Tag Archive | natural hair care

Homemade Soap

Following on my previous post on soapmaking, here is a selection of some of the homemade soap that I’ve made.

How to Make Soap Homemade Soap

I usually make goats milk soap, because I LOVE goats milk soap. It’s moisturizing like you wouldn’t believe, hydrating, great for both skin and hair. Plus, it helps a great deal with certain skin problems like eczemas, rashes or sensitive skin.

But in this photo above is the only water soap that I’ve made. As you can see, unlike goats milk soap, water soaps can come out light in colour (depending on the oils used). Goats milk soap always comes out yellow, tan or brown because the sugars in the milk caramelize during the soapmaking process.

The ingredients of the soap pictured above are: olive oil pomace (I always use olive oil pomace, because it’s cheaper), coconut oil and a few drops of castor oil, lye, water and rosemary essential oil.

Soapmaking Handmade Soap

This is the very first homemade soap that I made in my latest soapmaking venture. I used to make homemade soap years ago, when I lived in Barcelona. But I hadn’t done that in years.

This soap is the one all my friends are crazy about, and is the one most in demand in my circle of friends and acquaintances. The ingredients are: olive oil pomace, coconut oil, castor oil, lye, goats milk and rosemary and mint essential oils.

Homemade Soap Charcoal Soap

This curious little soap was my attempt to make homemade charcoal soap using…… homemade activated charcoal!

Activated charcoal is supposed to have multiple benefits. It’s good for acne, helps to regulate oil production in your face, exfoliates…… Usually people buy activated charcoal. But it’s pretty pricey for an ingredient you’re only going to use just once in just one of your homemade soaps. So I thought I’d try making my own.

Activated charcoal is called activated when it comes from plant sources. Well, I figured, plant sources are fairly abundant. In fact, I happened to have a huge stalk full of thick leek leaves that were too old and thick to use as food. So I cut them into large chunks and stuck them into a glass baking pan in the oven. I baked them until they charred and turned to charcoal. Then I took them out (when they got cold, of course) and pounded them in a mortar into fine charcoal powder.

And that is what I dumped into the above soap. I added it to the soap after it was already cooked, using the hot process soapmaking process I detailed in my previous post.

Thus, the ingredients of the above soap are: olive oil pomace (I use a lot of olive oil because I live in Spain the land of olive oil), coconut oil, goats milk, lye, activated charcoal made from leek leaves and rosemary essential oil.

These are 2 soaps in moulds.

These 2 chunks are 2 samples of the homemade soap I’d originally made in Barcelona years ago. As you can see, they’ve darkened quite a bit over the years. But they are still in perfectly good shape and perfectly usable.

I’m not too sure what ingredients they have, because I made them years ago, but I do recall that they are goats milk soap.

Homemade Coconut Oil Soap

These peculiar lumps are some of my fave soaps, next to my signature olive oil soap (second picture above). I absolutely LOOOVEEE LOVE LOVE this homemade soap for my hair. They are THE most moisturizing, yet at the same time, they leave my hair clean and grease free, so I can go more days without washing my hair.

This is a pure coconut oil soap, so the ingredients are simple: coconut oil, lye, goats milk and rosemary essential oil. I add rosemary essential oil to every soap that I make to prevent the oils from going rancid.

Homemade Soap Olive Oil Soap

This is a chunk of my and my friends’ favourite homemade soap. It’s from the batch of olive oil soap. I kept this for my own use and gave the others, which had a more regular rectangular shape, away.

So now you have seen a sampling of some of the soaps I’VE made, how do you feel about making your own soaps? You can find step by step instructions on how to make soap in my previous post, Soapmaking.

And if you love relaxing with a good book at the end of your day, I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

Have you made some homemade soap of your own? Or maybe you’ve got some questions. Do leave me comments at the end, I LURRRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Soapmaking

Natural Skin and Hair Care Routine

Bentonite Clay for Hair

Caves of Nerja

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Soapmaking, How to Make Soap At Home

I decided to learn soapmaking, or how to make my very own handmade, homemade soap at home.

Soapmaking Handmade Soap

Ever since I went on a no-poo craze, I’ve been discovering all the nefarious effects of using chemical filled detergents. Chem-filled detergents are everywhere: in your shower gel, your shampoos, your liquid soap and liquid hand soap, in your laundry detergent, your dishwashing liquid, everywhere!

And chemical laden detergents are harsh, drying and irritating. They are produced through an artificial, unnatural process that you can’t exactly imitate in your kitchen, using harsh ingredients you wouldn’t exactly wish to stock up on in your kitchen.

And if you go to the store or supermarket and buy a bar of soap, you’re not doing much better. Because these commercially-made, factory-made bars of soap also contain a lot of detergents and chemicals.

At any rate, if you should choose to buy a bar of soap, at the very least, do your research and check out the ingredients list.

Here in Spain, soaps are not required to list their ingredients. But if you’re lucky enough that your supermarket soap actually does have a list, pay attention to make sure it doesn’t contain any sulfates in it, such as sodium laureth sulphate or sodium lauryl sulphate.

These are the most common sulphates, but sulphur compounds come in many forms and guises. You might have also seen ammonium lauryl sulfate or disodium laureth sulfosuccinate listed on some bottles. These are also sulphates in disguise.

I won’t go into the details about why sulphate detergents are bad for you, as you can find more than enough information on the subject on the internet today. Mainly, what this post is about, is the healthy, natural, homemade alternative: soapmaking at home, that is, making your own soap!

Why Is Soapmaking Good For You?

Why is it so good to make your own soap?

Well, first of all, it’s fun!

Next, you can use your own handmade soap to replace all those expensive shower gels, shampoos, hand soaps, liquid soaps, dishwashing liquids and laundry detergents.

