Rachel H Kay Blog

Hair Care The Natural Way

I've been meaning to write about this for a while but I will admit I fail on writing posts on a regular basis. I tend to get wrapped up in my daily schedule, which can be quite hectic with everything I have to do. Luckily my kiddos returned to school, so I'm hoping I may find a bit more free time to write a post here and there.

With that said, I have a quick question for you. Did you know that most shampoos out there contain ingredients that can do more harm than good to your hair? If you answered no then you may want to read the ingredient label a bit more thoroughly on your current favorite shampoo.

The main ingredients that do the most harm are:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, this ingredient is also found in most cleaning products, which is a huge warning to not put it on your head. It can strip your hair of its essential oils needed to remain healthy.

Sodium Chloride, also known as table salt, and used as a thickening agent in both shampoos and conditioners that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. It can cause dry, itchy scalp, and possibly hair loss.

Fragrance or Parfum, unfortunately any unnatural fragrance can really harm your hair. Plus, it contains a lot of chemicals in just one fragrance. The more fragrances included, the more chemicals, and the more your scalp can become irritated. Avoid!

Cocamidopropyl Betaine, which is a foaming agent and the reason you get so many suds when you shampoo. Unfortunately a lot of people have negative reactions to this ingredient, so to be safe just avoid it.

Triclosan, from what I have read about this ingredient it is basically toxic. If you see this in your shampoo or conditioner, stop using it.

Polysorbates, which is used to dissolve fragrance and other oil additives. It can leave a residue on the scalp and hair, and can disrupt the skin's natural ph balance.

Polyethylene Glycol, which is often found in conditioners. From what I have read about this ingredient it's used as a thickening agent, and contains high levels of dioxin. Dioxin has a direct link to cancer, and can also cause organ system toxicity.

Parabens, are used to prolong shelf life of hair care products. Unfortunately they are also toxic. They can not only irritate the skin, but they can also affect your hormonal balance, which can result in hair loss.

Alcohol, which is found in most hair care products. This ingredient can dry out your hair if the amount included is high enough. Avoid shampoos that contain alcohol listed as one of their first four ingredients. This will mean that there is more of this in the product than there should be.

Potassium Sorbate, which is used as a preservative in a lot of hair care products. It can cause skin and organ system toxicity.

Phenoxyethanol, which is another preservative used in cosmetics and hair care products. It can also cause organ system toxicity, can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs.

Retinyl Palmitate, which is a form of vitamin A. Unfortunately, from what I have read about this ingredient it can speed up the development of skin tumors and lesions. It also causes reproductive toxicity and organ system toxicity.

Dimethicone, which is a silicone oil that can cause the scalp to become dry and irritated. It forms a strong barrier on the outside of the skin trapping bacteria and impurities. It is also an eye irritant, and is not biodegradable, which is not good for the environment. The safety of this ingredient has been questioned according to different articles I have read. Some people have developed chapped skin, rashes, burning, and itching. So look out for this ingredient.

Behentrimonium Chloride, which is a type of ammonium salt and is used as a preservative. This is also toxic, can damage the eyes, and irritate the skin and cause inflammation.

Lanolin, Petroleum, and Mineral Oil. These ingredients are used in various greases and pomades, which are formulated for ethnic hair. Unfortunately, they offer no real moisturizing benefits. They can actually weigh hair down and prevent the natural oils your scalp produces from absorbing into the hair shaft. Avoid these and don't buy into the hype that they can help add extra moisture.

Quaternium -15, is a chemical used as a surfactant and preservative in personal care products. This ingredient acts as a formaldehyde releaser, which says it all in not being safe to have included in your shampoo in any way.

If you find any of these ingredients in your current shampoo or conditioner, throw them out!! I have found multiple lists on various sites, which is why there are so many ingredients listed here. Some sites list different ingredients, but some ingredients are also common on all lists. I wanted to ensure I list as many as possible. But feel free to Google each one if you like.

My Quest for The Best Way To Care for My Hair

A year or so ago I decided to stop straightening my hair and go back to my curly/wavy roots. I naturally have curly/wavy hair and no longer wanted to spend the time it took to constantly straighten my hair. Plus, adding heat on a daily basis isn't good for hair anyway. So I began researching the best products for curlies. Through my research I found an awesome site called Naturally Curly which has tons of content on washing, drying, and styling curly/wavy hair. Through that site I found CurlMart, which is where I purchased my first products for curly/wavy hair. This is an awesome site to learn about hair care products for those with curly hair. It was through this site that I found products that are more natural. While some products do still contain ingredients I prefer to avoid, I liked the selection of products that contain better ingredients. My favorite brands are EDEN BodyWorks, Carol's Daughter, Shea Moisture, and Kinky Curly.

I tried various products from these brands, and a few others I didn't like as much, discovering different ways to care for my curly hair. I did a lot of research, tried so many various ways of washing, drying, and styling that after a while I was right back at the same problem. Spending more time than I had styling my hair every day. It just got to a point to where I was putting my hair in a bun every day because I just didn't have the time to style it. I'm a single mother who has to earn a living somehow, and spending forever in the bathroom is not my idea of worth it. It may work for some of you, but it does not work for me. So for my birthday this summer I decided the long hair I've had for so many years has got to go. I cut it all off for a long pixy cut, which I really do love. It works great for me, allows me less time in the bathroom, is easy to style, but doesn't hinder me with just one look.

