infusion. To do so, plunge a cup of herbs into a small pot of boiling water, simmer for an hour, strain out the plant matter, and bottle your “tea.” Use the infused water in place of plain water, adding one cup to each cup of shampoo.
One teaspoon per cup of shampoo is sufficient. Rosemary is reputed to stimulate the scalp and improve hair growth. Chamomile adds shine and enhances blonde hair tones. Tea tree oil is commonly used to stop dandruff and an itchy scalp. Sage makes dark hair mildly darker and softens rough hair. Lavender smoothes out ragged strands and is believed to improve scalp health. Adding any of these herbs to your shampoo — or others of your choice — will enhance the fragrance and benefits of a basic shampoo.
Glycerin, by far, is the best ingredient you can use to give your shampoo extra moisturizing power. Four additional tablespoons per cup of soap will give incredible shine to your hair and protect it from the drying effects of styling. Another great hair-nourishing ingredient, as unlikely as it seems, is beer. Mix a cup of this beverage (flat works well) to each cup of shampoo and allow them to set up for a day. When used on the hair, beer shampoo produces incredible sheen and volume. Best of all, the smell will disappear once your hair is dry.
Obviously, making your own unique shampoo blends is far more affordable than buying salon products. However, the benefits are far more than just economic. By altering ingredients, you can get beautiful hair with shine, bounce, or even subtle highlights. After using your own hair-nourishing creations, you will never think of going back to the expensive store brands again.