diy formulation educational series – hair oils

welcome to the first part of the new DIY Formulation Educational Series! today we’re starting out light and formulating hair oils!

as always, NONE of the links provided are affiliates. i do not benefit in any way, i’m just trying to point you to reputable suppliers that i personally use.



here are 3 hair oils that may be worth your time to DIY, taking inspiration from currently sold products.



product inspiration ingredients:

ungurahua oil, palo santo oil




ungurahua is by far my favorite hair oil and i don’t care how bad it smells. i’ve posted about it here and use it in my all time favorite hair oil DIY here.  as for formulation, palo santo oil is an EO, so we know it’s not above a 2% concentration. let’s assume 2%.

diy formula:



product inspiration ingredients:

coconut oil, camellia seed oil, argan oil, moringa seed oil, evening primrose oil, tamanu oil, marula oil, black cumin seed oil, lavender EO, rosemary EO, orange bitter EO, vanilla oil




the ingredient list indicates virgin coconut oil, which is a semi-solid at cooler room temperatures. given this is a hair oil, we have to either assume, 1 – it’s a lower concentration that keeps the end result liquid, or 2 – they’re listing as virgin but using fractionated. for this dupe we’ll be kind and assume it’s not fractionated, and keep it at 20%. argan oil tends to smell not nice, so i’ll keep it at 15% contribution. tamanu is quite viscous and sticky, so i will use it as a line in the formula at 5%. lastly, the total concentration of EOs will not exceed 2% for this formula, even though that’s a tad high. let’s split those evenly for ease of use.

diy formula:



product inspiration ingredients:

dimethicone, dimethiconol, shea butter oil, cottonseed oil, moringa seed oil, passionfruit seed oil, tocopherol, hydrogenated soybean oil, limonene, citral, eugenol, linalool


no dimethicones, no cottonseed oil, no hydrogenated soybean oil.


finding the ingredients for this expensive hair oil was really difficult, and that always raises a red flag to me. then when i finally found it, i saw the first ingredient is dimethicone. uh no, bye. also, shea butter oil indicates it is refined and liquid at room temperature. this is overall a terrible blend going for over $100 an ounce and i do not suggest buying it or DIYing it, because you can make a better one. and cue diy.

diy formula:


what do you think? what’s your favorite hair oil blend?



PS – i’m not blind to the fact that being “crunchy” has been dragged in the green beauty community lately. if you care about that sort of stuff, you should know upfront i’m unapologetically closer to the ‘purist’ end of the green beauty scale. all of the diys i post will be closer to ‘crunchy’. there are other wonderful DIY blogs out there to check out that are more flexible with what’s used in their formulations and i support them 100%! 🙂 everyone is welcome here!

5 years shamPHREE (+ announcement)

it’s been 5 years since i put Dove down and gave the crunchy world a try with my hair care routine.

i originally started this whole journey because i was in grad school and broke, and D.I.Y. was cheap. but the more i dug into the d.i.y. and green beauty movement, the more hooked i was. slowly but surely, it took over every aspect of my skin and hair care. this very blog went from a college lifestyle blog to a d.i.y. green beauty blog… and here i am.

and it all started over some baking soda and vinegar…


what changes have i noticed?

my hair is stronger and shinier. i seem to keep cutting it off lately so i can’t speak to length, but it did get quite long and stayed thick for the years before i chopped it off.

what have i learned?

1. patience. hardcore patience. the kind of patience where you walk around looking and smelling weird for a few weeks, unsure of if you’ll burst out the other side of the journey a beautiful butterfly.
2. try, try again. i can’t count how many failures i’ve had along the way – how many days i left the house with terrible hair trying to figure it out, or how many recipes i had to go through before something worked. perseverance has been key.
3. you don’t answer to anyone but yourself. don’t let anyone put you down, judge you, or make fun of you for wanting to improve your health in any aspect. i personally like to believe that those people will see the light and come around one day.

will i go back?

no. for me, the green beauty way of life is just my way of life. i’ve gone from baking soda and vinegar to low-‘poos, to water-only, to now co-washing, but i won’t go back to conventional hair products.

what hair products do i recommend?

  • shampoo/conditioner – Calia, hands down. their hydrating conditioner is what i use for my co-wash, but all of their shampoo and conditioner types are great ingredient-wise.
  • shampoo/conditioner – Josh Rosebrook – “nourish” shampoo and conditioner. it’s a little pricier than Calia, but it’s some dreamy stuff. JR is a god.
  • hair oil – d.i.y. it. it’s cheaper and just as, if not more, effective. here are my favorite hair oils.

anything else you want to know? i feel like i’m missing something!


