Have you heard of the “No Poo” movement? It has nothing to do with elimination, aside from being another way to eliminate unnatural chemicals from your life. I’ve tried to do No Poo with homemade shampoo, and I have to admit that I love sudsy, bubbly, shampoos that smell like heaven in the shower with scents that linger throughout my day. I love things that smell good and feel good, and using baking soda to “wash” hair satisfies neither of those requirements.
There’s also that awkward “adjustment” stage where your hair starts to look like you take “No Poo” to mean never washing your hair again. It gets greasy because for years, you were washing your scalp’s natural oils clean away, every day (if you’re like me and can’t stand to not wash your hair every day). This caused the oil glands to take it upon themselves to ramp up oil production in an effort to counteract your rigorous cleansing regimen. Eventually, they figure out that you’re not stripping your scalp of oil anymore and chill out, leaving you with healthy and beautiful hair.
I have a ginormous aloe plant in my living room in which the leaves reach from one side of my coffee table to the other (that’s about three feet across!) and I need to find ways to use it before it takes over my house. I wondered if I could make homemade shampoo with it so did some searching online and found several different recipes. I wanted something easy that used what I already had on hand (or a suitable substitute on hand). This video on YouTube – it called for jojoba oil which I did not have, so I decided to use argan oil. I also found this recipe that included honey, so I kind of mixed the two.
First, I had to “harvest” the gel from the aloe leaf. Most of the leaves on my plant are at least 12 inches long and around 2 inches wide at the base. One thing I learned while researching is that you need to let the yellowish fluid, called aloin, drain out after cutting. Aloin can produce a laxative effect, as well as induce uterine contractions. It also stinks! Don’t worry, after draining the aloin out and making the shampoo with rosemary essential oil, there is no bad odor.
I never knew this before, but Aloe vera gel and aloe vera juice are not the same thing. Well, of course not…juice, gel…two different things! The difference is that the gel contains no aloin, while the juice does as it’s made from the whole leaf.
So, after cutting the leaf, I let the aloin drain out first
Next, I cut a slit down the middle – just into the skin
and sliced off the pointy sides
After that, I “filleted” the leaf to get the gel out and also rinsed the gel well
This “recipe” isn’t exact, as it will depend on many factors like how much gel you have, the type of hair you have and personal preferences. The ingredients are:
- Fresh aloe vera gel
- Rosemary essential oil
- Argan oil
- Honey (optional)
I had approximately 1/8 c of gel and put 2 drops of rosemary oil and 2 drops of argan oil, and maybe added two tablespoons of water. All in all, I ended up with around a quarter cup of homemade shampoo.
A word of caution: some people can be sensitive or allergic to aloe. You may want to rub a small amount of aloe gel on the inside of your forearm before making this homemade shampoo to see if you are sensitive to aloe, if you’re not sure. Many people with sensitivities will feel a stinging sensation.
Place all of the ingredients into your blender or food processor. I highly recommend using an appliance that purees very well. I thought mine was pureed smoothly when I made it, but after using the shampoo I found a few little bits of aloe in my hair! You might consider pureeing the aloe gel first and straining before adding the other ingredients.
Aloe will oxidize fairly quickly and the homemade shampoo should be refrigerated. You can also add citric acid or vitamin C to the homemade shampoo as preservatives. I did not, as I made a small amount and planned to use it all within 24 hours. I kept it in the refrigerator, but it still turned a lovely shade of pink! It didn’t smell badly or feel any different, so I went ahead and used it.
I was a little unsure of how well I liked it after the first time I used it. The homemade shampoo was very slippery and kind of felt more like the shampoo I’m used to when I initially rubbed it into my hair, at least compared to baking soda. No lathering though, of course! After my hair was dry it was still a bit frizzy, although not as bad as normal.
The second time I used it, I also added a few squirts of a homemade shampoo I had made with Dr. Bronner’s Lavender castille soap – I’m a complete suds junkie! Until my hair dried completely, it felt a little “coated” I guess. But, my hair had way more body than normal and was also noticeably less frizzy than after the first use. I did not use any mousse or gel to style my hair, and only a little spritz of hairspray and I was very happy with how it turned out. It didn’t feel as coated once completely dried.
