10 Natural Ways To Wash Your Hair If You’re Going Shampoo-Free

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Here’s the thing with shampoo: The more we use it, the more we rely on it. 

Commercial shampoos are often formulated with overly harsh chemicals that strip our locks of their natural oils. By removing these oils, the scalp then works in overtime to replenish the stores and replace what was lost, leaving us with greasy roots and reaching for the shampoo bottle – again.

While breaking the habit is easier said than done, going shampoo-free is definitely possible. Replacing chemical-rich formulas with natural alternatives may result in the soothing of irritated scalps, reduction of excess oil production or boosting the shine of lacklustre strands.

Here are our favourite natural alternatives depending on your hair type and needs.

Dry Hair

Water 

Washing our hair until it is ‘squeaky clean,’ often strips our locks of the natural oils that play an important role in reducing frizz and increasing shine. Try swapping out your shampoo with nothing but lukewarm water and finishing with a deep conditioning mask to seal in any moisture.

We love: Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturizing Masque ($60 at Adore Beauty), Andalou 1000 Roses Complex Colour Care Deep Conditioning Hair Mask ($6.99 at Nourishedlife.com.au) and the SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Leave-In Conditioner ($21.95 at Ry.com.au). 

This natural alternative is particularly suitable for coarser, drier hair types like curly or thicker hair.

Egg

Believe it or not, eggs are one of the best natural shampoo alternatives available. They essentially act as both a shampoo and conditioner; the egg white plays the part of a surfactant, pulling dirt and oil from the hair shaft, while the egg yolk is hydrating like a conditioner. However, If you have oily hair, it’s recommended not to include the egg yolk in your cleansing routine.

How to use: Crack an egg into a squeeze bottle and shake it around to create your shampoo. Make sure to use cool water and leave it on for about three minutes before rinsing out.

Coconut Milk + Olive Oil Mix

We all know that coconut oil makes a great hair mask, but did you know that coconut milk makes a great shampoo? This shampoo alternative keeps dry scalps and hair hydrated, smooth and thoroughly cleansed.

How to use: Mix one can of coconut milk, ¾ cup of pure castile soap, one teaspoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of coconut oil. Use in place of your regular shampoo. 

Water + Lemon Juice

Perfect for those with strands on the drier side, lemon juice makes a great hair cleanser thanks to its strong antibacterial properties. It even works as a pseudo-purple shampoo for blondes, helping reduce brassy tones and keep blonde hues bright. 

How to use: Squeeze an entire lemon into a cup of water and lather onto hair. Leave it to sit for a couple of minutes before rinsing out.

Irritated scalps

Oat Milk

While the benefits of using oats on your skin have long been proven, the same goes for using oats – specifically oat milk – in your hair. 

Using oat milk as a shampoo is ideal if you suffer from scalp issues like irritation or dandruff because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Oat milk is also rich in proteins and fats which can help to strengthen strands and leave hair silky and shiny.

How to use: Cover your roots in the oat milk. Massage the milk into your roots for two minutes and then apply to the rest of your hair. Let the oak milk sit for 20-30 minutes before rinsing out.

Herbal Tea

It sounds weird, but the next time you put the kettle to make yourself a herbal tea, why not try washing your hair with it too?

 Herbal teas are great for gently cleansing hair, with different teas being better suited for different hair types. For example, chamomile tea is best for blonde hair and rosemary tea is best for dark hair. 

How to use: You can either make yourself a pot of herbal tea and quite literally pour it on your head, gently massaging your scalp, or you can mix it together with a few teaspoons of your favourite essential oil and some baking soda for a more thorough cleanse.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is arguably the most effective natural anti-dandruff alternative. If you’ve long suffered from psoriasis of the scalp, severe irritation or seborrheic dermatitis, try swapping out your shampoo for a tea tree oil rinse. Plus, if certain areas are in need of a little extra TLC, this tea tree mix works as a scalp-soothing spot treatment.

