I’m posting this recipe again, because I recently tried something new in my DIY shampoo/conditioner routine, and after test driving it for a few weeks I knew I had to share. I have been telling everyone who would listen about my easy DIY shampoo/conditioner recipe for years, but I think this change might actually make y’all more willing to give it a shot!
(Do you hear me? TRY IIIIIIT.)
For years I have been using a baking soda rinse to wash my hair, and an apple cider vinegar rinse to condition it. I have been head-over-heels in love with this sweet combo ever since the first day I tried it, and I know it sounds strange that some lady on The Internets is telling you that you can have gorgeous, healthy hair with the same ingredients you use to unclog your drain, but this is for serious.
No plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles. No expensive price tags. No nasties like sodium lauryl sulfate foaming all over your head each morning, and washing down the drain each night. Just good, old-fashioned, earth mama hippie nonsense.
I posted this recipe years ago here, and way back in November a lovely soul named Karla commented that you could also use lemon juice in place of apple cider vinegar for the same, or better, result.
This, ladies and gentlemen, was a monumental shift! I’ve never minded the ACV smell, but I think it has turned a few people off of the whole project.
Lemons on the other hand – lemons! Lemons are basically the poster child for clean-living fresh-smelling happy times all around! I knew I had to give it this new version a try- I was already putting baking soda and vinegar on my head, what could possibly go wrong?
I’m not going to ramble on (for once in my life): I tried it, it worked, and I love it! These days I alternate back and forth between the two – lemons on days that I have them, ACV on days when I don’t.
So. Try it. TRY ITTTT. It doesn’t work for absolutely everyone (I’ve heard that it can sometimes take a week for your hair to adjust, although I didn’t experience this, and that some run into challenges around hard water.) but it might work for you! You have nothing to lose! And if it does work you will feel like a magical witch every time you prepare your shower potion, and you will be rich- RICH!- from all the money you’ll save on fancy shampoos and conditioners.
You can spend all of that spare shampoo and conditioner money on goat cheese! Or vodka! Or vodka-infused-goat-cheese! (Is that a thing?)
Here’s how you do.
Mix 1 cup warm water with 1 TBSP baking soda. Stir until dissolved and pour over wet hair. Give yourself a relaxing scalp massage, concentrating on the hairline and the crown of your head if you tend to have oily hair. Rinse well.
Mix 1 cup warm water with 1-2 TBSP apple cider vinegar OR LEMON JUICE! (!). Typically I’d use 1 TBSP if you have oily hair, 2 if your hair tends to be dry. Pour over shampooed and rinsed hair, massage into scalp and let sit for a few moments while you tackle the onerous task of finally shaving your winter-legs, exfoliating your elbows or what have you. Rinse well.
That’s it. Seriously, that’s it! Two ingredients and zero weird shit on your head to end up with gorgeous, shiny, tangle-free hair.
( 9/19/2014 ETA: If you live in an area with hard water as we do here in Edmonton, Alberta, you MUST boil the water for 5-10 minutes to remove all of the hard mineral content before using as a mix for shampoo/conditioner. This is not as terrible as it sounds. Boil some extra for tea, and by the time you’ve finished your tea your shampoo and conditioner rinses will be cool enough to get started!)
If you DO decide to take the plunge and try this – please post a picture of your results to the Sweet Madeleine Facebook page, or Instagram/tweet it with the hashtag #SweetMadeleine or #AllYouNeedIsLess! I want to know if it worked, if it didn’t work, what kind of hair you have, where you live, what you’re wearing, and your feelings on Benedict Cumberbatch (look I’m not saying the man looks like a scarf, but HE LOOKS LIKE A SCARF.)
Honestly though I truly would love to hear if it worked for you, and whether you’ll keep doing it.
ALSO, as if this post wasn’t tangential enough, would you like a free copy of All You Need Is Less? Of course you would. Here’s why:
In it you will learn:
- The best, natural way to clean hardwood floors
- How I really feel about plastic
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- How to make your own toothpaste, laundry soap, all-purpose cleaner, deodorant AND MORE!
