What Makes A Shampoo Natural?
A lot of people are starting to use natural shampoos, but what exactly are they? A shampoo can be called natural if it does not contain ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, silicone and other chemicals which have been generally determined to be harmful to your hair and use naturally occurring ingredients - oils, botanical or fruit extracts, and herbal extracts as primary active ingredients. It is difficult to find conventional shampoos that meet those standards because it is normal to use silicone and other chemicals to add shine or smoothness.
Rarely will you find (or want) 100% natural shampoos. Why, because they have a very short shelf-life. And while it's true shampoos/cleansers are a consumable and used often and frequently, they do require some preservatives. So, what you will find most beneficial are "natural-based" shampoos that have a mild preservative (like Germall Plus) and utilize active ingredients that are in fact naturally derived - like fenugreek, menthol (spearmint, peppermint, etc), sunflower, Trichogen (14 botanical extract blend), Zinc, Emu Oil, Argan Oil, or Jojpba Oil. Many of these ingredients have been shown very stable in formulas and excellent for use in hair products.
Natural shampoos avoid using all those products so they use other methods to clean and condition. When you use naturally-formulated cleansers the first time however you may not realize that they are working. That may be because you are used to cleanser acting, or behaving or having properties that may be different.
Using a natural shampoo can sound great but what is it that makes it natural? The ingredients that are used to make a natural shampoo vary depending on the recipe that you will use; some of the ingredients that you will find include aromatic ingredients like rosemary, marigold flowers, soapwort roots etc. Those ingredients are normally combined with others to give you the best results. You will notice that making your own natural shampoo is rather easy and cost effective. Other ingredients commonly used are water, essential oil apple cider and baking soda. Getting a natural shampoo from a store or even making your own and switching to it, is a great way to get harmful chemicals out of your hair while doing something positive for the environment.
What To Expect
Natural shampoo does not act like regular cleansers. There is a very good chance that you will not even see foam and that your hair will feel knotty and dry. Think of that reaction or lack thereof as a way to clean the scalp and follicles. The reason for the lack of foam and the feeling that you get the first time comes from the residue that your previous shampoo left.
As the residue from the chemicals in other shampoos wash away, you will begin to notice the difference. The process takes more than a couple of washes; it can in fact take two to three weeks to wash away those chemicals. In the end, the wait will be well worth it.
Something else you can expect is a healthier scalp and hair in general. The trend towards "natural-based" shampoos has been lead in part by problems people have experienced with chemicals found in many of the cheaper OTC brands. The result of these can be an itching scalp, flakes, and even redness and sores.
However...the surfactant is what causes the bubbling and foaming action. And while this is most often associated with effective cleansing, that's not true. Comparatively, car wash shampoo and clothing detergent create lots of bubbles but are certainly not good for your hair!
A Few Tips For Your Switch
There is one thing that could slow your transition down, and that is when you use two shampoos. If you have been using regular shampoo and have recently purchased natural one, then you must stop using the regular shampoo to see the difference. You can also help the transition by adding a little extra to your bath. Use a cup of Apple Cider vinegar together with a cup of sea salt and two cups of baking soda. You can also add some baking soda to your natural shampoo the first few times that you use it. The transition should go a lot faster when you put that advice into practice.