Since I've been washing my hair with my own home made blends, I can comb easily although I'm miscegenate with unmanageable afro hair. The key ingredient of my home made shampoos, is lemon. I customize the recipes as I wish but there must always be mainly lemon.
All hairdresser say it, hair needs acidity. Many blogs talk about it : long live acidity. Everybody knows that rubbing the hair with vinegar or rinsing it with lemon water makes them more beautiful. Yet I washed my hair with baking soda one day, just out of curiosity. Because I like to try and check for myself. Total disaster! It became dry, rough, almost impossible to comb. Fortunately lemon fixed this mess on the following washing.
It is not such a surprise that the Europeans which hair is too flat, have fun tousle it with Coca Cola. Sodas are very basic, it dries the hair, gain extra volume even if it is likely to damage it in the long term. Why wasting a drink? Baking soda is cheaper, we can dose as we wish and it doesn't contain any sugar.
My brainstorming was ongoing when went roaming an organic fair. At a stall dedicated to afro hair, I have almost been seduced by a 100% natural shampoo. They told me that it was made of a soft washing base. It was an african traditional recipe based on tropical plants ashes. It is indeed tiring to make my own blend. If I had a ready-to-use bottle, it would be easier.
Finally no. I didn't take the shampoo. Something was bothering me but I couldn't see clearly what. Back home I had little regrets, I was asking myself why such mistrust. After all, this shampoo had the softest washing base ever. That's when the answer hit my head!
soft washing BASE
Whether artificial or natural, a base is a base. A base is basic. Basic = poison for hair. If a shampoo contains a washing base then it necessarily damages the hair, however modern or traditional it may be.
In order to clear my mind I bought a testing tape in a drugstore. It is a paper strip which enables to check the pH, thus the acidity of products. The tape is initially light salmon-coloured. The more basic greener it becomes. The more acid the redder it becomes. In order to make the pictures below, I mixed a pinch of various powders with water then soaked the tape in the fluid, after allowing to marinate a few hours.
The first surprise is that water is indeed very basic. The green of the tape is lighter or darker according to the day
We can infer that our hair is not necessarily happy at rinsing time.
On these tapes there is from top to bottom :
Neem tree leaves
I thought they would be acid but they are in between basic and alkaline. Soapnut slightly acid.
The most acid products are on this picture :
This tests batch is interesting because it shows why it is healthier to wash the hair with Shikakai. It is a washing acid.
According to some sources, if a product is too acid it is likely to gnaw the hair's protein. A tape soaked in lemon juice becomes notably red.
But mixing the powders with water is not such a good idea because it is too basic. So why not mixing the powders with floral water for instance?
The tape at the bottom shows that ladanum-bearing cistus water can be a good solution. It can complete or replace lemon to prepare the shampoo.