This just left one little issue, how do I wash my hair the cheapest way possible, but keep it healthy. I'm on a very tight budget, hey, I'm raising three kiddos on my own, so I have to be one of those moms who spends as little as possible on household items, and this includes my hair care regimen. One day I was going through various pins on Pinterest, one of my favorite social applications, when I discovered various pins on how to wash your hair the natural way with baking soda and vinegar. Now I know what your thinking. Right about now you're making one of those weird faces, wondering how in the world you're supposed to wash your hair with baking soda and vinegar. Well, you can forget the suds for one thing. If you paid attention to my list above and changed shampoos, or are already using a shampoo made with more natural ingredients then you're used to less suds, if any. But if not, then just get used to this one thing, the more suds, or foam, your shampoo produces does not mean your hair is getting any cleaner. Those suds are produced by unnatural ingredients anyway, so they are doing your hair more harm than good. I used to think that if my shampoo wasn't producing a lot of foam then my hair was not getting clean. So it is a concept you really have to get used to. Basically the only thing you want to be concerned with when washing your hair is cleansing it of all the dirt and oils that accumulate, and adding back moisture and shine the natural way.

So, if you are willing to try this, then continue on. Because I have been using this method for a while now and I can honestly say that after each wash my hair is soft, clean, and looks so, so healthy.

Basically, the baking soda is used to wash all the dirt and oils out of the hair, and the vinegar is used as a rinse to help add moisture back into your hair, which over time will actually make your hair healthy, shiny, and oh so beautiful!

I have two squirt bottles that are I think around 18 - 20 ounces. One is used for the baking soda shampoo, and the other for the vinegar rinse. Now just to let you know, I wash my hair every three days. If you are washing your hair every day I highly suggest that you stop. By washing every day you constantly strip your hair, and can cause more harm than good.

Baking Soda Shampoo

Start by mixing 1 part baking soda with 3 parts water. I like to fill up my squirt bottle with this mix, but for those of you who are just beginning to try this, just make enough for one wash. Then once you have an idea on how much to use for each hair wash you can then fill up your squirt bottle so you don't have to make this every time it's hair wash day.

For starters mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda with 3 times that amount of water, which is about 1/2 a cup, into your squeeze bottle. This amount works best for those with shoulder length hair, so adjust this depending on your hair length.

I also make a lot of DIY household products and have an extra tip to tell you. Baking soda can be hard to dissolve in water, so add a few drops of Dawn dish soap to the mixture and shake. But keep the squirt bottle top in the up position, just hold your finger over it as you shake, then slowly release, because as you shake the baking soda will build up pressure, and when it releases it needs to be able to release. So just keep the squirt bottle cap lifted up so the pressure can escape. I keep that little cap lifted up all the time to prevent any future pressure build up as well.

Apply the baking soda and water mixture to dry or wet hair, I prefer to dampen my hair in the shower first, starting at the roots and working to the ends. When my hair was longer I would put my head back and go from the roots to the ends, and then flip my head upside down and do the underside from the roots to the ends. This way I ensured I got all of my hair. I would rub it in as I go and then brush it through with a brush I keep in the shower just for this.

Let the baking soda shampoo sit for 1-3 minutes, then rinse with warm water.

Vinegar Rinse

Mix 1 part white or apple cider vinegar with 4 parts water. I use white vinegar. To help minimize the vinegar smell add lavender, peppermint, or rosemary essential oils to the vinegar mixture. I use lavender, which works quite well.

For this you can make a big batch to begin with if you want. This is used as a rinse so you don't have to scrub it in like the baking soda mixture. To make a big batch add 16 ounces of water and 4 ounces of vinegar to your squirt bottle. Then add 3-4 drops of the essential oil.

Tilt your head back, close your eyes (to avoid getting the mixture in your eyes), and distribute through your hair. Then tilt your head forward to distribute more rinse to the back of your head.

After a few seconds rinse with cold water. The cold water helps to seal in moisture, smooth the hair, and add shine.

Try this for about a month. You should see results sooner, but giving it a month helps for those of you who may have a bit more hair damage than others. I just suggest this because I really want you to give it a really good try. You will see results, have healthy, shiny hair, and save so much money!

Just think about it. Right now you probably spend anywhere from $10 - $6 on your bottle of shampoo, and probably around the same amount on your conditioner. Most likely you have to restock them every 3 - 6 weeks, depending on the size of your bottle, how much you use, and how often you wash your hair. For one box of baking soda you will spend around maybe $0.60 or so. I get my baking soda at Joe V's, the Arm & Hammer brand, and I doubt anywhere else is much higher. So think about it. $0.60 for one box, which will get you about 10 batches of baking soda wash using 3 tablespoons for each batch. You're washing your hair 10 times for only $0.60! Amazing isn't it?

Now think about the vinegar rinse. While the essential oil can cost a bit. I bought the Lavender essential oil at Target for around $11.92 I think. But I'm only using 3-4 drops each time, and after I think maybe 5 months I still have a pretty full bottle. So you won't have to restock the essential oil very often, still saving you money. Just to set your mind at ease. Back to the vinegar, I get a gallon bottle of white vinegar at Joe V's for around $1.14. There are 128 ounces in a gallon, and for one large batch you're using 4 ounces of vinegar. So you get 32 batches of vinegar rinse out of one gallon bottle of vinegar. That's pennies for each batch!!

I'm going to assume you are like everyone else and love saving money where you can. With that said, try this method. I guarantee after you wash your hair with the baking soda and vinegar rinse, once your hair is dry you will see just how clean the baking soda makes your hair. After a few weeks you will see it shine, and look healthier than it has before. This is the natural method. Plus, you know that what is going in your hair is not produced in a chemical lab. It will soothe your scalp, your hair will smell great with the lavender scent, and your wallet will thank you.

Try it out, let me know how it goes. Feel free to comment once you try it. Or if you have any questions leave a comment.

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About Me

Hi there. I'm Rachel Kay, a Web Developer, Illustrator, & Designer, whose hobby is to be creative and artistic, while freelancing as a Web Developer building creative, modern websites.