Hair Wash Instructions


as seen on Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs

Check out our Hair Help Resource Guide for additional important information.

How is your Pure Earth Hair Wash different from other products and how will it change my hair?

Our Hair Wash is a pure, totally natural, clay-based product blended with soothing organic herbals and beautiful, stimulating organic essential oils. It contains no synthetic toxic petrochemicals, synthetic protein polymers (wheat, oat, soy, pea "protein") or petrochemical polymer plastics (polyvinyl polymer, silicone, dimethicone), oleochemical surfactants/detergents, or oleochemical emulsifying wax emollients (“vegetable wax,” cetyl alcohol, stearates, fatty acids, etc.) to leave a residue on the hair or scalp. As our Pure Earth Hair Wash contains no soaps or foaming agents, there will be no lather at all when you wash. The Hair Wash clay is a unique "mud" that comes from extensive mountain deposits in Africa and has been used sustainably by humans for centuries to cleanse the hair and body, and is used by top eco spas and environmentally-conscious individuals worldwide.

The Hair Wash clay cleans in a very different manner from conventional shampoo detergents and soaps, it is a colloidal gel suspension that gently absorbs the excess oils and pollutants from your hair without ever stripping the hair. The Hair Wash works well in either hard or soft water. It can be used by women, men and children over two regardless of hair type as we offer five different formulas for different hair and scalp types. Our Hair Wash works on all hair types — fine, thin, frizzy, curly, coarse, kinky, wavy, and everything else in between and imaginable. When the Hair Wash carries the excess oils and impurities from your hair down the drain, so no chemical detergents, preservatives, foam boosters, synthetic fragrances, or other pollutants go with it to foul our drinking water. (Note: For children between two and five years of age we recommend only Fragrance-free Hair Wash, with adult supervision as the Hair Wash formulas containing essential oils may be too stimulating for children under five. For children over six months and under two, we recommend our Baby Wash or our Fragrance-free Gentle Gel followed with a second rinse of a dilute organic vinegar and water rinse—see the detox instructions below.)

It is highly likely that your current shampoo, conditioner, hairspray or other styling product contains some type of petrochemical polymer—a PVP vinyl, acrylate, silicone, carbomer, or hydrolyzed synthetic protein (soy, wheat, oat "protein") plastic polymer, emulsifying wax or hydrogenated fatty acid—all of which add a coating to the hair to make damaged hair appear undamaged. These plastic polymers make watery products thicker and also glue damaged, broken hairs together. Since these plastic synthetic protein and petrochemical polymers are difficult to remove with a gentle clay cleanser, it usually takes several washings to completely remove these gummy, oily residues from the hair. We highly recommend utilizing our Speed-The-Detox process to aid folks in making a speedier detox transition and the instructions for the Speed Process can be found in this Hair Wash Instructions page. As these plastic polymers and waxy materials are being removed from the hair during the initial hair detox process, the hair may feel stiff, sticky or dry. It may even be a bit more difficult to comb out, especially if it’s long. This is because some of the plastic coating agents that you’re trying to remove also act as slippery detanglers. Until your hair is fully detoxed, allow a bit of extra time for washing and combing. Be patient and treat it with a little extra care—a simple wooden comb or natural-bristle wood brush will help. During detox you may notice a few more hairs in your hairbrush as the polymer glues are removed—this is normal.

Because the majority of synthetic detergents are designed to have anti-static properties, when you stop using detergent shampoos you may experience some static electricity in the first few weeks. The static problem can be addressed by switching to wood brushes with natural (or wooden) bristles and wooden combs instead of plastic ones. It will also help to avoid static-causing situations such as blow-drying your hair and wearing synthetic fiber (petrochemical plastics—nylon, polyester, acrylic, etc.) clothing. All of these transitional inconveniences will gradually disappear as you continue to use the mud Hair Wash. In the detox phase, you might use a spritz of high-quality spring or sparkling water or an apple cider vinegar/water rinse after washing with the mud Hair Wash to help minimize static buildup.

Relax! Though many people experience none of these problems, everyone is different and everyone has a different “hair history.” Above all, it is very important for you to follow the “Detox Protocol” exactly (see below). Do not use any other shampoos, conditioners or styling products as they are not compatible with the mud cleanser and will add plastics back to your hair, taking you right back where you started.

Why do I need to buy a 16 ounce bottle of hair wash to start?
I’m not even sure I like it yet.

We usually don't recommend the 8 ounce bottle of Hair Wash if you’ve never tried the Pure Earth Hair Wash before as the 8 ounce bottle is usually not enough hair wash to get you through the complete “Detox Protocol,” especially if you have shoulder-length or longer hair, or thick or curly or kinky hair. The 8 ounce size bottles are offered for people who have already completed their “detox” and either want to experiment with different Hair Wash formulas. If your hair is short (above chin length), get 2 of the 8 oz. bottles of the Hair Wash in different formulas to experiment. If your hair is longer than chin length, get 1 or 2 of the 16 oz. bottles so you have enough hair wash to get through the “Detox Protocol” and beyond without running out.

