Rehab the hair (or how to get away from lye based shampoo)?

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szaza

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I think the fine art of using soap based shampoo on long hair has been lost.
From what I've read about 18th century hair care, the fine art of using soap based shampoo consisted mainly of washing your hair as little as possible. There was also something about soaking soap in water and using the water to wash your hair, but I'm not sure if that was to lessen the damaging effect of soap, or just to limit water consumption, as running water wasn't available yet.
 

earlene

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I used to read a lot of novels starting at a very young age, and one of the things I noticed in reading novels from long ago, was that women didn't wash their hair very often. I recall a novel about a group of people crossing the country in wagon trains (around the 1700's and early 1800's) and hair shampooing was mentioned. As I recall it was uncommon to wash the hair even as often as once a month. It seemed odd to me since I know how dusty my hair got when we went camping and I figured wagon trails with lots of dust flying around was probably even worse. But then again, I did know what it was like to have to bathe and wash my hair in a cold river since when we went camping that was all there was available for washing. There were no bathrooms or showers in the campgrounds where we went for our vacations as a child.

Here's an article printed in the New York Times in 1908 in which the recommendations for how often a woman should wash/shampoo her hair varies based on hair types. The frequency recommended was a month to 6 weeks, although it does mention sometimes every 2 weeks might be desirable. It goes on to include instructions about how to make shampoo with castile soap shavings.

When I was around 10 or 12, my grandmother gave me a book to guide girls into proper women (or some such propaganda) and as I recall hair shampooing was still being recommended at much less frequent intervals than later became recommended by the time I was an adult in the 80's or 90's. I don't think I still have that book or I'd look it up, but I think it was something in the once every week or two range at that time, but it could also have been monthly. But at that time shampoos were the norm and using lye soap was rare if one were to go by the popular ad campaigns of the time.

Another thing that didn't happen when I was a child was washing the hair at the same time as bathing. Hair washing happened at the kitchen sink. Mom washed her hair at the kitchen sink and washed my hair at the kitchen sink. Later I washed my hair at the kitchen sink myself. Sometime while in my teens I started washing my hair when I took a shower, but that was not the usual way when I grew up. Although I do remember having my hair washed in a tub bath as very young girl, but only once and that's because my dad was in charge of that bath. My mom never had me wash my hair in the tub as a child. So I think it's because men didn't wash their hair in the sink anyway, at least not in my family home. I don't have a clue if they used shampoo or bath soap for their hair in the 50s & 60s. I never paid attention to the bathing habits of my brothers except when they were babies and I had to help because I was the oldest.

It's interesting how these things change over time, but also regionally and in other parts of the world.
 

nonna oakie

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I have a question about shampoo bars. Last night I saw a recipe saying 74 degrees for the oil and 125 degrees for the lye. I have been making
soap for my family/friends for years but i have both at 100 degrees.
Is that 74 - 125 correct? help before I try it, i don't want to waste all.
 

DeeAnna

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...a recipe saying 74 degrees for the oil and 125 degrees for the lye. ... Is that 74 - 125 correct?...


If you're talking about a lye-soap recipe (not a syndet recipe) and a cold process method, that's awfully persnickety, in my opinion. Even matching the temps at 100 F is too persnickety, at least speaking for myself. Getting ingredients to an exact temp is not all that important for most typical soap recipes.

You want your fats fully melted by the time you start soaping. If they're all liquid at room temp, then room temp (74 F or whatever) is fine for the fats. If they are solid at room temp, then 74 F is not okay.

Solid fats should be just warm enough to be fully melted. Whatever that temp happens to be, that's what you want. For my typical soap recipes with a high % of lard, that's somewhere between 95-105 F.

Again speaking about typical soap recipes and typical CP methods, the lye solution should be anywhere from room temp to gently warm to the palm of the hand -- that's anywhere from room temp to maybe 105 F.
 

bonnyny

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Earlene, you bring up a point about rinsing. We always washed our hair in the sink (or crouching down under the faucet in the tub).
 
