Gram Flour Shampoo

I’ve had a revelation in my search for zero waste haircare. For a few years now, I’ve been trying to move away from shampoo and conditioner in bottles and I’ve experimented with all sorts of alternatives. You can read about some of my experiments here. These experiments have been made slightly more complicated by a patch of eczema on my scalp. In between my experiments I’ve often returned to conventional shampoo and conditioner. Here are the things I’ve tried:

  • No shampoo or conditioner at all. This worked well for a while, but my eczema did not like it.
  • Bicarb of soda and vinegar. Long term use frazzled the ends of my hair and I discovered that this method is not great for curly hair, which has a more porous structure than straight hair.
  • Shampoo bars. I’ve tried a couple and quite liked them. We live in a hard water area, so an apple cider vinegar rinse is a must. Even with the rinse, the longer I used them the harder it got to shift the waxy feeling.
  • Avocado stone shampoo. More of a hair freshener than a wash.
  • Conker shampoo. An adequate wash to freshen hair up. I think if I used conker shampoo regularly, I’d need to wash my hair more frequently to keep it feeling clean.
  • Honey, lemon juice and aloe vera gel. This was a great wash, but in the long term was a bit too moisturising. It would work really well as a hair mask for dry hair.
  • Cocoa as dry shampoo. This works brilliantly as a way of extending time between washes, but irritates my scalp if used too much.

I had heard about using rye flour as a shampoo a couple of years ago, but didn’t get round to trying it out. Then a couple of weeks ago I read an article that recommended using gram flour. Gram flour, also known as channa dal or besan, is a gluten free flour made from chickpeas. You can use it to make tortillas, flatbreads and as a coating for frying. I tried making flatbreads with it and they worked well, but the family weren’t as keen on them as my usual flatbreads, so the gram flour has been sitting in the cupboard ever since.

A couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge and washed my hair with gram flour and I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I wasn’t quite so keen on the smell though and the ends of my hair were a little dry, so a week later I added a cider vinegar and rosemary rinse after the wash and put a little oil on the ends after I’d towel-dried it. I think I’ve finally found a hair wash routine that works for me! And it’s so cheap! A 1kg bag of gram flour is currently £1 in Morrisons and I only use three heaped teaspoons once a week, so it should last me a loooong time.

Here’s my method:

  1. In one jar mix three heaped teaspoons of gram flour with enough warm water to form a thick paste. In another jar steep a few sprigs of rosemary in freshly boiled water. Head up to the bathroom with both jars and a bottle of apple cider vinegar.
  2. Wet hair and apply the gram flour paste to your scalp. Rinse the jar, you’ll need it in a few minutes. Leave the paste on for a few minutes whilst you wash your face and body.
  3. Rinse your hair well.
  4. Strain the water from the rosemary into your spare jar, add a splash of cider vinegar and enough water so that it isn’t too hot for your scalp.
  5. Pour this conditioning rinse over your hair and massage through hair and scalp. Then rinse with clean water.

My hair feels soft and manageable and it’s lasting at least five days between washes. I can stretch to a week. The thing I’ve learnt through this process is to be adaptable to my hair’s needs and keep trying new things.

Are you experimenting with alternatives to shampoo at the moment? Do let me know in the comments what you’re using to wash your hair and how you’re getting on.

Update 16/02/2020 – After a couple of weeks, I started finding the rinse too moisturising, so now I just use chickpea flour and a little sweet almond oil on the ends as necessary. I don’t notice any smell from the chickpea flour at all either, so maybe it wears off as my hair dries or I’ve stopped noticing the smell.

6 comments

  1. I have just switched to ‘no-poo’ around 2.5 weeks ago and have also started out with besan with an acv rinse… I was surprised at how clean my hair felt afterwards! It’s amazing that something so basic can really clean hair so well, gives me lots of volume too.

    I am using lockdown as an excuse to stretch out my hair washes, find it looks dirty after 2 days, but I’m leaving it 4 to 5… it’s tough though! It’s taking what feels like forever to become less oily 😦

    I’m also struggling with the smell of the besan, and feel like my hair constantly smells like I’ve spent the day cooking in a small kitchen – even some lemon essential oil has not masked the besan smell which I’m a little disappointed about. My next experiment will to mix lemon or orange peel powder into the bag of flour and see whether the scent absorbs into the besan! Will let you know whether it works!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like you’re doing a great job of switching from conventional shampoo to alternatives. As you’re just a couple of weeks in, you will start to see an adjustment soon as your scalp produces less oil. Stick with it! I found the smell of the besan wasn’t so bad after a few goes with it. I don’t know if that coincided with me stopping the acv rinse or whether I just got used to it.
      When I first gave up conventional shampoo, I tied myself up in knots worrying about whether I’d put myself back to square one if I used shampoo once in a while. I’ve relaxed a bit more now and every so often, if we go swimming or I’m on holiday (chance would be a fine thing at the moment!!), I use normal shampoo.
      I’d love to hear how you get on with the lemon/orange peel powder. That sounds like it could be a good solution to the besan smell being a bit off-putting. 🙂

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  2. do you have hard or soft water? i have a damn time getting the gram flour out of my hair when i have tried this method, and maybe that is the water, or maybe i dont know a trick? 😉 i really would like this to work… it is same thing with rye, it is the gritty bits from the flour that just sticks to my hair like glue…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Karin, thanks for commenting. We have hard water here, which can be a real pain when it comes to using shampoo bars etc. I find it helps to spend a little time making a really smooth paste with the chickpea flour and water and give my scalp a good scrub with my finger tips as I rinse. I don’t tend to find that I get bits stuck in my hair. It’s more I sometimes get a bit stuck to my scalp tbh. What other alternatives to shampoo have you tried? Perhaps there’s something else that would work for you? 🙂

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