Finally, YOU are the one with FULL CONTROL over what substances you are spreading on your skin or hair. After all, skin breathes. What you slather onto your skin DOES make its way into your blood stream, at least to some extent (depending on the size of the molecules involved).

And, of course, as most people could probably attest to, what you use on your hair does affect what your hair looks like and how it acts. Right?

So wouldn’t it make sense to use only the highest quality, purest, most natural, best ingredients on your hair?

So following, I’m going to describe the series of steps that I use to make my own soap at home.

Scared of Lye?

A lot of people are scared off from soapmaking because they are afraid of lye. Well, here in Spain, lye has been used for a long time as a drain cleaner. In this case, hot water is actually added TO the lye, which produces an explosive reaction. Since we get used to this explosive reaction, no one is scared by it anymore.

But in order to make soap, all you need to do is to quietly dissolve lye crystals VERY SLOWLY in water. When done in this order, no explosive reaction occurs.

So without any further ado, these are the basic steps I use to create MY VERY OWN HOMEMADE SOAP, using the hot process method in a crock pot.

You don’t need to use a crock pot. Before I had a crock pot, I used to use a double boiler. But for me, a crock pot is THE WORKS haha! It makes your soapmaking life 1000% easier.

I’ve also cooked soap in the oven, however, since some oils are hard to saponify and need more heat and I have a crock pot with a low setting only. I only use it for soapmaking, and have never used this crock pot for anything else.

I personally like to use the hot process method, where you cook your soap using heat. The other method, called the cold process method, is faster and simpler, but I rarely ever use it, as I personally don’t like it.

Why I Prefer Hot Process Soapmaking

The reasons I prefer the hot process soap method are the following:

  • shorter curing time, you can use a hot process soap immediately but I like to cure it for about 2 weeks. However, a cold process soap requires a minimum of 6 weeks’ curing time, and I’m just too impatient to wait that long haha!
  • you have no difficulty with essential oils or colorants reacting during the saponification process with hot process, because you add these ingredients AFTER the soap is already cooked and saponified
  • no alien brains hehe!
  • no other weird reactions either
  • you don’t have to worry about accidentally touching your raw soap and getting a soap or lye burn, because by the time the soap is cool enough to touch, all the lye has already reacted with the oils, and no lye remains to burn you

Some people prefer cold process soaps because they produce a smoother, more exquisite and refined looking cake, and it is a lot faster. But once again, like I said, you trade a faster soapmaking time for a longer curing time.

Steps for Making Soap

1.Measure out your oils.

You can choose from a huge variety of oils. Because exotic or harder-to-get oils can be expensive, and I live in Spain, I usually limit myself to the most basic oils: olive oil, coconut oil and castor oil.

I like to use olive oil pomace (in Spanish, aceite de oliva de orujo), because it’s both cheaper than the extra virgin variety, as well as having a higher percentage of unsaponifiables (molecules that don’t react with the lye and therefore remain as oils, which makes for a richer, creamier, more hydrating and moisturizing soap).

However, DO NOT EAT OLIVE POMACE OIL! It’s not meant for eating, and is produced using a chemical process that leaves behind some substances that not only taste bad, but might also be bad for your health if you eat them. (I’ve been trying to find out why you can’t eat them, but it’s okay to slather them on your skin, but I can’t seem to find any information related to that. I can only assume that your skin doesn’t absorb these unhealthy substances. Perhaps the molecules are too large.)

Some people do eat olive oil pomace, but nowadays it’s become very difficult to find it even here in Spain, because it’s been forbidden by the Spanish government for culinary use. You can still use it in soapmaking though.

Olive oil confers moisturization to your soap and makes for a very hydrating soap. It’s good for people with dry skin or dry hair.

Coconut oil is deeply cleansing, and produces absolutely THE RICHEST, CREAMIEST lather. It’s not particularly moisturizing, though. That’s why I like to combine olive oil and coconut oil in any soap that I make.

I like to add a few drops of castor oil as well. It makes for a soap that feels creamier and lathers up more easily. However, being slightly more expensive and harder to find, I don’t use it a lot.

So as I was saying, measure out your oils. You need to know how much oil you are using so you can calculate the amount of the remaining ingredients. I like to use this soapmaking lye calculator.

It might look quite complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to use. Simply follow the steps, which are outlined there.

The usual percentage of water in relation to oils is usually 38%. You might want to use a lower proportion of water if you want your soap to cure more quickly. Or a higher percentage if you are going to cook your soap (ie. use the hot process) and you plan on using high temperatures, which can make your water evaporate.

Most people superfat their soaps approximately 5-10%. If I make a pure coconut oil soap for skin or hair, I like to superfat it at 20%, however, because coconut oil is not particularly moisturizing, and this amount of superfat creates a more hydrating soap.

Superfatting is the amount of “extra” oil that you add to your recipe, which will not react with your lye and will therefore remain behind in your soap, in order to hydrate your skin.

If you wish to create a soap for cleaning your house or laundry, you want to leave the superfatting at 0%, because you don’t want to leave any oil behind on your bathroom sink or in your clean clothes.

2.Measure out your liquids.

Usually your liquid will be water. I like to use mineral water, although some people use distilled water and I imagine you could use tap water as well. But don’t take my word on it about the tap water, as I’ve never used it.

You can also use filtered water or boiled water, however. Once again, I have not tried this.

In fact, I very rarely use water at all. I LOVE LOVE LOVE goats milk soap, and I pretty much almost always use goats milk instead of water. I (and my friends also) find goats milk soap just SOOO much more moisturizing and soothing than water soap.

Goats milk soap is also great for a number of skin affectations, such as eczema.

3.Measure out your lye.

Use the amount proposed in the lye calculator I’ve linked to above.

