8 nov. 2011

The shampoo challenge

From what I've seen, there comes a time in every soapmakers life where the shampoo challenge presents itself. It is either by choice or by surprise that the simple soapmaker finds herself or himself struggling with it. Some approach the subject in a very analytical and scientific manner, carrying on until they've found that perfect formula. Others try a couple of times with little success and decide shampooing is not for them (I count myself here). I've tried it in the past and didn't work, so I let it go. But it's come back with a vengeance. My hair is not happy with commercial brands, I've tried every shampoo in the sampoo aisle, and I really don't want to pay $50 for the brand my salon has. So I'm here again, trying to figure out the perfect shampoo formula for my particular needs. So I'll start with that...what are my needs?
  • Very fine hair
  • Colored (red - of all colors I could've chosen I chose the worst one)
  • Really dry+damaged
  • I'm allergic to a lot of chemicals
  • I have a 7 year old with long hair that likes to pretend she's mommy so I need something that she can also use
  • Head lice and nasties repellant ...let's face it...DD's in the age where those things go around like crazy
Having identified those I can then move on to what ingredients are needed. I need oils that will nurture my hair but clean it really well. I've tried castille shampoo and it left my hair looking like a barbie doll that's had her hair licked once too many times (if you have baby girls in your life you know what I mean, if you don't...ignorance is bliss). So I got to investigating this weekend and found this article "The Great Shampoo Scandal". Granted it's written by a conspiracy theorist so it's heavy on...well...conspiracy...but it gave me an excellent piece of information. Hair is made up of tiny scales, if they come in contact with high pH those scales stand up...making hair unmanegeable and rigid. On the contrary, if they are exposed to low pH, the scales lie down making hair feel soft and silky. Huh! I've never heard that before!! The soap that we make is naturally high in pH, even the castille one, so of course it makes my hair all nasty! So all I need to do is lower the pH of my soap and I'll have a nice shampoo for my hair sans the chemicals or $50.

Now how do I accomplish that? Excellent question! I don't know...or I didn't until I actually read Catherine Failor's method for creating liquid soaps...I mean I've read it quite often, but not really really read it...it's usually when I forget something I have to confess. So anyways...I was reading away when she mentions neutralizing the soap by adding either borax or boric acid. This neutralizes the extra lye and brings down the soap's pH. Now this is why you should always read the recipes correctly...right there in front of me was the answer to the question that was bugging me :)

So, long story short, I now had a way of lowering the pH of my soap so it can suit my hair. I also know that I can't use olive because of the ickiness, so I decided to try out one of Failor's recipes with a little of me: I'm trying her Coco-Loco gel soap. I've substituted her liquid oil for almond, avocado and sunflower, and keeping the coconut and cocoa butters in there. For my specially dry hair, I've decided to sacrifice clarity for nutrients, so I'll add some more avocado, almond and sunflower oils at trace, plus extra vit E. I've also decided to not use the boric acid but instead use apple cider vinegar in an effort to use less chemicals. For fragrance I chose rosemary, lavender and geranium...all used to repell nasties.

I'm still trying to decide on bar or liquid. If I go with bar I would have to work with less water in the beginning and then add the vinegar without it exploding in my face...but it would be nice to have a bar of shampoo.

I'll let you know how the experiment goes...hopefully my hair won't fall out.

Wish me luck!!
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