August 21, 2014
Posted by Little 900
In 2004, I tried a traditional Burmese herbal shampoo called Shwe Tayaw (pictured above) sold on the side of the road. It came in a plastic bag and was kind of tannic and slimy. There was a half a lime and some shrubbery in the bag, too.
I squeezed out a bit and massaged it into my hair. The lime smelled lovely in my guesthouse shower on the Thai-Burma border, but the mixture did not suds up or lather, which gave me pause. I rinsed it out and when my hair dried, it felt a little oily (after all, there were no suds), but it also had shape, volume and a wonderful sheen. I did go back to my shampoo out of habit and perhaps fear, but the idea of a natural herbal shampoo like this stuck with me for years.
I’ve been waiting 10 years for Shwe Tayaw to become available in the US and it never has. But something similar is finally available, thanks to Michael Gordon, the creator of the Bumble and Bumble line of hair care products. Gordon has released a new product called Purely Perfect, and the ingredients are roughly described as Aloe Vera Gel, Sunflower Seed Oil, Primrose Oil, Peppermint Oil and Keratin.
I tried making my own a few days ago based on this basic ingredient list, and am working on the recipe for my thick and oily, straight hair. The recipe still needs refining, but basically it’s:
- 6 parts Aloe Vera Gel
- 1 part Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 part Sunflower Seed Oil
- a few drops of peppermint oil (I used 2 drops for my first batch, which used 3 TBSP of Aloe Vera Gel)
The Apple Cider Vinegar is to cut the grease of my hair — people often use it as a hair rinse instead of conditioner when paired with a castille soap-based shampoo that’s more likely to leave residue. Sunflower Seed oil has low viscosity and is high in Vitamins A, E, and D which make it easily absorbing without clogging pores, and great for overall skin health and even immunity.
The peppermint and primose oils have anti-inflammatory properties, and some say they’re good for everything from menstrual cramps to eczema to viral or microbial infections.
I mixed this all up in a glass bowl with a rubber spatula, and then scooped it into a travel toiletries tube to experiment with.
There are three reasons I’m excited about this No-poo (no-shampoo) concept. One is that it supposedly eliminates the need for conditioner and styling products to make one’s hair seem more “lived in”. In my case, that means 3 different products to tame fly aways and create moisture and definition. I like the idea of reducing my reliance on expensive cosmetic products that function to create a reliance on consuming more products. So far, on Day 2, I don’t have to use conditioner or product, and with just a little touch of a flat iron, my hair looks clean but textured. Definitely a lived in and not a squeaky clean look, though.
For me, reducing my reliance on expensive products related to the Yogic principle of non-grasping and the Buddhist precept of non-adornment. It all comes down to counteracting our desires to accumulate and be immodest, self centered and vain. This one’s complicated, I know.
The second reason is that I’ve been following some of the emerging scientific data around the human microbiome — the hundreds of trillions of bacteria that live in our guts, in our mouths and on our skin. And that we might discover each has a role in making us healthy, if only we’d stop wiping them out with antibiotics… and even surfactants, or soaps! Here’s a sampling from The New York Times:
- “Some of my best friends are germs” by Michael Pollan, May 2013
- “My no-soap, no-shampoo bacteria rich hygiene experiment” by Julia Scott, May 2014
- “We are our bacteria” by Jane Brody, July 2014
The third reason is because I really like cosmetics and toiletries. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried making my own cosmetics, even if past attempts didn’t exactly succeed.
I’d love to hear how this recipe works for you and if you find ways to improve on it! How’s no-poo working for you?
(h/t Green With Envy blog for the photo of Shwe Tayaw traditional Burmese herbal shampoo above, reposted without permission)
*-* metta *-*