So I've Been Washing My Hair With Rye Flour...



It being Plastic Free July and all I decided to attempt a waste-free shampoo solution. I have been wanting to try this for ages but couldn't find a recipe that appealed to me at all.. until now. Rye flour. Water. An apple cider vinegar rinse. This is so ridiculously simple I decided to give it a go. After all, I could just wash again with shampoo if it didn't work, right?

It worked.

I have been washing my hair with rye flour for a couple of weeks now, and my hair is happy in its own fairly normal, boring and going quietly grey kind of way. So how, you might ask, do you wash your hair with rye flour? Good question. I got all my information from Wasteland Rebel, but have played around with amounts, ie am using less flour than recommended, because, you know, thrifty.

First, locate some light rye flour. Whole rye flour has bits in it that are hard to rinse out of your hair..
I use two teaspoons of flour and enough water to make it into a shampoo-consistency paste. Apply to wet hair like shampoo and scrub through your hair. I rinse and repeat for the not very good reason that this is what I do with 'normal' shampoo. Anyway, it's fun and a good excuse to stay in the shower for another three minutes. Warning: rye flour in your hair feels like a mud pie in your hair. It feels not at all like shampoo, as you can imagine. Persevere. Rinse well. Now conditioner. I have been using one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a litre of warm water, and slowly pouring it through my hair while scrubbing my scalp again to make sure the flour is all rinsed out.  Now rinse out the vinegar. Done.

I washed my hair this afternoon and it is feeling soft and silky. I am going four days between washes. I think it took a few washes to get the shampoo residue out, and now I have completely odour-free hair that feels like, well, hair.

Photographic evidence:

Here is a photo I took a few weeks ago, while I was still using shampoo in plastic bottles:




Here is a photo I took a few days ago, a couple of weeks in to my rye-flour experiment:



Now, clearly my hair will never be glamorous because I am not a glamorous hair person, and my children complain that I make stupid faces when I am taking selfies, and also I need a haircut. Granted. However, I think you may agree that the hair just looks like, well, hair. I defy anyone to guess that it wasn't washed with something that came in a plastic bottle from the supermarket.

So hey, give it a go. Let me know if it works for you. It is so very, very simple. And cheap. And effective. And oddly satisfying. Another set of plastic bottles can leave the bathroom now.

Happy.


Comments

Beznarf27 said…
And the rye flour version of "hair" appears to be lovely, healthy and shiny so next fortnight, when Steve is trotting in to Wholesome House he will be buying some fine rye flour from the baking section so that I can try this. Cheers for the share Jo. Any way to reduce plastics and increase natural ingredients that can be made into something by "you" is the best possible outcome for this little black duck :)
Jo said…
Fran, I have been worrying about chemicals in shampoo for years. Even my organic shampoo has so many ingredients that make me ask myself whether they are all that necessary.. so I am extremely cheerful to leave all that behind, plus the plastic, of course. Good luck with the experiment:)
Lisa said…
I don't bother using anything except water now. Rarely I will use a very weak bicarb/water mix (think 2 tablespoons in 500mls water) but that's only if I get a bit of an oil build up but after 3-4 years my hair has settled down into it all. If it gets a bit dry then I do use the ACV on it, but again that's maybe 2-3 times a year.
Jo said…
Lisa, that is fascinating! Already my hair feels different - I think the build-up of shampoo residue is leaving my hair. Maybe in the future I will be able to do water-only washing. I think it may depend on the hardness of your water as well from what I am reading. Soft water washes hair better. The water here is pretty soft, but rainwater would be perfect - pretty much the same pH as hair..
I guess in years past people didn't really wash their with much other than water. Maybe herbal rinses. Yet again we have been conned by advertising that we need a particular consumer product..
Hazel said…
Your hair looks great.
I opened your post and wondered at another coincidence as I've just been reading about using rye flour and thinking I should try it when I realised I'd followed a link to Wasteland Rebel from your blog.
I've been alternating between a Lush bar (no plastic but not wild about some of the ingredients) and a Faith in Nature shampoo (better ingredients but in a plastic bottle). Rye flour is on the shopping list.
Jo said…
Hazel, that's great - please let me know how you go. I did try a shampoo bar once but did not like it at all - it made my hair all lank and unhappy, and like it had been washed with soap.. funny about that. And then one time I washed my hair with bicarb soda, and that was dreadful as well, which put me off trying anything else alternative for washing my hair for quite some time. Glad you found some useful blogs in the side bar.. I have some new ones!!!:)
Tanya Murray said…
Your hair is looking lovely and healthy. I've never heard of the rye flour wash before and how thrifty compared to shampoo. I'm a big believer in the vinegar rinse instead of conditioner. I don't think my hairdresser is a fan but I prefer not to have all that build up in my hair. Lovely to see your smiling face gorgeous x
Jo said…
Tanya, congratulations on new grandbabies:) No, the rye flour wash is new to me too - I have no idea why it works, but it does! It will be interesting to see what the hairdresser thinks of this when I go in a couple of weeks:)
Unknown said…
Hi I am new to your blog and i love it so far. May i ask what skincare you use? My name is Johanna by the way.
Jo said…
Johanna, welcome! Hmmm, skincare, ok. Well, I wash my face with water, or remove make-up (when i occasionally wear it) with coconut oil. I use a herbal, natural moisturiser which is made up by my local compounding chemist. My 13yo daughter makes endless pots of lip balm and body moisturiser with coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, essential oils etc. Most recently she made a coffee and coconut oil scrub that I slather all over myself in the shower. Coconut oil is an amazing moisturiser. It's all a bit hit and miss really, my skincare. I also make my own sunscreen in the summer, which moisturises beautifully as well as protecting my skin. And I wear a hat! I think that's about it..
Unknown said…
Thanks for your reply! Perhaps you could do a post on how to make your own sunscreen?
Meg said…
Your hair looks really healthy, Jo. I use apple cider vinegar but not rye flour as I'd not heard of it before. Seems like an experiment that's working well. Meg:)
Jo said…
Johanna, I will - it's incredibly easy!

