Our intrepid Green Guy becomes a convert to DIY shampoo with coconut milk, essential oils and castile soap
I’ve always been skeptical of the Do-It-Yourself movement. I know what I’m capable of (and not so capable of) and that means I leave most things to the professionals. Truth be told, I’m also incredibly lazy when I have the choice of buying something versus making it.
I do have a few friends who make their own household products, though, and they make it sound really, really easy—like, “pour this and that into here and you’re done.” So the DIY idea started to grow on me. But I had no clue about what kind of product I’d want to make myself. During a shower one day, it hit me: I should make shampoo.
I’ve been a Pantene user most of my life and never really stopped to read the ingredients. When I finally checked them out, I realized that shampoo is exactly what I should be making at home. For years, I’ve been coating my hair with stuff like ammonium xylenesulfonate and methylchloroisothiazolinone. I don’t know about you, but if I can’t pronounce it in three tries, I don’t want it near me. Instead, I started researching DIY shampoo recipes and finally found one that seemed incredibly easy, even for me.
The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of castile soap (like the ever-popular Dr. Bronners), 1/4 cup of coconut milk, around 20 drops of the essential oil of your choice, and some optional vitamin E oil, if that’s your thing. It’s not my thing, so I skipped the vitamin E oil. And since I chose the peppermint-hemp Dr. Bronners to use as a base, I didn’t really need any essential oil, either.
While some people may gravitate toward lavender-blueberry and rosemary-vanilla, I decided that plain peppermint was the best my hair could hope for. I also made the decision to swap coconut milk for pure coconut cream (available at Trader Joe’s and health stores) in order to get a slightly thicker consistency in my shampoo. That left me with just two ingredients, i.e. “pour this and this into here and you’re done.”
I was still skeptical that it would work, but after a few test-showers, I have to say that I’m a DIY shampoo convert. It was fantastic. The concoction lathered up like traditional shampoo, cleaned my hair nicely, and left a faint peppermint smell that made me feel like my hair had really nice breath all day. The one issue I found is that after rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, I was left with a bit of waxy residue. It goes away when you dry your hair, but it was definitely a little off-putting. Honestly, though, if a little waxiness is the biggest problem I have to deal with, that’s a small price to pay to say goodbye to methylchloroisothiazolinone forever.
Does this mean I’m going to make the move to DIY for all of my home products? Probably not. I mean, come on, I’m still pretty lazy. The shampoo is a nice start, though. By making it myself, I’m saving money, excising unnecessary chemicals from my life, and giving myself the greatest gift of all: that smug satisfaction that comes from using something you made with your own two hands.
Jason Kessler is a lifestyle writer/columnist for Bon Appetit, Food Republic and a slew of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @TheHungryClown.