Natural hair, hair/beauty, health, and DIY topics are everywhere and the list of DIY projects could likely go on forever! It can all be quite overwhelming trying to pick your next project, or trying to understand how different ingredients interact with one another, or even simply knowing where to find and purchase all of your ingredients.
My last DIY trial was a Rhassoul Clay mudwash, which I absolutely love by the way, however most people won’t easily find Rhassoul clay in your neighborhood brick and mortar store. Even some of the other ingredients I’ve featured in my trials are not easily accessible. One of your best bets for finding any of these ingredients is online, such as Amazon.com, especially for small DIY trials where you don’t want to spend a ton of money. I also provide links to some of the other online specialty shops that I’ve used to purchase items, such as the Rhassoul clay used in my mud wash. Check that out here: DIY Rhassoul Mud Wash
In this DIY trial, I stuck with something a little easier and shopper friendly. This is another hair cleanser project but, this time, sans clay! I’ve spoken with a few people who are still a little skittish about the idea of using “mud” or “clay” to wash their hair, so here is another option…Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap. Their products have been around for a long time (spanning 5 generations and 150 years), and many natural health and beauty advocates love it’s FairTrade ingredients. I was able to pick up a 16oz bottle at my local Target. Here are the listed ingredients for their liquid castile soap in Lavender:
Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Lavandin Extract, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
* CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENT
** None remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin
- It contains Potassium Hydroxide which is basically lye, or a strong base or “alkaline” chemical that is used for many different products including food and cleaning products. Its inorganic, corosive and harsh. In the soapmaking world, however, it is used in the saponification process: In the traditional one-step saponification process, the triglyceride (coming from either vegetable or animal fat) is treated with a strong base (lye) which accelerates cleavage of the ester bond and releases fatty acid salt and glycerol.
- Tocopherol is basically a fancy name for Vitamin E
- Read more about their products here: Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap
My DIY Trial
1/2 cup Lavender Liquid Castile Soap
1/4 cup Aloe Vera gel*
1 tbsp Almond Oil
5 drops Grapefruit oil
*I ended up having to use as much as 1 cup of Aloe Vera gel just to get the pH down
My pH Testing:
So, this is where things became a little tricky. Prior to planning for my Castile soap DIY trial, I read that Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap tends to be fairly alkaline in pH. Looking at the ingredients (KOH- potassium Hydroxide) I see why. Now, our hair and skin has an average pH value of 5.5 because of the acid mantle layer which coats our hair and skin. It’s the result of acidic substances such as amino acids, lactic acid and fatty acids in perspiration, sebum and hormones. The acid mantle also houses protective microflora (bacteria and yeasts) while repelling pathogenic micro-organisms. For our hair, this acid mantle helps the cuticle to close off or lie flatter, which in turn helps our hair to look and feel shiny and smooth. It also helps to lock in moisture and keep the hair strong. Products that are too alkaline (high pH) can strip skin and hair of this protective layer causing dryness, irritation to the skin, dullness, brittleness and frizzing of the hair. In fact, extremely high alkaline products can break down protein bonds within the hair and is, in fact, what happens in chemical relaxers.
With this info in mind, I decided to see how alkaline or acidic my DIY Castile Soap would be…
- Testing of Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap alone gave me a pH of around 7.5-8!
I love aloe vera for it’s pH balancing and when testing the gel form alone, it gave me a pH of about 5.0. I started out with just 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel but with only a slight budge in pH, I ended up adding 1 cup only to get my formula’s pH down to 6.75 to 7!
DIY Castile Soap Shampoo
Well, I can’t say that I was “wowed” by this DIY trial. I had to dilute so much of the Castile soap that I’m not sure how great of a “cleanser” it ended up being. My hair was soft but then again I’ve been using a lot of oils and butters in my hair. If this product didn’t do the job in cleansing my scalp and hair, then it’s likely I still have a lot of buildup remaining. Maybe there is more tweaking I could do in the future (such as trying with apple cider vinegar instead of aloe vera gel), but in the meantime I will store my remaining mixture. For now, I think I will stick with my clay wash and a clarifying agent like Giovanni 50:50 or even Shea Moisture’s shampoo when I have heavy buildup. I still think this is an easy DIY shampoo project for those interested and…who knows!?! Maybe your results will come out better 🙂 It was a fun science experiment though!