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szaza

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It's been a while, but I thought I'd come back to share my experiences with different ways of washing my hair now I've given up on lye-based shampoo.
So far, I've tried sulphate free shampoo, silicone free conditioner and rhassoul clay in different combinations:
Shampoo + conditioner
Shampoo only
Shampoo + acid rinse
Shampoo+argan oil +acid rinse
Conditioner only
Conditioner + acid rinse
Rhassoul clay only
Rhassoul clay + acid rinse
Rhassoul clay+argan oil + acid rinse
I mainly noticed I love the rinse.. I use a full glass of (cold) water with a tiny spoon of Citric acid, which gives me a pH of about 3,5-4. I'm kind of wondering if the pH is too low, but my hair seems to love it.
Shampoo + acid rinse made my hair shinier and easier to comb through than shampoo + conditioner.
My hair looks its best after using conditioner + acid rinse, but it gets dirty more quickly, so I keep that for when I have to look good for a party or something.
For regular use, I tend to gravitate towards rhassoul clay +acid rinse (with a tiny bit of argan oil added to the clay/water mix), I feel it leaves my hair a little softer than the shampoo, with an added bonus of keeping a bit more of a bun-wave. The shampoo is a lot easier to use though, so I keep it for when I'm in a hurry (but I still use an acid rinse and I add a tiny bit of argan oil to the shampoo to keep it from being overly cleansing).
Rhassoul clay is very different from the french clays I've used before. It's much softer on the hair and rinses out super clean (so clean I feel the need to add a bit of oil to the mix). I am a bit worried about what it will do to our plumbing though..
I haven't gotten around to trying the amla, reetha, shikakai mixture yet, but it's still on my list!
 

earlene

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You've really put a lot of thought and effort into this process, szaza. So the rinse you like is a mild Citric Acid in water rinse. You only use one glass of water? Or do you use more than one glass per rinsing? I forgot how long your hair is? I believe you said it is quite long, so I am curious about how much product you use that you have to rinse out and how much actual rinse you use. Is your hair dark or light?

I've decided to order some Rhassoul Clay & it should be here by Wednesday, so I hope to give this a try on Wed. or Thursday. How do you apply it? I've read some things about mixing it with oils & Coconunt milk, etc. but is that really necessary? It seems rinsing would require far more water that way. Oh, I see you say you mix it with water & sometimes add argan oil. I think I am out of argan oil, so will start out with just a water mix/ paste mixture, followed by a water rinse. I'll look around for my citric acid and may give a final rinse with that.

I read that rhassoul clay really helps with an itchy scalp and mine has really been itching a lot lately, so I hope this helps.
 

Tiana Acero

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Hey BattleGnome!

Thanks for the tip of using baby shampoo! It makes sense that baby shampoos are formulated to be very mild and they are generally cheaper than the super mild fancy adult ones.. and if I end up not liking it, I'm sure one of my mommy-friends will be able to use it ;)

I've done a bit of googling about 18th century hair care, and the only thing I can find is that they combed a lot and washed every once in a while with lye soap to get excess pommade out of their hair. One of the sites I read quoted a manual for ladies in the 1830's that suggested letting a piece of soap sit a few moments in half a cup of lukewarm water and washing the hair with a sponge dipped in this soapy water. Maybe this would be milder on the hair because the soap is more diluted in the water than when you use the lather? It could also just be that they recommended washing hair this way to save water, because they didn't have showers and baths with faucets like we do now..
These are the links to pages I found that mention washing the hair:
https://www.geriwalton.com/georgian-hair-womans-crowning-glory-and/
http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2014/07/hair-care-in-1820s-1830s.html
In case you're interested in more 18th century stuff, heres a link that talks about the evolution of 18th century hairstyles:
http://demodecouture.com/hairstyles-cosmetics-18th-century/
and this one analyses 18th century hygiene:
http://madameisistoilette.blogspot.com/2014/09/keeping-clean-in-18th-century.html
Unfortunately washing hair isn't mentioned in the last 2 links.
Anyway, I'm trying to get away from using lye soap and even most 18th century sources seem to not recommend washing too often with it..

All tutorials on how to use clay on your hair include making a clay mask with some water and some extra ingredients like acid (lemon juice or ACV), honey, nourishing oils and fragrance. When I was using clay to wash my hair I preferred to only use lemon juice, water and clay but I guess everybody is different. I also never really cracked the code on how to use clay properly, as it left my hair full of gunk and feeling pretty dry/brittle.