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this journey has lead me to something amazing… i am FINALLY starting my own business! everything is a work in progress, but if you’d like to watch my growth, you can find me on instagram at @kietabotanicals and online at

if you’d like to get involved and help in the pre-launch stages, i have a market research survey on skincare available now RIGHT HERE. answers are anonymous and the survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

thank you so much for all your support, in any aspect! you all have been so great to me and each other and i’m incredibly grateful.

cheers to a new journey.


hair smoothies


doesn’t that just sound fantastic?! luckily, they leave your hair feeling and looking as fantastic as they sound like they do!

today is officially SPRING! and with that comes warmer weather, brighter colors, and cooler drinks! and now – your hair can join in the fun!

hair smoothies can be thick or runny, made with vegetables or fruits… but they’re all 100% edible!

so go ahead –

play with your food

BONUS – they can go on your face, too!

all of these smoothies use pure aloe vera gel as a base. the aloe is scalp-soothing, adds a nice punch of moisture and shine, as well as helps chunks of fruits/veggies be less likely to get stuck in your hair (especially with fine or curly hair).

here are all of my yummy favorites! all of these hair smoothies are targeted towards moisture first and foremost, and then shine/softness/clarity. 

these hair smoothies are great for weekly use!

Continue reading hair smoothies

combat frizz, fly-aways, and static

the weather is starting to get cooler! we know what that can mean… worse cases of our little friend enemy, static, is just around the corner. my poor little boy knows this better than i do…

look at dat mane!

what causes frizz and static?

Continue reading combat frizz, fly-aways, and static

lighten your hair naturally

2021 edit: i no longer subscribe to or support the “all-natural” label. more here.

after my post about dying your hair darker with walnuts went live on AE, i’ve had lots of questions about how to lighten hair naturally.

lightening hair is always more involved, because it involves removing color from the hair (instead of depositing color for “darker” shades). by removing color, you’re typically using harsher chemicals and are being harder on your hair. your hair can become more brittle and dry by going lighter.

with that in mind, we need to make sure our hair’s getting a little extra TLC –

  • keep your hair conditioned
  • scritch and preen to use your natural scalp oils to moisturize the length of your hair (video HERE)
  • look into using leave-in conditioners
  • if your hair becomes brittle, give it a dose of protein with an egg yolk mask or gelatin mask

since we’re steering clear of the toxic stuff, here are some tried n’ true ways to naturally lighten your hair (over time, of course. ’tis the price we pay for being crunchy)!

quick note: these methods work best on hair colors that are not very dark (not dark browns/black), and these are more than likely NOT going to have “dye-like” effects. the shades you’ll get will be more of the sun-kissed variety.

lighten hair naturally

Continue reading lighten your hair naturally

rinse-only (water-only) method… update 5

2021 edit: i no longer subscribe to or support the “all-natural” label. more here.

hey crunchies! it’s been months since i’ve last updated you on my ROM journey, and i’ve gotten a few emails and comments asking how it’s going. i figured i should do a little update, and this will hopefully be the LAST update on my ROM journey! (that’s good news! lol)

if you’re new to ROM and/or the AE blog, i’ll give you a quick run-down:

the ROM (rinse-only method) is only washing your hair with water, and using your natural scalp oils to “condition” your hair. it’s a very tough transition for a lot of people at first (myself included) to get away from using anything but water to keep your hair clean. it took me about 4 months! and i think my arm muscles improved from all the scritching/preening i had to do to move the oils form my scalp to the ends of my hair.

but going water-only has proven (for me personally) to be the best option for my hair. even after the dye abuse my hair went through, it’s grown out to be soft and shiny and strong. long story short, me love da ROM.

water-only washing for hair

what i’ve been doing:

  • ditched the dry shampoo completely
  • use a shower head filter
  • scritch and preen about every 3 days (just being honest 😦 ), and then again very thoroughly before WO washes
  • use my bbb once a week to week and a half (…again, just bein honest)
  • gently comb and separate my hair into 4 sections before i hop in the shower, then preen under the running water
  • let my hair air dry (shower at night)
  • no oils and no conditioners of any kind
  • spray rose water into my hair just for scent (i’ve considered using the yummy smelling versions of alcohol-free witch hazel, too. we’ll see! has anyone tried??)

how it’s been:

it’s actually gotten much, much, much better than it used to be. i can now say strongly that i’m strictly water-only. and daggone it feels good!

