Several years ago I ordered a bag of soap nuts to use in place of laundry soap. My daughter was developing a reaction to laundry powder it seemed, because no matter which brand I used she broke out and had red itchy blotches. The soap nuts worked great and no more skin irritation (a condition she eventually grew out of).
But what I also discovered was that soap nuts make a fabulous “no poo” hair wash, and today I wanted to tell you about the benefits of soap nut shampoo for natural hair.
Soap nuts are not actually nuts, so if you have nut allergies, you can probably still use them. Soap nuts are hypoallergenic BERRIES, not nuts, and are generally safe for people with allergies. The berry skins are a rich source of saponins, a natural cleansing agent, which makes them a great natural alternative to shampoos, soaps and synthetic dish and laundry detergents.
Soap nuts are native to the continent of Asia, particularly India and Nepal. They’ve been popular in other parts of the world for centuries, yet not very well known in the U.S. until the past two decades or so.
Benefits of Soap Nut Shampoo on Natural Hair
Naturals are concerned about the chemicals and additives in their shampoos and conditioners. Well, you’ll be happy to know that soap nuts contain no parabens, propylene, butylene glycols, petroleum, sulfates, alcohol, PEGs, TEA, DEA, NPE, phthalates, GMO, silicones, pesticides, artificial dyes or fragrances.
So what are the benefits of soap nut “shampoo” (gonna call it that for lack of a better term though its nothing like the shampoo you’re used to using)?
- Cleanses without irritating scalp, weakening hair follicles or depleting natural nutrients and moisture.
- Gentle chelator which removes product build up from the hair
- Soap nuts are hypoallergenic
- Relieves scalp itch
- No other conditioners or treatments are required though you might want a light leave in and oil afterwards for kinky hair textures.
Dried nuts have an shelf life of yearsssssssss. Once you make your liquid though, it keeps only a few days in the refrigerator in liquid form.
How to Make Soap Nut Shampoo
5 soap nuts, cracked to remove the little seed… you’ll be using just the shell
3 cups of distilled water
Honeyquat (optional but STRONGLY recommended)
Lavender, Tea Tree or Peppermint essential oil (optional)
- Bring 2 cups of water and five Soap Nuts to a boil in a medium sauce pan (your order of soap nuts may come with a little cotton bag which you should use so you don’t have to strain like I do).
- Reduce heat and simmer for about twenty minutes, then add the final cup of water and simmer 8-10 minutes longer.
- Remove pot from heat and let steep like tea. When liquid is cool remove the soap nuts. Set aside to use in your laundry a time or two.
- Add your essential oil and 1 Tablespoon of Honeyquat (a natural humectant/moisturizing agent).
- Pour into sterilized glass jar to store in fridge until ready to use.
Note that the jar pictured contains remnants of coconut oil… my sterilized jar got used for beads by my daughter. The surprise factor was that the coconut oil added extra shine to my hair and made it feel that much softer, so I think my “accident” will be one I repeat intentionally next time, just using less oil.
How to Wash Hair Using Soap Nut Shampoo
To wash hair, put about 1/3 of the jar into an old shampoo bottle or some other plastic squeeze bottle. You don’t want glass in the bathroom.
- Rinse to moisten your hair.
- Apply liquid soap nut shampoo on to the wet scalp and leave for 5-10 minutes.
- When scrubbing, rub with your fingers gently back and forth in short movements.
- Rinse hair with water.
- Close your eyes as you scrub and wash, as soap nut shampoo can sting quite a bit, if it gets into your eyes.
- You can also keep the liquid in a big spray bottle. Spray the soap nut mixture onto your scalp and gently massage it through. Then get into the shower, wash your body, then rinse your hair out.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to use a ton of this stuff to get your hair clean because you don’t see any bubbles. Some people put the mixture into the blender to whip it up and make it foamy before use, but it’s not necessary. Shampoos suds because of the chemicals in them – that doesn’t mean they get your hair any cleaner than this stuff does.
- After using it your hair will feel baby soft and full, moisturized and clean. All traces of styling products, heavy oils and butters, styling gel or conditioner buildup will be gone without drying your hair out.
What is the pH of Soap Nut Shampoo?
I used a pH testing strip to check the number and it was a perfect 4.5 pH which matches the natural pH of hair.
Bottom line, you can’t go wrong with soap nut shampoo. Soap nut shampoo is inexpensive, all natural, chemical free and makes your hair feel fabulous! Give it a try.
To order whole soap berries, click any of the images on this page.
About the Author (Author Profile)Blogger, writer, relationships/dating expert, fitness trainer and natural hair enthusiast since 1997. Sharing information from grandmomma, books and scientific journals, as well as my personal discoveries and experiences with natural hair as we journey from relaxers, flat irons and weaves together.
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