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Switching To An All Natural Shampoo

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in For Beginners, Skin & Hair Care | 60 comments

Switching To An All Natural Shampoo

Switching from a typical commercial shampoo to an all natural shampoo was difficult for me. It took a month of research and lots of experimenting with different recipes and processes until I finally succeeded. I want to save you all that effort and frustration and share everything you need to know to make a quick and painless switch.

In the end the results were worth the frustration. As I watch my hair grow out in preparation to donate it, I am thrilled to see that it is healthier than ever before and without the split ends that sent me back to the hair dresser every few months last time I grew it for donation.

I’ll never go back to a commercial shampoo and once you’ve made the switch and seen the results, you’ll never go back either.

What’s the problem with your current shampoo?

The most important thing I learned during my research is also the most disgusting; most commercial shampoos contain petrochemicals. Yes, that is “petro” as in petroleum. Petrochemicals are derived from petroleum, and every time you wash your hair you are coating it with petrochemicals, absorbing some through your skin and washing the rest down the drain into your local water systems.

Scratch your head. No, not in wonder about these disturbing facts. Literally, scratch your head.

Did you get a bunch of white gunk under your fingernails?

I used to think that was just dead skin, but now I know that was the petrochemicals left behind by my shampoo.

What should you do now that you know?

You should start the process of switching to an all-natural shampoo by making or buying a cleansing shampoo and a rinse.

I made my own Cleansing and Calming Shampoo using a castile soap base, tea tree essential oil and lemon essential oil. Switching shampoos stresses the pores on your scalp and stressed pores produce more sebum which will make your hair oily. The tea tree essential oil calms the pores to keep the sebum production to a minimum, while the lemon essential oil acts as a detoxifier and an astringent. View the Cleansing and Calming Shampoo recipe page for additional information and instructions.

For a rinse, I made an Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse and Conditioner with apple cider vinegar and distilled water. The rinse will help clean your scalp and hair of the petrochemicals, and leave it feeling incredibly soft. View the Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse and Conditioner recipe page for additional information and instructions.

During the first week, or until your scalp and hair feel clean, you should rinse with the apple cider vinegar solution, wash with your shampoo, then rinse again with the apple cider vinegar solution.

Most people with average length hair will experience the “gross stage” first. Since this stage usually lasts until the third rinse/wash/rinse cycle. I recommend you start switching your products Friday night so you look decent for work Monday morning.

During the gross stage your hair will feel oily and heavy because the gunk is being dislodged and your pores are stressed (remember you are cleansing them and they will be open for the first time in a long time).

Once the gross stage is over you will still need to continue the rinse/wash/rinse cycle for 4 days or until your scalp and hair feel clean. Try the scratch test. When you aren’t getting a bunch of gunk under your fingernails, your hair is in its new state of normal and you can start a routine with an all natural shampoo and conditioner that compliments and enhances it.

What should you expect from the switch?

There were several things that I experienced that I didn’t expect when I first switched from a typical commercial shampoo to an all natural shampoo.

I didn’t expect to get used to the texture of the shampoo so quickly. The castile-based shampoo is much thinner than my old shampoo, but it only took a few uses to get used to.

I also didn’t expect the squeaky clean feeling I had after washing my hair. Most people who make the switch tell me they put product in their hair immediately because it was weird for them to feel so clean. I don’t usually use hair product so I left my hair alone and it’s another thing I got used to pretty quickly.

Before switching shampoos I had oily roots and dry, split ends, and I didn’t expect that to change. Within the first week of my switch I had normal hair from roots to tip. This change makes sense because my pores were clogged and my sebaceous  glands were working over-time, but the petrochemical coated strands were not allowing the oil to travel through the hair to the roots.

Opening up the pores had one more unexpected effect; I grew more hair. After about a month with my natural shampoo I noticed lots of short hairs growing evenly around my head, coming from pores that had previously been clogged by my old shampoo. For a person with fine hair, more hair was a welcome sight.

In conclusion…

Whether you want to switch to an all natural shampoo out of concern for the environment or your own health and beauty, I encourage you to commit to making that change today! If you have questions about switching today or as you go through the process, please leave them in the comments section below. I know me, Kim and other readers, will be happy to support you and answer your questions as best we can.


