Hair can be a lot of work to maintain. It needs to be washed, conditioned, and brushed almost daily, and often it needs to be styled, cut, tied back, or otherwise made beautiful and/or manageable. It’s easy to spend a small fortune on name-brand products to keep your hair healthy and handsome, which produces a lot of waste in addition to feeding the corporate beast.
So are there natural, homemade alternatives to all of these hair care products? Of course there are! Here are some easy, all-natural substitutes to the countless over-packaged products and “all-new formulas” that line the shelves and promise to deliver unbelievable results. Not only can these homemade formulations save your money, they are also free of chemicals that strip healthy oils from your hair and create toxic run-off. It’s a win-win-win!
A Shampoo For You
No matter how no-frills you are with your hair care regimen, keeping your hair clean is the bare minimum for ‘do management. Some simple formulas for homemade shampoo are as easy and inexpensive as they come, while others to improve texture and fragrance.
On the absurdly simple end of the spectrum is a shampoo made from baking soda and water. One teaspoon of baking soda per cup of water is all you need to make a solution that will effectively clean your hair and scalp. Unlike commercial shampoo, baking soda and water will help to preserve the natural oils in your hair. However, it may begin to strip color from your hair if you use a dye.
If you want to add a bit of thickness and texture to your simple shampoo, consider adding oat flour or cornstarch. When added to warm water and baking soda, these substances will cause the solution to thicken. You may even use a blender to grind your own oats, but be sure to use a high-quality blender to end up with a very fine flour.
Another not-quite-so-simple homemade shampoo recipe uses water, liquid Castile soap, and a light vegetable oil to help your scalp stay hydrated. Additionally, you can add various essential oils for fragrance and to help keep your hair healthy. Use equal parts water and soap, and add small amounts (about ½ teaspoon per cup of water) of essential oils in any combination to create a shampoo that leaves your hair smelling and feeling great. For great ideas about what to add for different types of hair, check out this  series of recipes from Instructables.
Keeping Hair In Good Condition
Using a conditioner for hair is also an important part of many hair care routines. While shampoos are all about washing things we don’t want off our hair and scalp, conditioners are about adding things back into our hair to keep it as healthy as possible. A good conditioner leaves our hair feeling soft and full of life and can help keep long or thick hair free of nasty tangles.
Once again, there is a remarkably simple and admirably inexpensive solution to conditioning your hair. A water and vinegar solution will condition your hair while leaving natural oils in place, and it can be an effective detangler as well. Approximately one tablespoon of vinegar in one cup of water is sufficient – you can increase the solution, but using a relatively light solution will help you to keep the cost dirt-cheap.
You may choose to use a very cheap white vinegar for your conditioner, although the more expensive apple cider vinegar works great. And don’t worry – neither will leave your hair smelling vinegar-y! If you want to make your conditioner thicker like the commercial varieties, add ¼ teaspoon of xantham gum powder.
Olive or coconut oils can also be effective conditioners and are great tools for hydrating your hair. You will need to rinse your hair thoroughly after allowing the oil to sit for a minute or so to keep your hair from feeling oily after the treatment.
Raw eggs are also great tools for hair care and can contribute to a great conditioner. This recipe  from How Stuff Works describes how to make a conditioner from egg yolks, baby oil, and water. The expense of this homemade conditioner is going to depend largely on the price of the eggs that you use (unless you have chickens). Remember not to wash out this conditioner with hot water, or the egg might begin to cook!
Products For Revitalization And Beauty
We turned to the kitchen for the last hair conditioner recipe, and the kitchen is also the source of many other items that can be great for your hair, although we usually have them around for cooking rather than beauty. These are products whose natural oils, acidity, absorption, or cleaning powers can boost the heath and beauty of your hair without the use of chemicals.
How about sour cream or yogurt to moisturize and brighten your hair after using styling products? Styling gels or pastes and hairspray can give hair a dull appearance, while leaving a film on strands of hair. Remarkably, milk has fat and acid that moisturize dry hair while breaking down residue to restore shine.
If you use a hairdryer or commercial products to give extra body to your hair, consider an unusual alternative. The yeast in beer can give a voluminous boost to thin hair by improving its strength and helping to rebuild damaged strands. Combine flat beer with a raw egg and vegetable oil to use as a rinse for damp hair, or spray dry hair with flat beer. Either way will help add volume, although the first option will help you to avoid the fragrance of hops.
I love honey as a natural sweetener or for cooking, and it can also help your hair to retain moisture. Honey retains moisture naturally, and mixing it with olive oil will help to make it thinner and easier to apply to your hair. Adding egg yolk or avocado to your honey mixture can provide an extra boost to hair suffering from UV damage after extensive sun exposure.
Avocado is a great tool for more than just sun-damaged hair. The oils in avocado are very close to the oils that our skin produces naturally and therefore will help give hair a natural sheen and weight to avoid frizziness. Use avocado on its own on your hair, or combine avocado with olive oil, egg yolk, or other moisturizing product to add extra hydration to the benefits of the avocado.
Many people face problems with hair that is too greasy rather than too dry. Washing your hair too frequently can cause your hair to produce even more oil, so solutions that don’t involve washing can be great alternatives. For your greasy hair, try using a naturally absorbing substance in order to soak up the oil in your hair. Cornmeal or cornstarch both work well, and about one tablespoon sprinkled onto your hair will soak up a lot of the oil. It can then be brushed out thoroughly with a paddle brush.
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