The Short Version:
Chick pea flour (also called besan or gram flour) mixed with a little water to make a paste is a fantastic shampoo. Sounds weird, but works great. Coconut milk mixed with water and apple cider vinegar is a great conditioner.
The Extended Version:
This isn’t really nerdy, but I want to mention it anyway. I find the concept of hacking all sorts of things compelling. By which I mean unravel some of the weird ideas we’ve adopted and then forgotten we could do it any other way. Just take for granted doing things in a way that is in alignment with what big businesses want us to do. Today’s example: Shampoo.
I know it’s ridiculous, but not using regular shampoo is so great.
As a back story, I have a bizarre but terrible allergy to chemical foaming agents, like sodium lauryl sulfate. It’s in practically everything that sudses, aside from actual soap. It makes me break out in a very unpleasant rash that lasts for a week, so I learned to avoid toothpaste and regular dishsoap in my teens. I used the natural-type dishsoaps and made my own toothpaste. It was mostly okay, but I’d have a reaction once in a while.
This year, to improve my health in general I decided to forgo all chemical foaming agents at all. Limiting myself to soap. Meaning, homemade toothpaste, washing dishes with Dr Bronners soap, and making my own shampoo. Which is the actual point of this.
I tried a whole bunch of shampoo alternatives, but the best thing was when I found a You Tube video by Fairyland Cottage, talking about using chick pea flour as a shampoo. Apparently they have been doing this in India for ages, and I will say from my unscientific observation, Indian women have really great hair.
My hair is long, straight and tends to be oily, so many of the “no-poo” methods don’t work for me, because my hair just became greasy and not cute. The chick pea flour doesn’t do that. It doesn’t weigh my hair down like other shampoos and conditioners seem to do (presumably because of silicone/dimethicone ingredients, which coat the hairs), so I even get a little bit of wave which surprised the heck out of me.
I now have my mom, and a good friend using it (though she uses the chick pea flour shampoo, and then regular conditioner), and they love it. My husband even tried it and didn’t complain, though it did make his hair curlier and more voluminous than usual.
Here’s my Recipe:
2-3 tablespoons chick pea flour/besan/gram flour
Mix with enough water to make a paste, wet hair, glomp the paste on your head and massage it around, and leave it for a few minutes.
A conditioner of coconut milk, apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle to spritz on hair and then wash out is nice too. I use one part apple cider vinegar, 3 parts coconut milk, 2 parts water (or so). My mom has dry hair so she pours about a half a cup of this on. Just some spritzing is enough for me.
Then wash the whole business out. You’ll have to rinse pretty thoroughly to avoid “chick pea dandruff” flakes from falling out as it dries.
All this has made my hair clean, shiny and generally better than I remember it ever being before. I love it and plan never to use anything else for my hair!