Get Started With 5 No-Poo Hair Wash Base Recipes 

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Benzonite Clay Hair Wash

For thousands of years, women throughout the world washed their hair with the ingredients available to them.  They didn’t need foaming shampoos with sulfates or soaps made with lye to clean their hair.  So why should we?

Well, no-poo hair washes are back.  They gently clean, condition and balance the pH of the hair.

Moreover, they’re a healthy alternative to  harsh chemicals typically found in shampoos.  Sulfates,  petro chemicals and coconut oil based derivatives hidden in the ingredients list aren’t as innocent as they sound, according to Julie Gabriel, author of The Green Beauty Guide. You can avoid them by making your own hair washes.

Base Recipes

There’s no shortage of recipes for homemade hair washes. In my research, I’ve learned there are several types of washes. Each are formulated from basic ingredients. By adding extra emollients (oils), herbal infusions or essential oils, a base recipe can be adjusted to address specific hair needs.

You just need to know these base recipes:

1. Milk and Honey. Used since ancient times, milk and honey make an ideal strengthening and conditioning hair wash. Oily hair needs less honey while dry hair needs more.

Base Recipe:

1/4 cup Whole Milk, Buttermilk or Cream

1 to 2 tbs Honey

2. Nut Milks. Coconut milk is commonly used as a basic ingredient mixed with coconut oil and aloe vera juice or an herbal tea infusion. You can also use soy and almond as well. Again, cut the amount of coconut oil in half if you have oily hair.

Base Recipe:

1/2 cup Coconut Milk

1/4 cup Aloe Vera juice

2 to 3 tbs Coconut Oil or Coconut Cream

3. Clay Washes. The base recipe includes a dried, powdered clay (such as Bentonite or Rhassoul) and aloe vera juice. Clay washes are exfoliants and clarifiers. Dry and fragile hair types should use it no more than twice a month. Oily hair types — because they tend to collect sebum and dead skin cells at the base of the follicle — can use this safely once a week.

Base Recipe:

1/2 cup Aloe Vera juice

3 to 4 heaping tbs Clay

Add preferred herb infusions, essential oils and carrier/emollient oils

4. Castile Soap. The popular brand, Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap has a high alkaline pH somewhere between 9 and 10. Human hair is acidic — between 4.5 and 5.5 pH — because the hair’s acid mantle is a protective barrier. Therefore,  castile soap shouldn’t be used frequently by curly, kinky and coily types. It’s best to dilute it or add a small amount to another recipe to give it a cleaning boost. Even those with oily hair should dilute it to avoid over dryness. Too much stripping can signal to your brain that your scalp needs more sebum and it’ll start over producing oils.

Base Recipe:

1 cup distilled water

1/4 cup Castile Soap

1 tsp to 2 tbs of preferred oil (olive, avocado, sweet almond, etc)

5. Black Soap. Black soap has a pH of 10 or above — higher than castile soap — and must be diluted. Some recipes call for lemon juice which has an acidic pH of 2.2 to counteract the high alkalinity of black soap. While it’s a great product, those with fragile hair textures should use it sparingly.

Base Recipe:

1 to 2 cups boiled distilled water

1/4 cup black soap pieces

1 to 2  tsp fresh lemon juice

3 tbs preferred oil (such as olive, castor, sweet almond, etc)

Bare in mind that this is just a shortlist to get you started. More base recipes and variations are on the way. Each of these DIY washes has its own benefits and properties so each of these ingredients on the shortlist needs special attention. In my next post, I start from the top of the list: Milk and Honey Hair Washes.



“Homemade Shampoo Recipes,”

“DIY African Black Soap Shampoo,”