Soap Nuts – Beyond Laundry Soap:  Hair Care / Shampoo (Part 2)

Discussion of ALL the uses for soap nuts and saponin is a tad overwhelming. We’re merely scratching the surface of the benefits of saponin. A recent Asian commenter reminded me, “Hey, you mention use since biblical times. Soapberries have been being used much longer than that.” And that’s probably right, we don’t really know how long man has been using soap nuts.

Surely many species of sapindus plants have been around long before the “written word”. Given primeval Ayurvedic uses, it’s easy to assume that saponin’s original use was hygienic in nature. So, “Part 2” of this series will focus on personal hygiene, in particular – on shampoo and hair care.

We know that soap nuts have been used for hair and scalp care for ages. As I’ve written about before, the ancient use of powdered soap nuts (referred to as ritha, aritha, reetha, and more) is very well documented. In modern times, Hesh Pharma in India has been selling this powder for hair and scalp care for decades. Reduction of hair loss, hair thinning, problematic dandruff, and itchy scalp issues are just a few of the most well known treatments.

Even given this history and our rapidly growing anti-toxin generation, chemical-free shampoos have had a very tough road to follow. In the hair care business what are referred to as ”no poo” or “natural” shampoos have not been well liked, and even frowned upon by many salons. They just didn’t make the grade. Traditional sulfate laden shampoos seemed to be unbeatable. Let’s face it; most of us are very finicky about shampoos and our hair care.

Ironically, salons are not generally geared to helping customers have genuinely healthy hair. They’re geared towards immediate gratification. If you don’t walk out with your hair looking awesome, odds are that you won’t be back. It’s a real dilemma, for healthy, beautiful hair is rarely ever achieved quickly. In fact, restoring the vibrant health of your hair and scalp often involves a detoxification from the plethora of chemicals used by the salons in order to provide you that immediate gratification.

100% botanical soap nut shampoo

To further complicate matters, salons must be profitable to survive. My own stylist admitted that she could never make it financially on haircuts alone. It’s the colorings, perms and numerous other treatments requiring those harsh, chemical products that produce the bulk of the revenues. Plus the shelves full of expensive chemical hair “aids” and treatments create significant additional revenues for the salon. What does this all mean? Having everyday naturally healthy scalps, and vibrantly beautiful hair, are in direct conflict with the profitability and interests of today’s average salon. A shampoo that reduces or eliminates the need for additional hair products isn’t profitable for either the salons or all the major companies marketing and selling the enormously long list of hair “care” products.

As the Environmental Working Group and the “Campaign for Safe Cosmetics” revealed in their “Market Shift” study the tide today is turning. Read the whole report in pdf format. There’s a paradigm shift happening right now in the personal care and household cleaning markets. There will be an entirely new landscape for tomorrow’s beauty salons. Those that change and adapt will do very well for they’ll be in sync with tomorrow’s consumers. Those who will view beauty as far more than skin deep and a reflection in a mirror.

A breakthrough was needed in the hair care industry – and it came as a natural, botanical, sulfate-free shampoo that works! – And it has been extraordinarily well received by consumers. After generations without a viable alternative to sulfates and the tsunami of other chemicals – finally we have a widely popular formula – and it’s soap nut based.  Can the amazing natural surfactant, saponin, be the proverbial “missing link” for the “modern” environmentally conscience and truly safe, healthy, effective shampoos? – I say YOU BETCHA’!

NaturOli’s “EXTREME Hair” Soap Nut Shampoo – full ingredient list: Sapindus Mukorossi Aqueous Extract, Aloe barbadensis Gel, Vegetable Glycerin, Lauryl Glucoside, Saponified Olea europaea Oil (Olive Oil Soap), Panax Ginseng Extract, Japanese Green Tea, Olea europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Nasturtium officinale (Water Cress) Extract, Hibiscus Leaf Extract, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Olea europaea (Olive) Oil, Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba (Guar) Gum, dl-Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Citric acid.

Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate the benefits of soapberries for hair care than to let the users have the floor. What follows are the words from those that have discovered and now use these formulas.

The following is courtesy of Amazon CUSTOMER PRODUCT REVIEWS:
I’ve simply pulled reviews offline in order of “Most Helpful” ratings to be relevant and objective.
The reviews have an overwhelming positive 4+ star rating – remarkable for a shampoo that bucks the mainstream. They’ve definitely started a “buzz” in the hair care market. Of all personal care products out there, hair care is one of the toughest markets to excel in. It’s extraordinarily subjective, plus there’s a vast number of variables. It’s a tough nut to crack. I’ve edited nothing and skipped nothing (other than stopping at 16). The first half are from the “Normal to Dry” formula, and the second half are from the “Normal to Oily” formula. There’s over 130 reviews currently between both formulas. That’s a lot of reviews for the short time they’ve been available. Many “big name” hair care products have relatively few reviews by comparison.