How to use: Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with water (there’s no exact measurement that’s right or wrong here!) and massage for 3-5 minutes into the scalp before rinsing.

Oily Hair

Baking Soda

A natural clarifier, baking soda works to neutralise odours, remove build-up and offer an overall detox in a similar way that a scalp scrub would. However, baking soda can be abrasive if used too often and is therefore not recommended for sensitive skin or dry hair types. You might want to try the Sukin Naturals Natural Balance Scalp Scrub ($10.97 at Chemist Warehouse) as an alternative. 

On the other hand, much like volume-boosting products, fine and limp hair types may greatly benefit from the body and texture that baking soda can offer. 

How to use: Mix one part baking soda with three parts water. Wet your hair, then apply the mixture from the roots to the tips and let soak for one minute before rinsing.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Although frequently praised for its immune-boosting benefits, it turns out apple cider vinegar also offers relief from common hair issues like dandruff or excess oil.

How to use: Mix between two to four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (depending on how oily your hair is) to one and a half cups of water. Massage in from root to tip. We recommend applying with a spray bottle to avoid oversaturation. Allow the mixture to soak for five minutes before rinsing. 

Rhassoul Clay

Rhassoul clay is rich in minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium, which help to restore damaged hair by absorbing excess sebum and dirt from deep within the scalp and strands. 

How to use: Mix two spoonfuls of rhassoul clay with just enough boiling water to create a paste. Let the paste cool, and lather on hair. Leave it on for 2-3 minutes and rinse thoroughly.

If you’re not much of a DIY fan, here’s an off-the-shelf natural alternative we love: Klorane 2-in-1 Mask Shampoo Powder with Organic Nettle & Clay ($21.99 at Chemist Warehouse).

Have you tried any of these natural shampoos? What’s your best DIY hair treatment tip?

Main image via @poosh

Share your thoughts

Comments 63

  1. Even if you co-wash, every now and then you still need to use a deep cleanse shampoo to ensure you are keeping your scalp healthy. As a curly girl, co-washing has proved to be a great way to keep my hair in good condition.

  2. ACV method would just make your hair look greasy. It is good to condition hair as a final rinse. I did in past BiCarb and ACV method. Though, Too much of an amazing haircare on the market atm that I like to try it all.

  3. I think you do read our comments BH writers!!! I went on a rant about the co-washing trend that first started in the African American community and now spread world wide. You essentially use conditioner as shampoo then use oils and leave in product to stop super dry scalp and hair that kinky, super curly and Afro hair suffer from. With my natural hair and Turkish/Jewish genes I have natural super kinky hair ( think The Nanny’s hair on steroids… Remember her screeching ‘Mr Sheffeld?’) That when long brushes out into an Afro. Not atm with alopecia I keep my hair super short, but it really works. The surfactants in conditioner can clean your scalp and hair. The dirt, sweat, skin cells etc slip off into the water leaving the oils that are natural or in the conditioner behind. It works!!!

  4. I have used beer as a rinse and my hair really shone – I am going to try the teatree oil and water and perhaps rosemary as I have a frw rosemary plants so would be easy to make -great tips thank You.

  5. I remember mum used to wash my hair with lemon and I think egg but this was mainly to keep my hair blonde (I was the only blonde in the family), but I would have thought that lemon would make dry locks worse?

  6. I’ve tried a lot of different home made shampoo sub concoctions (inc. some in the article) and to be honest none of them worked. My scalp actually got worse and I had more build up and irritations. I went back to shampoo and I had to find the right shampoo but now my scalp is more settled and less reactive.

  7. Lockdown is a good time to try these. I feel lemon juice would be drying but herbal tea would be interesting, I have some I don’t like so I could give them a try. I think I would need effort to get my head around not using shampoo!

  8. So many shampoos can be really harsh on the scalp and end up causing more scalp trouble rather than treating the scalp, but I can’t imagine any of these ways would cause further scalp irritability. The only one I haven’t heard of is the Rhassoul Clay.

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