As I’ve become more interested in No Poo and noticed my hair improve, I’ve looked at many different No Poo methods. Soap nuts came up in conversation with a friend the other day and I realized I didn’t know anything about them, so decided to investigate the subject, and share what I found.
Have you ever wondered how to wash hair with soap nuts whilst also being faithful to the No Poo method? If so, keep reading …
Soap nuts are actually a berry; grown on the Reetha tree. Soap nuts can be bought whole or powdered, or as a liquid. They are a natural product that can be used for all your cleaning needs. Having anti-bacterial and anti-fungal capabilities they are often used in No Poo recipes to keep hair and scalp healthy.
After finding out that soap nuts are a way to clean everything, from dishes to windows, I thought I’d find out whether they were good enough to use on my hair. Read on to see what I discovered.
How To Wash Hair With Soap Nuts: No Poo Method
Initially, I was worried that soapnuts might be difficult to use, or be damaging to my hair. This concern was quickly ruled out though after I found a wealth of information on the benefits of soap nuts, and a variety of different ways to make and use soap nut shampoo.
Berries from the Reetha tree are also called soap nuts. Not only are the berries great for cleaning your home and clothes, they have also proven themselves to be fantastic at cleaning your hair too, helping to keep it looking healthy and shiny.
Soap nuts are natural, organic, soothing to the scalp, although the how to use soap nuts can be complicated. I say this not because any of the ways are particularly difficult, but just because there are so many.
The best things about soap nuts are that they are totally organic and free of man-made chemicals.
Soap nuts are totally sustainable and all of the berries can be used. Even the husks can be composted after use so no plastic need ever end up in a landfill.
The most important thing to remember is that it is only the hull or husk (the outer shell) that is useful for cleaning. The hulls contain saponin which when released during boiling can be used as an effective shampoo which even creates suds whilst gently cleansing (source 1).
One of the key factors to understand about soap nuts is that they are versatile and come in different forms, making it easy to choose which will fit into your lifestyle best.
Here are the three key forms of soapnuts:
1. Whole / Raw
The most versatile way of buying soap nuts.
You can boil them to release the soapy saponin inside to make shampoo.
Soapnut powder is probably the quickest way to make your own shampoo fresh at home.
You can buy soap nut shampoo; often called soapberry, which is very convenient to use.
If is important to note at this point that the liquid soapnuts are very expensive to buy.
Simple Soap Nut Recipe
As with so many other No Poo recipes, individuals have added to the simple recipes multiple ways over time. This can sometimes be confusing, especially if you are just beginning to learn how to use a new ingredient.
If you are not sure how to use soap nuts to wash your hair from whole/raw then you are not alone.
Below is one of the easiest methods I found, and it can be kept in the fridge for a week (source 1):
6 soap nut hulls
2 cups of water
- Place soap nut hulls in a saucepan with the water.
- Bring to the boil.
- Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Let the liquid cool for ten minutes.
- Pour liquid through a tea strainer sat in a funnel, into the bottle.
- Put the soap nuts into a large mug and top with boiling water for 24 hours.
- Any liquid remaining can be used for the next wash.
Adapting Soap Nut Recipes
The wonderful thing about soap nuts is that you can change the ingredients as and when it suits you and your hair.
Depending upon what you wish to achieve you can add other ingredients or essential oil (or leave it out completely):
a. Tea Tree
Antibacterial, beneficial for dry hair.
b. Aloe Vera
Soothing and moisturizing.
c. Magosa Leaves
For itchy scalps (source 1).
Antibiotic and sweet-smelling.
Ideal for greasy hair (source 1).
Once you are happy and comfortable with the results you can add alternative ingredients, as you prefer. Here’s an example of this:
5 Soap Nuts
3 Cups water
Essential Oil – Use any that you like i.e. tea tree or lavender oil.