Nicole knows making small changes for the greener add up over time and hopes you’re inspired to make some changes of your own after reading her articles. She focuses on easy, green, homemade personal products and green living tips for city dwellers. Nicole lives in Pittsburgh, PA and you can find her on twitter at @_nlg_.

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Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Lisa NK

    Hi Nicole,
    I know you posted this a while ago now, but hopefully you won’t mind answering a question! About a month ago, I started using your shampoo and the ACV rinse after. The first few days my hair actually felt great, but then I moved into the “gross stage” and it still hasn’t changed! Have you ever heard of this happening? Any idea what could be wrong!? Thanks so much!

  2. Nicole

    Hi Lisa,

    Does your hair feel gunky? If so, do you use other products that may leaving residue in your hair? If your not using additional products leaving gunk, it may actually be a build up of dead skin. Once your scalp is cleaned of all the petrochemical, you may be surprised at how much dead skin will flake off. That’s normal since your skin is finally free 🙂 Additional brushing with a soft, natural bristle brush helps to massage the skin out.

    Or does your hair feel greasy or oily? If that’s the issue cut back on the ACV. Once your hair is clean most people only use it a few times a week. Also, over the long term, I’ve found my hair feels best if I use the ACV before shampooing, because then it’s acting as a conditioner, while in the beginning, during my initial switch, it was acting as more of a rinse.

    If you don’t think either bit of advice is what your looking for please leave me some additional details such as your hair length, texture, oilyness/dryness of your scalp and hair, and more about the “feel” of your hair right now. You may need a new shampoo recipe, and I would be happy to help you figure one out.

    • Lisa NK

      Thank you so much for your response! Yes, my hair feels seriously gunky, and especially at the roots. For the first time ever, today after I’d just washed my hair and was blow-drying it, I noticed a strange gunk on my fingertips after I’d been touching my hair/scalp a lot. How totally gross! I promise I am not a dirty person! 🙂 I assume the gunk must be the dead skin that you mentioned, because I’m not using any other products.
      So the roots are definitely greasier than before, but the rest of my hair is drier and frizzier than before (with brittle ends)! Before I switched to these products, my hair always looked extremely healthy and shiny, and I had no problem with it being either too oily or too dry. Granted, I have always used conditioner after shampooing or my hair would’ve been very dry. Otherwise, my hair is fairly long, mostly straight with a little natural waviness, and is very thick.
      I like the idea of trying the ACV before, I will definitely do that. Thank you so very much for your advice and concern, I really appreciate any help you can give me!

      • Nicole

        So it makes sense that if your roots are oily your ends are dry. The gunk on your scalp is preventing the oils produced there from flowing down your hair to moisturize the ends. I have 2 more recommendations. Until you get your scalp cleaned up consider rubbing oil on the ends to keep them from splitting. Argan or jojoba oil are good options because argan oil has proteins similar to the proteins in your hair and jojoba oil is similar to the oil your own body secretes.

        Also, consider using a dry shampoo to soak up the oils at your roots. I would recommend this lavender oatmeal dry shampoo: for 3 reasons. First, it will dry up the oils at your roots. Second, massaging the ground oatmeal into your scalp will loosen all that dead skin. Third, the extra brushing you do to remove the dry shampoo will also help you remove all the dry skin.

        Good luck, I admire your commitment to switching to a more natural shampoo. Keep me posted on how it goes and let me know if I can help with any more info or a new recipe.

        • Charis Gramm

          I have been having this exact same problem! So encouraging to read that I’m not the only person with this problem. My hair hasn’t ever been unhealthy, but this switching has my hair a grease city and I am so ready to be over this!

          • Lisa NK

            I know, it’s so annoying! How long have you been using the castile ‘shampoo’ for? It’s been about 6 weeks for me now….and while my ends aren’t brittle anymore, my roots are greasier than ever. Wish I knew when I could expect this stage to end…

  3. Kay

    I just made “the switch” a few days ago, and am having problems with greasy hair also. My initial thought was perhaps because Castile soap has so much oil in it? I have not tried the vinegar/water rinse yet. Will try that this morning. I was wondering about maybe putting a little bit of Dawn dish detergent in it to help clean out the grease? Hmmm..Yesterday when I washed my hair (with just diluted Castile soap) it was oily on the underneath side only. This morning my whole head is greasy. I am wondering about the essential oils you are using. Are they food grade oils or fragrance grade oils? Is there a difference when it comes to your hair?
    I love your idea of putting the soap in a spray bottle! I’ll have to try and find one that will fit in my shower.