I place my lye in a small porcelain bowl.

Here in Spain you can find lye at any supermarket or drugstore. However, I’ve read that it’s hard to get in the US. If you live in the US, I imagine you could try a hardware store (it’s sold as a drain unblocker), or simply order online.

4.Once all your ingredients are measured and set out in preparation, you can begin to actually create your soap.

I like to begin by pouring the oils in my crock pot and turning it on low. (If you prefer to make cold process soap, don’t turn on your crock pot.)

If I am using any solid oils, such as coconut oil in the winter or cocoa butter, they will melt in the crock pot.

5.I place the liquids (water and/or goats milk, or any other milk that you might prefer, such as coconut milk) in a stainless steel container. I thought I’d taken a photo of the container I use but apparently I hadn’t, since I can’t find any such photo. I just use a typical lidless stainless steel cup like the kind people use to pour hot milk into coffee, with a little spout.

I then place the stainless steel container in the sink, if possible inside a large pot of cold water. Make sure the cold water doesn’t get into the stainless steel cup, of course!

This is to keep the liquid as cold as possible while it is reacting with the lye. That’s not such a problem if you are using water. However, if you are using goats milk, goats milk cooks with the heat! And when it cooks, it turns brown. (I can’t remember why it does that, I think the sugars in it caramelize or something.)

So the cooler the goats milk remains, the less it browns.

6.I get all goggled up.

I am very careful and I’ve never ever ever had any accident using lye. Here’s hoping it stays this way haha.

However, I also live in a safe home without babies or toddlers or elderly folk with Alzheimers. My teenage sons know better than to get in the way when I’m soaping. If that is not your case, make sure all pets, babies, toddlers and violent angry persons are out of the way before you begin the next step.

Getting goggled up means I put on rubber gloves, long sleeves, closed toe shoes and goggles. I don’t use any special goggles, the ones I use are from the dollar store and are the kind kids use to swim in the swimming pool.

7.Add the lye crystals little by little to the water or goats milk using a plastic spoon.

The goats milk will turn yellow, then brown, so if you see this happening, it is normal. It will also smell like ammonia. Supposedly, the smell will go away once the soap is cooked. But I find occasionally a faint whiff still remains.

Stir GENTLY. This is to make sure all the lye dissolves.

And of course, don’t breathe in the fumes haha! Don’t worry, it smells so bad, you wouldn’t want to anyway.

Then wait until the cup is cold enough to handle before moving on to the next step.

8.Once the lye water/milk is cool enough to handle, I pour it GENTLY into the oil mixture. That is why it’s so useful to use a cup with a spout.

Soapmaking Crock Pot

9.Using a metal whisk, I start to gently stir the mix together.

How to Make Soap Whisking

No egg beating now hehe. The lye is still raw in there, which means it can BURN you if you touch it or it splatters out.

After I’ve mixed for a bit, I start with the stick blender. Stick blend for a few minutes, then turn off the blender and just stir with it for a few minutes. Then turn it on again.

How to Make Soap Stick Blender

I stir/blend until reaching trace.

Depending on the oils used, this can take from about 15 minutes to over an hour. So if it’s not happening yet, don’t despair. It WILL happen. You just happened to pick some rather slow oils haha.

How to Make Soap Trace

I can’t remember now, off the top of my head, which oils took longer to reach trace. But some do take longer than others, so if yours is taking a long time, not to worry.

Trace is when the mixture starts to stiffen up a bit, and to hold its shape when it drips off the blender.

You can reach light, medium or heavy trace. I like to reach medium trace, because it seems to take a little less time to cook after this.

Soapmaking Trace

If you were making cold process soap, at this point, you’d be finished. You would simply need to add any fragrances, essential oils, colorants or other additives and pour into moulds.

But since I’m making hot process soap, I would continue on to the next step.

10.At this point, having reached trace, I cover the crock pot and set it on low.

I’ve never had any problems with the soap cooking too hot and boiling over (what some people call a volcano). But I have a crock pot with a low setting. If your pot is hotter than mine, you might need to be on the lookout for volcanos.

A volcano is simply when soap boils over, explosively. You don’t want that to happen. You can prevent that by hovering near your crock pot and checking it frequently (every 5 minutes or so).

It usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour for my soap to cook. How long it takes would depend on how hot your pot is, I imagine, as well as the recipe you used.

If it looks as if the oils and water have separated in your soap at some point, actually, I’ve been told that clear liquid that separates out is actually natural glycerine (which is a natural by-product of soapmaking) and not water. Simply give it a good stir to mix it back in again.

11.Once the soap has gelled completely, it’s cooked.

Gelling is a process whereby the soap starts to look more transparent (as opposed to looking more opaque, before it’s gelled).

Some people try the tongue zap test to see if the soap has cooked. You probably don’t want to do that. Soap tastes foul at the best of times! You probably also don’t want an electric shock on your tongue.

I simply make sure the soap has gelled completely. Give it a good stir using your wooden or plastic spoon or spatula, to make sure it looks transparent throughout. (It won’t actually look clear, it will still be coloured. Simply, it will have a transparent effect, similar to glycerine soap.)

12.Once it has gelled completely, I take the porcelain pot out of the heating shell and set it on the counter to cool down.

Like any pot that you’ve been cooking (food) in, it’s hot! So be careful.

If you are using a double boiler instead, or the oven, simply take it away from the heat source and leave it to cool somewhere, about 10-15 minutes.

You don’t want to make it too cold, or it will become hard and difficult to handle.

Some people add a bit of yoghurt at this point, to make it softer and easier to pour. I never remember to buy yoghurt before making soap, so I’ve never tried this. However, sometimes I do add a few drops of goats milk, and it does soften the soap and make it a bit runnier.

13.Once it’s cool, I like to add essential oils.

