Why I Stopped Using Commercial Hair Products

We’ve been weaning ourselves away from commercial household and personal products for a while now.

Portland portrait

Being natural in Portland last year.

Having discovered Nutressant, the Kansas City company that makes all manner of organic, non-toxic Substances One Needs for Everyday Life, we never get toothpaste, lotion, deodorant or bar soap at the store anymore.

Nutressant even inspired us to make our own laundry detergent. (DIY dish detergent is next on the list!)

Although I am gradually working toward a totally hippie-fied, all-natural existence, a few transitions have been harder to make.

Like hair. (And a whole host of dog products.)

Several months ago, Zach and I watched a movie called Chemerical. The documentary looks closely at the levels of yucky chemicals an average family is exposed to every day via common household and personal products. The family in the movie is challenged to give up all that stuff and instead use only natural and homemade alternatives for a year.

The college age daughter in the house is all for the experiment. Until it comes to her hair and make-up products. She totally freaks out when forced to get rid of all her storebought stuff and begins secretly hoarding a small stash of it. As I was watching, I remember scoffing at the girl.

“Get with the program,” I thought.

Yeah. Get with the program.

The truth is that the process of switching from commercial shampoos to the natural kind isn’t easy.

Nutressant even warned me when I tried their shampoo – because it’s not petroleum-based, it’s not powerful enough to cut through the residue left on your hair by commercial shampoos, which tend to be petroleum-based.

Only oil breaks down oil. (That’s the secret behind Dawn dish detergent’s magic ability to clean oil-slicked seabirds.)

However, at the time, I wasn’t quite ready to give up all of the other, more expensive, hair gunk I had acquired over time from my stylist.

assortment of hair products

So, I cheated.

I used the expensive hair products and a mixture of Nutressant and commercial shampoo but was never able to cut the cord completely on the chemical-laden stuff. Fail.

However, when I was recently presented with an opportunity to review another kind of handmade, organic shampoo – one that is also safe to use on the dogs – I decided to try a little harder.

It wasn’t easy, but I chucked all those pricey hair products. It’s a new day.

Come back tomorrow to learn about my – and Scooby’s – experience using a Baltimore Bumble Crafts shampoo bar! (And in my case, a vinegar-based hair rinse, too!)

Baltimore Bumble Crafts Lavender Neem Shampoo Bar

Shampoo bar. Image courtesy Baltimore Bumble Crafts.

In the meantime, if you’re thinking about making the change from regular to natural shampoo, check out this guide from A Green Routine.

Have you ever used natural shampoo?

About Crystal K. Wiebe

I live with two formerly wayward dogs, and helping other dogs find new homes is my passion. I recently founded the company Beer Paws to help celebrate the relationship between people and pets.

Posted on October 11, 2012, in Environmentalism, Random Life, Reviews, Wayward Living and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. That’s really admirable. Hope you get on OK with the switch!

  2. I am excited to hear about what you’ve been using, I’d like to switch my hair over to something more natural because it’s so picky about what I use… and I do mean picky, some days frizzy, some days fly aways and static and others slick. It can’t make up it’s mind!

    • There are a lot more choices now for natural shampoos. It seems like you can either go totally DIY and spend almost nothing but potentially have to work a little harder. Or, you can fork over big bucks for high-end products that are more natural. With those, you just have to careful that you’re spending more for good reason. Marketing claims can be deceiving.

  3. So, are you going to do a ‘whose hair is shiniest’ on you and your dog?!

    • Scooby would win that contest, paws down, every time. Ever since I started giving that guy quality food six years ago, he’s been shine-tastic. (Charlie Machete, too.)

  4. You can do it–cut the cords of chemically dependent hair!! Honest. The first meh…2 weeks are rough. Regular shampoo and conditioner conditions (ha. pun) us to desire the sudsy wash and creamy, soft, sleekness of conditioner. It’s an artificial treatment of our hair strands, coating them in oils and other chemicals. The detox period strips the hair of the residue and it’ll be a weird transition of frizzy, coarse, oily, etc until your hair – and scalp – get back to homeostasis. Get through that and you’ll never want to go back. Nor will your scalp. In fact, the more and more I become chem-free, the less tolerant of chemicals and fragrances my body becomes. (I debate whether or not this is a good thing, but that’s another tangent.)

    My ‘poo free process is a regular vinegar rinse with about 1 Tbls apple cider vinegar (ACV) to 1 cup water with every shower. I make up a large batch and put it in a squirt bottle so it’s easy enough to apply directly to the scalp, roots, and ends. Rinse completely. Your hair will smell like vinegar until it dries. Every other week I “wash” with baking soda and water to clean my hair of natural oil build up. This is with 1-2 Tbls of baking soda to 1 cup water, mixed well, and applied to scalp, roots, and hair. It was tricky to get the hang of the proportions and feel for the baking soda wash, and my hair is kind of drab for the next day or two, but it’s super clean!

    Here’s the thing…it’s a bit weird and smelly, I still crave the suds and creamy smoothness sometimes, but I don’t think my hair has looked more natural, healthy, and great since. AND on the cheap. I have short, thick hair with a little bit of curl. The ACV and natural oils have enhanced the best features of color and curl. I still use some styling product although am tempted to make up a batch of flax seed oil (anyone else?!) for gel, but my hair’s natural oils actually do a great job on their own. Plus! My scalp, which can be pretty sensitive to oil and dryness with bouts of dandruff and itchiness, has never felt better.

    Well, there’s my 2 cents…or 3 bucks worth of input. Great post, Crystal!! Good luck and if you need a cheerleader to get through the weird phases of chem-free hair, I’m here for ya’.

  5. Good for you! There is a wonderful store in the UK called “Lush” that sells amazing natural products,

  6. WOW good for you!! I have looked at the DIY laundry detergent but I could not figure out if you could use it in a HE washer.

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