    • Nicole

      Hi Kay, You mentioned a lot of things I want to reply to in this comment and the one you left a few hours later.

      First, I’m not sure you need to use Dawn in your hair to cut the oil, which is extra sebum being produced by your stressed out pores. But have you ever seen the detergent commercials where they put the soap on the grease stain before they wash the dish? The same logic works with shampoo. Try putting shampoo in your hair before wetting it and the shampoo will make direct contact with the oil and dead skin it needs to attach to and do a better job of cleaning your scalp.

      Second, you asked if the ingredients in Castile bar and liquid soap are different. Castile soap is a generic name for soap, like lasagna is for layered, noodle dishes. Some castile soaps are made with palm kernel oil bases, others with jojoba oil, etc. So you have to look at the ingredients to know what is in your brand of soap.

      Third, you mentioned you are worried the Castile soap is adding to your oily hair problem because it has oil in it. The oil is soap has been chemically altered through the saponification process. To make soap you need a fat or oil and a salt, when they are put together they saponify and create a molecule with a dirt loving head and water loving tail. The dirt loving head grabs and surrounding anything on your skin, while the water loving tail helps you wash everything away. Extra oil in the soap that may not have been saponified can cause an issue, but a good soap maker would be checking their soap and adding more salt as necessary to finish the process. You said you had better luck with bar soap and that may be due to the fact that it’s harder to create a bar soap that’s not completely saponified than a liquid soap. So you may want to stick to the bar assuming you are getting a better quality soap.

      Fourth, I want to get to your question about essential oils. There are a few grades of EOs. Food grade is fine for shampoo, but you may end up paying more for it because it was made in a food grade factory and approved for ingestion and that adds to the price. I usually buy therapeutic grade essential oils, they are not made in food grade facilities but they are an equal quality product. Never ingest these EOs though, it’s not safe. Fragrance oils may be used for scenting your shampoo but they will not provide therapeutic qualities, such as acting as an astringent or adding shine to your hair. Lastly, there are flavor oils which are safe for lip products. To learn a little more about EOs, see this post which includes info on purchasing tips: And on this site, any time Kim or I use a flavor or fragrance oil in a recipe we note it, otherwise you can assume we are using a therapeutic grade EO.

      Let me know if you have any additional questions and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

      • Kay

        Thank you very much for all of your helpful information! What I actually used the other morning is Kirk’s Castile bar soap, and I’m in love with it! So much so that I actually made my very first soap today! lol! I’m really loving the lather and clean feeling it’s giving me! I’ll continue to use the vinegar/water rinse. Again, thank you very much! I especially found your explanation of the various EO’s helpful!

  4. Kay

    Shampooed my hair this morning with Castile BAR soap instead of liquid soap. Then did the vinegar/water rinse. WOW! It looks and feels so much better this morning! Is there a difference in the ingredients of Castile Bar vs Castile Liquid? Or was it the vinegar/water rinse. Not sure yet, but looks and feels much better! I also noticed that the bar soap had MUCH better lather and suds than the liquid.

  5. Dallis Collins

    Would you have any suggestions for bleached hair? I really would like to keep my hair blonde AND use natural shampoo/conditioner. I’m a week into my switch and it seems as if more of my hair is falling out and I haven’t been able to style my hair (I have an A line cut). My hair is ok in some parts but oily and heavy in others.

    • Nicole

      Dallis, is your hair falling out at the roots or is it breaking and falling off?

      If it’s falling out at the roots it may be the stress of switching that is causing the problem. If that’s the case you might want to try a gradual approach. At first, only use the all-natural shampoo every few days while using your regular shampoo the rest of the time, then slowly use the all-natural shampoo more often.

      If it’s breaking off it means your bleaching and styling routine has damaged your hair. It doesn’t mean you have to stop bleaching and styling your hair the way you want it, but it may mean you are due for some restorative treatments such as hair masks that include hydrating oils like coconut or olive oil and egg yolks for protein. Argan oils is also wonderful for hair because it is both hydrating and the protein in argan oil is like the protein in hair.

      In either situation the importance of diet in maintain healthy hair should not be ignored. Drinking lots of water, including animal or plant protein in your diet and ensuring you include foods high in omega-3s and vitamins A, E and K go a long way to helping your hair stay healthy.

