I Tried Washing My Hair With 4 Different Homemade Shampoos—Here’s What Happened

Are DIY shampoos really just as effective as store-bought options?

December 16, 2016
DIY shampoo ingredients
Babe Parker

Let's just say my hair and I have been through a lot (life changes, pollution, bleaching, sun damage—the list goes on and on). After years of this mistreatment, coupled with thoughtless maintenance using chemical-filled store-bought shampoos, I decided to feed my hair some real nourishment in the hopes of giving it new life.

The hunt was on for an all-natural shampoo I could make at home—a fuss-free, gentle, moisturizing cleanser that would reliably keep my hair looking and feeling healthy. I scoured natural beauty websites to find simple recipes (anything overly complicated, and I wouldn't be able to keep up the homemade habit). I looked for options that used readily available ingredients that are known to promote hair health, like eggs, avocado, baking soda, and of course, apple cider vinegar, already high on my list of all-purpose miracle solutions (check out these 6 impressive things apple cider vinegar can do). Over several weeks, I tested out four homemade shampoos—here's what worked best.

(Find seasonal recipes, inspiring imagery, and gardening tips every day inside the Rodale’s Organic Life 2017 Calendar!)

egg shampoo ingredients
1/4 Babe Parker
Egg Shampoo Recipe

I already had all the ingredients for this shampoo in my kitchen—you probably do too. I used a fork to whip up two eggs until they were nice and foamy. Then, I added in 3 teaspoons baking soda and 2 teaspoons olive oil (take a look at these 9 surprising uses for baking soda). You can add a glug of apple cider vinegar or half a juiced lemon—or skip 'em. I wanted that acidity so I could get a double-whammy of conditioning and cleansing. Plus, adding in the vinegar causes an exciting fizzy reaction with the baking soda.

making egg shampoo
Babe Parker

Getting this shampoo on my hair was a challenge: The eggs gave it a syrupy texture but it wasn't thin enough for a spray bottle. And, since the shampoo didn’t lather, I really had to work to cover my head with it. The application might not have been very pleasant, but the results were impressive: My hair was incredibly soft, and once it dried, my strands felt stronger. My scalp was a bit oily, but brushing it out seemed to help.

Related: 14 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Eggs

hair from egg shampoo
Babe Parker

Overall rating: B

My hair definitely felt strong. Makes sense! Eggs have been a go-to beauty secret for decades. I'd use this again as a strengthening conditioner, but it wasn't my favorite shampoo.

avocado shampoo ingredients
2/4 Babe Parker
Avocado Shampoo Recipe

This shampoo has the fewest ingredients of any of the ones I made—win! (Although I confess, it felt sad to buy an avocado and not get to eat it.) I used a blender to pulverize a ripe avocado, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and ¼ cup of water into a smooth paste, then brought the smoothie-like mixture into the shower with me.

making avocado shampoo
Babe Parker

I used my hands to coat my hair with the avocado shampoo. It felt nice on my wet hair, but it was hard to rinse out and didn't leave my hair feeling silky or smooth. (The baking soda did seem to help clean my hair, though.)

hair with avocado shampoo
Babe Parker

Overall rating: C

This shampoo left my hair unbalanced: The ends felt fluffy and clean, but my scalp was left oily. I was excited for this avocado shampoo, but it did not really work for me. 

Related: Why You Should Eat More Avocados

apple cider vinegar shampoo ingredients
3/4 Babe Parker
Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

I mixed together ¼ cup each of water and liquid castile soap, and then stirred in 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon tea tree oil.  The initial smell of this shampoo was eau de salad, which left me feeling bizarrely hungry during my shower.

making apple cider vinegar shampoo
Babe Parker

You can add a few drops of peppermint oil (or any essential oil) to cut down on that salad dressing smell (just avoid these 7 common mistakes with essential oils). The shampoo was a liquid—not creamy at all—so I stored it in a spray bottle, spritzing it all over my scalp and wet hair before rinsing it out.

hair with apple cider vinegar shampoo
Babe Parker

Overall rating: A

My hair felt very clean and moisturized, but not greasy in the slightest—exactly what I’m looking for in a shampoo. This shampoo wound up being my winner: It's both cleansing and clarifying. Plus, my hair looked and felt great.

coconut milk shampoo ingredients
4/4 Babe Parker
Coconut Milk Recipe

There are really only two ingredients in this (the oil is optional), so this recipe could not be any easier. I don't buy coconut milk regularly, so I was excited to have some leftover (I used it to make muffins—yum!).

making coconut shampoo
Babe Parker

I used an empty bottle to apply this thin yet creamy shampoo solution—the experience felt luxurious. I see coconut milk in lots of mainstream shampoos, so it felt satisfying to take out a glob of the real stuff and put it on my head. Plus, now I know adding peppermint to any shampoo feels amazing.

hair with coconut shampoo
Babe Parker

Overall rating: A-

My hair felt moisturized by this shampoo, and like the egg recipe, it's a great choice for the winter, when your hair really needs deep conditioning and an injection of moisture. My hair felt a bit heavy after it dried, and it wasn't my favorite look, but it felt healthy.

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Tags: hair
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