A Safer Shampoo (commercially available)

When people learn about my blog and this lifestyle I often get the question, “What kind of shampoo do you use?”  I like this question, because, after face and body moisturizer, shampoo was one of the first cosmetic products that I sought to replace with a safer (to me and to the environment) product.  

safer shampoo commercially available

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It is likely that hair type has a lot to do with what type of shampoo works best.  My hair is very fine, long, wavy, and blonde.  

The beginning

Before I embarked on my environmentally conscious way of life, I was using the shampoos common in supermarkets and mass merchandisers, like Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo.  It got an Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating of 5 (on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being best).  Among others, this shampoo contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate, fragrance, and artificial colors – all of which are ingredients I am avoiding.  These items are known skin irritants as well as possible health risks.  Once I bean researching ingredients in my products, I knew this shampoo had to go.

 Trials and Errors

Per my usual, I turned to Pinterest for homemade shampoo recipes that used only safe and natural ingredients.  I tried three different types of homemade shampoos.

No-Poo method

The no-poo method involves “washing” hair with baking soda, and rinsing with vinegar.   Some people sweat by it, but after trying this for 2 weeks, I felt like I hadn’t washed my hair in 2 weeks – it felt disgusting, dirty.  I couldn’t handle it, and I was also concerned that applying a base solution then an acid solution to my hair and scalp might not be the best thing for my skin.  

Liquid Castile Soap Shampoo

Next I found recipes for homemade shampoo using liquid castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s as a base.  While I love and use Dr. Bronners and my homemade liquid castile soap for many purposes, shampoo is not one of them.  I honestly can’t remember the exact castile soap shampoo recipe I used, but it left my hair feeling dry and tangled.  I never felt like I could get all of the shampoo rinsed out of my hair, and it took ages to comb out my hair after washing.  My hair did not feel dirty, but it did not look  clean and felt too dry.

Bar soap shampoo

The third natural shampoo I tried was bar soap as shampoo.  While I found many different recipes, I decided to try a simple 100% olive oil soap bar.  I wet my hair and began lathering the soap into my hair.  I felt like it took forever to get all of my hair shampooed, and even longer to get the soap out of my hair.  My hair felt so dry and straw-like, and looked dirty.  Tired of these homemade shampoo options, I resorted to using my Suave clarifying shampoo to make my hair feel normal again.  

Safer Shampoo – commercially available options & my current shampoo of choice
Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo

I next decided to look into commercially available options.  I went to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s since both stores are more environmentally conscious and carry organic products.  I picked up a bottle of Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo.  It contained no sodium laurel sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, or other ingredients on the Cosmetics Dirty Dozen List, except fragrance.  I had no luck finding a shampoo free of all the bad chemicals, so I settled for fragrance as the last ingredient.  

Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo
Trader Joe’s Safer Shampoo option – EWG Rating

Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo is not in the EWG’s database (yet), but I went through all of the ingredients and found the individual ratings.  Of 22 ingredients, 15 were rated “1”, 2 rated “2”, 2 rated “3”, 2 rated “4”, and one rated “8.”  Based on location in the ingredient list, I guessed percentages of the individual ingredients and made my own estimate of an EWG rating – 1.5 our of 10, with 1 being the best.  

My EWG Rating
My Evaluation of Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo

I have been using this shampoo for about a year and a half, and I love it.  I can easily work this shampoo into my hair, and easily rise it out.  My hair looks and feels smooth and clean after washing with this safer shampoo.  I feel like I am baking a better choice for my health, my hair, and the environment.

Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo – Ingredients and Use

The last time I purchased Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo (January 2017), it cost $2.99 for a 16.9 oz bottle.  One bottle lasts me 2-3 months, so for $1 to $1.50/month I can enjoy clean hair with minimal health and environmental impact for less than $20 per year!

Have you found a safer shampoo option that you love for your hair?

Staying fit on a budget

Fitness is a very important part of my healthy lifestyle.  I schedule workout time into at least 5 days each week.  (For adults, the CDC recommends 150 minutes of aerobic activity/cardio each week plus strength training 2 days/week, which I work into these 5+ workouts.)  I see physical exercise as an essential part of my well-being, working both to keep my body healthy, and to keep my mind healthy.  I have found exercise to be the most effective way to combat stress, which is the main reason I make sure to exercise regularly.  