Because it’s goats milk soap, it’s already naturally brown, tan or dark yellow in colour, so I don’t usually interfere with the colour. If you have made a water soap, however, you might like to add colorants at this point.

I usually always add rosemary essential oil, to prevent the oils from going rancid.

Then I also add some essential oils for fragrance. I LOVE mint!

Mix in the oils and/or colorants and stir.

14.Pour into moulds.

Soapmaking Mold

Bang the mould down on the tabletop a few times (not too vigorously!) to get out the air bubbles.

15.Set into a cool, dry place to cure.

You can usually use the soap immediately after soapmaking, once it’s completely cold. But you will get better results if you cure it for a minimum of 2 weeks.

In order to conserve your newly created handmade soap as long as possible, always store it in a cool dry place when you’re not using it. Don’t keep it in the shower.

How to Make Soap Homemade Soap

In the next post, I’ll show you some pics of a few of the soaps that I’ve made recently.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

So, do you think you’ll try out this adventure and make a few soaps of your own? Feel free to tell me about YOUR soapmaking experiments. How did your soaps turn out? Do leave your comments below. I LURRRVEE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Castile Soap and Coconut Milk for Hair

I’d read about using castile soap and coconut milk for hair, and I wanted to give it a shot.

I’ve been on a no ‘poo craze for the past few weeks. Now three weeks since I last dropped a drop of conventional, commercial shampoo on my hair and counting.

I’d recently tried shikakai and bentonite clay for washing my hair, you can read about the results here: Shikakai and Bentonite Clay for Hair.

I was very happy with bentonite clay (not so much the shikakai, but you can read about why in this post on shikakai) but, just as people who use ordinary shampoos have a grand variety of hundreds of shampoos to choose from, why couldn’t we no ‘poo-ers also enjoy that luxury? So I wanted to try out new methods.

I’d used natural, handmade shampoo bars before, but they are hard to get where I live and I have to order online from the US. Well, I’m sure natural, handmade soaps are available online from Europe as well, but I wasn’t going to go to the bother of thumping about all over the internet for them. (I know Lush have them, but some of them contain sodium lauryl sulfate which is a chemical we are definitely trying to avoid.)

I could occasionally find some at handicraft or medieval fairs, but those only come by about once a year and then what will you do to get natural handmade shampoo bars in between?

So I turned to castile soap and coconut milk.

Now, I might add that the famous Dr Bronners castile soap is NOT available here in Spain. Or at least not in my city. Perhaps if you live in Madrid you can find it, you can get anything in Madrid.

But I live several hours away from Madrid, so going shopping there is not an option for me.

However, I could easily get a hold of natural soap bars, castile soap bars. Local housewives here make them with olive oil and sell them to local drugstores for a very low price.

And Jabón Lagarto, another natural choice for those of us who live in Spain (although it’s made from beef tallow so vegetarians might want to avoid it), can be obtained for literally pennies (or, well, cents) at any bazaar or supermarket.

So I decided to melt Jabón Lagarto (but it could have worked just as well with the local handmade olive oil soaps—which, when you come right down to it, is indeed the original pure olive oil soap that gives its name to castile soap (Castile being a region in Spain)) in hot water.

I chose Jabón Lagarto because it is available in soap flakes, whereas if I were to use a bar of local handmade all-natural castile soap, I would have had to grate it by hand, since I don’t own a food processor.

I used a proportion of one cup of soap flakes to one cup of hot water. That turned out to be too much, since it’s a strong soap, and next time I will use only ½ a cup of soap flakes to 4 cups of liquid (taking into account that coconut milk is a liquid too).

When you use too much soap, the resulting liquid soap is not liquid! It’s solid. Hence the need for the right proportion of soap flakes. But if you use too much, just add more liquid.

I boiled 2 cups of water on the stove. Then I poured in the soap flakes and stirred and stirred and stirred. I took the water off the stove, but the soap didn’t melt and in the end I had to leave it simmering on the stove on low heat.

When all the soap had melted, I poured in a can of coconut milk. The can contained 2 cups of coconut milk, thus making a total of 4 cups of water and 1 cup of soap flakes. When it cooled down, it was solid, and I needed to pour in 3 more cups of water to get it to the consistency that I wanted. Hence, the correct proportion, at least for my soap, was ½ cup of soap to 4 cups of liquid.

The original mixture was a semi-transparent pale yellow liquid, sort of like thick apple juice. But with the addition of the coconut milk, when it dried it turned into a thick white liquidy thing.

I poured it into empty shampoo bottles that we happened to have lying around.

You can also add in a few drops of oil or essential oils for added benefits and fragrance. I’m too lazy to do that haha.

However, you can read up on a few of the natural, plant-based oils that I use in skin care in this post:

Last night I washed my hair—just my scalp, not the length—with a few drops of this natural liquid soap. And the results?

Hair Castile Soap Coconut Milk

I love my hair! It’s soft, bouncy, doesn’t feel or look in the least bit greasy and my curls are well defined.

Castile soap with coconut milk is definitely going to form a regular part of my natural, no ‘poo hair care arsenal.

And in addition, I’m now getting my kids to wash their skin and hair with the natural liquid soap that I made, so we get the additional benefit of weaning the whole family off of chemicals.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So what about you? Have you tried the no ‘poo method yet? Are you also weaning your family off of chemicals? What results have you been getting? Do tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

Hair Castile Soap Coconut Milk

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Bentonite Clay for Hair

I’d been trying a few no ‘poo methods, and bentonite clay was my latest.

As I explained in this post, Going No ‘Poo, I’ve recently been on, as you can gather, a no ‘poo craze.

In previous posts, I’ve described a few of the other methods I’d tried, and clay was up next.

