Many shampoos are labeled gentle but when you become aware of the effects their ingredients can have on your health and the environment, you quickly learn they're not gentle at all. Many companies add harsh detergents to clean hair, and use chemicals to make shampoo form a lather as well as look and smell pleasant. According to the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia (see Reference 1), many of the ingredients in shampoo, such as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, are known carcinogens. In addition to irritating the skin, these toxic ingredients can also potentially cause cancer. You can make your own biodegradable shampoo to clean your hair while ensuring you and your family are not being exposed to chemical ingredients that could have short-term and long-term adverse affects on your health.
What is Biodegradable?
The Biodegradable Products Institute says many products labeled compostable or biodegradable are often only partly so because they contain tiny fragments of plastic that do not biodegrade once they're disposed of in a landfill (see Reference 3). Biodegradable shampoo is made from ingredients that can decompose completely, often with the aid of bacteria. A shampoo that's made from biodegradable ingredients will not contaminate water systems or introduce nonbiodegradable substances into the soil.
Biodegradable Cleansing Ingredients
Baking soda is a natural, nonsudsing cleansing agent that cleans hair and removes odors (see Reference 1). It's also effective for fighting dandruff (see Reference 2). You can alternate using two beaten eggs or a thin paste made from equal parts of baking soda and water to wash your hair. Either cleansing agent can be massaged into your scalp and hair to remove dirt and odor. Once you've rinsed the biodegradable cleansing agent, follow with a rinse solution made from 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with 1/2 cup of warm water. This helps remove any remaining cleansing agent and leaves your hair shiny.
Natural Shampoo Fragrance
Consumers that buy fragranced shampoo because they love the scent are often unaware that the chemical fragrance can contain carcinogenic compounds (see Reference 1). You can add fragrance to your hair naturally with your own fragranced biodegradable shampoo. Steep 1/4 cup of fresh peppermint leaves or one orange rind in 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes. Pour the water through a sieve to separate it from the leaves or rind. Use a portion of the fragranced water mixed with baking soda to cleanser your hair. Pour the remainder of the fragranced water over your hair as a final rinse.
Follow Up With a Natural, Effective Conditioner
In the long-run, baking soda is good for your hair and scalp. But initially it can cause your hair to feel and look a little dry (see Reference 2). If dry hair is a concern, counteract it by following your biodegradable shampoo with a natural, biodegradable conditioner. Mix 1 cup of warm beer with 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil (see Reference 1). Pour this over your hair after shampooing and work it through to the ends. Rinse the conditioner out with warm water before towel-drying your hair.
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.
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