Thursday, April 30, 2009

Never use shampoo again

I have not washed my hair in over a year. At least, not the way most of us would consider 'washed' i.e. with shampoo and conditioner. I have also long since tossed out or given away all of my formerly 'absolutely necessary' face and body washing, moisturizing and primping products – lotions, creams, gels, oils, lip gloss – everything. I am, like we all are I suppose, a little vain. So this was scary. But I was ready to be through with petroleum-based products and I craved a natural and safe health and beauty regimen.

Over the past year I have experimented with natural/edible things from my kitchen to keep me clean, healthy and sweet. My first experiment, using yogurt to wash my hair, face and body, was a partial success. It left my skin soft, clean and moisturized and was effective at removing the new 'pure mineral powder' make up I had switched to. My hair was another story. Yogurt left my hair clean and soft but every now and then I would sense a faint waft of newborn baby milk vomit. Not good.

I found my next inspiration as I wiped some egg beaters clean, to make a merengue, with a little apple cider vinegar - good for removing traces of oil, grease, dirt. Perfect. For about four months I washed my hair with a 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in a liter of warm water. It left my hair soft, clean and smelling fresh but I also felt my hair becoming very fragile and concluded the a.c.v. to be too strong, even as diluted as it was.

I went back to researching alternatives and at a local SlowFood meeting I met a certified organic hairdresser. She uses clay powder to wash her own and her customer's hair, as they also do (I discovered) in a traditional hammam spa. I had some clay at home that I had bought at Vallåkra Stenkärlsfabrik, an excellent local and traditional pottery with an equally excellent restaurant that I will have to write about another time.

I dried the clay, ground a piece of it in a mortar and pestle, mixed the powder with warm water to a smooth creaminess. It worked perfectly. I loved it. And I used it to wash my hair approximately every two to three days for about six months. But - it was a hassle to pound and mix each time. And, it was a mess in the shower. And, sometimes my hair felt too squeaky clean! And dry. In a dry climate my hair was possessed by static electricity.

My first thought was to find a natural conditioner. In books and on websites about home spa remedies I found that egg yolks, honey and avocado were often recommended. Since I try to eat local I skipped the avocado and mixed an egg yolk with a teaspoon of honey. This mix worked so well as both a shampoo and conditioner that I soon dropped the clay mess altogether. One caution though - don't have the water too hot when you rinse or you will have bits of cooked egg in your hair.

Almost everyone I tell about my experiments has one big concern - they love the beautiful fragrances of their beauty products in the shower/bath and how it lingers in their hair and on their skin like perfume. I'm no different and I have been rinsing my hair, from the very start, with different herb/flower/spice infusion rinses. I use lemon balm, rosemary, mint, cinnammon, cloves, ginger, vanilla, lavendar, rose, violet, and more. My favorite rinse of the moment is to re-steep the tea bags/leaves from my breakfast tea for a tea rinse - earl grey, french breakfast, fruit flavored teas, and rooibos with vanilla flavor are wonderful.

I have been the guinea pig so you don't have to. Here is what works best for me.

Every 3 to 4 days - 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon honey and a drop or two of real vanilla essence - for best results, separate the white and the yolk first (use the white to make marshmallow cream) then hold the yolk gently in your hand and prick it twice with the tines of a fork, squeeze and let the creamy yolk run into a glass and toss the yolk skin which is more heat sensitive and could leave behind eggy bits in your hair.
Every shower - rinse with infusion of tea and/or herbs/flowers/spices

Morning/night – Wash face with organic high fat yogurt and washcloth
Every shower - Wash face and body with organic high fat yogurt and washcloth, rinse with infusion of tea and/or herbs/flowers/spices
For dry skin – rub a few drops of organic canola oil on dry skin

The few non-homemade products that I do still use are: toothpaste, a small collection of nice perfumes, pure mineral powder foundation and rouge, and a hand soap made exclusively from saponified organic olive. I'm also using an organic mascara but I'm currently in the process of experimenting with an agar agar gel mixed with brown and black eye-shadow powder from the pure mineral source. Any and all ideas are welcome.

Bon courage!