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my one huge problem with going WO (water-only) was the back of my head. for some reason it was always feeling heavy and greasy and just overall pretty gross. i had to REALLY focus on that area to scritch/preen/brush/wash. on select weekends, i’d stay at home allllll weekend and let it get as greasy as it wanted to. i think it helped out with not producing as much oil as before, but it was still a problem area. and now when i wash, it’s the back of my head and the underside of my hair that’s greasy. not so much the top parts. but no more heavy feeling!

one huge hiccup i had: i visited my best friend in phoenix one weekend, and he has hard water. as soon as i wet my hair in the shower, it felt sticky and heavy. i tried to preen as much as i could, but my hair felt heavy and weird/sticky after my shower. once my hair dried, it just looked weirdly greasy. needless to say, my hair was in a braid and a bun that entire weekend.
but other than that hiccup (i’ve traveled many, many times since, even out of the country) i haven’t had any issues with stickiness or being overly-greasy. i did notice that my scalp gets greasier around that time of month (yea, TMI). thanks, hormones.


my scalp definitely got drier this winter, but i’ve used the honey/witch hazel rinse a couple times and it’s been fine.

i think the biggest difference i’ve noticed in my hair is the way it feels. no matter what day i’m on between washing, it always feels so freakin soft and moisturized. the second biggest difference i’ve noticed is how much faster it dries after washing it. when i used conventional shampoo/conditioner, my hair would literally take hours to dry. we’re talking 3 or 4 hours or more. not exaggerating. now my hair dries in about an hour. it’s been a miracle! haha.  best of all, i don’t ever have that tacky, heavy, weird feeling in the back of my head anymore. my scalp has finally gotten its stuff together!


right now i’m washing every week, usually sundays. some weeks i wash sunday-ish and wednesday-ish.. i really have no set schedule, but that’s what tends to happen. i just kinda go with the flow. it’s usually something like “oh, good morning hair. are you lookin greasy? think we can wait to wash till tomorrow? ok, cool. good chat.”


… kind of.

hippie stamp Sig

no-poo motivation series – laura’s story – “how no-poo changed my life”

hey crunchies! here’s our second installment of our no-poo motivation series!

this post comes from Laura of Ten Healthy Fingers. check her out and spread the crunchy love!

not gonna lie, i cried the first time i read this…



My name is Laura and first of all, I want to say that it’s a huge honor to write a guest post in this amazing blog.

I have not used any regular shampoo for seven weeks now. I got this amazing idea to go no’-poo from Almost Exactly and I am so grateful to Alex. So grateful that she has helped me to leave my awful hair in the past.

How and WHY did I decide to go no-‘poo?

So back to the start. I have had crazy-awful hair for I-don’t-even-remember-how-long. As a teenager I used regular shampoos from any other supermarket, then I went to salon products and then to pharmaceutical products. All this time I had a huge problem with oily skin on my face and †awfully greasy hair. I needed to wash every day to keep my hair clean. And I was a very outgoing person, going to music school, regular school, friends etc. That meant literally washing every day. Annoying, huh?

A few years back, the problem went even worse. Now it got to the point where I had to wash in the mornings, because washing in the evening was pointless.

I really needed help from a professional, I was unhappy.


The doctors blamed hormones and †wanted to prescribe hormonal contraceptives against it, I declined.†It got really bad – I didn’t even get my hair truly clean anymore so I went to a professional, specializing on hair, to take a closer look at my scalp. She looked it with a magnifying camera (200x) and recommended special deep cleanser, special shampoo and of course, special conditioner. To be precise – I only bought these three (each cost about 17-20 euros, in dollars 22-26 USD). She prescribed more things and all together, there were 7 items.

Those actually cleaned my hair and in the beginning I was able to wash every second day if I really-really wanted and stayed home the second day. At some point I felt they are still not good enough and after quitting those products, it got worse again, I think even worse than before. You know the desperation if you constantly need to worry how your hair looks, does everyone see how greasy they are, not to mention that hair held more close to scalp. I was literally unhappy with my hair and with myself and you know what it can do to a girls’ self-esteem.

Soda-ACV1The beginning of no-‘poo process

Then I found this blog and I am forever grateful! I did everything just as Alex has written. I did the clarifying and I started washing my hair once a week. Gross? Yep, it was. The first two weeks were awful for me, but then again – I had the worse possible hair before. In between I rinsed my hair with warm water. There were moments when I wanted to go back to a regular shampoo, just to feel my scalp a little bit more clean. I stayed strong and looked at Alex’s hair for motivation. After all – I had nothing to lose, it couldn’t go any worse than before, just had to tolerate it for a bit longer.

