Dear T&M: I can’t use all-natural hair products.

Posted on August 31st, 2011 by Tonia 8 Comments

Awesome Dirty Harry poster found here.

You are not alone, GreenMom! I had a really hard time finding an all-natural shampoo and conditioner that I was happy with, too. I even blogged about how I cut my hair short because I was sick of how the biodegradable shampoo made my long hair look stringy.

HOWEVER! A few months ago a friend suggested the Desert Essence brand. I tried it and have stuck with it ever since. It lathers great, cleans without totally stripping my hair dry, and the Coconut Conditioner is thick and creamy and smells like a vacation. I love that I can get it at our local organic food co-op, it isn’t crazy expensive, and it’s biodegradable.

There is another option, too. One of our readers, Shana, makes her own shampoo and conditioner and was kind enough to share her recipes {so awesome. Thank you, lady!}

I gave the shampoo and vinegar-conditioner a try today and took pictures so you could see how nicely it lathers and rinses out {I washed outside, because I was filthy dirty from laying seed and raking our green-manure pasture}. Honestly, I l-o-v-e-d them. They were quick and easy to make, too.

From Shana:

Hi Tonia, Here are my basic shampoo and conditioner recipes. I hope these work for you! Don’t feel like you have stick to the recipe – you can experiment!

1 cup boiling water
1 green tea bag
A few sage leaves, torn up
1 cup liquid castille soap (I use unscented Dr. Bronners)
6 tsp. jojoba oil
1/4 tsp. peppermint essential oil
1/4 tsp tea tree essential oil

Steep tea and sage in boiling water for 30 min. Strain.

Add soap, jojoba oil, and essential oils to water. Mix well, and shake before each use. Apply just as you would normal shampoo.

This shampoo works well for my hair, which is dark brown, thick, and fairly normal (not too dry or oily). For the shampoo that I make for my husband, who is blond, I omit the sage and steep the tea for a little less time. Sage is supposed to be good for dark hair, but can discolor lighter hair.

The essential oils can easily be omitted or substituted. They might have some value, but I like them mostly for their refreshing scent.

The most expensive item on the list is jojoba oil, which is kind of expensive. I’ve been thinking of substituting grapeseed oil, but I haven’t tried it yet. It’s constant experimentation!

2 cups boiling water
1 sprig rosemary
2 Tbls. apple cider vinegar

Pour boiling water over rosemary and let steep for 30 min. Strain.

Add apple cider vinegar and mix well. Shake before each use.

Apply to hair after shampoo, trying to cover as much hair as possible. Leave on for two minutes and rinse out, preferably with cool water.

I know. Vinegar on your hair? This seems like a really bad idea, right? I was skeptical too. But it really works! It leaves my hair smooth and shiny, and relatively tangle free!

You do have to dump kind of a lot of the mixture on your hair – I have very long hair, and I use about half a cup of conditioner per application. It is also important to actually leave it in your hair for a full two minutes or longer, so if you are trying to save water you might want to turn off the shower while you’re conditioning.

Your hair may smell slightly of vinegar when you’re done, but the smell will disappear as your hair dries (and it’s never a very strong smell anyway).

The rosemary can easily be omitted. It’s supposed to be good for your hair, but the vinegar is doing most of the work in this concoction.

If you use the vinegar rinse too often, it can dry out your hair. I wash my hair every other day, and every third or forth wash I try to do a “deep conditioner” instead of the vinegar wash. I apply the conditioner before shampooing because I’m worried that I won’t get all the egg out of my hair with just a rinse.

Deep Conditioner
1 egg
1 Tbls. olive oil
3/4 cup lukewarm water

Beat egg until it turns frothy. Add olive oil and beat some more. Slowly add water and beat until well combined.

Apply to damp hair. Leave in for 15 min.

Rinse out with COOL water (hot water can cook the egg, leading to an unfortunate, albeit retrospectively funny, situation)

Shampoo and rinse as normal.

If you would like to air your dirty secret, email us with “Dear T&M” in the subject line. Please indicate if you wish to remain anonymous.
toniasimeone {at} gmail {dot} com


  1. Kris-Ann says:

    Thank you!! I’ll definitely be trying the Desert Essence and the homemade deep conditioner. Love that Desert Essence also has a kids line. Thanks Tonia and Shana for the tips. BTW, I have a haircut scheduled for tomorrow and will definitely be going a bit shorter.

  2. Terry says:

    Definitely going to try these recipes. Thanks Shana and Tonia!

  3. clothespin says:

    Oh… love the shampoo recipe! As soon as I’m out of my store bought stuff, I’m going to give this a try. The old shampoo bottle will work great for the homemade stuff! If you don’t mind, I’m going to link to your site on my blog later this week! Thanks!

  4. Tonia says:

    Let us know how you like it!!

  5. Carly H. says:

    Can’t wait to try this! Thanks!

  6. Shana says:

    Shana here :-)

    Just wanted to let you know that after several months of using homemade shampoo and conditioner, I stopped doing the “deep” conditioner. The vinegar rinse no longer dries out my hair! I’m not entirely sure why this is, but I suspect that when I first started the homemade stuff, my hair was super unhealthy from years of commercial products and needed all the love it could get. Not it’s all nice and natural and…I don’t know…holds its moisture better or something. Anyway, hope this is working out for all of you who tried it!

  7. Tonia says:

    Awesome, Shana! Mike and I both love the homemade shampoo and vinegar rinse. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  8. […] Olive Oil and Sugar Scrub: Follow the link and whip up a jar of this glorious scrub. Use it in the shower after your usual soap. It exfoliates dead skin and leaves you moisturized and protected. Hot water is very drying…But I love a good hot shower. The olive oil in the scrub will help keep the water from drying you out, and contains fatty acids that are great for your skin {You can also use it to make homemade hair conditioner!} […]

Leave a Reply