  6. Laurie

    I started using this shampoo and the ACV rinse yesterday, but realized that I don’t know if it is safe for color treated hair! I have high- and low-lights in my hair. Are these safe, or will they strip the color? I chose to use the petitgrain instead of lemon, too.

    • Nicole

      Hi Laurie, Both the shampoo (with petitgrain) and the ACV rinse are safe for high- and low-lights as long as you wait 48 hours for the treatment to set first. In fact, the high acidity of the ACV will actually close the cuticles and help prevent the dye from fading once it has set.

  7. LisaNK

    Hello! I commented a few months ago that I was having a hard time switching to natural shampoo. While I can’t say that my hair problems are over, I have learned a few things that I thought might be helpful to others:
    -This may only apply to other people with thick hair, but I’ve found that I need to use much more shampoo than I did with commercial shampoos. I used to only put some castile-based shampoo on the top of my head and then wash as I always had, but I found that this wasn’t cleaning my entire scalp at the roots enough. This led to my hair feeling gunky everywhere except at the very front/top of my head. Now I apply the shampoo individually to three sections, and it cleans much more thoroughly.
    -After much experimentation with ACV, I’ve found that spraying it on my hair after I shampoo and leaving it in, works best. In fact, none of the other ways that I used it were effective at all on my hair! Now my hair feels much softer and healthier.

    I’m still having the same issue when I blow-dry my hair: there is a film/little bits of dead skin left on my fingers from my scalp. If I air dry my hair, this doesn’t happen, but that could be because I’m not touching my scalp as much? I should probably try air drying my hair AND massaging my scalp to see if the the same thing happens. It has been over 6 months now – I wonder if this will ever go away?
    Thanks for reading!

    • Nicole

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for keeping us posted on your progress and sharing your tips.

      I feel your pain with the the flaky, dead skin issue. Lately I’ve been having a similar problem but I was able to solve it by doing two things.

      First, I clean my brushes and combs more regularly. Since switching all my hair products to more natural options I’ve found I simple have more dead skin flake off, but I think it’s actually a good thing. Before my scalp was always gunky due to the plastics in my shampoo sticking to my roots and dead skin would stay trapped near my scalp. Now it flakes off like it should, but if I don’t clean my brushes and combs weekly the skin builds up on them and gets redistributed through my hair when I brush it.

      A few months ago I also had more skin than usual flaking off so I switched to Kim’s soothing aloe shampoo ( and that moisturized my scalp enough to solve the problem.

      If your noticing the issue more when you blow dry, my guess is that the flakes are related to the fact that you are further drying out your scalp, not that you are touching your hair more, so a more moisturizing shampoo may solve your problem.

      Or you can try leaving an oil, like jojoba or coconut, in overnight to soften and moisturize the skin. In the morning you can brush out any large flakes and then wash out the oil. Coconut oil foams really well, so not only will it moisturize, it will help bring the dead skin up from the scalp, through your thick hair.

  8. Juli

    I will be switching to the natural shampoo, how often do you need to wash your hair? Right now I wash it every other day and it gets oily in between and I usew a dry shampoo in between washings (but it doesn’t help a ton). Should I wash it everyday?

    • Nicole

      Hi Juli,

      You may not need to wash your hair every day after switching to a natural shampoo, but there are no guarantees. With commercial shampoo I had to wash my hair everyday, but with a natural shampoo I can go 2 days without washing my hair or using dry shampoo, after 2 days I would need to at least use a dry shampoo.

      If you haven’t seen our recipe for a dry shampoo yet you might want to check it out here: I really like it because it does a great job of soaking up oils and giving my roots back their lift.

  9. Pam

    I know this is an older post, but I just attempted to switch to natural shampoo over the weekend. OMG! When you talk about the “gross”phase,” you weren’t kidding. I did try the ACV and distilled water. That made a HUGE difference. Thank you.

    • Nicole

      Hi Pam, Don’t think twice about commenting on an old post. We always want to know what recipes your trying and how they work for you. I’m glad to hear the ACV helped you get through the your “gross” phase. Imagine how toxic your old shampoo must have been for it to be that bad!