Daily, I used my fingernails to massage my scalp and then brush for 10 minutes. It made me feel a bit better and it felt like my scalp can breathe more.

I didn’t feel particularly good, but I had my goal and in bigger plan – it’s just few weeks of tolerating and rest of the life of happiness.

Two weeks

At the end of the second week I was not quite sure, but I THOUGHT I felt a little different. I noticed that my outgrown fringe started to became rather clean. That was the moment I knew that Alex was really right and that I’m not going to quit!

There is one thing I wish I would have payed more attention to – Alex strongly advised to deep condition often. I underestimated this a little, because it didn’t feel that necessary. Believe me – it is! Even if you feel in the beginning that it’s cool without deep conditioning – don’t trust yourself. It was the biggest mistake, because I think now I have to cut my hair more than I should have if I deep moisturized more.

Three weeks

I felt better than ever. I knew that it’ll probably take a little more time, but I was sure that there is a moment when this routine will make my hair completely clean. They appeared quite okay by the end of the third week, but I still felt they’re rather dirty, especially in the back.

Five weeks

On the 36th day ( I suddenly saw that my transition period is over! BC/ACV routine really cleaned my scalp, even the back of my hair were now clean. An on top of it – they stayed completely clean for TWO DAYS! It was a miracle, I don’t even remember when was the last time I didn’t feel this need to wash my hair every day.

And if you read from her posts that in a little time you begin to see what your hair wants -I thought that it’s insane, how on earth am I going to get my hairs’ needs?! But she was totally right, you are going to see what your hair need. At first I did everything just like she said, I think I did it for 5 weeks and then I started to “listen to my hair” and experiment a little with my routine. It’s not as messy and inconvenient as you would think. It takes about 10 seconds to make these mixtures even if I make them right before washes.

How am I doing now?

At this very moment, seven weeks of no’-poo, I feel amazing. After five weeks I started to wash a bit more often, because I am renovating my home, so my hair just got more dust in them. I can now wash every third day. It does get greasy at the end of the second day, but nothing compared to what was before. I think it’s even so little that other people can not really see it, I’m just understandably more sensitive and paying more attention to the appearance of my hair.

Can you go no-‘poo?

Absolutely. If I did it with my most-oil-producing-gross-greasy-hair, you can absolutely do it! If I went through a 5-week transition period with my hair, EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU can, too! Almost Exactly is the best help you can ever get for the transition period and after that. Everything is written down, there is information about literally any situation that may appear and Alex is so helpful when it comes to a new person going no-‘poo.

I love my hair now, I am genuinely happier. THANK YOU, ALEX! You changed my life!



thank YOU, laura!!!

leave her some love! and questions!!

don’t forget to check her blog out, too!

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no-poo motivation series – nina’s story

hey crunchies! tonight is very, very special, as it is our first no-poo motivation series guest post! it’s from the lovely nina ❤
she’s kept in touch her whole journey and i was so so so excited that she was willing to share her story with all of us!


Hi guys! My name is Nina and I’m here to share my story with no-‘poo.  This is gonna be a wordy post, but I hope you get use from it.

When my friend Bella first told me about no-poo, I thought it was weird and impossible, and I was happy with my Herbal Essences and a-pound-of-mousse-day routine.  But with research on this awesome blog, I found that I needed to switch; so I did. I have thick, dark, frizzy and curly hair, (I’m Italian, if you haven’t guessed. :)) I chose to do lemon juice and vitamin e oil for my routine… diluted of course. 🙂  Here’s my hair uncut and not clarified:

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I clarified (with castile soap and acv) as soon as school went out and went for a haircut the next day.  But, my hairdresser was very rotten about no-‘poo, and she washed my hair with the products after I ask her not to. L  So I clarified again and within a week, a washed my hair with lemon juice and vitamin e oil.  I was very surprised when my hair didn’t get oily, AT ALL. I thought that maybe I didn’t do it right, or maybe I was a lucky one.