"You are a mermaid, sir" OMG that's hilarious! :D
I loved the 18th century hygiene link, so interesting.
 

szaza

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Oh I'm really curious how you'll like the rhassoul clay!:thumbs:
I think starting off with just water and seeing how your hair reacts and then adding/changing things is the best way to find what works for you. I only add argan oil because I find pure rhassoul too cleansing. Also, you need less clay than you'd expect, it soaks up a lot of water (more than french clays at least)
For the rinse I use a big 330ml (beer)glass filled to the brim with water and add a tiny coffeespoon of CA, but I always test the pH with litmus paper as well.. I use one glass to soak all my hair (I have very thin, waist length hair) and then rinse again with cold water.
Good luck experimenting!
 

HoliHealerz

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Wow.. @shunt2011 those kinds of stories are exactly why I've decided not to use lye shampoo anymore.. I have some friends who do lots of crazy things with their hair until it breaks and then cut it short and let it grow out again. So I guess there are people who don't mind taking the risk if they like what it does to their hair, but I'm not one of those people. It's good to be aware of the risks though, so thank you for sharing your story!
I also do not like to take risks with my hair. I stayed away from any kind if soap on my hair until 2021. My mother has been using katira gond on her hair for 21 years and she still has a lot if hair and less grey than me 😡. But I just didnt like the idea or feel (I think ince ever did I try but it was ordinary soap). Then when I began making soap, I pucked up my natural soap (it was a henna bar that I rebatched from a natural traditional soap bar, ai was making these and suddenly began to get orders because of my friend's enthusiasm to sell my hand made soap) and suddenly I felt as if my hair had been released from a life sentence. Seriously thats the thought that came to me. I was not completely satisfied and have been working to improve my shampoo bars which I have sold because my acquaintances wanted them. They loved them but the artist /scientist is never satisfied so I wasn't I went back to normal shampoo for one or two washes and then use what I made knowing its better than the artificial stuff. I NEVER dye my hair, or use any chemicals and I make an awesome hair product that used to have 40 natural ingredients, since then I focused function and reduced to 23. Everyone loves it and my hair began to grow. But Im **** lazy knowing that its available when I need it. Typical. Either we know nothing and try hard or we know and become lazy. While others are willing to pay for the same thing. The point is that I BELIEVE in the results of a true and natural shampoo and will work until I reach it or until someone else shares what they have discovered. I know, it was a long post but hope it was worth your pain to read. Thank you for your time. Personally I LOVE all your anecdotes and hope u'll all share more.xxx
 

Lyric

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Haha yeah, some kind of secret sister thing is going on here! :cool: Although my skin is rather dry, not oily..
I'm definately going to try out co-washing with my new conditioner, but I wanted to see what shampoo+conditioner was doing before trying conditioner only. I think co-washing originated as conditioner only washing and then some brands started to develop specialized co-wash products. I've actually read about New Wash about a year ago! Back then I thought it was too expensive.. I still think it's pretty expensive, but might try it out in the future (I have my new shampoo/conditioner to finish first;))
I recall yeaaarss ago I used to hang out at Long Hair Care Forum where ladies were discussing hair growth; long hair for women of color. That's where I learned of co-washing. Believe it or not I used to use Suave. Usually on the bottom of the shelf for .80 to maybe $1.00. I was co-washing every day. I have eased up . . . a lot. I like the concept and my hair was soft as a baby's bum when I was doing it.

Now, I am researching a water filter for my shower (we have well water). Looking forward to results from using that. My hair is probably uber damaged; need a trim, but married to a dude that spaz's when I cut my hair. I am now a senior citizen, grey/white hair down middle of my back. Hmm, wonder if I ever do the proverbial trim how low I would need to go to mitigate damage. Me thinks neck length at the very least. It's just hair.

Oh, I found out about kaolin clay recently. Visited a site QuickSilver. Maaaan, that brand is waaay beyond my finances. So, I kept reading to see the to-do about it. Apparently kaolin clay is the bees knees. Well, I can get that via Amazon for way cheaper than $56, plus s/h. It also uses a hair oil or squalane. Again, can get that from Amazon and a conditioner without parabens, et al.
 

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artemis

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I am now a senior citizen, grey/white hair down middle of my back. Hmm, wonder if I ever do the proverbial trim how low I would need to go to mitigate damage. Me thinks neck length at the very least. It's just hair.

That is a beautiful silver! I'm letting my gray come in without coloring it, but I'm at an in-between phase. My very straight hair is starting to frizz as it turns gray. My husband doesn't get mad when I cut it, but I do get sad, puppy dog eyes. What is kaolin supposed to do for hair?
 

TheGecko

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Believe it or not I used to use Suave.

