Soap nuts and going "no-poo"
You may have heard about using soap nuts to do your laundry, but to wash your hair?
Believe it or not using soap nuts in natural haircare is nothing new. As more no-poo methods (which involve washing your hair without using traditional shampoo) have been becoming popular with people who wish to lower their impact on the environment, soap nuts have been making their way around the globe.
What are soap nuts?
Soap nuts are not actually nuts – they are a fruit called soapberry. The soapberry grows on the Sapindus Mukorossi tree native to the Himalayas and contains saponin, which softens water and gives them a similar effect to soap.
Soap nuts are eco-friendly for a few different reasons, the first one being that they help you skip on the harsh chemicals and the plastic packaging you would otherwise use. However, there is more to its sustainability - the Sapindus Mukorossi tree is very resilient, needs no pesticides and can grow in very infertile soil, preventing its native areas from erosion. They also need minimal processing to become usable - the seed is removed from the shell which is then dried naturally and is ready to store.
Where did using soap nuts for natural haircare come from?
Ayurveda makes plentiful use of soap nuts, which is where its use in natural haircare, among other applications, comes from. In India, it has been used for hundreds of years to clean hair and treat dry scalp conditions.
And most importantly – how?
You may be wondering – how do I make use of the soap nut in my own haircare routine? The process is simple. It essentially involves creating your own soap nut shampoo, which will then last you for several weeks (depending on the length and thickness of your hair).
Just take 5-6 soap nuts either in a muslin bag, or loose in a pan or pot. Add 2 cups of water, bring to boil and let simmer for around 30 minutes. You can also add 3 drops of essential oil to this mixture to scent your soap nut shampoo or add extra properties (e.g tea tree for a dry scalp, cedar to balance oil production etc.) . Make sure to let it cool down before pouring into a bottle, ready for use.
When using the shampoo, pour a small amount onto wet hair and massage in as you would with regular shampoo, making sure to cover the whole scalp. Let it do its magic for about 5 to 6 minutes and then rinse out.
Soap nuts are also used in laundry, dishwashing, multipurpose cleaning and you can even prepare your own shaving cream using just soap nuts and olive oil! If they are not already in your home, make sure to give them a try.