I do like this version of homemade shampoo.Unfortunately, even though my aloe plant is “ginormous” (for a houseplant, anyway), I do not have enough aloe to make shampoo every day and keep my aloe plant alive. I’m going to try making it with bottled aloe gel and try adding vitamin C or citric acid to keep it from oxidizing too quickly. I hope that I can make a week’s worth at a time at least! If you don’t have fresh aloe available, you can try a bottled aloe vera gel.
If you’re new to No Poo, you may not like this (or any homemade shampoo recipe, for that matter) because it is so different from regular shampoos. Your scalp also needs to adjust and figure out that it can cool it on the oil production. This can take several weeks and require creative ways to keep from looking like you never wash your hair! If you’re already a No Poo-er, you may find that you like this recipe better than baking soda washes.
Do you Poo or No Poo? If you No Poo, what do you use to cleanse your hair? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to know!
Nice recipe. Thanks! I’ve been on the no poo wagon for a couple years now and my hair is gorgeous, soft, thick and shiny. I don’t have a single set recipe for my hair cleanser. I find part of the beauty of natural body care is that I get to gear my routine to what my skin/hair needs that day without the expense of multiple bottles of expensive product. Today I used a hair cleanser of aloe gel, baking soda, honey and tea tree oil because my scalp was feeling itchy. Then I rinsed with two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in 3 liters of water and finished with a nice, long, cool rinse.
I think I’ll save your recipe for winter, when I’ll need the extra moisture of argan oil.
How often do you do hot oil treatments?
Thanks for checking out my post! I agree with you on loving the flexibility with natural body care. I’ve always been one to have tons of bottles of products laying around because I got tired of the scent or something. Now I can tailor my own products to whatever mood I’m in or what my body needs! Love it. I have not tried balsamic vinegar for a rinse, that sounds lovely! I’ll have to try that.
I haven’t done a hot oil treatment in years. I used to get those VO5 tubes a few times a year back in the day. Do you do them? I’m curious how you do it, I have put coconut oil on my hair and it didn’t go well – took forEVer to get it all out of my fine hair! I didn’t think I used that much, but I guess I did!
Could you use lemon as a preservative ?
I have not tried it, but I would think that you could. Lemon juice would be a great addition for oily hair BUT it also has natural bleaching properties. There are recipes out there for lemon juice rinses that will help bring out natural highlights in your hair and one I read cautioned that using a lemon rinse too often can dry out your hair.
1 Tbs lemon juice is equivalent to 1/4 tsp citric acid. In small amounts and infrequent washing, I would think it would be fine.
Now I want to mix up a lemon rinse and try it, it sounds so refreshing! Tomorrow is hair washing day so I just might do that, thanks for the idea 😉
Love your post! No poo for me as it just dries out and damages my hair. I’m a beach bum so I’m always looking for alternatives to get the salt out of my hair. Anyway, I have a tip for the chunks of aloe you find in your hair since I find that even puree-ing the aloe still leaves a fe chunks. I use aloe vera as a face mask and instead of blending it I use a cheese grater (smaller the holes the better). I tried the aloe vera shampoo and used the blender to mix coconut oil and the gooey aloe vera and some lavender oil. Works beautifully!
I’m so glad you love this post 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and sharing those great tips!
I’ve never heard of argan oil and I can’t seem to find it anywhere in my local markets, can I use something like olive oil to substitute?
I think you could, although I would recommend trying to find jojoba oil first.
I just love your site! I have been no-poo (baking soda) for almost 5 years after I became functionally blind from commercial shampoos! My blindness lifted and I can see since using the no-poo method. However, using baking soda dries my fine hair and takes ALL the natural oil out. So, today I went and bought aloe gel and orange essential oil. I’m going to use a spritz bottle and put it in my hair and massage it in from scalp to length. I will post again and let you know how it is going! I am also using sugar water as hairspray, staying away from the poisons in all these products on the market!!! I put my hair in a bun at night to keep excess oil from building up on the length of my hair! That works and keeps the scalp cool!