Ya know, many shampoos are made the same way commercial soaps...same ingredients, but with different levels of water added. Suave is cheap because it has more water.

I'm 60...needless to say I have used a LOT of different shampoos and conditioners over the years. From inexpensive Suave to very expensive 'professional' salon brands. I've had different lengths of hair...from touching my shoulders to being about to sit on it. Until a few years ago, I had been coloring my hair...sometimes professionally, mostly myself. I also had a perm a few times, but that was a long, long time ago.

Things I have learned over the years:

1) Shampoo is for the scalp, conditioner is for the hair.

2) Under normal circumstances, you should only wash your hair every three days. Most 'products' along with dirt and sweat will rinse out.

3) Brush/comb you hair before washing...you'll have less tangles. And brush/comb from the bottom to the top. When you brush from the top to bottom, all you are doing is pushing the tangles down and tightening them up.

4) Less is more. You don't need a head-full of fluffy lather like the commercials to wash your hair...it's a marketing gimmick to get you to use more shampoo. Same with conditioner...don't slather it on.

5) Squeaky clean is great for glasses, plates and pots, but NOT for skin or hair; it's a sign that you have stripped all the natural oils from them.

My hair is waist length...it's mainly silver with some purple streaks except for the underside which is still 'blonde' (weird). Until some health issues about five years ago, my hair was very thick and coarse (I'm white)...it ten thinned out and became fine. I generally wash my hair twice a week...Monday and Friday, but I have gone a week without as I work in an office, have a blank social calendar and am not as active as I used to be.

I use OGX Renewing + Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo and Conditioner...I like the smell of it and it doesn't trigger hubby's sensitivities. I generally wear my hair in a low pony tail after towel drying. I have bangs that I blow dry and use a light spray of TRESemme Hair Spray...it doesn't trigger hubby's sensitivities. I use about a quarter size dollop on my hands, rub them together and then massage into my scalp first and then wash the rest of my hair. Conditioner is about a half dollar size...I start by dipping my fingers in and putting a bit on the top of my head and then rub my hands together and go down the length of my hair and then a general massage. I make sure I rinse my scalp well and then the rest of my hair. No squeaking.

I keep my bangs trimmed myself, but I do go in two to three times a year and have a half to a full inch. About once every four years I get a good six inches chopped off because regardless of how well I take care it, it gets damaged by normal life.
 
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I NEVER dye my hair, or use any chemicals and I make an awesome hair product that used to have 40 natural ingredients, since then I focused function and reduced to 23. Everyone loves it and my hair began to grow. But Im **** lazy knowing that its available when I need it. Typical. Either we know nothing and try hard or we know and become lazy.

I don't understand your statement that you don't use chemicals on your hair. Even water is a chemical (H20).

Hope
 
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@Lyric That is some gorgeous hair right there. Looks very similar in curl pattern to mine, but your silver color is 🥰 whereas mine is all shades of dark brown, medium brown, auburn-brown, golden blonde-brown, grey, and silver white. Quite the hodge-podge! Your all-over silver is hair goals for me.

Re kaolin clay for hair. Except rhassoul, all the clays I've tried (french, bentonite, illite) were very drying for my already-dry hair. But I haven't tried kaolin yet. If you do try it, I hope you'll report back with results.
 

Lyric

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Put in wrong place. opps. Was trying to delete and place properly.
 

Lyric

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@Lyric
Your hair & color is stunning...💞

Awww shucks, thanks. Determined to grow old gracefully. Er ah, yeah right as I sit here planning on some type of cute outfit to go see my granddaughter in a couple of weeks. She's been in Japan, her daddy is an airman and they will be flying home on way to next duty station . . . Hawaii. Yippeee, I get to see her, It has been three years.
 

Lyric

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@Lyric That is some gorgeous hair right there. Looks very similar in curl pattern to mine, but your silver color is 🥰 whereas mine is all shades of dark brown, medium brown, auburn-brown, golden blonde-brown, grey, and silver white. Quite the hodge-podge! Your all-over silver is hair goals for me.

Re kaolin clay for hair. Except rhassoul, all the clays I've tried (french, bentonite, illite) were very drying for my already-dry hair. But I haven't tried kaolin yet. If you do try it, I hope you'll report back with results.
Oh, well, since you asked (big grin here). I surely shall. I won't be able to order until next month. Kinda excited to be honest, to see the to-do.
 
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