Tuesday, February 5, 2013

No Poo Balls: A Homemade Shampoo Alternative

There are basically two ways to grow dreadlocks. The one most people are familiar with is to put a whole lot of something into your hair. Usually wax. You force your hair into a manufactured look and have dreads immediately. Such methods often result in dread rot, mold or mildew, breakage, and the smell that has become widely expected of dreads - even if you use a product that allows for washing. The other method is to allow dreads to form naturally. Using products like wax or even common shampoos will slow down this process, maybe even prevent dreads from forming. This method can take anywhere from a couple months to a year, depending on your hair type and whether you did anything special to jump start the process.

You don't need dreads to go shampoo free. It is healthy, natural, and low cost for any hair type. It's by far the best option when forming dreads though. They will knot up so much faster if they are free from chemicals and conditioners.

There are a variety of different recipes and methods to go shampoo free. My preferred method is the baking soda method. The basic concept is to wash with baking soda and rinse with an acidic liquid. Most people use apple cider vinegar because it dries scent free, but some people prefer lemon juice. Figuring out your personal ratio is where it can get tricky. Too much baking soda makes hair dry and frizzy. Too much acid makes it oil and greasy. It's best just to experiment a little at first.

Everyone in our home uses this homemade shampoo alternative, and everyone needs different ratios. About once a week, I make up little balls of baking soda and each person can use as many as they like. This allows me to mix in some honey (makes hair soft and silky) and essential oils, too. I also make up a bottle of rinse for each person, to their specifications. I use the acid and essential oils they prefer. With minimal cost or effort, everyone in the house has healthy, beautiful smelling hair.

The recipe for No Poo Balls (we call them Shampoo Balls, but that's not truly accurate) is as follows;

1 tbsp Honey (if you're starting with raw, melt it first. It needs to be liquid)
5 tbsp Baking Soda
2 - 3 tbsp Water
5 - 10 drops Essential Oils (optional)

1) Mix the Essential Oils into the honey. The scent may be unpleasantly strong, but don't be concerned. It will be much more mild in the finished product.
2) Add 3 tbsp Baking Soda to the Honey mixture.
3) Mix in just enough water to make a creamy paste.
4) Mix in another tbsp of Baking Soda.
5) If needed, keep mixing in Baking Soda. The final consistency should be thick enough to roll the mixture into 1/2 - 1 inch balls, but not so dry that it cracks when rolled. Add a little more water, if needed, to accomplish the desired consistency.
6) Roll the mixture into balls. If you will be using these on a small child or toddler, make them approx. 1/2 inch in diameter. Adults can use multiple. Otherwise, most adults prefer balls 1 - 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
7) Set the balls on a plate to dry for 6+ hours. If they are still moist inside, they will be fragile. When dry, they are hard enough to be handled without falling apart.
8) To use, put a ball in the palm of your hand and add water. It will melt. Rub the resulting liquid into your scalp (just the scalp. The hair will come out clean in the rinse)
9) Rinse the Baking Soda mixture out with water.
10) Poor one cup of Acidic Liquid mixture over your head. Rub it into your scalp. (again, just the scalp. Trust me. It works)
11) Rinse the Acidic Liquid mixture out with water.

The Acidic Liquid mixture is super simple. In a cup, mix a little of your preferred acidic liquid with water. I recommend either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, but feel free to experiment. You can also add a few drops of Essential Oil to this mixture, if you like.

I suggest starting with a ratio of 1 part Acidic Liquid to 4 parts Water for normal hair. 1:8 or even 1:10 for oily hair. 1:3 or even 1:2 for dry hair.