The USERS will now tell their own stories:

good product. it took about a week of use before i noticed a difference. i have very fine, flat, straight hair and regular shampoos and conditioners seemed to always weigh it down, even ones specifically for volume. after about a week of using this product i did notice some more body to my hair. i find that while i am able to comb while wet, i still use a light weight leave-in conditioner. overall i am happy and will purchase again.
*****update**** i am now three-quarters finished with the bottle and i no longer need the additional leave-in spray conditioner. my hair combs easily when wet after the shampoo. my hair feels and looks healthier. i am purchasing another bottle today.
– R. Kennedy “recatken”, LA

Great low toxicity shmapoo. It scores a 1 (low hazard) on the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic safety database. It is the only one rated this low that actually rinses out of my hair. All the other brands I’ve tried leave my hair looking and feeling greasy. My hair is not chemically treated, but is thick and wavy. This shampoo also lasts a while for the price, compared to other low toxicity shampoos. I do have to use a conditioner after use. But it is much easier to find low toxicity conditioners that work. A little organic pure cocoa butter, shea butter or coconut oil works too. I just purchased my second bottle. My husband loves it as well.
– Jen2Be

Great shampoo! I have been looking for a combination of shampoo and face wash that doesn’t try out my face. I tried different face wash and face lotion and that helped (organic/natural), but I still had dry skin mostly on my forehead, but around my face in general after getting out of the shower. Since switching to this shampoo my face does not dry out anywhere close to how it used to. Must have been something in the other brands of shampoo I was using that caused my problem (which I suspected). Product has no bad smells (smells like nothing really) and lathers up really quick. As for my hair it feels soft, clean, and light. This is the first all natural shampoo I have tried and will continue to use it. Been looking for all natural products to replace those with chemicals throughout my house. I will only continue to use products that are superior to my usual brands and I expect I will be purchasing this product again.
– dwai

Excellent results. I wanted to wait to write my review until after I had used this for a steady 3 months so I could be fair with the results. I started using “NaturOli Soap Nuts Natural Shampoo – Normal to Dry Hair” the first week of May. I also began using “D.S. Laboratories Dandrene High Performance Anti-Dandruff Shampoo” at the same time. For the first week, I followed the directions for the Soap Nut Shampoo and then followed with the Dandrene. I did this for 7 days using both. After the first week I have continued using the Soap Nuts Shampoo daily and then have only been using the Dandrene as maintenance on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Within the first two weeks I noticed a vast difference and by the end of 3-4 weeks, using both products, all my scalp problems were gone and have remained gone since then. I always had very dry scalp that itched constantly and was red pretty much all the time. The build-up on my scalp was thick and you could feel the scabs and ridges as you rubbed across my scalp. I forget the actual medical condition I had but it was bad and has been that way for the past 18 years, probably longer. I have tried every store brand I could get my hands on and started using products found at Trader Joe’s (Jason’s, Tea Tree Oil and Citrus Shampoos) all of which caused even more irritation, until I discovered both the Soap Nuts and Dandrene shampoos. I will never look back and never try anything again as long as these type of results continue. I do not believe I would be getting the same results if I had just used one or the other, as the Dandrene can dry your scalp out more if you are over using it. So coupling it with the Soap Nuts shampoo has really worked well for me. The only itch I have now is sweat from throughout the day, but by the time I wash my scalp at night I finally have relief again. Now if only I can find something to stop me from sweating? “) I just thought I would share my results as one has to be really careful when they are using dandruff shampoos but also have to be equally careful that they are not adding more build-up to the scalp that fungus can feed off of. I would also highly recommend the Soap Nuts Soap. All soaps I have tried really eat up my skin and dry it out good. My skin is just really sensitive to certain fragrances, chemicals and even oatmeal, which I recently dumped for my wife’s pure olive oil soap. While this soap is better, it does dry out my skin a little. I cannot wait to try the soap Nuts Soap to see how this works. I hope this review helps.
UPDATE as of 05/25/2012
So far the results are the same. I have not had one flake of dandruff for over a year and not one scab on my head. I still wash the same way. I use the “NaturOli Soap Nuts Natural Shampoo – Normal to Dry Hair” every day and only use the “D.S. Laboratories Dandrene High Performance Anti-Dandruff Shampoo” every Wednesday and now Saturday nights rather than on Sunday’s. I love both of these shampoos. I also have finally settled on a good soap too, that does not leave my skin flaky and itchy like all the other soaps I have tried. After trying the Soap Nuts Soap I was not all that impressed for the price. It did work, but no more so than the olive oil soap I have resorted to. So, I went back to using my wife’s Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Bar Soap and after using it for a few months I noticed my skin was not drying out any more. I now use this soap only and it seems to be working quite well with no skin irritation after using the soap. Again, I hope my brief comments are of use to others.
– Sandy

