Katie asked me the other day about shampoo, and I have been thinking about her question.
Without learning the code-language that is INCI (the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients), it is almost impossible to understand any label on any cosmetic product. For many ingredients, there are dozens of equally accepted but totally different INCI names. It's a veritable jungle that I am constantly wading through.
The different soap types you find in shampoos are a bit tricky to navigate. There is almost always a combination of soap types in shampoo. The base (or alpha) soap (that does most of the cleaning) needs a secondary (beta) soap that helps it lather. Even the INCI names of natural, plant-based soaps (the ones I use are all coconut and palm-oil based) sound a little scary: Mipa-Laureth Sulphate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Coco-glucoside, Glycol Distearate.
However, you don't actually need soap for cleansing your hair (or skin for that matter). There are a couple of alternatives I can recommend here.
Soaproot (yes, there is a plant called soaproot). Working with soaproot requires making a deconcoction (basically, boiling the crushed, dried plant for about 20 minutes, then filtering the liquid through a double-layer coffee filter). You can then use this deconcoction directly (it will not lather, but will 'bubble up' a bit if stirred). The liquid is golden and smells remarkably soaplike. From experience I can say it works (I have normal hair that is quite fine). It doesn't give you that shampoo feeling, so it takes getting used to. Extra upside: no soapy residue build-up in your drain and pipes and it's 100% environmentally friendly!
Rhassoul clay is another alternative. This is also known as Moroccan Soap Clay. It is seriously rich in minerals and therefore great for detox, masks, body & face cleansing, and shampoo. (Again, speaking from experience). Cleansing with rhassoul leaves your hair (and skin) feeling like you have been to the spa – soft, silky and thoroughly fabulous. The only downside to rhassoul is that it is a bit messy to work with (it's mud for heavens sake - no way around it). Still, the results are actually worth the effort and you have the same environmentally friendly solution as with soaproot.
15 grams of the Clay Powder (about half an ounce) absorbs 25ml (0,8 fluid ounces) water, hydrosol or herbal infusion. It will swell to about 40ml (1,3 fluid ounces). This is enough for one hair wash/body wash. I recommend replacing 5ml (1 teaspoon) of the water with jojoba (oil) for even smoother and softer results on the hair and skin.
How to use Rhassoul clay
1. Mix 15g powder (about half an ounce) with 25ml (0,8 fluid ounces) of water, hydrosol or herbal infusion. Start with the liquid in a small container, then sprinkle/ad the clay into it and let it absorb the liquid before stirring. Then add jojoba and stir.
2. Apply to the body or scalp and rub it in gently.
3. Wash off thoroughly with warm water after a few minutes.
Both rhassoul and soaproot are available in health food stores.