Homemade Personal Care Recipes – Simple, Natural, and Non Toxic

Posted by Barbara Moroney, June 25, 2015

 A recent visit to the local grocery store launched me on an adventure of discovery into the world of homemade personal care products. I remembered that I needed shampoo; I had squirted water into and squeezed out the last droplets from the last shampoo bottle in the house. I usually buy organic shampoos but this store did not have any. I usually read the labels of products I buy for the first time, but this time I did not – to walk out without shampoo was not an option. So, I picked a well-known brand’s purifying- detoxifying- special-mint-essence, shampoo. It was not until about the third time I used it that I finally looked at the ingredients list, and I was glad that I did, given what I have learned about personal care and cosmetic products. 

We at AMD spend a lot of time investigating and keeping abreast of toxicity in our environment. Personal care and cosmetic products, we have discovered, are among the most chemically-laden of any on the market.   About 13,000, mostly untested, chemicals are used in cosmetics. The ads for these products are amongst the most seductive – who does not want to look fabulous and vanquish signs of aging – with promises of amazing rejuvenating and healthful effects, mostly from the power of nature – fruit extracts, essential oils, and herbal essences. What we are not aware of, unless we read the labels, is the dauntingly long list of synthetic chemicals that often make up the bulk of these products. 

This was true of the shampoo I had purchased. The list of synthetic chemicals is long and mysterious. The shampoo is rated as overall moderately toxic on the Environmental Working Group website*. Two ingredients rate high: methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone – preservatives and industrial chemicals with effects that include neurotoxicity, allergic reactions and immunotoxicity. Both are toxic to the environment, as well.

Other chemicals include sodium lauryl sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine , trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate, sodium benzoate, and more. The only natural and possibly purifying agents are the last three on the list – a peppermint herb, menthol, and wild mint oil.

I became inspired to search for a homemade recipe for a wholesome shampoo. I also wanted to find alternatives to sodium lauryl (and laureth) sulfate, inexpensive detergents found in even the most natural shampoos, and soaps. Some sources say these are completely safe; others question their safety. Both are surfactants (break down oils) and foaming agents (create the luxurious lather we expect).

One shampoo, made from castile soap, caught my attention. I had serendipitously just bought castile soap as a two-for-the-price-of-one bargain. The shampoo, which can be found on prettysmartgirl blog, has three basic ingredients: castile soap, olive oil, and honey (the recipe is at the end of the article).

The shampoo is wonderful, not only does it produce luxurious lather; it feels wonderful on my hair and my skin (it makes enough lather to wash the rest of my body). And—what made me very happy—friends started noticing how different my hair looked after I had been using the shampoo about two weeks. They stared, almost doing a double take (I am not exaggerating), commenting on how great my hair looked. I theorize that a defining difference is the lack of any detergent, which strips hair of its natural oils. My hair has a different feel, not “squeaky clean” as before, but oily in a good sense – from its intact natural oils.

My search also found suggestions to cleanse the face with oil. You can buy cleansing oils, but a simple recipe is olive oil followed by a washcloth rinsed in hot tap water; gently rub the oil olive in into your skin with a circular motion, leave for a minute, and then press the steamy washcloth into your face (which feels soothing – I add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil for a pleasant, relaxing scent). Castor oil and almond oil are also good cleansing oils. Castor oil is hydrating and almond oil is full of vitamins and anti-oxidants.

I was surprised to learn that oils are good cleansers. Logic seemed to dictate that you would need some kind of detergent to scrub out dirt and grime. However, when massaged into the skin, cleansing oils bind to surface impurities, pulling out the dirt without clogging pores. Cleansing oils can be used on all skin types, even those that are oily or acne-prone; and they leave the skin’s healthy oils intact. Cleansing oils also make effective makeup removers, as well.

My skin and hair seem to vibrate at a higher frequency; it is truly hard to describe, but I have a sense of well-being after using these products that I had not encountered before. I would suppose I have fewer toxins to shed during my weekly IonCleanse® by AMD sessions.

I hope this article inspires you to try some natural recipes. The internet has a wealth of information; if you have homemade recipes you would like to share, please write them in the comments section.


Recipe for castile soap shampoo:

1 cup unscented Dr. Bronner’s organic liquid castile soap

1/4 cup organic olive oil

1/8 cup organic honey


*The website measures product toxicity to the environment as well as danger to health.

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Anne Hughes, 2016-03-07 18:00

Great information! I'm making this shampoo. I'm also going to add 20 drops each of therapeutic grade essential oils Lavender, Rosemary, and Cedarwood which are all good for healthy hair growth. Thank you!