  10. Mitch

    Hi Nicole,
    I’ve noticed a slight increase in hair fall when I made the “switch”. Is this normal? And I’m assuming that it’s supposed to feel lighter since it cleanses the hair?:)

    • Nicole

      Hi Mitch, If your old shampoo was very toxic the switch could definitely increase your hair fall as your pores will be shocked by the switch. Or if your hair was very damaged it could just be breaking at the weak points. The plastic in commercial shampoo is often formulated to “repair” the damage by sticking to the hairs and holding them together. As you cleanse your hair, it will be lighter, but more likely to break because you’re removing the “glue”.

      If the increased hair fall alarms you, switch slowly, alternating washing with your old shampoo and your natural one. Slowly increasing the use of your natural shampoo will be gentler on your scalp. If you think breakage is a problem, a protein like Argan oil will actually help repair the damage. I recently wrote about using Argan oil in my own routine here:

      • Mitch

        Thank you so much! My previous shampoo’s main purpose was to dry my hair/scalp, I guess, since my hair is super oily. Then I had to use a certain conditioner with it so as to lessen hair fall…Is applying oil to the tips of the hair still applicable to very oily hair?

        • Nicole

          At this time you may not want to add oil to your hair, especially if it’s not damaging. If the ends are split and dry though, you can definitely add it there.

          Hopefully, by switching to a natural shampoo you’ll find your pores create less sebum and your hair won’t be so oily. That’s what happened for me, and of course less oil to clog your pores will mean less hair fall.

          Also, if you want dry up the pil between washings, try a dry shampoo. This one is really gentle and effective:

          Keep us posted on how things work out for you!

  11. Megan

    I just purchased an Ayurvedic shampoo, it contains coconut, palm, sunflower and olive oils, henna, methi seeds, neem, brahmi, amla, bhringaraj and essential oils of hibiscus and jatamansi. It makes my hair feel squeaky clean in the shower but as soon as I get out it’s very hard to brush. After I dry it it feels like I have product in my hair, it’s hard to manage and I have great difficulty trying to run my fingers through it. However, it looks amazing already and I’ve only used it twice. I’m wondering if the unruliness and strange texture will get better after a few washes? I miss being able to play with my hair 🙁

  12. Rebekah

    After switching to natural shampoo, and hair is shedding out 3 to 4 times the normal amount per day, will it just continue until I go bald? I found I am allergic to tocopherol acetate and sensitive to the petrochemicals in regular shampoo. I don’t want to go back, but also don’t want to go bald. I have no problems with gunkiness anymore- I have been doing it for about 5-6 weeks now. Thanks

  13. Bunnicakez


    I’ve been wanting to switch to an all-natural shampoo routine. I’ve used several “organic” shampoos like Yes To Carrots etc. But I have a big problem that no dermatologist could solve.
    Apparently my body produces more sebum. I have an oily t-zone and an oily scalp. But the tip of my nose, and the skin between my eyebrows get dry, itchy and flaky (maybe the dried sebum?). No moisturizer or exfoliator has been helpful.

    Anyway, about my hair. I used to have long hair (tailbone length) but I cut it all off cause I couldn’t handle the care. My hair became oily the same day I washed it. I’ve tried washing it everyday, then every other day but it was hopeless. I also tried the ACV which didn’t change anything.
    I have itchy, greasy hair with a few pimples showing up on my crown. I’ve also tried dandruff shampoos. Nothing helped.

    Searching on the net, I found you website. I would like to make the switch and join the no-poo movement. I’ll start with your recipe for the Cleansing and Calming Shampoo and the ACV rinse. What brand do you recommend for the liquid castile soap?

    Also, what is a good natural shampoo beside castile based soaps? I’ve heard those have too much alkaline and some people don’t recommend it for hair.

    I really hope I can eventually win this fight and grow back my hair. I’ve been reading your posts for hours, you have excellent recipes.

    • Amanda

      You might like Healthy Skin for a Happy Life’s all-natural shampoo because it’s pH balanced for hair and does a great job of nourishing while cleaning. My personal experience with it was that I saw a lot of growth since I’ve started using it in October and improved overall quality and health.

    • Nicole

      I’m glad your finding our blog is a good resource for you 🙂 To answer your questions…

      Kim likes Dr. Bronners Baby Mild for her liquid base and I like the New Directions Aromatics liquid castile soap, but they started adding a $10 fee to orders under $100 so it’s not the most economical place to buy any more.

