September 16, 2011

Homemade Shampoo

I'm not a Vegan or some sort of hippie.

There.....I needed to get that out of my system.  In the past I'd been a rather cheap SOB who simply bought whatever brand of "stuff" that was cheapest when I was shopping, or maybe more important, where I was shopping.  Certain stores I'll only go into if I simply cannot find what I'm looking for elsewhere.

Maybe a decade ago I started to notice that I preferred to use unscented laundry detergent and eventually I stopped using dryer sheets as well.  My clothes weren't as soft and scented as they used to be, but they felt better on my skin.

Sometime between now and then I started to take notice of my shower soap and shampoo.  Quick, cheap, and easy was just buying a big half-gallon of anti-bacterial soap and putting it in a squirt bottle.  This combination with the dry winters here did a number on my skin.  I used to have this very bad patch on my left hand I jokingly referred to as my "leprosy".  I also had some sort of athlete's foot that would just not go away, even after a couple of doctor's visits and several rounds of diligent medication applications.

I know, this is "To Much Information".  It is important to note that I took this athlete's foot thing seriously.  When I was in the Air Force we had a guy whose feet were so bad that he'd clear entire buildings when he took off his socks.  When he retired the Air Force finally figured out he had a couple of nasty foot fungus infections that were probably 15-20 years old.  Last I heard they got him fixed up, but it well beyond the ability of the average skin doctor.  Factoring all this in, for all I know I had some unique flora growing down there which is why nothing was working.

I was convinced by a friend to try some Tee Tree oil.  I used it for weeks after I thought that infection was gone.  Normally it would return in six months, but it has been a couple of years now.

Since this "natural" stuff was working so well, I decided to try a different shampoo.  Bert's Bees had some great stuff and I really liked their Shampoo Bar.  The bar lasted a long time and did a bang-up job.  One thing that was so different about the Burt's Bees products was the fact that there wasn't any sodium lauryl sulfate.  Of course Burt's Bees shampoo is also paraben free, petrochemical free, and phthalate free, but it was this sodium stuff that got me interested because it was in all my other shower stuff.

I did some searching for information and found several disturbing bits of info.  I won't go into details, but you can read some yourself here and here.  While I don't believe all the hype, I do believe there is, at a minimum, some connection between my overly dry skin and my choices of shower products.

This led me to switch to a shower soap that was SLS free.  I started using "Dr. Bonner's Magic Pure Castile Classic Soaps".  Now if you want a little bit of off-the-freaking-crazy-chart reading, pick up a bottle of this product and start reading (or download a copy).  I don't recommend it, but I do recommend the soap, particularly the Peppermint.  This stuff is great!  A couple of drops on a washcloth or scrunchy ball (I have no idea what those things are called) and you are good to go.  My skin feels a little tingly and invigorated.  No lie.

I had a great combo working for me: Dr. Bonner's soap and a Burt's Bees shampoo bar.  Then they had to go and stop making the shampoo bar.  I didn't know what to do.  Do I try a different shampoo bar, should I switch over to the Burt's Bees liquid shampoos?

First we (I enlisted my wife's help) tried to see if anyone else in town carried the shampoo bars.  I could just stock up, right?  Not like soap goes bad, or does it?  No luck.  I started looking online for shampoo bars and found a recipe for making my own.  I've never made soap before, how hard can it be?  It seemed kind of complicated and there is the whole "playing" with lye bit that I didn't want to get into unless I was going to get real serious about this.  Like making Christmas presents serious because I'm not doing all that just for myself.

This progression of thought....and Googling....eventually brought me to this Instructable. I realized I had most of the ingredients around, so I could do this.  I started with a simple batch and liked it.  I used some of my leftover Tea Tree oil and it worked out well.  I joked with my wife how my new shampoo had a very manly smell.  I swear using the Tea Tree oil made my shampoo smell like gun oil!  Thankfully that smell didn't remain in my head all day as people would think I'm packing heat.

When the first batch started running low I looked to improve a bit on my efforts.  I found a source for essential oils that wasn't overly expensive and I tweaked the ingredients some.  This is my end result, which works very well for me.  I use an old Burt's Bees shampoo container to store/use this shampoo.  It only takes a few drops, maybe half of a dime's size in my palm.  It lathers up well and the price is very reasonable.  It is more expensive than the bargain-basement stuff, but cheaper than the shampoo from the Nutrition Center.  The price per ounce is misleading anyway since so little is needed.

Christopher's Homemade Shampoo (12 oz):
3/4 C Distilled Water
3/4 C Liquid Castille Soap (recommend Dr. Bonner's "Baby Mild")
1 T Essential Oil (I've used Tea Tree, Lavender, Jasmine, and Eucalyptus)
1/2 to 1 T Xanthan Gum

Bottle together and shake.  Shake well before each use.

The Xanthan Gum can be omitted, but it really helps with the lather and it makes the whole concoction a little thicker, but not much.  Trust me, you'll prefer using the Xanthan Gum to going without.

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