Clean, Green, Affordable Hair Care

Clean hair shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, or dirty up the environment.

By Jean Nick

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If you (or family members) have long hair, or are in the habit of washing your hair frequently, you may find yourself buying bottles of shampoo and other hair-care products often enough to put a significant hole in your budget. And all the chemicals that you wash down the drain may have a similar effect on the local ecosystem. Don’t worry—you don’t have to sacrifice looking good to save some money and protect local waterways.

Stretch That Bottle
First of all, here’s some advice you can follow the very next time your locks need a wash. Want to cut your shampoo bill in half? Just cut it with water. Most shampoo is so thick we tend to use more than we really need. So when you buy a bottle of shampoo, pour half in to a clean bottle to use later. Depending on the brand you use, you may be able to dilute it even more without sacrificing cleaning power. Add warm water to the original bottle, and slosh gently to blend. Putting diluted shampoo into a pump bottle or even a wall-mounted foam dispenser will reduce the amount everyone in your family uses by dispensing measured amounts. You’ll spend less, you won’t be throwing empty bottles into the recycling bin nearly as often, and you’ll reduce the impact of your hair-care routine on the planet. I’ve been doing this since my kids were little, and it works great!

Want to cut the shampoo bill in half again? Rethink the “lather, rinse, repeat” mantra thought up by some incredibly savvy shampoo marketer a few decades ago: Isn’t “lather, rinse” plenty most of the time? And sometimes just “rinse” (no shampoo at all) is enough. Going a day longer between shampoos can also save money without causing bad-hair days for many people, though it may take your scalp a week or two to scale back on the protective oils it produces to combat the drying effects of shampooing.

With all that money you’re saving it might be a good idea to consider switching to an all-natural or organic shampoo if you aren’t already using one. They will set you back a bit more than the bargain brands, but after you dilute them and use them wisely, they are more affordable and far better for you and for your family, not to mention all the critters who live downstream from you. The scalp is rather good at absorbing traces of chemicals you’d rather not have inside you, and most commercial shampoos are full of just such chemicals. Read the fine print and you’ll find such debatable characters as sodium laurel sulfate, propylene glycol, cetearyl, methylparaben, propylparaben, synthetic preservatives, distearate, isopropyl alcohol, and the ubiquitous and mysterious “fragrance.” Having “natural” or “herbal” on the label in no way means the product inside is free of noxious chemicals, so check the ingredients list regardless.

 
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