Why I’ll never use regular shampoo again

ImageI haven’t used shampoo in two months – well the traditional kind anyway. This blog is all about why I’ll never go back to expensive traditional products.

What have I been doing instead, you ask?

I’ve been washing my hair with a mixture of baking soda and water. More recently I tried a new recipe called Sweet Tangerine and I LOVE it.  Then for conditioner I use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to boost shine. I was surprised at how much I like this method. I never thought I could go 2 days between washings with my greasy hair, but alas it’s possible. Not to mention how much money I’m saving by not buying expensive products (recipes at the end).

I haven’t lost my mind

A recent blood test revealed that I have a sluggish thyroid. That wasn’t a huge surprise because I’ve struggled for years doing all the right things and lose weight like I imagine a sloth might. But it wasn’t only that, I was suffering from hormonal changes and severe PMS too.

I started reading anything I could about my issues. It seemed like I was doing everything right (diet, exercise, stress management) except for the one thing no one ever talks about – environmental toxinsespecially in our personal care products. My eyes were finally opened. My body was living proof that we can’t just stop our vigilance at food.

The products we put on our skin (our largest organ), under our arms, and on our head are absorbed into our bodies just like our food.  The American Journal of Health found that skin absorption contributed an average of 64% of the total dose of volatile chemicals in our bodies. Eeek.

In my pursuit of learning more about personal care products, I’ve learned that women typically put 515 chemicals on their skin before they even eat breakfast. Yikes! And men aren’t immune either – they often have multiple products too.


Think about your morning routine and all the products you use daily. Mine used to look something like this…shampoo (25 ingredients), conditioner (30 ingredients), body wash (27 ingredients), face wash (38 ingredients), body lotion (38 ingredients), face lotion (20 ingredients), deodorant (14 ingredients), makeup (~50), hair products (18 ingredients), and perfume (no clue). WHOA, I was floored when I actually started counting them and realized that’s a lot of ingredients to absorb on a daily basis especially since I had no idea what they were. Granted, not all ingredients are toxic but it was still enough to negatively affect my health.

How Toxins Affect Our Health

You know that “just-showered” smell that lingers in the air? That is the work of a chemical called phthalates. In personal care products, phthalates are a scent fixative. In other words, they make smells last longer. The problem is that phthalates are a synthetic estrogen or xenoestrogen and mimic estrogen in the body. That means that particular class of chemicals affects every system in the body that uses estrogen – which is a lot.

This chemical is linked to thyroid dysfunction, early breast development in girls, and an increased risk of breast cancer. It’s also in the category of obeseogen because it is so closely linked to abdominal fat, insulin resistance, and decreased testosterone. It has also been tied to behavioral problems in kids. Phthalates are usually hidden as “fragrance” in your products. It was in EVERY one of my daily routine products.

What else should you be looking for?

As you may have guessed phthalates aren’t the only chemical toxin that impacts our health that we need to watch out for in personal products. Others include: parabens, triclosan, sodium laurel or laureth sulfate, mineral oil, propylene glycol (PEG), DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine), just to name a few. I won’t go into each one of these here but as you can imagine each one comes with it’s own set of warnings.

If your eyes are glazed over – hang in there. I’m about to give you the short cut to getting these toxins out of your life without having to read the labels yourself.

Are you pissed off?

I know I was. But you can stop the toxic exposure for you and your family right now!

When I started down this road I was tempted to say, “everything is bad for me so I might as well just live and not worry about it.” This process seems daunting and overwhelming but I have a strategy for you. It’s the same one I used. It takes a little time (maybe 30 minutes) but it’s SO worth it.

5 Steps to reducing chemical toxin exposure in your personal care products:

Step 1 – Go to the bathroom and pull out all of the personal products you use on a regular basis. Set them in a pile next to your computer. This may include: shampoo, body wash, face soap, lotion, face creams, hair products, makeup, and deodorant.

Step 2 – Visit www.ewg.org/skindeep. Now, one at a time, search for your products in the massive database. You can look up brand to get an idea of what kind of ingredients the company uses in general.  Each one will have a rating of 0-10 (0 is safest).  Tip: if you don’t find the exact brand, look up the ingredients separately to get an idea of safety.

If the score is:

  • 0-2 (green) – you’re good, carry on
  • 3-6 (yellow) – replace this one when you run out or sooner if you feel like it
  • 7-10 (red) – stop using and replace with a safer alternative using the EWG database asap

Step 3 – Repeat this process for other family member’s products especially kids. Men are also not immune and have just as many products these days.

Step 4 – Consider making your own products like I did with my shampoo (2 ingredients) and conditioner (2 ingredients). I also make my own deodorant (4 ingredients), body moisturizer (1 ingredient), and face moisturizer (2 ingredients).

Here are the DIY recipes I used…

The benefit of making your own products is that you have some serious peace of mind because you know exactly what’s in it – plus it ends up being a cheaper. Score!

Baking Soda Method: Add 2 Tbs of baking soda to filtered warm water. I use one of those plastic ketchup bottles because it’s easier to apply at the roots. A whole bottle lasts 2-3 washings. You’ll feel that your hair gets clean even though it doesn’t suds up. Then rinse. (2 ingredients – all edible)

Sweet Tangerine Shampoo: Mix ½ cup unscented castile soap, 1 cup raw honey, ~ 1 tsp tangerine essential oil (or other smell or choice). Blend all ingredients together and store in a clear container. I used one with a pointed tip so I can control the amount. You really only need a small amount as this one lathers like crazy. The honey isn’t sticky at all. You’ll be saying “yes, yes, yes” just like in the herbal essences commercials minus the icky toxins.