I’ve already been hennaing and oiling my hair for ages. But I was still using regular shampoo and conditioner.

Well, to tell the truth, I’d tried natural shampoo bars for a while, but although I was quite pleased with the results, they were fairly hard for me to get a hold of, as they are (surprise! surprise!) not sold in physical shops here in Spain (or at least not in my city, which might surprise no one since I don’t live in a major, large city).

So I started doing research on the internet into no ‘poo methods. Of course, in addition to bentonite clay, one of the first suggestions I encountered was baking soda and apple cider vinegar. The classical no ‘poo panacea.

However, I’d tried that once for about three weeks and my hair ended up a dry, tangled, straw-like, birds-nest mess. (Nope, no oily transitioning period for me, just dry dry dry!) So I gave that up.

(I’ve since read that often curly hair just doesn’t agree with baking soda. Of course, that is not the case with everyone, but it clearly does not agree with me.)

Looking into the internet a bit more, I discovered posts which explain that baking soda does indeed have a tendency to dry your hair out due to its extreme alkalinity. Now, our skin and scalp are naturally acidic, so extreme alkalinity is, needless to say, absolutely no good for us and just the opposite of what nature intended for us.

I figure, baking soda would probably still work for people with oily scalps and hair, but my hair is naturally thick, coarse, wiry and dry as a whistle (or perhaps a thistle hehe). So it only stood to reason that it wouldn’t work for me.

Then, I read about bentonite clay and rhassoul (pronounced grrrassoul, like a growl deep in your throat). (Just showing off that I once studied Arabic for a few days haha.)

I couldn’t find any place to get a hold of rhassoul (or ghassoul as some spell it) here in my city, but I wandered into my friendly neighbourhood health food store, where I usually buy my henna, and lo and behold! was I ever in luck! They just happened to carry a huge, transparent plastic sack full of bentonite clay.

Needless to say, I immediately made off with it.

Bentonite Clay Hair

(Okay it just turns out to be the same colour as the wall behind it but not much I can do about that, our walls are all this same colour!)

Since I’d just hennaed my hair a few days ago, and henna can be drying (although I didn’t find that to be the case with me), I decided to oil my hair. But since I was going no ‘poo, I needed something strong enough, but that would still be natural, to get out all the oil.

Would bentonite clay do the trick?

Well, I tried it. After all, mud (because, when you come right down to it, that is just what clay is: mud) is famous for getting off all the oil from a place. It just sucks it right up.

Bentonite clay also sucks up all the toxins, lousy chemicals, toxic heavy metals, dirt and filth in your hair, so it serves not only for shampooing your hair but also for deep cleansing it.

That is why sometimes people on a detox regime will take bentonite clay internally (that is, they swallow it). I haven’t tried that yet, but it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. After all, I’m sure one of the main factors contributing to the development of cancer is all the toxins we are surrounded by and eat.

So, I stuck several spoonfuls of clay into a plastic bowl (use more or less depending on how much hair you have) and mixed it purely with apple cider vinegar.

Don’t use a metal bowl or metal utensils, since I’ve just mentioned that this clay sucks up anything metallic, such as heavy metals, and you don’t want it getting activated by your bowl. You want it to get activated by the metals in your hair.

I made a paste a bit thicker than yoghurt, because I don’t like it to drip. I let it sit a few minutes and took it with me into the shower.

I wet my hair. Then covered it with the muddy bentonite clay mixture from root to tips and let it sit five minutes. Be sure not to let it dry out, so it will be easier to wash out afterwards.

It was the same as what I do when I henna my hair, but much faster and easier, because I didn’t have to worry about drips or staining my skin/the bathtub/the shower curtains etc.

After that, I just rinsed it out thoroughly with warm water. And that was it!

I didn’t even need to condition or detangle, since my hair came out naturally untangled. Just a bit of finger-combing was all that I needed.

Now, I do have to add, my hair is usually the ultimate self-tangling, birds-nest Medusa locks that twist around by themselves like snakes and tangle themselves up all by themselves. But with the bentonite clay, as with the shikakai, it didn’t tangle at all!

So, did it work to get the oil out? Well, see for yourselves:

Hair Bentonite Clay Henna

I am definitely incorporating bentonite clay and rhassoul (when I can get a hold of some) into my regular hair-care routine.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

Well, what about you? Have you tried clay, rhassoul, baking soda or any other no ‘poo methods? Do tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

Hair Bentonite Clay Henna

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Shikakai: My Recent Experiment

Going No ‘Poo

All Natural Skincare

Thrillers by Moi

Shikakai: My Recent Experiment

This is my recent experience with shikakai.

No, Shikakai is not the name of an exotic new boyfriend (although I wish it were haha, not only am I in the mood for a boyfriend but if, in addition, he’s exotic too, that would be really icing on the cake haha).

It’s the name of an Indian herb that is used a lot in Ayurvedic medicine as well as for natural hair care.

I’d just henna-ed my hair, and I was so thrilled with the results once again—as I always am every time I henna my hair, which I don’t do often enough—that I got into a completely natural hair care craze, and started looking up all sorts of ways that I could care for my hair in a more natural manner, and avoid carcinogenic, toxic and aging chemicals.

I’m pretty natural in my hair care routine already as it is. I frequently oil my hair, as I describe in this post on hair oiling. But I was still using all these chemical-laden shampoos filled with sodium lauryl sulphate and silicones, that you can buy in any drugstore or supermarket.

I was looking to reduce the amount of chemicals that I was using even more. Then I discovered Indian Ayurvedic herbs.

I already knew about these herbs and was in the habit of using them when I lived in Barcelona. There they have a large Indian/Pakistani community, so there are several Indian grocery stores where they sell Indian products. There I could buy amla, shikakai, brahmi, aritha and any other Indian herbs that I liked whenever I wanted.