      An alternate to castile soap is an aloe vera based shampoo. I recently purchased an Andalou Naturals shampoo because I wanted to try out this type of shampoo before trying to make one:

      I like the brand and would recommend it.

      If your trying to manage an oily scalp problem I have a few other suggestions too. Put your shampoo in before you wet your hair. Oil repels water but soap breaks it up and surrounds it, then when you add water the “tail end” of the soap molecule gets picked up by the water to wash everything away. Hopefully this will help you remove the oil already on your scalp.

      Over-washing can stress your hair and increase sebum production so in between washes try using a dry shampoo: Rubbing in the oatmeal will also help to dislodge any pore clogging dirt and dead skin.

      Lastly, don’t rule out looking beyond hair and skin care to balancing your sebum production. Hormones, stress, not drinking enough water or a diet lacking in protein, omega-3s and vitamins A, E and K can all affect how healthy your hair and skin is. Since you said you’ve been working with a dermatologist, maybe she can make some suggestions, or recommend a dietician or health coach to move beyond topical treatments.

      Good luck and keep us updated on your progress!

  14. Zoe

    Hi Nicole! I just recently made the switch to organic shampoo (and conditioner…maybe eventually I’ll cut that part out). It’s been about 2 weeks and I am stuck in the gunky stage – heavy, greasy hair at the scalp and, unfortunately, a mild case of dandruff. Background: my hair is medium length and fine, but also pretty thick. Nicole, help! I found your site AFTER abruptly switching to organic, so I have yet to do a proper rinse on my hair… is it too late? Is there anything I can do to get out of this gunky stage, or do I just have to endure for a little while longer until my hair adjusts?

    Thank you in advance!
    (p.s.: aside from the negatives, I have noticed a new shine to my hair, new growth and it does feel clean right after a shower! For these I am thankful)

    • Nicole

      Hi Zoe,

      It’s never to late to try a rinse. Go for it!

      Also, try putting the shampoo on your scalp before you wet your hair. It will help the soap break-up the oils and help cleanse your hair a little better.


  15. Brianna

    i found a recipe through pinterest that used castile soap, water, baking soda, coconut oil, and essential oils. i used it for the first time and my hair is unbearably oily and nasty. could i alternate between my new, natural shampoo and my old, commercialized shampoo every other wash? or would you recommend a change in my recipe for the shampoo? i also used the ACV rinse after washing. thank you for any response i may get!

    • Nicole

      Hi Brianna,

      Adding the ACV rinse to your routine is a great idea, it will help cleanse your scalp and control the oily mess. Switching back to your commercial shampoo every other wash will prolong the switching process because it will take longer to cleanse your scalp of all the build-up, if that work better, do it 🙂 It’s all about finding a process with results you can live with! Just continue decreasing the frequency with which you use your old shampoo, until you are 100% chemical-free.

      As, for your current recipe, you may want to remove the coconut oil. Coconut oil is great for moisturizing dry hair, but when your hair is over-producing oils during the switch extra oil is not necessary.

      Good luck and keep me posted on how it goes!

  16. Patricia

    Nicole, I have been using the homemade shampoo (castille soap based) for 3 weeks and I still have the gross stage. Does it help to wash my hair more often, maybe everyday to speed this up?

    • Nicole

      Yes, it may help to wash daily until you get things under control, then go back to skipping days. Are you using the apple cider vinegar rinse too? If not, I would recommend adding that to your routine.

  17. Sylvia

    I bought the Everyday Shea Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner on a whim. I started using it about a week ago, and the first three washes left my hair feeling heavy, oily, and almost sticky. The last two washes have been a little bit better, but my hair still feels a little oily and heavy, I cant even comb my fingers through it anymore. I didn’t find your post until after I had started using it. My question is; 1.) is this the end of the gross stage and should I just stick it out, 2.) would the ACV rinse help at this point, or 3.) should I just give up and go back to regular shampoo and conditioner? Help!

    • Nicole

      Hi Sylvia,

      I’m sorry to say the shea butter shampoo and conditioner are part of the problem. Shea butter is a heavy moisturizer and when you are switching to an all-natural shampoo it’s common for you to over produce sebum… so extra oil added by your hair products is the exact opposite of what you need right now.