Impressed! I researched this item for awhile before I took the plunge and bought it. I have to say that I am very impressed with the performance of this product. My hair was extremely soft and shiny after the first use. With my fine textured hair, I generally have to sacrifice softness for volume, but that was not the case here. It styled very easily and held the style all day without any extra product. I also noticed that my hair does not tangle as the day goes on like it used to. I had read reviews that stated that you would not need a separate conditioner with this product and I found that to be true. Twenty dollars may seem a bit steep for a shampoo, but I feel that it is justified in that it replaces the need for a conditioner and it does not require a lot of product per use. I will definitely repurchase.
– countrygirl05

Solved my dry scalp problem. I live in an area with hard water and was having serious problems with an itchy, flaking scalp. I tried a number of different anti-dandruff shampoos. Head and Shoulders Moisturizing somewhat stopped the itching, but not the flaking, which was a major source of embarrassment. I bought the Naturoli shampoo out of desperation, even though it cost more than what I’m normally willing to pay for a hair product. I could tell an immediate difference. The itching stopped. The flaking decreased substantially, but not completely–so I began to use an apple cider vinegar rinse daily, and that, in combination with this shampoo, solved my problem. This shampoo is really gentle on your hair. It does tend to leave it a little tangled, especially since conditioner is not required. It also doesn’t lather as much as a “regular” shampoo because of the lack of SLS. I use a deep conditioner about once a month, and my hair is always soft. I would highly recommend this for anyone who is having dry scalp issues or just wants to avoid harmful chemicals.
– Sasha

I was skeptical, but now a devoted fan. I don’t usually write reviews, I’m a lurker not a joiner. I tried this on a whim and after several weeks, I have to say, it’s made a big difference. I have thick, naturally curly hair that gets very dry. I only wash my hair a couple of times a week but condition nearly every day. I also have some premature gray hair that I dye regularly with Loreal, every 6 weeks. Basically, I spend most of my money on conditioners, wash out and leave-in, not shampoo. After switching to this shampoo, my hair doesn’t get as knotty, tangled or dry as it used to and my hair just looks much better. As a result, the amount of wash-out and leave-in conditioner I use has dropped substantially as it’s no longer necessary. Also, my Loreal hair color now lasts about 9 weeks. At first I thought it was way too expensive for a shampoo but given the subsequent time and money savings – using less conditioner, easier to wash/style due to fewer tangles/knots, having to color less frequently – I’ll never use anything else.
– gb, CA

LOVE IT!!!!!!!! A MUST BUY!! Its all natural and is just a great shampoo. No need to use conditioner with this.. If you use conditioner it just puts chemicals back into your hair. I hope the best for this company and hope to see them grow. More companies need to be more like NaturOli! Its ashame when it comes to what americans eat and the use of everyday products, the dangers or unhealthy chemicals that are in them. I’m happy to see there is still some good and caring companies out there. Another shampoo and products you might want to check out is Kiss My Face. You can also find on amazon. Buy this shampoo now! Do yourself a favor and start reading up on the ingredients and chemicals in your everyday foods and products.
– Dave

Wow, my hair is back to beautiful again. This is the BEST shampoo on the market. Every time I try something different, my long hair is dragged down by the ingredients. I am going to make sure that I order this one each and every time.
– Linda C., ID

Surprisingly great! I have long, naturally coarse hair and an oily scalp and I have tried for years to find a shampoo that wasn’t irritating and a conditioner that didn’t make my hair look dull. I can’t say I was blown away by how wonderful and flaxen my hair was after using Extreme Hair because it didn’t do much to soften it, however it worked wonders for my irritated scalp. I used to get a pinkish, itchy rash along the hairline at my neck and forehead that drove me CRAZY, but I saw a noticeable difference after using NaturOli. My scalp felt very clean, and looked white and healthy. I bought a trial size and got about 4 uses out of it and in that short amount of time it completely calmed my scalp. I was really skeptical of their claim that you ‘don’t need conditioner’ but, to my surprise, it’s true. My hair was a little hard to comb through wet but I let it dry a little and, once I got through the heavy tangles, my hair was as manageable as if I had used conditioner. I liked it well enough and will probably get more and mix up a little natural conditioner to use with it. If you value green living and don’t have horrid, unruly hair (like mine) I think this will work very well for you. I also have to add that the shipping is really reasonable. That might not make much of a difference to some, but I’ve gotten sick of paying outrageous prices for teeny packages!
– Emily K., NC

