SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

January 11, 2014

DIY Hair Care

Hair Tips from Net

So I’m on this bent presently to change it up with regard to my hair.  Have  favorite things I’ve been using for decades.  But I do natural / homemade for face,  body and teeth — why not hair? Interesting  but ultra simple things out there with a seeming general concnsus that plain ole baking soda mixed in water is best for cleansing and totally free of all those nasty chemicals we don’t want in our body.  Huh!   Well, how about the rinses?  Again, a general agreement that water mixed with Pure Apple Cider Vinegar (like Bragg’s)  will be hard to top.  Double Huh!! 

Can’t we jazz this up a bit? I use coconut oil, was wanting to include that in shampoo and/or rinse and maybe something else for extra shine?  C’mon. . .   Well, I’m gonna share with you what I’ve found so far and am inclined to want to try.    But, I’m also asking for anybody with something to share who may have a leg up on me  or some special inside poop you might care to divulge. So I’m looking for a bit of help.  .  lest I resort to my lifelong pattern of frustration which can lead me to whacking on my hair and with my diminished talents in the styling department, that can get dangerous. 

Really am drawn to the first one here which is, and I have bought the coconut to do my own milk for that part of the recipe.  So I have in mind sharing the 2 or 3 recipes that look interesting to me and kinda what I’m after.   You’ll see how to make coconut milk at home which is cheaper and better.  Since what I’m reading about Dr Bronner’s liquid Castile soap is so highly regarded and available almost everywhere AND that it’s economic advantage is so incredible, I’m sending for some. I came across a couple of people writing a user reference and description of how they use Dr Bronner’s soap and it is so amazing that it almost defies logic.  But I’m gonna do it – so many people can’t be that far off the mark. 

At the very least, this will give you some new considerations about improving the health and beauty picture with hair.  This is important when you recall that our skin is our largest organ and anything  we put on it can and will affect the body function.    Also here, I’ve included some chemicals we would be wise to be aware of and try to keep them from our body.  So it’s a lot to think about, hope you enjoy it.  Jan

How to Make Natural Shampoo [Easy Recipe]

natural homemade healthy coconut shampoo kid approved How to Make Natural Shampoo [Easy Recipe] I’ve made natural alternatives to most of our household products and toiletry product, but shampoo was by far the toughest.

I tried the “no-poo” method, which has great results for some, but did not work on me at all (and I have some terrible Christmas pictures to prove it!). If you have coarse hair that isn’t naturally oily, this method may be great for you! I have baby-fine hair and it didn’t work for me.

I also missed the foaming aspect of shampoo (I know… the “foam” in regular shampoo is made by chemicals and detergents…)

I tried plain liquid castille soap, which left a tangled mess, and I tried a bunch of homemade recipes that didn’t work well at all.

Finally, at the inspiration of a natural coconut milk (scented) shampoo that I love, I’ve finally found a recipe that I’m happy with and that doesn’t leave my hair tangled, oily or both.

It works on kids hair too (that’s a picture of my daughter’s newly washed hair) though it isn’t tear free, so watch the eyes!

It’s such an easy recipe that I can’t believe it took me this long to think of it…

Secret ingredient: Coconut Milk!

Natural Homemade Shampoo Recipe:

How to Make Natural Shampoo:

  1. Combine all ingredients in an old shampoo bottle or jar of some kind (pump soap dispensers and even foaming dispensers work well for this. If you use a foaming dispenser, add 1/4 cup of distilled water)
  2. Shake well to mix.
  3. Keep in shower for up to a month.
  4. Shake before each use.
  5. Use about a teaspoon every time you shampoo.
  6. If you use a foaming dispenser, it also makes a great shaving cream- just dilute with 1/4 cup distilled water!

Homemade Coconut Milk

Prep time
5 mins
Cook time
5 mins
Total time
10 mins
Homemade coconut milk from shredded coconut for a healthy and inexpensive milk alternative.
Author: Wellness Mama
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 4-6
  1. Heat water, but don’t boil. It should be hot, but not scalding.
  2. Put coconut in blender or Vitamix and add water. (If all water won’t fit, you can add the water in two batches.)
  3. Blend on high for several minutes until thick and creamy.
  4. Pour through a mesh colander first to get most of the coconut out, and then squeeze through a towel or several thicknesses of cheesecloth to get remaining pieces of coconut out.
  5. If you have to split the water, put all the coconut that you strained out back in the blender, add the remaining water, and repeat.
  6. Flavor options- add in after all coconut has been strained out: ½ tsp vanilla extract, ½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries, 2 tsp cocoa powder + ½ tsp vanilla.
  7. Drink immediately or store in the fridge. Should be used in 3-4 days after making for best flavor and texture. Since there are no preservatives or fillers, the “cream” of the coconut milk may separate on the top if stored in the fridge. Just shake or stir before using.