To enter, simply click on the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest closes at 12:00 AM this Friday, but don’t worry if you don’t win this one – I am giving away a copy of All You Need Is Less every week for the next four weeks! It’s like Christmas! But with more vinegar!
(Also, I am an equal-opportunity environag. These giveaways are open to anyone in the world! )
Allons-y, kittens! Click below to enter.
O.k, I’m game. I’m gonna try it. My hair can’t get any worse anyhow. ( I am a hedgehog)
Yes! Please do, and report back!
Me too, me too. I wanna try it! 😀 Tomorrow!
I’m willing to give it a go! Can’t wait to read more tips from your book!
I think I may just try this now that my hair is shorter and it seems less…scary. You will see via instagram if I do!
I WANT to try it, but my hair gets so ridiculously, almost cartoon-like staticky if I don’t weigh it down with industrial strength conditioner. Is an ACV or lemon juice rinse reeeEEEEEALLY going to work for someone like me?? I haver to admit, I am dubious……. CONVINCE ME.
And as for Benny, you know where i stand on that one *le sigh*.
I love the idea of trying this but I have a logistical question…. I have a really teeny tiny shower with no space except the floor to put things down and I think if I tried to mix anything while I am in the shower it will just end up with me knocking things over, spilling stuff everywhere etc…. Can I pre-mix it in a bottle and shake it up before I use it or will the magic not work then? Thanks 🙂
You sure can! You’d just want to use it while it’s still warm- otherwise it’d be like pouring cold water over your head!
I like the idea of lemon juice in the summer – get some nice highlights! Do you mix the ingredients every time you shower or can you do a week’s worth or so ahead of time? I have a 4 month old so I generally have very little “me time” for things like showering so an extra step before every shower is probably not going to happen.
I think ill just leave some baking soda and a bottle of lemon juice in the bathroom and mix in the shower.
I wouldn’t mix it ahead of time because it’s like 90% water so you’d be pouring cold water on your head each morning – ack! What I do is keep a container of baking soda, a bottle of ACV and a TBSP in my bathroom cabinet. I also have two jars I keep in my shower that have the 1 cup level marked on them. Before I shower I scoop the ingredients into each jar, then just fill it up to the 1 cup mark with shower water. It takes about 30 seconds before I shower so I think it’s doable, but see what you think and if it’s not working for you don’t worry about it, and try again in 6 months or so when you will have more time.
(p.s. Don’t you love that when you have kids, showers go from being “basic hygeine” to “me time”?)
I clearly need the step-by-step instructions 🙂 This sounds very doable, even with a baby in a bouncy chair looking on. Thank goodness she’s fascinated by the sound of water and the palm trees on my shower curtain or my “me time” would become a washcloth to the armpits.
So I am thinking of giving this a try, just wondering what it will do to colour treated hair? I have dyed mine in the last maybe 4 months back to it’s “adult” natural colour (I am one of those that was blonde as a babe and sorta brown as an adult).
In response to your question on the book-winning-thingy: We are making a worm farm!!! I recently bought a new house and the garden needs some major TLC before I can start planting my veg (not to mention the ground needs the thaw…). So enter home composting 😀 Have you done this before? If not, let me know and I’d be happy to share my experience (hopefully it works) if you have, any pointers? 🙂
I had a question about lightening hair above, too. I haven’t used it on colour-treated hair, so I’m not sure about that one. Can anyone else vouch for/against it being safe?
Re: Worm composting, I did that with a gardening program I ran at work, and had the the little fellas in my kitchen for the winter one year, too. They are great, effective and don’t smell. But just like a regular compost you need to make sure you have a good mix of green matter (fruit and veggies scraps) and brown matter (newspaper, leaves, etc). Also you usually have to start off slowly so you don’t overload them in the beginning. Pop back and let me know how it’s going!
Hey, I tried unpooing last year when I had bleached hair and I have to tell you, it was not good. I also have hard water and all these things combined left me looking like a giant hay bale. But now my hair is grown out and I’ve tried again with much more success. That said, I think if you did some extra conditioning with coconut oil or egg or honey or whatevs, you might fare a bit better.