- Place soap nuts in 2 cups of water and bring to boil
- Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
- Add final cup of water and continue to simmer for 10 minutes
- Remove soap nuts to use on another occasion
- Add essential oil
How To Use Soap Nut Hair Wash
- Let the liquid cool and take a small amount and massage through your dry hair and scalp.
- Allow the mix to sit on your hair before rinsing thoroughly.
- Any remaining liquid can be stored in the fridge for several days (source 1).
Benefits Of Soap Nut Shampoo
Soap Nuts are one of those ingredients that have a list of benefits so long that it is almost not worth listing. They are simply wonderful for just about every reason!
The table below shows some of the main benefits of soap nut shampoo:
1. Vitamins A, D, K & E
These vitamins add great shine to your hair and keep it well-nourished.
2. Scalp Infections
Lice: Soap nuts are often successfully used to combat infestation
Bacterial: Antimicrobial in nature, soap nuts can help clear infections
Dandruff: Many people find their dandruff disappears
Within the husk the levels of saponins are quite high, this means that washing your hair with soap nuts is a lovely suddy experience.
Soap nuts have unique cleansing properties.
Keeps hair healthy and well-nourished.
The moisturizing nature of soap nuts leaves hair tangle-free and easy to comb.
7. Split Ends And Volume
Using soap nut shampoo can lessen split ends and make your hair look voluminous.
8. Hair Growth
Soap nuts are often used in hair growth remedies.
Soap nuts are a natural ingredient and are chemical-free. They are used frequently by people with sensitive skin owing to their gentle nature (source 1).
10. Water Softening
Soap nuts are great for those who live in a hard water area as they naturally soften the water and often make it possible to stop using a conditioning agent as your hair is so soft after use.
As soap nuts are berries that grow on trees they are a superbly sustainable product. The tree may not fruit for its first 9 years, but after that 100 years of fruiting is not unknown (source 1).
12. No Waste
All of the berry can be used in various ways. Once the saponin has been released the used husks can be composted; no plastic waste going to landfill.
This list is not exhaustive, but as you can see soap nuts have properties that are perfect for those wanting to No Poo.
Disadvantages Of Soap Nuts For Hair
The great thing about soap nuts for cleansing hair is that they really don’t have any disadvantages.
There have been some reports of skin issues/allergies when using soap nuts. Therefore, if you are new to soap nuts then make sure you carry out a patch test before first use.
Try to avoid getting any of the liquid in your eyes, as this can lead to eye irritation. If you do then rinse thoroughly with water (source 1).
It’s a personal preference, but some soap nut users, although loving the results, aren’t very keen on the smell, especially when boiling soap nuts to make the shampoo.
If this is your concern, you can add essential oils to the mix, or buy powdered soap nuts which don’t have anything like the same pungent scent.
A final downside of soap nuts is that they are addictive to use.
You may find that you start off using them only for your hair, but as they are so versatile and easy to use you may find that you start using them for your laundry, for body washing, and skin scrubs.
Soap nuts are even used to make toothpaste!
Best Soap Nut Shampoo Bar
Soap nut shampoo bars are just starting to become more available as awareness of soap nuts grows.
One of the best soap nut shampoo bars is from Chagrin Valley who sells a whole range of organic hair and body products. To further enrich their shampoo bar, cocoa butter and babassu have been added (source 1).
Ever After Acres also has a superb soap nut shampoo bar that has a dash of coconut oil added. With only coconut oil, soap nut liquid, and lye, it is 100% natural and available at a very competitive price (source 1).
A business known as Soapnuts is a UK site that ships internationally. It is a one-stop-shop for all soap nut products. The range provided is probably one of the most extensive available with offerings such as lemon and avocado, and rosemary and marshmallow soap nut shampoo.
Homemade Soap Nut Shampoo
Soap nuts are so versatile that you can either batch make a shampoo liquid by boiling the soap nuts, or you can use soap nut powder.
1. Soap Nut Powder
If you make the powder at home your shampoo can be ready to use in a matter of minutes.