But when I arrived here in Malaga, I found it was impossible to obtain these herbs here as there are NO Indian or Pakistani people, hence no demand for Indian products, so they are not sold here. (I’ve been told there’s an Indian food store in Fuengirola, on the Costa del Sol, but that is far from where carless-me lives.)(And if I did have a car I’d be discouraged from using it to go to Fuengirola by the hassle of trying to find a parking space haha.)

But now I am in seventh heaven and have started to use these Ayurvedic herbs again, because I’ve now discovered that I can buy them online.

There are several shops that sell them on the internet now here in Europe. One I discovered fairly recently is called Bazar Al-Andalus. They have a huge array of products and an amazing blog as well, in which they describe in detail about all the different uses of Indian and North African natural cosmetics.

Their service is also THE MOST ASTOUNDING I have EVER encountered EVER in any online store in my whole entire life. I recently ordered a few vegetable-based, lead-free kohls from them, an experience which I hope to describe in a future post.

WITHIN LESS THAN 24 HOURS AFTER MAKING MY ORDER, I was already holding the products in my own hands, having had them delivered personally to my door.

Okay, I suppose maybe it helped a bit that they are located in Granada, which is only an hour’s drive from Malaga.

But even so, no one is obliged to send you your order with such unheard-of expediency.

So due to that, I would highly recommend this online shop to anyone who happens to be living in Spain (they deliver nationally and internationally with very reasonable shipping rates) and would like to live a more natural way of life.

However, I’ve now discovered a site that sells Indian herbs—and also a larger variety of them as well—at a much more reasonable price, called Aromazone. I haven’t tried them out yet, but I may put up a post about them in the future if I do.

(Edited to add that Aromazone has quite a high shipping rate to Spain, 8 euros. So I think Bazar Al-Andalus will still be my natural and ethnic online store of choice for the moment, especially for smaller orders.)

All right, so on to my experience with the herb “shikakai” in particular.

I just washed my hair with shikakai, even though it’s only been 2 days since I’ve hennaed and you are supposed to wait 3 days before washing, in order to give the henna more time to bind to your hair. But I just couldn’t wait any longer hehe. I was so impatient to try out shikakai and see how it made my hair look.

This is what the box I bought in Barcelona looks like. It’s from the brand name Hesh, a very common brand in India. But you can find it from many brands on the internet.

Shikakai Hair Indian Ayurvedic Herbs

In many sites on the internet they tell you that regular use will strengthen the roots, make hair grow thicker, stronger and shinier, and nourish it with minerals. It looks like carob beans.

Shikakai Indian Ayurvedic Herbs

It’s very easy to prepare a paste with shikakai. You simply take some of the powder and mix it with warm water in a non-metallic dish, such as a porcelain, glass or plastic bowl. This is what the powder looks like.

Shikakai Powder Hair Indian Ayurvedic Herbs

Shikakai turns into a very dark brown paste like dark chocolate and it smells a bit weird, but not a bad weird. Similar to henna, a sort of plant-y, earthy, black tea smell.

You let it sit for about 5 minutes, then take it into your shower with you. Wet your hair. Then cover it all over with the shikakai paste, working it in with your hands.

Let it sit for 5 minutes (during which time you can be doing your face, your toes, your fingers…… whatever it is you usually do in your shower haha). Then simply rinse out. Conditioner is not necessary after that.

I don’t think I will be doing this too often, though, because it takes too long for me to do it. I need to use a lot because I have a lot of hair and it’s long.

So what is my verdict and what are my impressions now that my hair is completely dry and styled? (Ie. it has styled itself haha, as I never style it, just let it dry and it falls into its own style by itself.)

Hair With Shikakai and Henna

The hair LOOKS great. It’s very shiny and bouncy, much better looking than when I’ve used a drying chemical- and sodium-lauryl-sulphate-filled shampoo. It has more volume than just after I’ve washed with a shampoo. It does FEEL nice and soft and silky, which is always a plus since my thick, coarse, wiry, straw-like hair never feels silky.

However, it also feels drier than after I’d hennaed. After I hennaed I just used conditioner. However, the roots look great, with volume and oil-free.

So maybe shikakai is better for oilier hair and not as good for dry hair? Maybe for me conditioner-only washing (co-washing) is better since I have dry hair?

Or perhaps I should only use shikakai on the roots, and use conditioner on the lengths. My friend has been only washing her hair with conditioner for several months and she is delighted. The trick is to use the very cheap, large-format conditioners since these have the least ingredients and therefore less chemicals.

So I am not that impressed with shikakai, mainly because of the smell. It smells horrible!

Well, okay. It doesn’t smell that bad. But it’s not what people would call fragrant either. It has a scent of black tea, and that’s not something you want to walk around smelling like all the time. And this when I’d rinsed it out well, too, and the water was even coming out clear.

At any rate, I don’t think I’ll be using shikakai that much in the end, mainly because of the smell. Maybe I’ll use it once every few washings. I don’t wash my hair very often, usually only twice a week, as it’s long and dry.

Maybe I’d just use the shikakai when I do hair oiling, to remove all the oil instead of using shampoo for that, as it seems it would indeed remove all the oil.

(I’ve since discovered that bentonite clay is much better for that. And it doesn’t leave a funky, horrible smell the way shikakai does.)

Another natural alternative I was thinking of was to use Jabón Lagarto to remove the oil when I oiled my hair, but in the end perhaps shikakai would work for that, as it seems quite astringent.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Have you ever tried Indian herbs or other natural hair cleansers in place of shampoo? What have been your experiences? Feel free to leave me a comment about your experiences. As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Going No ‘Poo

Henna

Proper Hair Oiling For Long, Drop-Dead Gorgeous Locks

Thrillers by Moi

Going No Poo

I’ve been on a natural health products craze lately, trying to reduce the amount of chemicals that we use in our life as much as possible. And no poo has been my latest craze.