This post has mushroomed greatly, so I am giving you a link to  One Good Thing by Jillee;  it’s a lovely site anyone could enjoy.Jillee has a recipe up for how to make the coconut milk which I think demonstrates quite well how to do it with photos and all.  It is well done and it will take the fear and mystery out of it.  I had researched and found another site when I was doing David Wolfe’s Melon Berry Kefir (10-01-13) which required a fresh coconut and I needed to know everything how to open and get the fluid out safely.  It was different, but very effective.   By all means, go to Jillee’s site it is a winner:

Of course, this can go on and on as Jillee is recommending  CrunchyBetty’s impetus for getting her started with the coconut milk thing for hair and drinking and so on.  I had a great time there too, as she has recipes for anything one might want to make for body, hair, face and so on..   Her site is:


Have been at this post for some time now and it seems I lost some notes.  For instance, can’t figure out where I got this following information, but I wasn’t going to let that be a reason to disallow it’s being here.  Good info we could all use.. it’s relevant

3 ways to Detox Your Hair

By Carolin

You probably never thought about it but your shampoo is very likely to contain silicone derivatives.

The Good thing is that silicone derivatives adds luster and sheen to your hair.
The Bad thing is that they cause tumor in lungs and thorax.

How they work
Silicone derivatives are used in 99% of the shampoos on the market today. They make the hair look shiny as they coat the hair in a plastic like rap. This might feel okay until you learn that the same plastic coat causes cancer when it is put on lab rats.

The problem
The answer is of course to start using a pure, natural shampoo without these toxins. But we then run in to a problem. If you change to a good shampoo your hair will detoxify.
It will become dry, knotty and literally feel like a birds nest. This happens when the coat is released from the hair unevenly. The natural process can take weeks but you can speed up the process.

How to Detox Your Hair

There are 3 easy ways to do this

    1. Detox bath. Fill up the bath tub and add
      1 cup sea salt
      1 cup Apple cider vinegar
      2 cups of baking soda

      Lie down in the tub and let your hair swish around.
    1. Wash your hair in a paste of shampoo and baking soda
    1. Wash your hair in a paste of shampoo and purifying clay mask

After wards
Then you’re done you will have naturally healthy hair. Now you are all set to start using natural hair care products which do not cause cancer, dandruff and allergic reactions. Don’t be fooled by the first impression of the shampoo bottle in your hand. You have to actually turn it around and read the ingredients. The most common toxic chemicals in shampoo are Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Tetrasodium and Propbylene Glycol.


Cocamidopropyl Betaine

EWG Risk Score:  5 (What’s EWG?)

What is it:

Cocamidopropyl Betaine is a surfactant. (Surfactants give shampoos and detergents their cleansing and lathering properties.) It’s derived from coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine.

Why it’s a risk:

Cocamidopropyl betaine is a known skin, eye, and lung irritant.  Additionally, at high temperatures and under acidic conditions, it can form carcinogenic nitrosamines.

Types of products that use this ingredient:

Shampoo, body wash, dish soap, bubble bath, scrubs

Brands that use this ingredient:
These are the brands we are currently aware of as of the date of this post. If you see a correction is needed or if you have other companies you would like to mention using this ingredient please post it in the “comments” at the bottom of this Chemical of the Day.

Avalon Organics
Physicians Formula
Maggie Blue
Essence of Wellbeing
Aura Cacia
Kiss My Face

Steph’s Opinion:

See update below


I’ve been asked for an update on this ingredient, I’ve provided little bit of additional information:

The biggest problem that cocamidopropyl betaine has is that its processing aids, amidoamine and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, can remain in the product.  These chemicals can cause contact dermatitis, eye irritation, and other allergic reactions.  In fact, the rate of allergic reactions to these impurities is so high that the American Contact Dermatitis Society named  cocamidopropyl betaine Allergen of the Year in 2004 Source