      Store the shea butter shampoo and conditioner away and switch to something less moisturizing and more cleansing, like Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Castile Liquid Soap. The Dr. Bronner’s shampoo along with the ACV rinse, should help you cleanse your scalp and hair of all that extra oil as you go through the gross stage. When your done, if your hair is dry, switch back to the Everyday Shea products.

  18. Kameron

    I got alafgia African black soap liquid is it a good choice for natural shampoo or should I try something else. I’ve been buying at a natural grocer near me. My hairs been feeling dry since using it. And I’m guessing the white stuff falling out is dead skin. Also my heads a little itchy. Also do you have to use an acidic rinse or can you get used to using a natural shampoo with out it. I don’t have the time to make it. Also I live where the waters harder. So we have a water softener if you could get back to me that would be great. Also I noticed my hair goes crazy,frizzy, curly. On the African black soap. Thanks again.

  19. Danette

    Nicole, I switched over using your recipe of castile soap, tea tree oil and lemon EO as well as using the ACV rinse both before and after about 6 weeks ago. All the hair from my forehead back to about where your hair would be drawn into a low ponytail feels fantastic!! Baby soft, easy to comb my fingers through, just lovely! The remainder however, feels like crap! It feels thick and matted almost sticky to the touch, and forget about running my fingers through it. My hair falls about 3 inches below my shoulders and I have neither an oily scalp or dry scalp, I usually only wash my hair every other day or two. What am I doing wrong or am I doing it right and need to wait it out a little longer? I am getting a gunk on my comb now and so I clean that everyday, also I do not blow dry my hair nor put product in it. One last thing, I did flat iron it about a week ago and the iron would not slide through my hair because of the gunk. Thanks so much for any help! Danette

    • Nicole

      Danette, I’m sorry to hear this. No one else had reported this type of experience to me and so I did some internet searching there were 2 common causes mentioned.

      The first cause was just build-up that could not be removed. These folks usually found success with “no poo” techniques like baking soda and vinegar. The hair should be wet, then baking soda can be massaged into the gunky part of the hair. Spray vinegar and let the baking soda foam. The foaming action is supposed to break up and gunky and lift it was from the hair. Lastly, rinse the hair. The one caution is that baking soda is very drying so this is not a technique you want to do too often, and you may want to follow up by massaging the hair with a light oil, like argan oil.

      The second cause was seborrheic dermatitis, a common type of eczema. A full-blown case of seborrheic dermatitis normally results in redness and scaly skin on the scalp, but when it’s kept in check by your immune system you may just get a waxy build-up. The most through article I found about seborrheic dermatitis is here:

      As always, I like to recommend seeing a doctor if you think the condition is medical. And tell your doctor about your desire to use only natural products so they can work with you on a treatment and prevention plan that works for you.

      • Danette

        Thank you Nicole! I read through the link for the seborrheic dermatitis and can pretty confidently say that this is not my issue. I have only encountered this issue after I switched to an all natural shampoo/conditioner. I may try the “no poo” baking soda/vinegar thing if I can’t get it to brush out. I am in no rush as I am a SAHM who home schools, and my go-to hairdo is a ponytail. 🙂 Thanks for the research and for getting back to me! I will let you know if I get it figured out!

  20. Danette

    Nicole, so I have an update! After looking at the link you posted I went back through some other posts from here and I found my problem. I am a lazy shampooer, there I said it! I was so concerned with getting the gunk off of my scalp that I neglected to really wash thoroughly the rest of my hair. I went back and really ran my fingers through my hair with the shampoo and it was like magic!! Thanks for being patient with me and trying to help me figure it out, I bet there is no link for laziness!! 🙂

  21. Emily


    About a week ago, I started using a natural shampoo consisting of castile soap, coconut oil, coconut milk, honey and Vitamin E oil. My hair is still quite oily, which I hear can persist for several weeks with the recipe I use. However, I’ve just come across this post and was wondering if you think it’d be a good idea to try the cleansing shampoo and the rinse now to help me to get past the oiliness quicker, and to go back to my recipe once the excessive grease has subsided? Or should I just ride it out at this point?

    • Nicole

      Hi Emily!

      Thanks for stopping by the blog.

      I think you should try a cleansing shampoo and rinse. The shampoo you are using contains a few heavy moisturizers, coconut oil and honey, which you probably don’t need right now since your producing extra oil during the switch.

      • Emily

        That makes a lot of sense! Haha I’ll try it right away, thanks so much!

