The average person washes their hair five times a week, and nearly all of us use shampoo and conditioner to keep our hair looking shiny and clean. Many scalp and hair experts believe that this frequent washing is doing our hair no favours at all, and that we should all be reducing the number of harsh chemicals which we use. If you just don't like the idea of washing your hair less frequently, perhaps a better tactic would be to swap to using natural alternatives to shampoo and conditioner which are kinder to your body and to the planet too.
The main problem with normal shampoos is that they contain chemicals which are designed to remove the oil from your hair. Doing this on a regular basis causes the hair follicles to produce more oils of their own, and makes your hair look greasier. It's a vicious circle which it can be hard to break free from. Many people with skin conditions like eczema find that the chemicals used in shampoos are too harsh for their scalp and cause it to flare up. There are some great natural alternatives to shampoo though which can work out less expensive too.
Most of us have a pot of bicarbonate of soda in the house which we use as a raising agent when cooking. This useful chemical also has a whole host of household and cleaning uses as it absorbs grease and smells and can be used as a paste to clean surfaces. Bicarbonate of soda also makes a great shampoo. Wet your hair as normal and then sprinkle about a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda all over your hair. Massage it in to the roots and then rinse it out as you would with any other shampoo. This should refresh your hair without the need for chemicals.
Bicarbonate of soda is great at getting your hair clean but can be quite harsh if you are using it every day. A great natural alternative is to use raw egg. Eggs contain vitamins, minerals and protein and can nourish your hair and leave it smooth and soft. The number of eggs you will need will depend on how long your hair is. Whisk up the egg and then smear it all over your hair, massaging it in well. Leave it for a few minutes to work and then rinse it off using either cold or tepid water - warm or hot water will scramble the egg on your head and make it impossible to rinse off without resorting to shampoo again.
These nuts are widely used in tropical regions for washing and doing laundry, and can be bought online here in the UK through websites offering eco or environmentally friendly ranges of products. Using soapnuts does require a bit of preparation though. Heat a pan of water on the hob and pop in a handful of soap nuts. Boil them up for 10 or 15 minutes to allow the soapnuts to release their cleansing agents into the water. Then use a hand blender to whizz up the boiled soapnuts in the water. Pour the liquid into a bottle, allow it to cool, and use it just as you would any other shampoo product. You can also use this liquid for washing clothes in the washing machine or for cleaning down surfaces.
When it comes to conditioner, one of the best products out there is coconut oil. This oil is often added to commercial conditioners but can be used on its own to sort out dry ends and make your hair soft and silky smooth. Coconut oil can be bought in many large supermarkets - but you'll find it in the international foods section rather than in the hair care section. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature but will quickly melt when you hold it, so warm up a blob by rubbing it between your hands and then rub it onto your hair. Leave it for a few minutes, and then rinse it off. Coconut oil is powerful stuff so remember that less is always more and if you use too much, your hair will appear oilier than when you started.