So yours was ending up too dry? That’s good to know. Do you hear style or anything? I love that we are all like, “What other kitchen ingredients can I put on my head?” LOL. I’ve heard good things about avocado hair masks but have never tried myself.
We have stopped flushing to the toilet after every use. Our mantra is…if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.
I have tried this with vinegar when I was pregnant almost a year ago. I had to give my hair lots of time to adjust. And I’m always rushing out the door in the morning so I still smelled a teeny bit like vinegar once I got to work. I worked at a university near some biology labs, and one day a co-worker commented that they must be doing experiments with vinegar. . . . :S
I’ll try with lemon juice, and now that I’m a mommy at home with my little, hopefully I’ll have more time to let my hair dry. . .
Ha, Adam always used to make fun of me too!
I’ll give it a try. Lord knows I do plenty of dirty hippie stuff…what’s one more?
the most recent I’ve done is making my own toothpaste, but that’s not really “recent”. Been doing it for 6 months now and love it!
Great post, been meaning to give this a try, good to hear it works ! I’ve been washing my hair less often and I see a difference already.I’m also trying coconut oil rinse once in a while, but first time I tried I put too much in and it took forever to rinse the oil out. I’ve been making my own laundry soap too and so far so good. Next step is trying home made deodorant…Thanks for the tips ! 🙂
But don’t vinegar and lemon juice both lighten hair? So this would not be a good idea for anyone who has dyed dark or naturally darker hair and wants to keep it that way, right?
I think they do if you apply them then sit I the sun- wasn’t that how it worked? I don’t know if this would have the same effect since it’s on your hair for such a short amount of time and then rinsed. I haven’t noticed my hair getting lighter (but I also used to dye it black back in the day) but it’s entirely possible.
I was just in the process of switching to reusable menstrual products when I got pregnant (started reacting to the “normal” products I always felt so guilty about throwing away). Currently working on prepping some cloth for postpartum. And cloth diapers. 🙂
Yesss! My mother-in-law made me cloth pads for my 30th birthday. I feel like that would have been weird for a lot of people, but it was a total highlight for me!
i definitely want to try this. though i am a little nervous bc we have hard water (and i have curly hair!)…
i recently switched to cleaning with vinegar and love it. we have an excessive dog slobber problem (think beethoven-like slobber shakes) so it’s good for cleaning walls!
I just finished cleaning Gus’ slingers (hes an English Mastiff, so I hear you sista!) I am constantly amazed/repulsed by how high up they are. 5 ft up the wall? Really, Gus?
i’m already using baking soda instead of toothpaste, so how cool would it be to eliminate one more product from the bathroom? plus we have a great big lemon tree that makes totally awful, bitter lemons and it would be nice to find a use for them. i only shower every few days, though (i’m against using more water) and since i do a LOT of intense fitness stuffs, my hair is always *really* oily by the time it gets washed (i always think to myself, “i should have washed this mess yesterday”), and i’m just supernaturally oily (latina genes), so i’m a little tiny bit skeptical (i usually shampoo twice and get little to no lather until 2nd shampoo), but i’m totally down to try it. plus, if it works for me, then we know it’ll work for everyone (i’ll keep you posted). do you happen to know, madeleine, if we can use these same two ingredients on our skin, eliminating soaps from the shower altogether? can baking soda replace our face scrubby soap, perhaps? (i do use it to clean my teeth, in my armpits in the form of jungleman deodorant, and for cleaning, so it seems plausible that it’s going to take over all my hygiene/cleanliness needs). and if so (so that baking soda and lemon is all that’s going down the drain), you think we can safely redirect the shower water to the garden? this is something i’ve really been wishing i could do b/c i live in constantly drought-ridden southern california, and seriously long for plants i can’t currently grow b/c i refuse to use very much water on my landscape.
I am so jealous of your lemon tree – now you can say you grow your own conditioner! 😉
The shampoo/conditioner thing could go one of two ways for you I think. Either it would take a week or so and then your scalp would settle down and stop overproducing oil – because it’s not being stripped by shampoo – or the baking soda/vinegar combo wouldn’t be enough to tackle it. Only one way to find out! Haha.