As you may (or may not, haha) know, no poo means swearing off conventional, commercial, chemical-filled shampoos and using our own homemade ones, or ones made with all natural ingredients, instead.

I’d just hennaed my hair again after about three whole months without doing it. You can see some pics of the results here:

Henna Hair

I was so delighted with the effect of the henna, all of a sudden I was filled with the desire to never use chemicals on those glistening locks again. (The fact that I’d been researching places online to find the purest, highest-quality henna, and discovered some really scrumptious sites that sell luscious Indian herbs as well, didn’t really hurt the cause—even if it was perhaps not the best idea for my pocketbook haha.)

At any rate, if you are in Spain (or anywhere in Europe for that matter—but I am always looking for places with the best shipping rates to Spain in particular, of course), here are two sites that I can recommend. Both carry all types of henna—some of which are pure and some, well, not quite so much—as well as all manner of Indian herbs such as shikakai, amla, neem, aritha……

Bazar Al-Andalus: Carries the most delish and delightful variety of anything Indian or North African you could possibly desire, including natural, vegetarian, LEAD-FREE kohl (it is the works! One day I will write about my experiences with their kohl here on this blog). Not only are they located in Granada, which is only an hour away from my house, it literally took LESS THAN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS from the time I made my order for it to arrive at my doorstep! Is that ultra-fast shipping or what??

Aromazone: A company located in France, which is my number one choice (next to iHerb, but iHerb doesn’t carry all the scrumptious raw ingredients and raw material that Aromazone does) thanks to its incredibly low prices. To give an example, a package of shikakai from this company costs only a fraction of what it does at Bazar Al-Andalus. I haven’t ordered anything from them yet, but I am planning to.

But getting back to the subject at hand, which is: going no poo haha!

As I was saying, I started researching other hair washing methods instead.

My first experiment was with shikakai. You can read about my experiences here: Shikakai: My Recent Experiment.

My next foray into no poo was with bentonite clay, which you can read about here: Bentonite Clay for Hair.

Next up after that is my post on castile soap with coconut milk.

I don’t yet have a regular no poo routine, since I’m still experimenting. Although as I’ve said, I’ve been ‘poo free for about 3 weeks now and still going strong.

So, do I ever plan on going back to conventional, chemical-filled but oh-so-easy-to-find store-bought shampoos again? Well, as long as I’m able to source clay and natural handmade soap, I don’t believe I will.

I’ve also been going chem-free in other areas of life.

I began by changing to all natural soap flakes to wash our clothes instead of regular detergent.

I’d been using soap flakes for years, but then I got to reading consumer reports on laundry detergent, and that only served to pique my curiosity. Now all of a sudden I wanted to try out all those detergents!

However, I wasn’t satisfied with the results of any conventional detergent, not even the ones touted as being the most effective, and which everyone raved about. I found that, no matter which way you looked at it, clothes simply came out cleaner—and with far less product—using simple soap flakes.

So I went back to soap flakes, and I haven’t varied since.

The only thing I haven’t been able to find yet is a natural fabric softener that actually pleases me. Now, I must make clear that when it comes to clothes, I am THE ORIGINAL PRINCESS from The Princess and the Pea.

So needless to say, clothes that come out even the slightest bit cartony, cardboardy, scratchy or stiff just DON’T MAKE THE BILL with me.

I’ve tried apple cider vinegar, regular vinegar, baking soda and any combination of the three to soften clothes. But I’m sorry, it was a no-go for me and I’m still using chemical-filled conventional fabric softeners.

If you’d like more info about going no poo, here’s a website that covers most questions on the subject: The No Poo Method.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Have you tried the no poo method? What have your results been? What methods do you use? Do tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

Henna Hair

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Henna

All Natural Skincare

Proper Hair Oiling For Long, Drop-Dead Gorgeous Locks

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Proper Hair Oiling For Long, Drop-Dead Gorgeous Locks

The women of Kerala, in southern India, are renowned the world over for their long, thick, shiny locks. I think in general most people know, or consider, East Indian women as having the most beautiful hair in the world.

Genetics? Maybe. It’s certainly true that nature does seem to have endowed them with naturally long, thick, abundant hair.

But I think a great part of their secret is what they choose to DO to make the most of and ENHANCE what nature had already given them.

And among all their haircare routines, HAIR OILING is what most stands out.

If you don’t believe me, let me show you a photo of what MY hair looks like since I started a practice of REGULAR HAIR OILING:

Hair Oiling

I certainly don’t have Indian hair. And I do agree, I also don’t have kinky locks that curl inwards very tightly, so I realize that at least to a certain extent, genetics do play a part in the kind of hair you have.

But regardless of what type of hair nature decided to give you, I feel that EVERYONE can achieve the most beautiful locks and make the most of whatever you DO have naturally, with hair oiling.

Hair Oiling Basics

So, this is how I oil my hair.

I do it twice a week. You can do it just once a week, or more often if you like. The women of Kerala oil their hair absolutely every single day. They even walk around with their hair sleek with oil the whole day long, and go out on the streets with oiled hair. It’s a normal practice in their society, and if you go out with oiled hair no one is going to come up to you and say, Ew, what greasy hair you have!

Of course here in the West you can’t go out on the streets with oiled hair, or people will come up to you and say, Ew, what greasy hair you have!

But you can most certainly walk around your home with oiled hair.

