An ecological way of washing hair

One of the most difficult topics for us, when it comes to ecologial living, were, and still are, cosmetics. Visiting a drugstore, you are overwhelmed with fossil-fuel containing products, packed in loads of unnecessary plastic, which often have been tested on animals. Even in the natural cosmetics corner, you will find many articles with a long ingredient list and, again, a lot of plastic packaging.

But what can be done about it?

Completely going without this stuff is (at least for us) not an option, since we do not want to go to the office all oily haired, one can imagine. So we started slowly replacing certain products by alternatives, which

  • can be bought (or self-made) with only little or completely without packaging
  • are preferably plant-based
  • contain few ingredients but – most importantly – work.

After some of my friends asked me about my hair, which is quite long right now and at the same time healthy, I decided to share some of our experiences. For a couple of friends, who were keen on experimenting, we put together a little arrangement of products which we use regularly. I also wrote a little instruction.

Because, of course, the way away from commercial hygiene to more natural, minimalist cosmetics was lined with some failures. I was thinking that with good instructions, some simple mistakes can be avoided, which will hopefully make it easier for others.

cosmetics test set, containing body butter (rose shaped), two shampoo bars (in metal box), dry shampoo and conditioner

Liebe Mädels!

(this is German for “dear girls”, you could probably guess)

I put together a little arrangement of cosmetic products, with two different kinds of shampoo bars. I’ve been washing my hair for more than a year now only with solid shampoo (soap) and I’m really happy with it. My hair has become quite long again and it’s really healthy! I think this is due to the shampoo bar and due to the fact that I don’t have to wash my hair as often anymore (only about every 3 days).

In the beginning, the whole thing with hair soap was not as easy for me as it is now. I had to learn to use it correctly, and my scalp had to adjust as well. So please don’t expect miracles when you test it for the first time, and anticipate some time that your hair will look a little oily… I can recommend bun and hairband, or braided hairdos for this period 😉

What I packed into the package:

  • 1 piece of LUSH shampoo bar
  • 1 piece of a shampoo bar based on olive oil
  • “dry shampoo” (cocoa and starch)
  •  apple vinegar
  •  self-made body butter with calendula

A couple of explanations…

The LUSH shampoo bar (named Honey I washed my hair, with honey as the name might imply) I bought at the LUSH store here in Leipzig. LUSH is a quite big chain from GB, specialized in minimal packaging, animal-test free vegetarian cosmetics.

The other shampoo bar (based on olive oil) I ordered on , the online shop of a natural cosmetics manufacture close by Heidelberg. Their website is very nice, I can only recommend taking a look! 🙂

So what’s the difference between the two shampoo bar soaps?

The first ingredient on the LUSH ingredient list is a substance named sodium laryl sulfate (SLS) which generates a lot of foam. This makes washing your hair a lot easier, almost like with “real” shampoo. The downside (for me) is that this compound is partly based on fossil fuel, something I am trying to avoid actually.

I am right now in the process of changing from the LUSH soap to the other, more natural, olive-oil based shampoo bar. However, I think it is easier to get to know washing your hair with solid soap with the LUSH shampoo first, instead of starting with the other one right away. At the moment, I’m washing my hair with the olive oil soap, and around every third time I’m using the LUSH soap instead because I have the feeling it is more powerful, and after some more times washing with the olive oil soap, my hair tends to become stringy.

Why the apple cider vinegar?

The apple cider vinegar functions as a conditioner, a so-called sour rinse, which removes soap residuals from the hair and smooths the hair’s structure. The hair becomes all glossy and soft. Since the soap is basic (alkaline), it is advisable to balance with the acetic acid contained in the vinegar.

My procedure when I wash my hair with solid soap:

Firstly, I comb my hair. The hairline is the part that is greasy and if you comb your hair properly, you will spread it, which makes washing easier. I also wet the soap so that there will be more foam later on.
Then, I dilute the vinegar with water and put it next to the shower so I can reach for it later. I use one “sip” of vinegar for one (German) beer mug, i.e. 1/2 L or around 17 fl oz. The rest of the mug is filled with lukewarm or cold water.

I wet my hair properly and start massaging the soap in. I go with the shampoo bar a couple times from the hairline to the ends, for the LUSH soap, 2-3 times should be enough. With the other soap, you will notice that it does not generate as much foam and you will have to collect some foam in your hands, and then massage it into your hair. It is very important that the foam gets everywhere (up to the scalp!). This takes me a couple of minutes and I have to use some water in between to spread the soap. It helps me to split my hair in two parts and spread the foam there separately. Probably this differs depending on how thick your hair is, maybe this is easier for some people than for others.

Then I rinse the soap long with warm water. If needed, I use some more soap until I feel my hair is clean. Rinse again. This probably won’t happen when you are using the LUSH soap.

Rinse with the apple cider vinegar. Massage is into your hair a bit, then rinse with cool water.


As I mentioned, I had to practice a bit until it worked well. Additionally, it could be the case that your hair first needs to get used to the soap, which could take a couple of hair washes. 😉
If it didn’t work so well, you can at first try the dry shampoo before you decide to wash again.

Dry shampoo

For my hair color, this mixture of starch and cocoa powder is perfect. In darker hair, it could be more visible. Maybe you will have to add some more cocoa if it looks weird. One of my friends who has darker hair uses healing earth, maybe this can also be an option for those of you with darker hair. 😉

I had to test a little until I found a possibility to not spread cocoa in the whole bathroom. By now, I’m  using a large round paintbrush to put the powder onto my hair. I wait for a little bit (the powder soaks up surplus oil and takes a moment to work) and then I remove the residual with a towel. As a side effect, I smell a little like muffin dough. 😉

The body butter is self-made from last summer, with some oils and calendula petals from our own garden. I like using it as lip balm or for dry skin in general. It’s also very nice for sunburn and sores, due to the healing power of calendula! ☺

So, I wish you a lot of fun with this test set, and enjoy all of the advantages of washing your hair this way…:

  • less ingredients = less crap like silicons which dry out your hair and make them brittle.
  • no fossil fuel, no animal testing, no waste
  • you need to wash less often = better for your hair & saves water
  • the olive oil soap you can use for washing your hair in the nature during your next camping trip, the LUSH soap however contains ingredients which only decompose slowly so this one should be used in sanitary facilities only.
  • ideal for traveling (no liquid running out or being taken from you at the airport)

Please, let me know how it works for you and feel free to send me a picture! I’m curious about your experiences!

Your Hippie friend

Resi ♥ ♻ ❀ ♥

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