I use baking soda as an exfoliant – it’s really fine though, so don’t scrub too hard. ACV diluted 50/50 with water makes a great toner, too.Your shower water- garden thing would be awesome! Maybe take a sample (buy having a bucket in your shower) and see what the pH is? Just to make sure it’s not too acidic. I’m not a gardening expert, but that sounds like it could totally work!
I tried this the first time you posted it and my hair was so shiny! I even got compliments. Since, I’ve become obsessed with vinegar, I clean the whole house with it. Can’t wait to read your book!
Oh my gosh that makes me ridiculously happy to hear! Yay!
And welcome to the obsessed-with-vinegar club- we meet on Tuesdays 😉
Ok, ok, FINE, I’ll give it a go. One question though – is baking soda the same thing as bicarbonate of soda? That’s what I have in the cupboard. I also have baking powder, but I’m pretty sure that’s the wrong thing. Would it be completely ridiculous to add a dash of vanilla essence and a pinch of salt? My gut says yes.
Yes, you want bicarbonate of soda- sounds so much fancier when you say it that way! And I’m going to vote no on the vanilla and salt, you’ll end up with a cake on your head! Ha, thanks for trying it! Take pictures!
Sent from my iPhone
Guess what… I’ve been doing it for over 6 weeks! And I love it! I use very diluted Dr Bronner’s instead of baking soda and then the vinegar and I’m down to washing just once a week. I’ll be blogging about it soon and will of course link back to your original post, which is what got me started on the whole thing. I don’t think my hair will ever be as shiny as yours but I’m totally sold. Just need to wean my husband off the Head and Shoulders now as he’s totally ruining the hippie vibe of my bathroom.
Reblogged this on All You Need Is Less.
Anybody know anything about how it works with dry scalps? I only wash my hair every 3-4 days, and I’m keen to try this but nervous it will make my scalp go from manageable dry skin to full-on dandruff! I will definitely let you know once I’ve tried it.
I love this in theory, but I haven’t tried it yet. I only wash my hair twice a week but we’re coming into the season of no blowdrying and thus curly hair. Anybody have advice for how this works with curly hair?
I’m asking on FB- you should be our guinea pig!
My mind is blown – I am going to try this! But my hair can get really thick and knotty. Would you say the conditioner works for most hair types? I hate fighting knots when I get out of the shower..the hairbrush always wins, and I feel like I shed a whole wig every time!
Ok that is the BEST part. Totally knot and tangle free! I mean that is my experience anyway- more so than other conditioners, but go try it and report back!
I used to use ACV for conditioner a fee years back, but never tried the baking soda shampoo. It’s impossible for me to find a (store bought) combo that I like, so I’m most certainly going to try this! Thanks!
Our latest simple change is using cloth wipes instead of disposable ones on our little girl’s tush!
I can’t wait to win a copy of your book (I’m a very lucky person so I’m hoping big for it!) and I think I may just try the shampoo and conditioner too. Sounds interesting!
LOVE the shampoo and conditioner! SERIOUSLY! I have been doing this for about 4 days now and I can’t even explain how awesome my hair is. It is light, no residue weighing it down. It is drying WAY faster(? No idea how that part works but it’s great!). It smells like natural, clean hair; no artificial smells or anything it’s just plain and clean. It has next to no friz which is a huge win for myself! And when I style it (flat iron or curl) it does NOT look greasy and yet does not look dried out. Also no unexplainable dandruff or anything, it’s perfect. And no ACV smell! I have never tried this, but my idea would be possibly a spray bottle with water, and maybe a lavender essential oil drop or two in it, to spritz on afterwards if you’re worried about the ACV? Not sure, just a thought. And Madeleine, have you written any of your thoughts on a deep hydrating and conditioning for hair? Such as olive oil and a towel for a half hour or such things? Would go well with your shampoo and conditioner 🙂 love the blog and can’t wait for the book!
This makes me SO happy! Post a picture and spread the gospel- preach, sista! Preach!
But seriously so glad you tried it, and so glad you love it as much as I do.