Because these chemicals are amines, they can, under certain conditions, create carcinogenic nitrosamines.  These nitrosamines not only can lace products, but can also form downstream, contaminating waste water with these carcinogens that are difficult to remove. Source  However, to be fair, these nitrosamines are only formed when the product is heated to above 350 degrees, or when the pH is moderately acidic (3.5 or lower).  Source

  • All in all, cocamidopropyl betaine isn’t the worst ingredient in the world, but it certainly isn’t the best.  The primary risks are skin, eye, and lung irritation.  The nitrosamine contamination concern is pretty low in my book.  HOWEVER, a product containing cocamidopropyl betaine is a detergent-based cleanser, like shampoo or body wash.  You’ll notice that the first ingredient is probably water.  That’s what really you should be avoiding.  Why?  Well, when a formula contains water, it must contain a preservative.  Preservatives are the biggest concern in my book, because most of them are known or suspected xenoestrogens, like phenoxyethanol, parabens and honeysuckle extract.  Additionally, a company using cocamidopropyl betain in their formula isn’t afraid to use other chemicals, so be wary of PEGs, “fragrance,” TEA, DEA, and other harmful chemicals.


Here are the couple of references on the use of Dr Bronner’s Soap

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most versatile soaps in the world!, December 15, 2007
MJK “M. Katasonova” (Minnesota) –
Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap is wonderful for so many things but one thing that I love about this soap is that it gets rid of ants, too. I had no idea that it could be used for this until a friend told me. It got rid of ants around the foundation of my house outside. WOW!

I use Dr. Bronner’s to clean the bathroom as well as a shower soap. I use it in the kitchen for cleaning the floors and counter tops. After running out of automatic dish-washing detergent, I tried it for that, and it worked like a charm!

It’s very lovely this time of the year as it has a scent of “Christmas”, but I use it all year ’round. It rinses clean, it leaves no residue, and with the peppermint it really is very refreshing and tingly. One only needs to use a little bit. It doesn’t lather like commercial soaps, but it cleans (I believe) better. Dr. Bronner’s soap brought up more dirt on the kitchen floor than Pine-sol, testing them over a month.

Dr. Bronner’s has eliminated the “cleaner clutter” under my kitchen sink. It has replaced dish soap (automatic and general), floor cleaner, laundry booster, toilet cleaner, exterior ant repellent, pest repellent on interior and exterior plants, and bath/hand soap. I personally don’t like to use it on my hair, it tingles a bit too much for that. For bathing, it isn’t drying or irritating at all. Pure peppermint oil in this soap will make you tingle though.

I have been using Dr. Bronner’s products for 20 years and I have always been pleased and have always gone back to them. I strayed briefly to Mrs. Meyers, which has lovely scented products, but they just don’t have the cleaning power. I use Mrs. Meyers dryer sheets.

Finally, it’s extremely economical. It’s less expensive then almost all of the products that I have replaced with it.

*             *             *            *

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only household soap we use — laundry, dishes, everywhere (except wood floors), November 1, 2008
Max (San Francisco, CA) – It smells fantastic, works better than any other soap, is biodegradable — we love it. Basically about 3 years ago we stopped buying handsoaps, dishsoaps, and household soaps and instead only use this. About 1 year ago we stopped buying laundry detergent and now pour a little bit of this in the laundry for the cleanest clothes ever that smell minty / fresh and clean. The lavender scent one smells great as well, haven’t tried anything other than the blue and lavender types yet. So if you can make this switch to just one kind of soap, imagine how much simpler this is…you don’t have to remember to get toilet bowl cleaner, counter spray, oven spray, kitchen floor solutions, window / glass cleaners, etc….just one bottle to replace when it gets low, simple! Also, please note that we heavily dilute this, for example for dishes we fill up a little squirt bottle about 1/4 of the way and add water to the rest. Even still it is super potent. For laundry detergent I would say we put 1/4 cup or less for a medium washer. I would say one of these jugs lasts us for 2-3 months for a family of 2.

*           *            *           *

  • 1,519 of 1,549 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Here’s how to use this as a shampoo, among other uses., July 17, 2011

    I didn’t see many reviews talking at length about using this as a shampoo, so I thought I would add one. Expect my personal experiences and opinion, identified as such, mixed in.

    I use this soap for shampoo, body wash, face wash, I put it in my bath, I’ve used it to clean my counters, I’ve used it to clean dishes. The peppermint is my favorite, especially for soaking in the bath because it tingles and it’s the best scented in my opinion, also for shampoo, again because it tingles.

