Pre-zero waste, my hair care routine consisted of so many different products that honestly didn’t do much for it. Plus, most of them were packaged in plastic and full of questionable ingredients.
It was an ‘ah ha’ moment, when I realized most of the products I was using weren’t necessary.
Your hair care routine doesn’t have to wasteful (or elaborate) to be effective. While I acknowledge everyone’s hair is different, there are tons of low waste options to choose from and these are some of my favorite!
1. shampoo and conditioner:
Before I went zero waste, I’d go through at least one shampoo and conditioner bottle every month. That’s about 24 plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner every year, give or take.
Not to mention, where I live, squeezable plastic tubes cannot be recycled at all (and, of course, my favorite shampoo brand happened to package their products like this).
I’m so glad I made the switch to zero waste shampoo and conditioner instead. There are loads of options to choose from, but I really enjoy Plaine Products.
They’re a zero waste brand that packages their products in refillable aluminum bottles. When you’re finished with their products, you can just ship it back to them and they’ll send you a refill (how cool is that?).
Aluminum can be recycled over and over again without any quality loss. In fact, recycling aluminum requires less energy than was needed to make the bottles in the first place.
As if that’s not enough to love, my hair absolutely loves their products. No other shampoo or conditioner I’ve tried has made such a difference in it.
My favorite scent from them is citrus lavender. I use just three to four pumps of each the shampoo and conditioner on my hair and it comes out looking so soft, sleek and voluptuous.
Plaine Products are definitely a pricier option, but I think it’s worth it. Just one bottle lasted me months (seriously – I had it for at least 5 months!).
You can also try using shampoo and conditioner bars. Two of the most popular places to pick shampoo bars up is Lush and on Etsy. They might take a little getting used to, but they’re pretty straight forward.
Related: How to Make a 4 in 1 Soap Bar
All you have to do to is wet your hair, then gently rub the shampoo bar directly on your scalp. Make sure a good lather forms and try to work from the top down to prevent tangles. When you’re ready, just rinse like you normally would.
If you prefer, you can also create the lather in your hands, and then apply it to your hair (so you’re not rubbing the bar into your scalp).
For a conditioner bar, you use it the same way, but only apply to the ends of your hair. Pretty straight forward, right?
Here’s a few no-waste and low-waste options:
2. dry shampoo:
While whittling down my hair care products, I found I could not part with dry shampoo. It’s great for the in between days you go without washing your hair.
For most people, it’s not super health to wash your hair everyday because you’re stripping it of beneficial oils. It’s good to try to stretch washes which means saving water, product, and healthier hair.
3. wooden brush:
Anyone else have their plastic hairbrushes fall apart on them?
The little bristles used to come out when I brushed my hair and it drove me NUTS!
I’ve since switched over to a wooden brush and comb. With these items, make sure they’re kept in a well ventilated area since wood is a natural material it can grow mold.
If your bathroom is constantly steamy, either keep your brushes in your bedroom or plastic may be a better option for you.
4. hair spray:
I used to use hairspray like it was going out of style! I used to think fly away hairs were so gross, but now I embrace the frizzies!
That said, I know there are several occasions that call for a more polished look.
There are several more natural options to choose from out there, but you can whip up your own DIY hair spray relatively easily and you can find the DIY recipe in 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste!
If all you’re looking to do is give your hair a little texture, volume, and lift, you can also try a sea salt spray.
If you feel like your hair needs a little extra TLC, serums could help do the trick. While you could run out to the store and buy one, they’re incredibly easy to make at home.
But before you make your own, I recommend getting to know your hair first. A serum’s effectiveness will depend on what oils your hair loves.
Here are some oils I recommend experimenting with:
Sweet almond oil
Just add a few drops to your wet hair right after a shower and leave it in as you blow it out.
I like to create a serum using coconut oil, olive oil, and sweet almond oil. I use 3 teaspoons for each, put it in a small glass dropper bottle and shake it up.
I add a few drops to my hair after showering, and it works like a charm. It does a nice job of moisturizing the hair follicles and preventing frizz.
But if DIY isn’t your style here are a few of my favorites some of them are face oils but wound up working better for my hair!
6. hair rinses:
Every once and a while, I like to treat myself with a hair rinse. It does wonders for the hair and is super easy to do.
My particular favorite is a green tea hair rinse. I just take two teaspoons of loose leaf tea, and I let them steep for 30 to 45 minutes, or until cool, and then apply it to my hair (wet or dry).
The key is to let it stay in the hair for five to fifteen minutes, gently massaging in a circular motion. Then, you rinse out with cold water.
Doing this helps add shine to my hair and promotes hair growth! Plus, it’s a lot of fun, if I’m being honest.
You can try it using different kinds of herbs too, not just green tea. Chamomile, rose petals, lavender and rosemary all work well and promote healthy locks.
If you do decide to use tea bags for this method, and not loose tea, here’s how to avoid plastic tea bags. Not all tea brands are created equal, and you want to make sure you can compost your tea bag after use!
Check out this post for tips on making iced tea from loose leaf tea.
7. hair gel:
I’m not a fan of conventional hair gel because it’s usually loaded with nasty ingredients. That said, it’s really easy to make your own that holds up just as well!
I recommend flax seed hair gel.
2 cups of water
¼ cup of whole raw flaxseeds
Put the flax seeds and water in a sauce pan
Bring the water to a boil
Let the flax seeds simmer for about ten minutes until it starts looking gooey and sticky
Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for about 30 minutes
Strain the flaxseed mixture through a nut milk bag
Transfer the mixture to a glass jar - you now have hair gel!.
Store the hair gel in the fridge, and it should last 3-4 weeks.
You can save your flaxseeds and add them into smoothies in the morning!
8. hair ties:
Love putting your hair into ponytails, buns, or braids? You don’t have to give up hair ties.
There are eco-friendly hair ties available. Kooshoo makes organic cotton hair ties that are naturally dyed and are fully compostable at the end of their life.
They are a bit on the pricey side though. Another option is to pick up hair ties off the ground, wash them with some soap and reuse them.
You can also just reuse any old hair ties you have lying around your house until they break. I’ve been using the same scrunchie for the past year now, and it’s still holding up!
How do you keep your hair care routine zero waste?
Guest Post: Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me.com, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on MindBodyGreen, Green Matters, The Penny Hoarder and several other publications. Get her free e-book "10 Ways to Reduce Trash" by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.