Plastic and toxin free
The bathroom is the 2nd largest contributor to waste in the average household. (First is the kitchen) Shampoo and conditioner bottles are an often overlooked single use plastic. Here are 4 plastic free hair care options so that you can wash your hair while protecting your health and caring for the planet.
While going plastic free was the initial push I needed to look for another option for shampoo and conditioner, it wasn’t my only one. Over a decade ago I was diagnosed with a variety of auto-immune conditions and began the long process of eliminating chemicals and toxins from my home in an effort to reduce my toxic load.
Toxic load is a term that refers to the toxins that accumulate in our bodies over time. Many of these come from our environment, many from the foods we eat, and many more from the products we use on our skin. In the US the ingredients used in beauty and skin care products is not regulated. For a comparison of the ingredients allowed in beauty and personal care products between Europe and the U.S., over 1300 chemicals have been banned in the European Union due to their toxicity. while the U.S. has banned 8. Many of these ingredients are known hormone disruptors and carcinogens. I’m seriously concerned.
The average American uses 9 to 13 personal care products every day averaging 130-165 individual chemical exposures. We know that the average person stores 200 different chemicals in the fat on their body. Even breast milk is full of chemicals. While we might not be able to eliminate all chemicals from our environment I’ve done all I can to eliminate them from my personal care products.
Here is a link to a site that can give you some information about specific chemicals.
Personal products and the environment
Two of the critical concerns these days is the state of our soil and water. Both are contaminated by what we allow do go down the drains in our homes. All of the chemicals we clean with, and that we wash our bodies with enters into our ecological systems at some point. I used to believe water plants were able to filter out all of these harmful chemicals, but that just isn’t the case.
The more I learn the more I’m convinced that I need to be careful about ingredients, not just for my own health, but for the health of the planet. A poisoned water system is a scary proposition, soil that becomes toxic is useless. A proactive approach by consumers who demand products that are healthy for people and planet is necessary. Europe has taken steps to protect their citizenry, we need to do the same.
So here are my 4 plastic free hair care options.
1. Shampoo Bars
After a great deal of research I decided my first experiment would be shampoo bars. They are just what they sound like, shampoo in a bar form and wrapped in paper. Many bloggers warn that it can take hair time to detox from the chemicals in commercial shampoos. The scalp can start producing too much oil or too little, but in time should self-regulate. I was prepared, I thought, to go through the transition. It didn’t work, at least not for me. I gave it three months, tried the variety of rinses and bars recommended before giving up. My hair was a greasy mess and even after months I saw no signs it was going to get better.
HOWEVER, the bars worked great for my husband and he’s never looked back. He uses the J.R. Liggett’s bars. If the bars work for you, as they do for many they are a simple, inexpensive solution.
I should note that I’m allergic to gluten, allergic enough that I can’t have gluten in any products that touch my skin. Gluten is a common ingredient in shampoos and conditioners as it makes a good stabilizer. I’m lucky enough to live near a ‘refill’ store, but unfortunately their shampoo and conditioner do contain gluten, so that was not an option for me. I’m also sensitive to perfumes and chose to avoid chemicals whenever possible, these concerns eliminated the popular shampoo and conditioner bars at Lush, which can be purchased plastic free.
2. Rye Flour and Water Only
These next options are only two of many that use natural ingredients to wash hair. I experimented briefly with a few of these but gave up quickly. If you want to check them out I’d suggest starting with one of these. While plastic free hair care was the goal, these two options are truly zero waste! If they work for you they are probably the best option.
So you can wash your hair with rye flour. Yep, rye flour! You can check out this post over at Wastelandrebel on how to do it.
Others use ‘water only’ to wash their hair and swear by it. That would obviously be the cheapest and most environmentally friendly option and I really wanted it to work for me. If you want to give it a go, the best articles I’ve found on this are at Paris to Go.
3. Plaine Products
I finally found a product that met all of my requirements. My personal solution is Plaine Products. I have loved the products and how my hair has responded!
Plaine Products ticked all the boxes. The shampoo and conditioner are free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silicone etc. They are made with whole essential oils, not synthetics and are vegan. All of the ingredients are non-GMO and will biodegrade. They are safe for babies, are hypoallergenic and good for all hair types. Additionally, they are Leaping Bunny certified. (an animal cruelty free certification)
Plaine Products arrive in aluminum containers that are reused and creating a closed circle of use. Once you’ve finished the bottles you return them in the box they arrived in and use the prepaid label to ship them off. So simple. The bottles are cleaned, refilled, and shipped back out, closing the loop and creating zero waste.
It’s a subscription service. I get an email before my next shipment and it’s very easy to postpone or change the date if I’m not ready for a new shipment. I always have to bump back the date as the shampoo seems to last quite awhile.
There are a few fragrances to choose from, my favorite is Rosemary mint and vanilla. Besides shampoo and conditioner you can get refillable bottles for body wash, hand wash, lotion, and face wash. I only have personal experience with the shampoo and conditioner.
4. DIY dry shampoo
My experimenting has led me to another hair care product replacement. Dry shampoo wasn’t something I used before I began my plastic free hair care journey, but when I was trying to transition to the shampoo bars my hair was always greasy.
I found that arrowroot powder worked really well to soak up the excess oil. To call this a recipe is a stretch. Basically I put a few tablespoons of arrowroot powder in a small mason jar and mix in a bit of cacao powder until I have a light brown. (Bonus, it smells great) Then I use an old foundation makeup brush,and brush a bit around my hairline and anywhere else I felt ‘greasy”. Let it sit for a minute, finger fluff you hair and your good to go.
Have any of you experimented with plastic free shampoo options? I’d love to hear what has worked for you. If you are considering going plastic free here are some tips to get you started.
Here are two books I’d recommend.