    To clean, I put a little on a damp terry cleaning cloth or kitchen towel and just wipe. I use it on kitchen and bathroom counters, and I dissolve it in water to mop with. I prefer to use the tea tree for cleaning.

  • As a shampoo, I am puzzled by all the claims I had heard online about castile soap/saponified oil being drying to the hair, and I suspect that many of the people making those claims either haven’t tried it and are just perpetuating the general misconception, or maybe they are using it wrong (I’ll explain why I think that). This is an extremely gentle product. I have CURLY hair, and it is dyed(with one of those Clairol nice n easy super harsh store bought dyes)(#124 natural blue black, if you want to know). Curly hair is generally more dry, and harder to keep conditioned, than straight hair, and mine is no exception. My hair is super fine and super dry, and prone to breakage. I find using this soap as shampoo is actually much LESS drying to my hair than other types of shampoo.If you are going to use this as a shampoo, you have to keep a couple of things in mind;
    -1. Use less than you think you need. Less than what you would use if you were using a normal shampoo. You are not going to get as rich of a lather with this soap. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t clean as well, and it doesn’t mean you didn’t use enough soap. A little known fact is that the ingredients that clean your hair in normal shampoos don’t lather either. Shampoo manufacturers ADD lathering agents purely for consumer impression. You get the impression as you are washing your hair that you are getting your hair really super clean because you are getting a nice thick rich lather, but in reality, the lather is not what is doing the cleaning, and to a small degree, lathering agents actually prevent detergent agents from working as well as they otherwise would. That’s why, in industrial cleaning supplies(not the ones you can find in Walmart) they typically don’t add lathering agents. Normal shampoos have harsher detergent agents than this soap because of that effect, and because of the types of ingredients in normal conditioners(read on).-2. Lather, rinse, THEN REPEAT. Shampoo twice, even if you are unaccustomed to doing that with normal shampoos.

    -3. RINSE REALLY REALLY WELL. After you have rinsed your hair and the soap is all out of it; rinse it all over again.

    -4. Don’t use a ‘normal’ conditioner, pick one without any heavy ‘cones’ in it. Most conditioners have ingredients whose last four letters end in c-o-n-e (like silicone, amodimethicone, cyclomethicone, etc.). Not all, but many, of these ingredients coat your hair and supposedly make it seem incredibly silky and shiny and beautiful and glorious and on and on (and cone leave-ins really give you this effect), but what they also do is keep the natural oils, from your scalp, and any other moisturizing products you may use, from actually getting into your hair, so you get on this cycle of stripping your hair with a normal shampoo, then coating your hair with a normal conditioner, then stripping then coating then stripping, etc., and your hair is getting drier and drier. Not all cones do this. There are lighter ones and ones that are water soluble that are not doing anything bad, and it’s up to you to use cones or not, but…IF YOU ARE USING THIS SOAP FOR SHAMPOO…then I would recommend staying away from it altogether. The harsh detergents in normal shampoos can handle stripping the normal conditioners from your hair with one washing, but this shampoo is much gentler and probably won’t. This is what I think people are doing wrong when they think this soap is drying their hair out. I don’t know, maybe they are worried it might, so they get what they think is going to be a really good conditioner, but it’s a ‘normal’ conditioner, and as a result they aren’t giving this soap an honest chance. They think it’s this shampoo, but it’s really their conditioner, that is causing their hair to be dry. There are a ton of really good conditioners that don’t have cones in them. Dr. Bronner’s makes a conditioner, but it’s pricey. The thing that makes this soap a great product is partly that it is almost immortal. (My last 16 ounce bottle of the peppermint lasted me 8 years. Admittedly, that was before I tried it as a shampoo, but that would’ve maybe shaved a couple years, at most, off of the 8.) The Dr. Bronner’s conditioner will not last as long, and there are better ones that are cheaper. If you google ‘Paula’s Choice’, you can find a website of the same name that has an outstanding ingredient list, so you can see what the good ingredients are, and there are tons of websites listing cone free conditioners. (Personally, I don’t use a conditioner, I wash my hair and then when I am out of the shower I massage a nickel sized amount of light or extra virgin olive oil into my hair. Yes, I actually do that. It doesn’t make my hair oily, it just soaks right in. I’ve been doing that for a very long time, even when I was still using normal shampoo, and It has never made my hair feel oily. On days when I don’t shampoo which is about 6 days out of 7, I just rinse my hair in the shower and if my hair seems dry when I get out, I will add a tiny amount more. This doesn’t weigh my hair down either, like I said, my hair is curly and it still pops up in spontaneous ringlets) (I get my olive oil in a gigantic bottle from Walmart that costs me all of around $1.62.)