So, I took the plunge and gave it a try. The most fabulous thing was the lack of tangles! I have the knottiest of hair so was happy with that 🙂 However…I have a strange residue on my hair now it’s dry. It looks lovely, all light and heathy but feels grim. So, what went wrong do you think?
a. I didn’t mix the baking soda solution well enough before applying b. I didn’t rinse for long enough c. I have hard water
Three cheers for tangle-free hair! I say try it again, rinse really thoroughly between shampoo and conditioner, and try 1 TBSP ACV/lemon juice and see how that goes. Let me know!
Just re-reading this and thought I’d address it for anyone else – if you have hard water you may need to boil your water for 5-10 minutes to get rid of the mineral deposits that can leave your hair feeling filmy. This sounds onerous but I do it in the morning and use some to make tea, and by the time my tea is gone it’s cooled enough to use! 🙂
I’m nearly two weeks in! I’ve been fighting strangely greasy hair with crazy acne break out along my hairline since becoming pregnant. I also had dandruff! What the heck, baby? So, I tried this… and it’s great! I’ve only done it 5 times, trying to take a day off in between for just water, as my hair adjusts, but my hair is nice and light – though it’s REALLY obvious all of a sudden that I need a haircut badly. So I’ll be looking after that tomorrow, (I usually wait way too long, like every 5 months too long. So when I get rid of the last batch of dead ends, it should be much more tidy looking). I’m going to stick with it for a while and see how it goes! I like the idea of lemons instead of ACV. Dandrufff is gone and my pregnancy acne is cooling down. I was really worried I’d get greasy (I run an work out nearly every day) – but it’s not greasy at all, even on my “just water” days.
I’ve just given up on this after about a 6 week trial. I liked the ease, but it just made my hair… Flat and flyaway and itchy. I am really disappointed : ( But, we have hard water so that might have something to do with it.
Ok i have hard water too and the key is to boil the water fur about 10 mins before you mix your solution. It’s a bit more of a process but it works!
[…] of. About five or six years ago I stopped using store-bought shampoo and conditioner and started making my own. But now I’m just…not using anything. Well, I’m using water, I guess. The magical […]
[…] if you haven’t tried making your own shampoo and conditioner, definitely try […]
I have a really oily scalp that requires super harsh clarifying shampoo if I want it to look like I wash my hair at all, but my ends are super dry from the shampoo. I have tried EVERY shampoo and conditioner — $5 a bottle, $35 a bottle, I’m desperate — and I’ll let you know how this goes for me!
Everything is very open with a very clear description of the issues.
It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful.
Many thanks for sharing!
Best I have ever used is Pro Naturals.
Hi M. Do you use your homemade shampoo on Olive too?
Hi Penny! I have used it on her a few times with great results, but she absolutely hates having her hair washed on the best of days, so it’s often impossible to get her to sit through a separate wash and conditioning. These days we are using a 2-in-1 by Kiss My Face, but as she gets older I would love to transition her to this system!
I’m a little late to the game, but I tried this recently and love it! My question is, how do you style your hair after this? Do you put anything else in your hair before blow drying or curling? Or do you just air dry? I have super greasy hair, and so far this method is working great! Thanks! 😉
Hi Jenny! I am a verrrry low-maintenance hair person so I don’t typically do much to it after I shower. If I have time I let it air dry, otherwise I blow dry it. Just style as you normally would! I am so glad it’s working for you…spread the word!
[…] effort if the result is effective and environmentally-friendly. I boil water to make my own shampoo, which is slightly annoying, but I love the results so I do it. I grate soap to make my own […]
Just tried this combo on my very thick, long and fairly knotted hair (after wearing multiple top knots and not washing it for a week!) Hair is soft and feels great…I am so done with the $40 organic shampoos and conditioners!! Thanks a bunch 🙂
Pro Naturals is the best!!!
[…] so these days I boil my water and mix up a batch of my homemade shampoo and conditioner (recipe here) around half of the time, and the other half I use J.R. Ligget’s shampoo bar. It comes in […]
I color my hair to cover the gray. My question is this: Will your shampoo and conditioner strip the color from my color treated hair?
Very late to the game, but : just started trying this out and I love it, my hair feels great and I especially have no problems with my sensitive scalp anymore!
I’m so glad it’s working for you!