      • Emily

        I tried the cleansing shampoo and apple cider vinegar rinse yesterday and it’s the first time in awhile that my hair is not oily! A very exciting day.

        I have very thin hair as well, so I was curious about what your favorite shampoo/conditioner recipe is!

        • Nicole

          For thin hair you don’t want to over condition, but if your hair is too dry you’ll be untangling knots forever. I’d suggest sticking with the castile soap base and adding essential oils for aromatherapy or added benefits (ex. citruses add shine, rosemary for growth). There are a few more shampoo recipes on this blog you might want to check out for ideas.

          For conditioner, I like the ACV rinse because my hair never tangles when I use it. For added moisture and/or protection from heated styling, I use pure argan oil. Rub 1 drop into your finger tips, then massage it into the ends of your hair.

  22. Amanda

    Hello! I have long & thin hair. I switched to a natural shampoo bar about 3 weeks ago. At first my hair felt really sticky & dry. I have been using an avc rinse about once a week. My hair doesn’t feel a gummy as it first did but it still feels a little dry at the ends & oily at roots & lifeless. I got a brush with boars bristles to try & help spread the oils. My biggest concern is a huge increase in dead skin or dandruff. When I pull my hair out of my brush it has tons of white stuff in it. Is this normal or is this a sign this type of shampoo may not be right for me. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I don’t want to give up too early but I don’t want to soldier on if I’m only making my hair worse.

  23. sahas

    Hello mam I started to use natural shampoo but after 2-3 days I got started with hairfall and dandruff. Please help

    • Nicole

      Hairfall can be caused by genetics, illness, medication, stress, or poor nutrition. You should seek advice and help from your dermatologist as the change in your hair care routine may or may not be related.

  24. Aiza Tariq

    I used to have straight, shiny hair but after I started university, environmental damage and stress really ruined it. It took me a bit to realise that I missed my good hair so I have been trying different products and oils for an year now.
    I began the no-poo method by making the amla reetha and shikakai shampoo. Now, before my hair was rather dry. My scalp never seemed to produce sebum and I did not have to wash my hair for a week. But since starting the natural shampoo, it has been very greasy. It is weird since I am not used to my hair being oily and had to oil it a lot. And now if I oil it, I feel that coconut oil is not only hard to get out but it also makes my hair sticky post-wash. Almond or olive oil is easier to wash.
    And my straight hair has also been getting rather wavy and its not pretty. Is this normal? Also, I should mention that even now I try to stretch to five or six days before I wash it again.
    Would love to hear from you.

    • Nicole

      Hi Aiza,
      When I read that your hair went from straight to curly I immediately thought, hormones or stress may be the root cause of your hair problems. A better hair care routine may help you manage this changed but it’s not likely to straighten your hair.

      Switching to a natural shampoo frequently results in an oily scalp and you should not add more oil. Instead, f the ends are dry, use a natural bristle brush to brush the oil from the scalp through the rest of the hair. To reduce the oil on the scapl, use a shampoo that will help degrease and cleanse, something with a good lather is usually helpful as it will lift the dirt and oil away from the scalp. This is my recipe for a cleansing and calming shampoo:

      Good luck!

      • Aiza Tariq

        I don’t think it is due to hormones. Actually, the natural shampoo has been making my hair wavy. I had to use conventional shampoo once after starting the natural hair care routine. And my hair looked as straight as it used to be before I changed the shampoo routine.
        And I have been using almond oil on hair ends, as well as a Kent boar bristle brush.
        Also, i have read that Castile soap has a very high ph so it is not good for your scalp?
        Thank you for writing back.

  25. Jessica Bramschreiber

    I made the change to homemade shampoo and a lemon juice rinse a little over a week ago. I saw where you suggested to shampoo while your hair is still dry but I also saw where you mentioned to rinse first and then again after shampooing. I’m wondering how to know which method to use. The hair by my roots has been sticky and oily immediately after washing but the rest of my long straight fine hair is very soft and not a problem. I’ve been washing and rinsing every day. Also, I added rosemary, lemon, and tea tree essential oils to both the shampoo and the rinse. Could this be part of the problem, too? To much essential oil? I hope to hear from you, I want this to work so much but am embarrassed to be seen like this. Adding baking soda to my rinse helps but I lose more hair that way when I wash and I’m afraid to use it every day.

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