My two go-to fitness activities are walking and yoga.  Both can be done with no equipment, and both can be free!  

I’m not into organized sports or working out at the gym (extreme lack of coordination…I’ll stick to things I can do well or in the privacy of my own home).  So I have found other ways to exercise.  It’s all about finding what works for you!


The strength training (and major stress relieving) part of my exercise plan is yoga.  My friend got me interested in yoga by dragging me to a yoga studio a few times two years ago.  I like the physical and mental challenge, and also that yoga provides me with strength building exercise that does not require any special equipment.

After trying yoga in a studio, I went home to see if I could find any worthwhile videos online.  The second video I found was one from Yoga with Adriene.  I liked the video.  Adriene both demonstrates the yoga routine and verbally explains what she’s doing.  She explains very well, and seems to always remind me to breathe at the times when I have forgotten (yup, it happens…a lot).  Adriene also has a great sense of humor to keep things light. 

I have a list of liked YouTube yoga videos so I can find them easily.  My go-to videos are in the Yoga for Weight Loss series or Power Yoga, because I like the physical workout I get from these.  I also like to try new videos to try out new things, and usually work through a series, such as Yoga Camp or Revolution: 31 Days of Yoga.  

My current favorite videos are all ones that I consider more strength building: Yoga for Weight Loss: 40 Minute Fat Burning Yoga Workout, Yoga for Weight Loss – Strengthen and Lengthen, Yoga for Weight Loss – Hips & Hammies, and Core Strength Ritual.  

I also love that Adriene has playlists with videos grouped by video length.  If I only have 20 or 25 minutes, I can pick a video that I have time to complete.  If you have any interest in yoga, I highly recommend you check out Adriene’s videos.  I do not think you will be disappointed.


The cardio portion of my exercise regimen includes power walking 40-60 minutes, 3-4 days per week.  (If I average 50 minutes/workout, and only get to 3 walking 3 days/week, I have already met the CDC recommendation of 150 minutes.)  I am lucky enough to live in an area with several nice places to walk outside when weather allows.  Since I am kind of a wuss when it comes to cold weather, I also invested in a treadmill.  This gives me no excuse to skip a workout – I don’t have to leave the comfort of my own home.  Plus, I have a small TV set up in front of my treadmill.  This is pretty much the only way I am able to keep up with the half dozen or shows I try to follow – I watch one hour-long episode per workout.  

In the past I tried other exercise machines including the elliptical, and while that might have been more of a full body workout, I ended up with injuries (knee and hip pain).  My physical therapist (treating me for Achilles tendinitis) recommended that I stick to just the treadmill if I wanted to use any cardio equipment.  This was the one machine that would let my body control the motion, rather than the machine controlling my body’s motion – which is what caused my injuries.  Since I stopped using other cardio machines like ellipticals and stair steppers, I have not suffered knee or hip pain.  Please note that I am NOT recommending that you stop using exercise equipment that is working for you.  If you love the elliptical, stair stepper, erg, etc. and it is working for you, keep it up! 

I have found that walking and yoga are really easy workouts to keep up with when travelling.  I do yoga in my hotel room using a towel or two in place of a yoga mat.  Most hotels have a fitness center with a treadmill, or I’ll go out for a brisk walk to explore the area.  

Dock and view of Mount Rainier found when exploring in Washington.

If you’re looking to exercise on a budget, I recommend first considering what kinds of exercise you like.  If you like gym workouts, check if your employer has a gym that you can use for free.  Or look into your health insurance plan – some offer discounts or reimbursements on gym memberships.  If you like classes and are open to trying online classes, search your class of interest and see if there are free videos online.  If you like walking or hiking, search for walking or hiking paths in your area.  Or if you prefer hiking with a group, ask your friends or look for a local Meetup.  Meetup is also a great place to look for organized sports and other activities.   

What’s your favorite way to exercise?