|Image from ClipArtETC.|
|from the collection of Lissa Higgins.|
Here’s the technique I’ve been using all summer: wet the hair under the shower as usual, rub the bar of soap all over my head, really scrub my hair and scalp with my fingertips to get the lather all over, then rinse with plain water, tip my head back and pour the vinegar rinse over my hair. The rinse immediately smooths out the texture of my hair, making it as silky as if I had just put heavy conditioner in it! I squeeze it through my hair to the tips, making sure to rub it all over my scalp, then rinse it off under the shower.
|Ivory Soap in reproduction ca. 1875 wrapper.|
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
I tried using some of the other ingredients found in antique hair wash recipes, instead of the vinegar, to see what they would do to my hair. I started with diluted rose water (half rose water and half plain water), which worked wonderfully, and didn’t need to be rinsed out, like the vinegar did. My hair was smooth, non-tangly, and smelled nicely of roses. Then I ran out of rose water, and reached for some alcohol, in the form of a few tablespoons of alcohol-based cologne. That added nothing but scent to the hair rinse, and left the soap scum all over my hair.
|Sage in bossom. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.|
Would bar shampoo work better than good old Ivory soap? Many posters to the forum were recommending bar shampoos made by a small list of online companies, so I looked up the websites and found one company that sold samples for $2 each; then I ordered some samples and tried them with and without the hair wash. The bar shampoos that I sampled are used the same way as the bar of Ivory, although they don’t leave much, if any, soap residue on my hair, so I can even go without both conditioner and the vinegar rinse and still get non-sticky, non-tangly clean hair. They melted fairly quickly if any water was left in their soap dish, however. Their main benefit, to me, is in their convenience for traveling, because they’re not a liquid that needs to be sealed in a small bottle. I did not, however, find them to be that much of an improvement on regular liquid shampoo, except that I could skip using conditioner after the bar shampoo I tried, whereas I’m not sure I could do that with my regular liquid shampoo. It was the vinegar rinse that made the most difference, and apple cider vinegar (and I get the cheap stuff in the salad dressing aisle, not the expensive unfiltered, live culture, organic stuff) has a permanent spot in my cleaning supply! Once I finish my bottle of conditioner, I won’t be replacing it, and I may not replace my bottle of shampoo when I use that up, either. There are some interesting perks to being a cash-poor domestic historian!