I started to stretch out the days, and it was very easy for me.  I went from every other day (and sometimes every 3 days) to every week in one month.  The only time I ever had to wash often was when my hair got oily (only 2 times); I would go in the shower and do a plain diluted lemon juice, no conditioner, and it worked like a charm.  I think the reason I got oily hair both times was because I put the conditioner on my scalp.  Here’s my hair after my first wash and cut:

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I have a confession to make for the crunchy community: I only deep conditioned once. (the week after I washed)  Bless me crunchy community for I have sinned. I know, I know, I need to deep condition.  But my hair never felt desperate for it, and to be honest, I’m a very lazy person. (yes, Bella, you heard me 🙂 )  But, when I did deep condition, I used an accommodated (I didn’t have all the ingredients Alex’s recipe called for) version of the dry hair conditioner.  It made my hair soft, but I had so much build-up. And I don’t know if I’ve told you, but I had a huge build-up problem before no-poo, but no-poo helped clear it away.  So I washed with lemon juice and vitamin e oil, and it got out some of it; but my hair was back to normal. This is my hair deep  conditioning process…

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I have an above ground pool, that is part chlorine and part salt.  Every time I got out of the pool, I use the acv conditioner mix and it worked very well.  traveling with no-poo has been very easy; half of the time, I only need to bring some natural bar soap or castile soap and an extra 3oz bottle and I’m set!  This is my hair after about a month of no-‘poo… it grew 4  inches in 2 months!

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 6.40.10 PM

I just switched over to Shea Moisture shampoo (with the vitamin e oil conditioner still) coconut & hibiscus for thick & curly hair.  I also use the matching spray for frizz control.  They work really well; I dilute the shampoo a little less than 1 part shampoo to 5 parts water.  I was my hair a little more often (every 3 days or so) just because I love the smell so much and it leaves my hair so soft and nourished. 🙂  Here’s my hair after my first Shea Moisture wash:

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Okay, so here are some products I recommend/my beauty and hair line-up:

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  • Affilia African Black Soap-$6-16oz-Whole Foods: gentle cleanser for my face, hands and body (diluted).  I got a citrus scented one and it smells delicious!
  • Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap-$10-16oz-Whole Foods or really anywhere: duh. if you buy one thing, buy this. I do full strength to clean my retainer.  I use it with my hands, face and body diluted with coconut oil every once in a while.  My favorite scents are rose, almond, and lavender.
  • Shea Budda (Butter, but I like saying it that way.)-about $1/oz-Whole Foods: I whip it up with so coconut oil and essential oil for a moisturizing body butter/lotion.  It has a very strong earthy scent that I don’t really prefer, but I still like it.
  • Essential oil-depends on the flavor-Whole Foods is a gold mine for EO’s!: I only have one right now, Mandarin.  I want lavender and peppermint next.  These thing are just awesome; remember that a little goes a looooooong way.
  • Tea tree oil-$7-1oz-Trader Joes or Whole Foods: I make my own hand sanitizer with this, rubbing alcohol, and vitamin e oil. I also make my own lip balm, and sometimes I’ll add this and peppermint extract for a mint-eos-feel.
  •  Beeswax-$12-1lb-Whole Foods: I melted the 1lb block and put it into an ice cube tray.  one cube=6 lip balms. seriously. just melt it with some shea, coconut oil, vanilla, almond, or peppermint extract(and tea tree oil), and some honey and SCOOP (scoop it with a spoon into the containers for better texture and accessibility than pouring it in hot) it once it’s a little cool into 50 cent lip balm jars from Walmart in the travel section.
  • Lavender Salt Scrub-$5-10. I forget.-20 oz- Trader Joe’s: great scent and moisturizer with some awesome ingredients.  I use it for shaving—but rinse before shaving—it hurts when it gets stuck in the raser!
  • Biggs and Featherbelle Momma Bar-around $4-regular sized bar-Whole Foods: They have a little display there with all sorts of B&F bars; this one it lavender scented.  I use it for the face and body.
  • Trader Joe’s No-Flouride Fennel Toothpaste-$2-Trader Joe’s. duh.: I actually like the taste and its feel, even though I’m not a fennel person.  the only thing is, it has carrageenan. I think I’m gonna start making my own.
  • Tom’s of Maine Lavender Deodorant-$4-anywhere: this doesn’t work for very long, but has a nice scent at first.  I’m gonna start making my own.
  • Cute Mini Spice Jars-my mom forgot where she got them and how much they were. ugh.  but maybe Whole Foods? or Home Goods? anyway, great for hold deo, toothpowder/paste, lotion, etc.

Okay, so this is the end of my post.  Please comment questions and I’ll answer them.  It’s such an honor to post on this blog; I love this blog and Alex!  If there’s anything else I have to share about my no-poo journey, maybe I’ll update it.  I would like to say thanks to Bella for introducing this routine to me! Bye crunchy community!

-Nina ❤


isn’t nina the greatest?
leave her some love… and questions!

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