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?

Chinwe

Chinwe

Empowering women of color to break barriers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin. https://cherishthymelanin.com/ https://www.facebook.com/cherishthymelanin/

20 thoughts on “My Experience using Honey to Shampoo My Hair + 3 Homemade Honey Shampoo Recipes

  1. Might start adding honey to my face mud mask (rhassoul + jojoba oil). I also use honey as a deep conditioner and I love it! I usually mix it with kaolin clay which is gentle and can help cleanse the hair. Maybe next time, I’ll skip my shampoo and see how it works. Thanks!

    P.S. My clay and honey recipes: http://puffpuffpoof.wordpress.com/?s=honey

  2. My issue with using honey as a cleanser is the sugar residue that might be left in your hair afterwards. I’d be afraid that cleansing with any sugar-based product could lead to scalp yeast infections (it happens, look it up). That’s the reason that years ago I started limiting the use of honey in my hair products even though it’s a great preservative and emulsifier.

    • When I searched “scalp yeast infections” “scalp psoriasis” kept on popping up.

      Here’s some info suggesting that honey (mixed with olive oil and beeswax) can be effective against psoriasis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15022655.

      This abstract might also be interesting to look at though it talks more about seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff (which are also fungal): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11485891

      “The patients were asked to apply diluted crude honey (90% honey diluted in warm water) every other day on the lesions with gentle rubbing for 2-3 mins. Honey was left for 3 hr before gentle rinsing with warm water. … All the patients responded markedly with application of honey. Itching was relieved and scaling was disappeared within one week. Skin lesions were healed and disappeared completely within 2 weeks.”

      There are many people who have been honey cleansing for a while just fine. However, I’d definitely suggest consulting a physician beforehand if one has a history of scalp conditions. (Actually, I’d also recommend that for baking soda and these other substances we put on our scalp.)

      Thanks for asking though. Important question!

      :o)

      • Thanks, Chinwe! I’ve steered clear from baking soda because it seems harsh but it’s always best to consult a doctor if you have a sensitive scalp and/or a condition.

  3. I’ve been using honey for awhile. That added into my pre-poos with daily coconut oil use really made my hair grow pretty long in a year after I big chopped. Honey is the bomb dot com.

  4. The only thing I’d worry about with the usage of honey is the spoiling. It is, after all, a food product. I might consider adding a little bit to my hair products that already have preservatives in them and are meant to be washed out. What do you all think?

    • I add honey/raw honey to my conditioner all the time. I mix them together in a bowl with oils, add to my hair, then rinse out. It works great.

    • Honey itself does not spoil. However, mixing it with water will cause it spoil, no matter how pure the water. That’s why the author of this blog said to mix enough for one use. You can also store the mixture in the fridge but that might cause some brrrrrr in the shower! My daughter has been using honey instead of shampoo for quite some time and her hair is so beautiful. Her curls are more defined. We are Caucasian but have very curly hair. Back in the day, my brother had a ‘fro to rival Billy Preston’s, tho light blonde :)

  5. Great Article! I used Honey for the whole month of June and half of July and my hair changed tremendously. It is so soft and detangling is a breeze! I used the Aloe recipe you listed, but I added 2 tsp. of Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar. Even though I’m no longer using it (until I can buy more) my hair is still soft and detangling is the easiest task.

    • I haven’t used it as a leave in though there are companies that use honey in their leave-in products like Oyin and Qhemet. I think it would need to be diluted. Just like you won’t apply just glycerin without mixing with water etc. Honey is a humectant so it will attract moisture…

      I still wouldn’t use just honey as a leave-in because I would worry that the smell may attract bugs or become sticky if I didn’t portion out correctly. Just my two cents :)

  6. I use to use plain honey to maintain my locks many years ago. I have seborrhea dermatitis and during those years my scalp was the healthiest it has ever been. My hair was absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for this article. I will be revisiting using honey again as a cleanser!

  7. I used honey and coconut oil as a deep conditioner once ( heated it up) when I rinsed my hair was moisturized ad soft but the next day my hair was extremely dry! Do you guys think the honey did this? Oh and afterwards I did my leave in conditioner oils and butters.

    • IMO that’s the coconut oil.
      Try to mix honey with a different oil, same ratios and you will immediately find out who’s the guilty one.
      Honey + avocado oil.
      If same results, try black molasses + coconut oil.

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