Hi Jayne! Oh my goodness, that is such a terrible experience with commercial products! Just another example of why it’s good to avoid them. I’m g so glad you can see again! Sounds like you’ve found a great way to take care of your hair. I’d love to hear how the aloe and essential oils work! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story!
Hi…I have an aloe vera plant …I noticed that you said you could only keep it up to 3 days..well I have been putting aloe vera and honey into my shampoo is that bad?
Hi Cindy! I would think that if there’s any preservatives in your shampoo it is probably fine. The thing with fresh aloe is that it oxidizes quickly. Not sure that it will damage your hair or anything but to get the most benefit from fresh aloe it d hould be used quickly. Thanks for stopping by!
Do you think coconut oil would work in place of argon oil? Every time I’ve used argon oil, it seems to dry my hair, but have had amazing results with coconut oil. I appreciate your help! 🙂
Hi Lily, great question! You could certainly try it, maybe in a small batch? Since coconut oil solidifies at 76 degrees or less I’m not sure what would happen in this recipe. You could also just leave the argan oil out and use the coconut oil as a conditioner. I love coconut oil too but my hair is so fine that it just makes my hair look greasy no matter how little I use. But I still use it to deep condition occasionally. Thanks for stopping by, let me know how this works if you try it!
Josiah Ayala says
How interesting! I will definitely try this out when I get home.
Thank you so much for posting this recipe; it’s hard these days to find a good no-poo recipe without baking soda.
I also recommend using Castor oil if you feel your hair thinning. You can find it at any drug and grocery store.
Thanks Josiah for the castor oil tip, I should try that! I have very fine hair and it is quite a bit thinner than it used to be in my younger days. Hope you like the shampoo!
This looks like a lovely recipe. I use pure aloe vera to clean my hair, and condition with coconut milk. That is also my favorite deep conditioner. It has the same conditioning properties as coconut oil, but it doesn’t leave my hair greasy. It’s so much easier to wash out too.
Thanks for posting this, in going to try adding honey to my aloe!
Thanks for the great tips, Hannah! I’ve never thought of using coconut milk, that sounds like a great idea – especially since coconut oil often leaves my very fine hair greasy, even if I just use a little tiny bit. Great name btw, my daughter’s name is Hannah!
D. Smith says
I agree with you regarding the suds but my path lead me to a different solution. I had been using this soap I got on Amazon called Raw African Soap. It comes in a block but it can be broken or very easily cut in pieces.
The soap is very good and suds up nicely, but my only issue was that it dissolves very easily in water resulting in me using it up faster than I would a typical bar of soap.
Then I had an idea to dissolve it in water and looked online to see if anyone else had done so and had a recipe for it. I had already been using aloe vera juice as a leave-in detangler by spraying it in my hair. My first experiment was mixing the aloe with the soap which worked much better! My hair is pretty curly so this was very useful for me.
While using it as a detangler I noticed that it also seemed to make my hair smell fresher. I decided to make a shampoo by increasing the concentration of the soap and this is the best shampoo ever! I don’t need to condition afterwards because it leaves my hair well conditioned already. A plus is that it dissolves so easy in water and leaves virtually no residue!
Thanks so much for the tip, that’s awesome!
Raj Kumar says
Were i can but your product. please share the link. actively your product is shampoo or gel.. i found in amazon it juice need clear details, please share
Well, this is a post on how to make homemade aloe vera shampoo using fresh aloe vera gel from an aloe plant. It’s not for sale, sorry! You would want to find a product on Amazon that is a gel, not a juice, such as this one (affiliate link) http://amzn.to/1PlMTpJ. Best of luck to you, and thanks for stopping by!
I had both organic aloe gel from the health food store and a monstrous aloe plant. In service of time, I chose the gel and went with your recipe of honey, jojoba, and I added a few drops of peppermint essential oil. I was stunned with the results. My hair is fine and becomes very greasy day two after a wash. It’s generally very difficult to manage. This cleanser not only did a beautiful job but also decreased the tangling issue I usually have. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m a convert!
Dawn Yoder says
Hi Erika, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experience! I’m so glad it worked for you, I also have fine hair and many natural products just don’t work well for me.