Conditioner: Add ¼ cup apple cider vinegar to warm filtered water. Again, I use one of those plastic ketchup bottles because it’s easier to apply where I want to. I leave for a minute and then rinse. (2 ingredients – all edible)

Body moisturizer: Technically I didn’t make this one but it’s still a great swap for lotion. While I’m still wet, I slather on pure almond oil and then dry off. It’s even good on your face. A big bottle is $10 and lasts a long time. (1 ingredient – edible)

Deodorant: Mix 1/3 cup coconut oil, 2 Tbs baking soda, 1/3 cup arrowroot powder, and 10-15 drops of essential oil of choice (I used lavender) together in a small glass container.  Swipe a small amount into armpits.  (4 ingredients – all edible)

Face Moisturizer: I started using a mixture of argan oil and apricot kernal oil on my face and I’m loving it. Yes, it’s ok to use oil on your face. It actually cleared mine up. I switch it up with a safe creamier product I found using the Skin Deep Database.  (2 ingredients – all edible)

Step 5 – Reach out to me. I’m super passionate about getting toxins out of our homes and our bodies without the added hassle or cost. As I mentioned earlier, this process can seem daunting and overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve already done the hard work and research for you including the most cost effective ways to go about it.


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Filed under DIY Beauty Recipes

10 responses to “Why I’ll never use regular shampoo again

  1. Reblogged this on Deligious and commented:
    Sometimes I think that all these Chemicals are harsh but then I think about how good I smell with all of them on and without the immediate effects of them on myself how am I supposed to switch? Really does anyone do this and does it really make a difference? I heard that in the average woman’s breast milk there are about 500 extra chemicals than 100 years ago and this is what is leading to all these new kids with Autism, allergies, and other developmental issues. Scary. Maybe I will consider switching.

    • Hi Jennaboo. I totally get where you’re coming from. I felt like this for a long time too. You might like essential oils as a safe way to smell wonderful. They work for me and can make your home-made products smell delicious too. Doterra brand is my favorite. Give my recipes a try. You may be surprised how easy they are to like.

  2. Christina

    Is there such a thing as toxin free hair color to cover grey? Cannot seem to find one 😦 Thank you!

    • Hi Christina: I haven’t looked myself but this is what I know. Henna is your safest bet but just like with everything else we need to read the labels. Be sure to avoid para-phenylenediamine (PPD). That’s the big baddie we want to avoid in hair dye and it’s really hard to. This is what my friend Lara Adler (a toxin’s expert) had to say: “Rainbow Henna is a brand that’s often sold at places like Whole Foods, or other health food stores – that’s one brand that’s okay to try. There’s Light Mountain Natural, and then there’s Coastal Classic Creations – I really like
      their products across the board. I think they make really clean, natural products. So, Coastal Classic Creations does have pure henna and henna & other herb hair dyes available.” I hope that helps. A helpful tool is http://www.ewg.org/skindeep when assessing the safety of our products. You may know about that one already.

  3. Pingback: Cut the Crap Series – Tip #5 – Easy DIY Liquid Laundry Soap | Learning with Lisa

  4. Hi Lisa!

    Am certainly trying your shampoo idea. Any alternative for body wash? Are glycerin soaps a safer bet than regular soap?

    • Hi there! I do have an alternative for body wash that I’ve been using. It’s a combination of unscented liquid Castile Soap (1 Cup), almond or jojoba oil (1 tsp), and essential oils – your choice (I like frankincense and lavender – 1/2 tsp). It doubles as my face wash. I’ve been enjoying it a lot. I tend to be acne prone and I’ve been clear (as long as I eat right ;). Let me know how it goes.

  5. Nesia

    I wish I could like this article fifteen times over! Shampoo, conditioner, Soap and lotion are already gone from my life. Next on my list is deodorant. After that I will start looking at organic makeup recipes. I can’t believe all the chemicals in perfume! With all the essential oils I am using that should be an easy fix. Thanks for these articles! You are also a great writer! I am glad the natural lifestyle is getting me in touch with you again!

  6. kate

    Hi there, great article! It’s a year on and I’m wondering if baking soda and vinegar are still working for you? I’ve been using home made shampoo…. Mostly, and current BS & apple cider vinegar too… But I’m not sure if I love it or it’s damaging. My hair is good for 3 days… Then starting to look like it needs a wash. I am trying to extend how long I can leave it between washes… (Started off 1.5-2days)… But I wear my hair in a ponytail everyday. So the oil or sebum is not getting stimulated by a lot of styling and touching… So I’m not entirely convinced the cleansing methods are responsible for this… And my hair is more wiry now… So, whilst I’ve reduced my chemical load, I’m not feeling real stylish! Any suggestions? Thanks in advance. Kate

    • Hi Kate:

      I’m so glad you wrote. I need to do a part 2 to this article because I felt the same way (and I don’t think we’re alone). For the past year I’ve switched between baking soda, the sweet orange shampoo recipe in the article, and some other safe but store bought alternatives. My hair looked great when dry but it felt like there was a buildup and it was more tangled than usual. My hair is curly and I need a lot of moisture. I understand what you’re saying about wiry. At this point I don’t have a DIY shampoo to recommend but I’m researching like a madwoman to find one. I’d love to have one that is both safe and provides style. I’ll find it! In the mean time, my suggestion is to visit http://www.ewg.org/skindeep and find a safe shampoo/conditioner you like. You’ll definitely still be doing your body favors and still have fabulous hair. Let me know which one you choose. And when I find the best DIY version I’ll let you know. Thanks again for commenting! Warmly, Lisa.

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