    -5. You don’t need to wash your hair every day. That’s not really about this particular shampoo, just in general. If you don’t believe me, ask your stylist. Just, when you take a shower, rinse it and condition it, if you choose to use a conditioner. As I stated above, I really only wash mine once a week. Trust me; nobody will be able to tell.

    A little note about the different scents I’ve tried; Peppermint smells heavenly but has a noticeable tingle, that’s good if you like and want it, bad if you don’t. Lavender is my second favorite, it’s a strong lavender scent. I mean it, this is not lavender for the weak of heart, this is not ‘glade plug ins lavender fairy-farts’, this is not a freaking fabric softener with a baby teddy bear on the label, this is hardcore hippie tree hugger lavender (love for the hippie tree huggers). If you’ve never smelled lavender the actual herb, and you’ve only ever smelled lavender scented products (even the organic ones, because, of the ones I’ve tried, the organic products that are lavender scented are still not as strong as this one), then you might possibly want to buy the 4 ounce size first to try. I like the little 4 ounce bottle anyway because I can refill it from the big bottles and use it on trips, so then you’ll have the bottle. Tea Tree is strong too, if you like tea tree (I do, I liked this one) you’ll really love it, if you don’t like tea tree you’ll REALLY hate it it, if you aren’t sure if you like it, then you should definitely buy the tiny bottle first and try it, you don’t want to be stuck with a product that lasts as long as this one does if you don’t like it. Tea Tree also seems to me to have a very light tingle to it. Lastly, Rose. ROSE. UGH. I read online and thought people who didn’t like this scent didn’t know what they were talking about about this scent being so bad, and I bought it anyway because I trust this company and I was a moron to do it. Really, honestly, trust me, it smells nothing like a rose, or even remotely floral, it smells like what I imagine rancid gummy bears might smell like if it were possible for gummy bears to rot, and it is so sickeningly strong and so sweet smelling that when you smell it it makes your teeth hurt. I use mine to clean my bathroom and pray longingly for the day when I’ll run out of it.

    ***EDITED TO ADD***
    Since posting this review, I wanted to add a couple more bits of info.

    Firstly, this monster has taken on a life of it’s own, and people are adding, in the comments, all sorts of fantastic tips of their own about hair care, so make sure you check them out. It’s some great stuff.

    Second, Olive Oil. Quite a while ago, I added a comment to this review including, among other things, clarifying some thing you need to know when considering using olive oil on your hair, and I wanted to paste that here. Uh…so…here it is. encased in the [];
    [There are different types of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the opposite of extra light olive oil. Evoo is much heavier and thicker. I think its fattier. You can tell how heavy an olive oil is by its color, EVOO is green and extra light olive oil is clear. The ‘spectrum’, getting lighter in thickness/weight and lighter in color from green to clear is; EVOO, virgin olive oil, pure olive oil, light olive oil, extra light olive oil. If you want to try olive oil, maybe start at pure olive oil and move up or down, depending on how dry/oily or thick/fine your hair is. What you don’t use, you can always cook with!]

    Lastly, I was in the process of using up a bottle of Bronner’s when I initially wrote this review. Since then, I used that bottle up, and went to the store intending to buy a replacement bottle of lavender. Well, they were out. They did have peppermint, which I bought a bottle of, and they also had the lavender in bar form. I got experimental one day in the bath, and used the bar form to wash my hair. FANTASTIC. Lathers great, cleans great, smells great. The one aspect of using the bar to wash your hair that I liked the most was this; when you use the liquid, it’s difficult to control how much goes into your hand. If you are using too much of the liquid, then it becomes hard to ‘control’ in your hand. What I am saying is, you pour the correct amount into your hand, and then you rub your hands together rapidly to emulsify it, and then you apply it to your hair and wash away. If you’ve put too much into your hand, then you lose some of it when you’re rubbing your hands together. PHEW! My gosh that was hard to explain. My POINT…finally…is that the bar eliminates this problem completely, so if you’re a fan of the liquid, give the bar a try too, I like them both equally.


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