I have final­ly got around to test­ing some more nat­u­ral cleansers. In the fir­ing line today are castile soap (dilut­ed), nat­u­ral soap or sham­poo bar, oat water and shikakai.

The Exper­i­ment
I used my own shed hair and imaged it:

- on its own with­out any wash­ing (oily from sheabutter/coconut oil use)

- washed with sham­poo only (2 min­ute water rin­se, 2 min­ute sham­poo wash, 2 min­ute water rin­se and air dried for 4 hours)
— washed with cleanser ( 2 min­ute water rin­se, 2 min­ute (sham­poo bar/natural soap and castile soap) or 5 min­ute cleanser wash (oat water, shikakai), 2 min­ute water rin­se and air dried for 4 hours)


Con­trols — Oily hair and Sham­poo cleaned hair


As a stan­dard ref­er­ence for hair that has oil deposits, here is an image of the oily hair with clear clumps of oil on the strand (cir­cled in red)


For the clean hair ref­er­ence, here is a sam­ple of hair that has been washed with sham­poo (known to remove oil deposits). The sham­poo was John­son and Johnson’s baby sham­poo.

1. Castile Soap


Castile soap pro­duced fair­ly clean hair with just some minor deposits left on the strands. The soap was dilut­ed in a 1:5 ratio with water. Using the con­cen­trat­ed soap may pro­duce a more oil free result, although I would regard this as a fair­ly good result

2. Nat­u­ral Soap /Shampoo Bar


I used a nat­u­ral sham­poo bar made tra­di­tion­al­ly from olive oil and sodi­um hydrox­ide. The soap pro­duced very clean hair very sim­i­lar to sham­poo cleaned hair

3. Oat Water


Last year I sug­gest­ed that oat water (boil oats in water, sift off the oats, cool down the water and use that to cleanse hair) as a pos­si­ble mild cleanser due to the saponins in oats. It turns out that my the­o­ry was actu­al­ly a good one because the hair did come out pret­ty clean! The oat water had an extend­ed 5 min­ute cleans­ing time. If you are doing this method, do sift off the oats rather than using them as a mask, they can real­ly stick in hair!

4. Shikakai



Shikakai (pow­dered aca­cia pods)  is an Ayurvedic cleanser. Hav­ing had dif­fi­cul­ty with this pro­duct pre­vi­ous­ly, I extend­ed the wash time to 5 min­utes and used hand hot water. The final result pro­duced hair that was some­what clean but still some­what oily. In places, large deposits of the oil could still be seen. It may be pos­si­ble to obtain a bet­ter result with extend­ing the wash time even fur­ther.

Addi­tion­al notes:
Run­ning warm water was used for all wash­es. In each wash or rin­se, hair was rubbed gen­tly to sim­u­late nor­mal hair wash­ing.

Please do note that under the micro­scope we can see oil lay­ers but we do not see small deposits on hair e.g hair con­di­tion­er deposits (well you actu­al­ly could see them with spe­cialised instru­ments but not with my micro­scope!). Strict­ly speak­ing this exper­i­ment will answer the ques­tion, how well will wash­ing method X remove oil from hair.

Do you prefer nat­u­ral cleansers? Which ones work best for your hair type?


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13 Comments on "Microscope Photos Reveal Which Natural Cleansers Work Better Than Shampoo"

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Great exper­i­ment! With even bet­ter results!

Chinasa Okolo

I love sci­ence! I will be sure to buy nat­u­ral soap sham­poo bars when I fin­ish my cur­rent sham­poos!

The Natural Haven

Do bear in mind though that some peo­ple find nat­u­ral soaps irri­tat­ing because they have a high pH (8–10) com­pared to sham­poo (5–7). How­ev­er some peo­ple do not find the pH both­er­some at all.


I would love to know how to make up the oat water ie how much oats to water and what kind of oats was required?

The Natural Haven

I did one table­spoon of whole oats to one cup of water. I microwaved the mix for 1 min­ute, let it cool and then sieved the oats. There was a lot of squeez­ing to be done as when I let the oats cool, they real­ly took up a lot of the water.


real­ly suprised by the result, oat water real­ly wash­es!


I love the­se kind of arti­cles!


Very inter­est­ing results. I’m now even more sat­is­fied with using my sham­poo bars. I’ll try to find anoth­er use for my shikakai pow­der now.


Great info with the warmer months approach­ing! Will be using some of the­se meth­ods for cleans­ing!

Alwina Oyewoleturner

I just saved mon­ey not pur­chas­ing shikakai and castile soap. I want­ed to try them but I’m glad I didn’t. Thanks for shar­ing your results!


I nev­er thought of using those meth­ods but might try it now. Thank you!

Reece Wynter



Very inter­est­ing!