Before my zero-waste journey, I bought EVERYTHING.
My default setting was to rush off and buy whatever I 'needed'. At least, until a few excellent mentors and bloggers showed me the light. I went from a.) realizing the things I needed were almost always things I simply wanted and b.) I could make almost anything myself and from the comfort of my home. My mindset shifted and I went from rushing out to buy to staying in to make.
I quickly noticed the easiest way to be a nifty DIY whizz was to find natural ingredients that could make several products. Cue: the soap nut. With the appearance of this magical nut, I suddenly had the witchy know-how and tools to make a host of house and body cleaning wonders (shampoo, body wash, laundry detergent -it goes on. )
Though I've walked you through a zero-waste shampoo/conditioner recipe before, discovering the wonders of soap nuts shampoo means I'd like to revisit the go-to shampoo alternative you can make at home.
Actually part of the lychee family, soap nuts are a collective of shrubs absolutely brimming with cleansing, eco goodness. But how could a plant possibly clean? Well, the same way a plant can heal, nourish, dye, poison, etc- through the unyielding power of nature.
Soap Nuts are everything you love about cleansing products without the toxin-riddled chemicals found in commercial cleaning products. Once the fruit is harvested, the inner seed is removed and the remaining shell is sun-dried. That dried soap nutshell is what we know and love as the over-achieving soap nut due to the activated saponin which works as a deep-reaching surfactant (cleaning solution, for us plebs).
While soap nuts work as a brilliant laundry detergent, turns out it's just as effective on organic fibers even closer to home, like our noggins. Yup- soap nuts were what was missing in my quest for the perfect sat-home shampoo recipe.
This DIY, zero-waste shampoo recipe and popular alternatives (like the beloved shampoo bar), a soap-nuts-based shampoo perfectly cleans as you wash your hair without stripping the hair of much-needed oils or moisture. What's even cooler is that you need very few ingredients to make this deep-cleaning concoction and little skill. Here's how I make my own Soap nut shampoo and wash my hair with it from home:
Suggested measurements as per hair length:
Short to chin-length hair: 2 teaspoons powder to 1/3 cup of warm water
Mid-length hair: 1 tablespoon powder to 1/2 cup of warm water
Waist-super long length hair: 2 tablespoons powder to 1 cup of warm water
When you're ready to use your soap nuts shampoo, pour and massage a small amount of the now-cooled mixture into your wet hair - one side of your scalp at a time. Shield your eyes from the soap. I use it more of a rinse that I work into my hair as it hangs instead of the traditional lathering technique.
It's important not to let soap nuts shampoo get into your eyes - especially if you've added essential oils. It will burn!
Let the natural shampoo mixture do its thing for 5 minutes before rinsing well. Your hair may feel a bit clumpy during this time, but don't worry, that's as the soap nuts gods intended. Once rinsed off your hair should feel soft and smooth.
Personally, I love that when I wash my hair and get any of the soap nuts mixture on my skin, it's actually an added benefit: massage into your face (careful the eyes!) or body for a little nourishing booster that cleans as well as moisturizes.
Soap nuts are naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal, and hypoallergenic which makes them an excellent ingredient for self-care and cleaning. These nuts are gentle on the skin and clothes and clean without stripping surfaces of their natural oils and texture.
It's safe to say I'm nuts about soap nuts. Soap nuts are a wonder nut. A little goes a long way which is why my jumbo bag has seen me make many shampoos and cleaning detergents for myself and my loved ones. I love that come skin, hair, or fabric, these organic nuts are excellent at cleaning without any of the harmful effects that come with commercial cleaning aids like stripping and drying. If, you're a DIY nut (ha!) like me, I have no doubt soap nuts will soon be adopted as a pantry staple.
For more healthy hair tips, be sure to check out my articles below.
How to make zero waste shampoo and conditioner
The best zero waste shampoo of 2022