Sarah Stirling | Why and how I wash my hair with egg
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Why and how I wash my hair with egg

Why and how I wash my hair with egg

I was looking for a natural way to wash my hair for three reasons. Firstly, I wanted to stop stripping my hair of its natural oils and then coating it in conditioners and serums to make it shiny. Secondly, I try to avoid putting chemicals on my skin. And, finally, I wanted to stop buying shampoo and conditioner in throwaway plastic bottles. First I tried a natural shampoo, bar but it left my hair waxy. I persevered for a while, as the instructions suggested my hair would get used to it, but a couple of months later I was fed up. Then I tried another recommendation: baking soda mixed with water, followed by rinsing my hair with cider apple vinegar. Finally I tried eggs and found that washing my hair with egg left my hair shiny, soft and bouncy.

What’s wrong with sulphates?

As an aside, it’s worth noting that some shampoo bars still contain hair-stripping sulphates. Lush bars, for example, contain what they call ‘gentler’ surfactants – ammonium laureth sulphate (ALS) and sodium alkyl sulphate (SAS). Sulphates are a cleaning agent that lathers well and is used in all kinds of cleaning products. Some studies have linked them to cancer (nothing is proven) but one thing is for sure – they strip your hair of natural oils.

Why does egg work as shampoo?

Most importantly, pH is one of the most key aspects of a good shampoo. Hair strands have an external cuticle layer, a bit like fish scales. When they are washed in alkaline substances, the fish scales stand up, leading to tangling, dullness and frizziness. Acids on the other hand flatten the cuticles, keep moisture in and make them stronger. Guess what? Eggs have a pH level that works perfectly with hair. That’s why there’s no need to condition or acid since afterwards.

Second most importantly the egg yolk naturally contains lecithin, which is an emulsifier. It combines with water and oils from your hair, then everything rinses out.

Because they are high in protein, eggs also strengthen the hair shaft and add body. Egg yolks are packed with vitamins, too – A, D, E, B12, biotin (dubbed the ‘hair growth vitamin’), iodine, selenium and pantothenic acid (you might have heard of this in shampoo ads). All great for shiny happy hair.

How to do it

  1. Crack an egg into a mug. If you have very long hair, you might need 2 eggs. You can just whisk a whole egg, but I’d recommend separate the egg and just using yolk. It smells less eggy and won’t end up as scrambled egg in your hair if you rinse it with warm water! Whisk it up.
  2. I take this in the shower and rub a little at a time into my scalp and then work it through to the ends before rinsing. Rinse it out really well.
  3. I’ve found I need to wash my hair significantly less using egg. I wash it every four days. Try not to wash your hair too much to avoid protein build-up in your hair.

Other things you might like to add:

  • Essential oil of your choice to help with the eggy smell!
  • 1 tsp honey – moisturising
  • 1 tsp lime juice – removes build-up and adds shine
  • 1 tsp olive oil if your hair is really dry
  • 1 tbsp Fenugrek powder if you get dandruff
  • You can also try rinsing your hair with chamomile tea to prevent the smell – best for blondes as it brightens and can slightly lighten hair

A bit of shampoo history

Did you know that shampoo is a relatively recent invention? Over the course of history, plenty of things have been used for shampoo – including many of the ingredients ‘no-poo-ers’ love today, like vinegar and eggs. Eggs were apparently particularly popular for shampoo in Victorian times. Ash mixed with water (preferably rainwater for even more softness) was an old-fashioned shampoo. You left the ash to settle in the water then scooped the resulting liquid off the top – apparently it left clothes and hair silky! ‘Lye soap’ was made by mixing this with animal fat, and used as a do-all cleaner. This was commonly used as a shampoo up to the 20th Century. Old-fashioned conditioners included olive oil and animal fat. ‘Shampoo’ comes from the Hindi word ‘champo’, meaning massage. The entrepreneurial Sake Dean Mahomed, who incidentally also founded the first curry house in Britain (The Hindoostane Coffee House was in Portman Square, London) introduced shampooing to England – at this time it was medicated vapour massage – and was the esteemed ‘shampoo surgeon’ to George IV and then William IV. During the early stages of shampoo in Europe, English hairdressers boiled shaved soap in water with added herbs for shine and fragrance. Commercial liquid shampoo was available from the turn of the 20th century. However, until this point shampooing had been an occasional salon treat. In 1908, The New York Times ran its first article on how to shampoo your hair. Modern shampoo as it is known today (synthetic surfactants instead of soap) was first introduced in the 1930s.

 

sarah
sarah@sarahstirling.com
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