What is the detox protocol?

Refer to the outline below for the seven day Detox Protocol. To start, wet your hair, massage 1-2 tablespoons of “mud” into the hair and scalp for two to four minutes then rinse well. If your hair is longer than chin length, you may need to use more to coat the hair. Try rubbing the mud and hair between the palms of the hands for even coating.

  • Day 1: Three washes, as outlined above (one after the other, leaving the mud on the hair for several minutes before rinsing after the third wash). This is all in the same bath/shower—it’s not necessary to take three separate showers!
  • Day 2: Three washes
  • Day 3: Two washes
  • Day 4: Two washes
  • Days 5-7+: One wash Repeat this entire “detox protocol”, days one through seven above, one to two times or as required, to remove synthetic polymer coating agents from the hair.

Tip #1 — Remember that the longer the mud is in contact with the hair and scalp the more oil, gum and dirt it can absorb and remove. Also, the more frequently you can wash your hair in the first few weeks, the more quickly you’ll finish your “detox”.

Tip #2 — For very thick, frizzy, kinky hair or hair with “locks,” you can dilute the mud to a thinner consistency for easier application, but do not add water to the Hair Wash bottle!

Please understand that the protocol outlined above is the average length of time for natural, non-chemically processed hair of short to medium length. The longer, thicker or the more chemically-processed/damaged the hair is, the longer the time it will take to completely “detox” it. Remember that however long it takes, it will be worth it.

Is there any way I can speed up the time it takes to complete the detox period?

For the small group of people who have extremely porous hair with an excessive buildup of polymers or sebum, or those folks who may periodically produce excessive sebum or who have an itchy scalp due to hormonal fluctuations, an additional detox step may be helpful in the beginning of the detox, or once or twice a month, as needed. To help remove these gums or oils, use our Lavender Garden, Spice or Mint Body Wash (those with very curly or kinky hair could try our Fragrance-free Gentle Gel instead for extra moisturizing) for 1-3 days before using the mud. The procedure is simply to wash the hair with the Body Wash and rinse well with lots of plain water (repeat, if desired). Immediately after rinsing with plain water, you must apply a dilute vinegar and water rinse to the hair as a “conditioner.” Be sure to massage the vinegar/water rinse very well into the hair and scalp to remove precipitated minerals deposited on your hair from your castile Body Wash and the tap water. The Body Wash and dilute vinegar rinse is used by some people for their daily hair cleansing needs on a regular basis. It is also recommended to use the Speed the Process once a week or monthly or as desired as a deep, clarifying wash treatment.

For the vinegar/water rinse, use 1 part organic vinegar to 2 parts water (apple cider or white or rice), or up to a 1 part vinegar 1 part water mixture depending on your preference. Use about one cup of the mixture for short hair, more for longer hair. This rinse used periodically can help to remove impurities and calm static, too.

Another tip to help speed up the “detox” process is to leave the mud on the hair for 30-60 minutes as a mud mask for the hair and then rinse it well. “Baking” the mud mask while sitting in the sun for 15-20 minutes can increase the absorption of the mud.

How much of the mud do I use to wash my hair and how long will this take?

In the beginning you will use more mud to detoxify the hair than you will use after the detoxifying process is complete. You will use 1-2 tablespoons of hair wash for each wash, more for hair that is longer than chin length, according to the “detox protocol” described above. If you aren’t totally committed to making the switch to non-chemical hair cleansing and are not willing to commit to several weeks of using the Hair Wash to complete the “detox” process and transition, then please don’t order the hair wash at all.

What about an occasional deep-cleansing treatment or help for a very dry or irritated scalp?

Normal monthly hormonal fluctuations or seasonal changes may cause your scalp to produce an excess of sebum buildup from time to time that may result in an oily feel to the hair or even an itchy scalp. If you should experience excess production of sebum, you may use the Speed The Detox Body Wash/vinegar rinse treatment outlined above for an intensive deep-cleaning scalp treatment. Don’t switch back to using conventional detergent shampoo products with plastic polymers!

For a special once or twice per month scalp treatment for those with dry or damaged hair or dry or irritated scalps, use our Super Emollient Moisturizers or our Moisture Cream. Gently warm a teaspoon or two of one of our Super Emollient Moisturizers in a glass container set into a container of hot water. Do not heat the oil on a stovetop or in a microwave or over an open flame! When the Super Emollient Moisturizer is just warm enough that it feels comfortable to touch, massage it into your scalp and hair. Wrap your head in a hot towel and relax for 15-30 minutes, then wash your hair with one of our Body Washes, washing twice and rinsing with plain water first, followed by a dilute vinegar rinse. (see above.) You might even add a 5 to 15 minute mud mask using one of the Pure Earth Hair Wash “flavors” if you’d like. Then just rinse well and style your hair as usual.