Benefits of Hair Oiling

  • Oiling your hair will make your hair MUCH STRONGER and more resistant to breakage, keeping it from becoming fragile.
  • Oiling your hair will prevent split ends.
  • It will make your hair MUCH softer and shinier and bouncier.
  • It will protect your hair from damaging elements and the heat of hair styling.
  • It will encourage hair growth and prevent baldness.
  • It will help your hair grow long, since it won’t break off or fall off as much, and because you won’t have to trim it as much since you won’t have so many split ends.
  • It can repair your hair if you’ve already damaged it (and most people have damaged hair, what with chemical hair dyes, hair dryers, flat irons and hot curlers and the like……).
  • Although I don’t know if it’s true, the women of Kerala claim that oiling your hair regularly will also prevent white hair.

As I said, I do hair oiling twice a week. I always use either pure coconut oil or pure olive oil. I’ve also prepared a mixture of castor oil with olive oil which I use for the roots, as it’s supposed to encourage hair growth and prevent hair from falling.

I dunno but I do seem to find a LOT less hair shedding since I started this routine.

Steps For Oiling Your Hair

I always follow the same steps. It works, at least for me.

I begin with dry hair. I apply hair to the roots first, from the middle of the part downwards on both sides. I simply dip my fingers into the oil and rub them in the hair. I do this until all the roots are covered, and then I give myself a relaxing, soothing massage.

Next, I divide the hair into two on each side. I cover both palms with oil and stroke (or rather, pour, as I’m a bit wild haha) the oil all the way down the hair to the tips.

I do this several times until all the hair is saturated with oil.

After that, I dip just the tips of my fingers into the oil and finger comb the hair to get rid of all the tangles. I have coarse, curly hair that naturally just LOVES to tangle, so I usually have tangled hair. And I have found that this step makes a HUGE difference in the way the hair looks afterwards!

One final stroke of oil all the way through from crown to tip, and it’s done!

Your hair should look somewhat like this when it’s finished:

Hair OIling

After this, you can put your hair in a shower cap or wrap it up in a towel if you like. I find that very uncomfortable, and prefer to put my hair up in a plait. You can make one or two plaits.

Most people get satisfactory results keeping the oil on just one hour. I always keep it a minimum of two hours and longer if possible. That simply gives the oil more time to penetrate into the core of the hair shafts, which is where it works its magic.

The deeper the oil penetrates into the hair shaft, the more it is working in there, strengthening the hair and moisturizing it.

When you wash the hair later on, the oil will be stripped from the outside of the hair shaft. But if you’ve left it on long enough, there will still be oil INSIDE the hair shaft, where it will continue moisturizing your hair and providing it with flexibility and strength. Hence that glorious soft sensation after you’ve been oiling your hair.

Some people like to sleep with oil in their hair overnight and wash it out in the morning in the shower. I like to take a shower at night, so I put the oil on in the evening and keep it on until it’s time to take a shower.

If you’re going to sleep with oil in your hair, you can just cover your pillows with towels.

Washing It Out

When I get into the shower, I wash the oil out with shampoo and condition as usual, or use a hair masque.

I find one washing more than enough for the length, but I do need a second washing for the roots, which are oilier.

I used to use normal shampoo but I’ve switched to natural soap (either solid or liquid) and bar shampoo, because I want to be as natural as possible, and avoid toxic chemical detergents.

I do need conditioner or a masque at the end. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, washing the hair removes the oil on the outside of the shaft, so you still need something to smooth down the hair cuticles and make the hair soft, manageable and easy to comb. And that is what conditioner does.

The second reason is because, with the Medusa locks that I was naturally gifted with, that were programmed to tangle right from the start, the only way I can possibly get a comb through my hair is with gobs and gobs of conditioner on top!

If you have thick, coarse, curly hair like me, the best type of comb to use is a wide-toothed one. I never use a fine-toothed comb or a brush. A brush would just pull out all the natural ringlets.

But you should choose your comb or brush according to the type of hair you have and what works best for you. Straight hair seems to do very well with a vigorous brushing every day.

Dry, Dry, Dry My Hair

I always air dry my hair and shy away from dryers or irons. I really don’t understand people’s obsession with ironing away their gorgeous natural curls. Curly hair is, in my opinion, much more exciting than straight hair. And it’s also rarer, throughout the world, since the majority of people have straight hair. Which makes your curls more special, I say.

It’s true that perhaps in some countries, like Spain, curly hair is the norm. So if you live in Spain and you have curly hair, it might make you feel like your hair is ordinary and everyday and run-of-the-mill.

But really, if you look at people throughout the world, most people have straight hair and it is really straight hair that is more everyday and run-of-the-mill.

Sometimes, people with curls complain that their curls are frizzy, so they need to iron the frizz away.

Well, personally, I don’t feel like you have to grab the hair-damaging iron to get rid of the frizz. If you start oiling your hair, it should naturally become less frizzy just simply as a result of the hair oiling.

Then, if you still have frizz, there are products out there to get rid of frizz. And you don’t need to call upon the iron, which burns your precious locks.

In India hair oiling is a real pleasurable experience. People don’t have to oil their own hair there. In India people live with their extended families, so in most households there are many women. All the women get together to oil each other’s hair. So it is a very pleasurable activity. Women chat as they oil each other’s hair. Or the woman who is getting her hair oiled can do whatever she wants, watch TV, read a book, whatever, as long as she sits still, and other women oil her hair. Then she oils other women’s hair.

It’s also customary for all the women to gather together and sit down together and oil each other’s hair while they chit-chat. It’s like a quilting party, but instead of making quilts they oil each other’s hair.

Of all the things you can do to preserve the health of your hair, I feel that hair oiling is the king and the queen and reigns supreme on the list of good things you can do to your hair. If you try it and keep up a regular practice, I’m SURE you will soon notice the difference.

So, how about you? Have you tried oiling your hair? What results did you find? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment. I LURRRVE (positive, non-spammy) comments from readers!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Henna

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