My Experience using Honey to Shampoo My Hair + 3 Homemade Honey Shampoo Recipes

honey cleansing hair

The use of honey in hair care is not new at all. Many naturals are already familiar with the humectant, mixing it into homemade conditioners and hair care products. But honey as a sort of shampoo!?! Now this use is not discussed as much.
I first learned of honey as a cleanser, a couple years ago, when I read this article on ConfessionsofaBlogVixen detailing the facial routine of model Dominique Stroman (pictured below). What she uses to cleanse her face are honey and brown sugar mixed together as a scrub followed by lemon juice as a toner. Her skin is gorgeous, so what can I say? Apparently honey is working for her (and it has also worked for women ages before our time). If honey can do no wrong as a gentle facial cleanser, perhaps it could do no wrong as a gentle hair cleanser?

dominique stroman skin
Dominique Stroman

My “honey shampoo” experience: The cleansing

After reading a few recipes for a honey “shampoo”, I mixed up my own to try for myself. I poured approximately 1 part organic honey and 2-3 parts water into an applicator bottle and shook the mixture vigorously. Then I used it (on wet hair) as I would my regular diluted shampoo mix.

honey cleansing

[LEFT] The homemade cleanser. [RIGHT] Product gunk – conditioner, dirt – after washing with the cleanser.

What was my first impression? Well, there was no lather (lather makes me feel like my hair is actually getting clean), but there was some level of cleansing happening. As I rinsed the solution from my hair and scalp, I saw the oh so recognizable “product gunk” running off my hair into the tub. (This was one week’s worth of gunk.) Now, granted this was less gunk than I’m used to seeing with my regular shampoo, but it was still gunk nonetheless. I was actually quite impressed.

The experience continued: Soft hair, too!

After rinsing and blotting with a towel, my hair was incredibly soft, which was an unintended byproduct of the cleansing. It was easy to separate and detangle as well as very hydrated and smooth to the touch. I was doubly impressed!

In summary: Does it really work?

While I found no concrete research on honey as an effective cleanser, there are studies that support its antibacterial and healing properties[1, 2, 3], especially with regard to manuka honey and medical-grade honey on wound care. Additionally, a review of  honey in skin/hair care shares that adding this substance to a shampoo “has been reported to confer abundance to hairs (i.e., the hairs are less likely to hang together), lubricate, and make combing easier[3]”. It is also apparent that the use of honey in dermatology is “undergoing considerable expansion[3].”

Given my cleansing trial, I’d say that using honey as a “shampoo” is very similar to using a cleansing conditioner. There is a gentle level of cleansing that is ideal for times when you don’t want to strip your hair of all its oils. It also leaves the hair feeling soft and hydrated (which are properties of humectants) making the hair more pliable for subsequent sealing and styling. However, when you do have major product buildup that you want to eliminate, then I’d recommend using an actual shampoo, instead.

More recipes for honey shampoo

In my search for recipes, I found these three to be the most interesting, in case you’d like to try out honey cleansing for yourself. Keep in mind that the type of honey (manuka, refined vs. pure, etc.) does matter. Also, I highly recommend making enough for just one use or, at the very least, storing the remainder in your fridge:

3-INGREDIENT HONEY SHAMPOO

Ingredients:
3 tbsp filtered water
1 tbsp raw honey
few drops of essential oil (optional)
Instructions: Mix together thoroughly, wet hair, massage mixture into hair, then rinse out completely. (Recipe Source)

ORANGE AND VANILLA HONEY SHAMPOO

Ingredients:
1/2 cup castile soap
3/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup African black soap (or just more castile soap)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sweet orange essential oil
1 tsp vanilla essential oil
Instructions: Mix together thoroughly, wet hair, massage mixture into hair, then rinse out completely. (Recipe Source)

MOISTURIZING ALOE HONEY NO POO

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of pure aloe gel
2 tbsp pure honey
Instructions: Mix together thoroughly, wet hair, leave mixture on hair for a few minutes, then rinse out completely. (Recipe Source)

References:

[1]Carnwath R, Graham EM, Reynolds K, Pollock PJ. “The antimicrobial activity of honey against common equine wound bacterial isolates.” Vet J. 2014 Jan;199(1):110-4.
[2] Al-Waili N, Salom K, Al-Ghamdi AA. “Honey for wound healing, ulcers, and burns; data supporting its use in clinical practice.” Scientific World Journal. 2011 Apr 5;11:766-87.
[3]Burlando B, Cornara L. “Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review.” J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Dec;12(4):306-13.

Have you tried honey cleansing?  If so, what has been your experience?
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