What's the best way to wash your hair.... and is there really more than just one way to wash your hair? 

Growing up I didn't know that I had any options when it came to my hair and body care products. I just thought you went to the store, picked a scent that looked nice, slathered it on, and boom. Done! That all changed one day when my mom and I were looking at a bag of tortilla chips and noticed that it said "non GMO." We didn't know what that meant. When we looked it up we came to realize that many of the foods and body care products in our life were straight up toxic. Chemicals?? This definitely didn't feel like the best way to wash our hair! The first thing that went was my lotions, replaced by olive oil (which gives your skin a beautiful golden glow, by the way!) But...replacing my shampoo and conditioner took a lot longer. 

So, let's check out the best hair products for natural hair care. I've tried all the options below and here's my take! 

Shampoo + conditioner


This way of washing hair is the most common in our culture. Shampoo is defined as “a liquid preparation containing detergent or soap for washing the hair” and usually contains an assortment of foreign sounding words like “Glycol, Ammonium lauryl sulfate, Polysorbate 80, and Sodium laureth sulfate “ This method of washing your hair is contingent on cleaning (or stripping in my experience) oils and dirt from the hair and adding oils back in through a conditioner. Despite being the most popular these days it’s my least favorite way to wash my hair. My hair felt flat, staticy and I could always feel the residue left by these products.

Pros - Easy to use gels that store well in the shower. Cheap options available. Easy to find at a store. Infinitely long shelf life.

Cons - Create lots of plastic bottle waste. Stripping of oils from hair and scalp can cause dandruff + breakage. When oils are stripped from the hair your bodies natural reaction is to create / replace those oils which can lead to oily hair and needing to wash more often. Causes build up on the hair and scalp. Often contain chemicals that are bad for you and the environment.

Baking soda + vinegar


This method helped coin the term “no poo” which basically means you’re not using shampoo. I used this method for a year or so and loved the shine that vinegar gave to my hair. I would honestly recommend doing a vinegar rinse a couple times a month no matter what method you’re using. However, the baking soda fell short for me. My hair always looked oily and somehow felt dry at the same time.

Pros- Affordable. Works for some. May not need to wash hair as often because oils aren’t being “stripped”. Vinegar can restore PH to scalp and easily removes product build up.

Cons- Can leave scalp feeling oily and ends of hair feeling dry. Not everyone likes the smell of vinegar.

Herbal hair wash


When a friend introduced me to herbal hair washes I knew I’d finally found the best way to wash my hair. Herbal hair washes are made from herbs (nothing else) that clean and nourish. Common ingredients include: soap nuts, shikakai, and amla. Herbal hair washes always leave my hair feeling healthy and clean while washing away excess oil and maintaining the PH of my scalp. Herbal hair washes have their roots in Ayurveda which is an alternative medicine system widely used in India.

Pros- Actually cuts through oils but is gentle ad conditions at the same time. Can be used as a body wash and dry shampoo. Travels well. Made 100% from powdered herbs. Less waste / packaging. Herbs naturally nourish hair/scalp. The best hair product I've found for natural hair care.

Cons- Can take more effort to wash out of hair and be considered “messy.”

(Almost) Nothing at all


I can’t say this method has worked for me, but some swear that if you use really, really hot (not so hot you’ll burn yourself, okay?) water to rinse your hair it will wash out excess oils and dirt. Finish up with cold water to reduce frizz!

Pros- Very, very affordable

Cons- May not work for your hair type. It can take a while for the hair to adapt to this method

Shampoo bar


After 5+ years of exclusively using herbal hair washes I bought a shampoo bar to try it out. I liked the idea of a shampoo bar but my scalps response was to create dandruff, and lots of it! Maybe there are more gentle bars out there that won’t strip the hair as much? I’m not sure, but soap bars contain lye (aka caustic soda) which is irritating in nature. If I could find a bar that didn’t strip my hair I’d say this would be my second best option for a clean / minimally wasteful way to wash your hair.

Pros- Minimal waste and packaging. Travels well. Often made with clean ingredients.

Cons- Can still strip the hair / scalp of natural oils. Lye can be irritating.

Dry Shampoo


Another way to “ wash “ your hair (or at least reduce the oily appearance of your hair) is to use a powder. This method is known as “dry shampoo.” Simply sprinkle on oily hair, rub in, and brush out! Baby powder and corn starch are commonly used but I recommend arrowroot powder or an herbal hair wash! If you have darker hair the lightness of a powder may show up on your scalp. You can mix cacao powder into your blend to darken and help it blend in more.

Ultimately, you will decide how the best way to wash your hair looks like for you! I hope the list of pros and cons for the different options above is enlightening and helpful on your hair and body care journey. 

Amanda Carson
Amanda Carson

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