The great thing about using powder is that it is almost instant, there’s no waiting for the nuts to boil or letting the mixture cool enough to be used.
One thing to add is that it may be a good idea to use a blender for soap nuts only so that the taste is not transferred to other foods.
If you only have one blender then clean thoroughly after every use (source 1).
When you finish making your soap nut shampoo the result will be a liquid rather than a thick shampoo that you may be used to. Don’t worry, this is how it should be. The suds will also not be as luxurious as traditional shampoos that contain sulfates and silicons, but the improvements to your hair within only a few washes will not disappoint you.
Below is a DIY liquid recipe and a DIY powder recipe so that you can decide which option works best for you:
Below is a powder soap nut recipe.
Here’s what you will need:
- Soap Nuts
- Two cups
- Warm water
- Blend soap nuts for up to 30 seconds to a fine powder.
- Place 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons (depending upon hair length) of powder into a cup and fill with 1/3 to 1 cup of warm water.
- Mix for 30 seconds.
- Strain liquid into second cup and use straight away on dry hair.
2. Liquid Recipe
Below is a liquid soap nut recipe.
You will need:
- 6 soap nut hulls
- 2 cups of water
- Tea strainer
- Place soap nut hulls in a saucepan with the water
- Bring to the boil
- Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes
- Let the liquid cool for ten minutes before pouring, through the tea strainer sat in the funnel, into the bottle (Source 1)
- Put the soap nuts into a large mug and top with boiling water for 24 hours – the liquid can be used next wash. Keeping this jar in the fridge will extend its usable life.
- Once the soap nut shampoo has cooled massage it into your dry scalp and hair for 5 minutes before rinsing through
Are Soap Nuts Effective?
Soap nuts are generally found to be an effective hair cleansing treatment, try them for yourself and you may find yourself surprised by how clean and manageable your hair becomes.
Soap nuts have many avid fans because:
- They are easy to use
- Kind to your hair
- Act as a natural water softener which is important if you live in a hard water area.
Does soap nut remove oil from hair? This is a question that arises from time to time.
Soap nuts, unless used in too high a concentration do not usually dry out your hair. In fact, soap nuts actually keep moisture in the hair.
If you suffer from too much oil, then adding an essential oil such as lemon, will help your scalp to reach its optimum sebum production.
Do Soap Nuts Dry Out Hair?
Soap nuts are one of the least drying No Poo ingredients, and although they are strong enough to leave your hair clean, they are gentle enough to actively retain moisture within the hair and nourish it all at the same time.
Indeed, many people find that they do not have to use conditioning treatments once they start using soap nuts as their regular hair cleansing product.
Do Soap Nuts Cause Hair Loss?
There are many reasons for hair loss, from hormones to damage to your hair that makes it break.
If you make your soap nut shampoo too strong and use it too regularly, then some people may find that their hair becomes so dry it breaks. However, soap nuts are so gentle on your skin and hair, that your hair would break in the same way were you using other products to the same extent.
In fact, it is generally agreed that soap nuts help hair growth and decrease the number of split ends, the very opposite of hair loss.
How to wash hair with soap nuts: No Poo method can be as easy or as complicated as you prefer.
There is no doubt that soap nuts are wonderful cleaning agents and 100% natural.
Using powdered nuts, a shampoo can be made within a minute, and essential oils can be added to boost the benefits of the soap nuts.
Soap nuts contain so many beneficial ingredients and are so versatile and easy to use that I’m sure they will become as big a hit with you as they have with me.
No Poo Water Only Transition
Water only is a form of No Poo hair washing that many have had success with. The transition phase is different for each individual; between 2 weeks and 6 months is considered normal.
No Poo Olive Oil
The oil is said to help remove dandruff and is used as a mask that can leave your hair beautifully soft and shiny. Liquid olive oil and olive oil soap can be used to cleanse.
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