The instructions on the label say that your hair wash is not recommended for chemically treated hair, but your website says I can use it. Please clarify.

Chemical hair treatments permanently alter the outer layer of the hair shaft creating a porous cuticle—under a microscope chemically treated hair looks like Swiss cheese. Once hair is damaged by chemical colorings, perms or straightening chemicals, people are sold a myriad of synthetic products that artificially coat the hair with plastic or protein polymers to make it look and feel undamaged. The more damaged the hair, the more porous it becomes; the more porous the hair, the more it absorbs these synthetic “protein” polymers (e.g. soy, wheat or oat proteins—that are not edible foods), plastic polymers such as PVP (petrochemical polyvinyl pyrrolidone) and gum coating agents. These are the substances the “mud” removes in the detox protocol, but the detox process takes time.

Sometimes when people first start using the Pure Earth Hair Wash, their hair may feel stiff, sticky, oily, heavy or dry. This feeling may persist until the residues of protein and plastic polymers have been completely removed, but if you’re patient, the end result is worth the wait! After using our “mud” for one to three weeks, most people love it and find it a joy to use. As new hair grows in to replace old damaged hair, you’ll probably be amazed at the difference. For some folks with very chemically damaged hair, they may not like the way their hair feels after the detox, because our Pure Earth Hair Wash contains none of the vinyl or protein plastic polymers to coat their hair to make it feel or look undamaged.

The bottom line: If you have chemically treated your hair, you should plan to use the Pure Earth Hair Wash for three to four weeks in order to completely detox the hair and remove polymer buildup. If you intend to continue using chemical treatments for your hair, you should note that when your hair is cleaned with the clay cleanser and finally free from the synthetic plastic coating agents, you may find that you need a bit more moisturizing. Chemically damaged hair without plastic coating agents may appear to look darker because the hair is roughened and will not be as shiny and reflect the light the way that non-chemically altered hair behaves. Damaged hair can also look straw-like and feel rough to the touch. Damaged hair tends to tangle much more easily and is weakened because of the chemical’s erosion to the cuticle leaving it more susceptible to breakage.

If I don’t want to use chemical dyes, what alternative is there.
I’m not ready to go gray.

A positive alternative to chemical hair coloring is 100% pure henna, a totally natural botanical material that both colors and conditions the hair. Unlike chemical hair colorings, henna is environmentally friendly, sustainable and nontoxic, both for you and when it is washed down the drain. (Recent studies by the US Geological Survey found toxic hair dye chemicals in most of the streams and rivers that they tested!) Though many of us might think “red” when we think of henna, modern henna farming has produced a wide range of henna plants that provide a lovely variety of dye shades. There are henna mixes—henna blended with other natural dye plants—that produce a beautiful color range including light, medium and dark browns, auburn, chestnut, burgundy and black. There are even shades that can brighten graying natural blonde hair, and neutral henna which is used only for conditioning. Henna is completely compatible with our Pure Earth Hair Wash and will not damage the hair the way chemical colorings do.

Since henna is not a true permanent dye, it gradually washes out over 4-10 weeks without leaving “roots.” Top hair specialists recommend varying the color/shade of henna from time to time to create a natural look with subtle variations in the hair. Henna can also be applied using the hair “painting” or streaking/highlighting techniques used by chemical hair colorists. Most henna coloring manufacturers recommend waiting approximately 4-6 weeks after using a chemical hair dye before using henna and to be sure to do a lock test first. (It’s a good idea for everyone to do the lock test first to determine the hue and how long to leave the henna on your hair.) In general, for deep color penetration, henna must stay on the hair longer than chemical dyes because it’s gentler dye.

Read the ingredients on any henna hair coloring product to be sure that the product does not contain any synthetic chemical ingredients. If you cannot find a pure 100% henna locally, contact us to learn about the henna that we offer in our retail store.

I have natural hair that is currently locking (I have dreadlocks).
Can I use your hair wash or will it damage my hair?

There is nothing in the Pure Earth Hair Wash that would hurt your hair in any way.

Many people who wear their hair in locks have found that they can use our “mud” with great success. For best results, please read and follow the hair cleansing procedure outlined below. We recommend either Lavender Garden or Left Coast Lemon Pure Earth Hair Wash to start, since these formulas contain organic essential oils with a higher percentage of natural citrus waxes for greater moisturizing. Later you may want to experiment with other “flavors” to find which works the best for your hair, though you might find that the Fragrance-free mud may not be moisturizing enough for your liking.



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