Simply the best! I’ve been using this product for 2 weeks now. And I can say my oily hair and scalp is well cleansed! Seems to bring out the color of my hair leaving it shiner, tangle-free and better managed. No soapy or waxy residue. I also noticed that this shampoo balances secretion of oil glands very well in my scalp leaving it itch-free and my hair oil/dirt free. Amazingly, NO other conditioners needed. The composition of this shampoo is excellent! Simply the best natural shampoo I’ve ever used. Will buy again. Highly recommended for those of us with normal/oily hair and scalp. Just a small note: it may take a week or so to “detox” hair and scalp of common chemical residue and buildup as stated on bottle which is true if you have used other shampoos that contain parabens, propylene, butylene glycols, petroleum, sulfates, alcohol, PEGs, TEA, DEA, NPE, phthalates, GMO, silicones, pesticides, artificial dyes or fragrances.
– Tee Jay “TJ”, NY

Best shampoo. This shampoo is the best I have ever tried. It leaves my hair soft and shiny, with not itchy scalp. I’ve been through every natural shampoo out there, and this is the best. Even my daughter, who has scoffed at my other shampoos, loves this.
– K. Reznek

Great natural shampoo. I tried to go “no poo” to reduce exposure to artificial ingredients. Unfortunately our hard water (even though it is filtered) didn’t work well with the usual baking soda + apple cider vinegar combo. So, I started looking for a truly natural shampoo. NaturOli to the rescue. If you are used to using regular shampoo, you will have a bit of a tough time transitioning to NaturOli as it won’t get all foamy like you’re used to. Don’t make the mistake of using more to try to get the same slippery, foamy feel out of this shampoo – you won’t get it. Just trust that using a normal amount – I use about 2 quarter-size globs for my very long hair – will get the job done. I also re-wet my hair half way through washing to help move the shampoo around to areas I may have missed. I don’t use any conditioner with this shampoo either. I keep a wide-toothed comb in my shower and just comb through my hair while it’s wet. As I mentioned, my hair is quite long and it does tend to tangle. But, I haven’t had any need for conditioner to detangle since using NaturOli. I use it twice a week and don’t shampoo the other days. My hair looks great and is as shiny as ever. Do your hair (and your wallet) a favor and get over dependence on artificial ingredients in hair care products.
– Pamela Lund “ThatPamChick”, CA

This is really a great shampoo! I try to use only organic, natural based products. My hair is naturally curly and unruly 😉 but this shampoo does a good job on it. I usually ALWAYS have to use a conditioner or else my hair will feel like straw after washing it. BUT, using this shampoo I do not have to condition!!! I was amazed! It makes my hair feel very soft and is more manageable. I love it! Will definitely be purchasing again!
– NijaGirl, TX

This is BY FAR the best natural shampoo I have tried. I felt like others left my hair feeling dirty/unwashed or way too dry. This one lathers nicely, has essentially no scent, and leaves my hair looking and feeling clean. I do feel like i need to use just a tiny bit of conditioner though. So I will probably try their normal to dry formula next. I probably use about two teaspoons each time I wash my hair, but I feel like I am using a little less each time, as all the old residues are washed off. I have thick, wavy, colored hair, for the record.
Amy J., VA

Great shampoo. I was skeptical because sometimes natural products don’t work as well as chemical laden ones. But this shampoo is amazing. I will not go back to the other kind. The test for me was asking my husband ‘have you noticed anything different about my hair?’ after a week of use and he said ‘Not at all’ SCORE! That is all I wanted. A natural, American made product that works as well as anything else. I will definitely be ordering this shampoo again when I am done with this bottle.
H. Smith, Quebec

This shampoo really made a difference. I have poker straight, medium brown untreated hair. It is on the oily side. I usually go for volumizing shampoos, to give my hair fullness. I have only used this shampoo once. All I can say is, “WOW”. It was like I had a different head of hair. No kidding. It looked like I colored it. It is so shiny, & full & just beautiful. I cannot use scented products, so I settle for what I can get my hands on. I can’t imagine ever wanting to use anything else now.
– Pezmom “Lynne”, PA

LINKS for your reference:

NaturOli Soap Nut Shampoos
Amazon EXTREME Hair (Normal to Dry)
Amazon EXTREME Hair (Normal to Oily)