Meg, rye flour seems like it has been a well-kept secret! Actually, as I wrote that, I did a google search. No, I was wrong, it appears rye flour shampoo is NOT a well-kept secret! All the hippy plastic-free homesteaders are doing it!! So many reviews on-line, and most of them seem very positive..
Gregg Koep said…
I have never heard of this method before. Thanks for sharing. The proof is in the results!
Terry said…
Now that it's been almost two years, could you give us an update? I've been using rye flour shampoo for even longer and now I'm trying to determine why my hair hasn't grown over the past year and a half. I don't want to blame the rye flour but I keep noticing a lot of broken hairs, and any length I gain between cuts (every 6-8 weeks) I seem to lose again when it's trimmed. The cause could be stress or nutrition, although what was a particularly stressful period ended several months ago, and overall I eat pretty well. I've stopped using ACV for now in case I've been damaging my scalp, and taking care to rinse with cool water as well as apply argan oil when my hair seems dry. I also brush it with a boar bristle brush but I've been doing that for years. Age could also be a factor (I'm 46) but this seems to have come on so suddenly, about the time we moved to our current home. Before trying rye flour I used baking soda/ACV for a long time, until I realized I was damaging my hair. Has anyone noticed any adverse effects from using rye flour over the long term?
Jo said…
Terry, thanks so much for this report - it's often hard to commit to taking up a habit like this when you don't know how it is going to turn out long term. I used rye flour and ACV exclusively for a year, but then because I got lazy, sometimes i would use the children's shampoo because it was there in the shower, and sometimes i would finish off the last dregs that they always leave in the bottom of the bottle. Right now I am finishing off a shampoo bar that Red doesn't like. So I have been alternating rye flour and shampoo/bars for the last year. Honestly, modern shampoo makes my hair look nicer for longer. And also I think that switching things up occasionally takes out whatever build up your hair has, whether that is rye flour or commercial shampoo.
Having said all that, I have certainly not noticed hair breakage. What ratio of ACV do you use? I use one tablespoon to a litre of water which is enough, but much less than many sites recommend. I have also been reading about hibiscus tea as a hair conditioner (apparently a traditional Indian hair treatment) so will be giving that a go soon:)
As to hair growth - I certainly went through a stage last year where i was struggling to grow my hair. I get my cut around 8 weeks as well. During lockdown though, no hair cuts and Red has been trimming my fringe. And magically, my hair has grown a couple of inches since January! I think maybe you nailed it when you said, "Any length I gain between cuts I lose when it is trimmed." I don't know about you but clearly my hair doesn't grow enough in 8 weeks to be trimmed plus increase in length:)
Also, I don't know where you are, but i believe that hair grows slower in winter and during times of stress. Maybe some more research needed there though, because I'm not hugely certain of those facts..
All the best, and keep letting us know how you are doing. We are all pretty much in uncharted territory here..
Terry said…
Could we stop getting posts from the cleaning guy? These are an obvious plug for his company and do not contribute to the discussion.
Jo said…
Terry, I don't pre-approve my comments, so the spam just sits there until such time as I remove it. However, you know, if you ever need a cleaning company...
I'd love to know if you are still using the rye flour and how you are finding it. Did you ever resolve the hair growth issue? I have to admit to only using the rye flour fairly spasmodically this year, because it takes that extra preparation that is just one task too many for my stressed brain recently. However, I take comfort in knowing I can use it if I need to, and my hair will look fine.
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