By Wendyl Nissen

I suddenly realised on New Year’s Eve that I was supposed to start the no shampoo challenge on Christmas Day and completely forgot! I then realised that I am regularly having to tone the blonde part of my hair to blend better with the grey I’m growing in so there really isn’t much sense in going shampoo free just yet. And rather disappointingly I’ve only managed to grow about 10 cm of grey hair in a year, so I’ve got another three years at this rate and anything to make it look as good as it can is quite important. Did any of you try going shampoo free? Would love to hear how you are getting on.
I felt guilty though, having told you all I would, so I thought the least I could do is invent a good, natural shampoo. And so I got out all my old books and went herbal as I have lots of herbs in my garden.
I remember in the 70s it was all about herbal shampoo. You weren’t really contributing to the 70s feel unless you were using herbal shampoo and I love this ad for Herbal Essence shampoo (right). And the sell deserves an award for copy writing:
Come into the Garden of Earthly Delights. Where every bubble smells of mysterious green herbs and freshly picked wildflowers. You’ll leave with a clean of a mountain stream and the shine of the morning sun in your hair. And beautiful thoughts of far, faraway places in your head.
I’m not sure if my shampoo will do quite the same thing to your thoughts but I really recommend you try it.
After you’ve used it your hair feels squeaky clean not slimy. I’m old enough to remember when shampoo ads told us squeaky clean hair was the thing we wanted. Now it seems your hair has to be slimy after washing it so that you know that it is conditioned. Actually that slimy feel just means chemicals are hanging on in your hair that shouldn’t be there. So now when your hair is wet and slimy, think wet and chemically-laden.
I’ve been using it for a week now with a follow up of a cider vinegar rinse and I have to say it’s the best I’ve used yet. And so natural.
Click here to try some of my old-fashioned hair rinse ideas for something a bit special.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 9.03.04 AMIf you don’t have some of these herbs, don’t worry. I used these because they were all growing in my garden. See below for a herb identification chart I’ve made. You can substitute with others or leave them out. The most important ones are rosemary, mint and sage, just make sure you have the same quantity of herbs as in the recipe. Please don’t be put off by the brown colour or the texture. It may not stream from a bottle in a white, creamy way, but it works and it smells great!

DIY Herbal Shampoo

2 1/4 cups water
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 comfrey leaves
6 sprigs lemon balm
6 sprigs peppermint (you can substitute with English garden mint if you don’t have this)
5 sage leaves
1 sprig lemon verbena
4 sprigs self heal*
50g Dr Bronner’s Baby Mild soap or Green Goddess Unscented Castile, grated

Put the water in a saucepan and add the herbs ripping them into pieces as you go. Bring to the boil with the lid on (this is important to keep the oils in the mix instead of evaporating). Simmer for five minutes then leave to steep off the heat for 15 minutes.
Into a bowl put your grated soap. Strain the herb mixture into it and whisk to dissolve the soap.
Pour into a wide mouthed jar or similar as it will set into a jelly.
To use scoop up about 1 tbsp of soap, rub into wet hair. It will foam well then soak into your hair. Leave for five minutes to let the herbs work their magic then rinse.
Follow up with a rinse of 1/3 cup cider vinegar and 2/3 cup warm water. Pour through the hair and rub in. Do not rinse out.
Your hair will seem a bit stiff when it dries but simply brush and you will have soft, gleaming locks!

*I found self heal growing in my paddock. It’s very common in New Zealand so have a look next time you’re driving past some pasture! Here’s a picture of what it looks like.