The holy grail of coconut-free products is a coconut-free shampoo. My search for the perfect coconut-free shampoo has been a long one. Every single detergent and surfactant I can find, bar none, is derived in some way from coconut and/or palm. Making coconut-free soap is not hard (I sell a lot of it!), but honestly, even the best shampoo bars and liquid soaps aren’t recommended for hair over the long term because of the acidic nature of the human scalp. It’s enough to make a girl want to shave her head!
A lot of blogs recommend using baking soda and water as a shampoo, and apple cider vinegar as a rinse/conditioner. Unfortunately, as this blogger explains, the huge swing from the very-alkaline baking soda to the somewhat-acidic apple cider vinegar isn’t really helping our hair or scalp, either.
Is there any truth to the claims that the pH of shampoo makes a difference in scalp health? The National Center for Biotechnology Information actually did a study and concluded that yes, shampoos with pH above 5.5 tended to irritate the scalp. More importantly, the study concluded that as the pH of our hair is 3.6 but the pH of scalp sebum is 5.5, any shampoo over a pH of 5.5 was not good for hair (this includes water).
Note: this makes sense to me from a colored-hair standpoint. I’ve always been told that water is the enemy of colored hair, and to retain the vibrance of hair color, it was important to wash my hair as little as possible. Now I know why–because water’s pH is 7.0 and it’s much more alkaline than my hair or scalp!
“Blah blah blah,” I hear you say. “Just cut to the chase already!”
Well, long story short, while I know of a shampoo recipe that will help people who need to avoid regular shampoos (ie. people allergic to coconut and its derivatives), unfortunately, it contains gluten. Low levels of it, but still. The quest for a coconut-free AND gluten-free shampoo continues!
Oh, and yes, I will be adding the coconut-free (though not gluten-free) shampoo to the shop ASAP! I detail it in my post Bath Geek’s Coconut-Free Hair Regimen.