Posted by: terrapraeta | October 7, 2009

HABA Update

Give it to me, don’t give it away
Don’t think about what the others say
My skins getting clear, my hairs so bright
All you do is f*** me every day and night

You’re my secret beauty routine
Na, na, na, na, what my body has seen
I am lookin’ good and I’m feeling nice
Baby you’re the best magazine advice

Liz Phair, H.W.C

So I wrote a couple weeks ago about my experimentation with shampoo alternatives. I’ve had some small success with it, but I have changed a few things.

First off, while I am now quite pleased with the baking soda rinse, I usually do my hair every other day, occasionally letting it go to a third, I found that the henna conditioning was not at all what I hoped. It does a fabulous job of deep conditioning and absorbing an oily buildup from using only baking soda, it does not do anything for softness or manageability. Lucky for me, I found exactly what I needed. I went out and picked up $0.28 worth of dried chamomile flowers, brewed a light tea with a tiny fraction of my purchase, and put it into a spritz bottle. Every time I wash my hair, a spritz it with the tea and comb through. It is fabulous stuff. It smooths the hair shaft, detangles, reduces frizz and generally softens my hair. I’m hooked.

I have used the henna twice now (two weeks apart) and I am now getting comments about how brilliantly red my hair has become. So even though I am using it lightly, the color is dramatic. I think probably a combination of the fact that I am a natural red head, so my hair takes the color easily and the fact that I am not washing with harsh soaps or chemicals. So this week I am skipping the henna… maybe next week, maybe the week after and we’ll see what frequency really gives me the best balance of condition, residue removal and color.

I also have been playing with yucca root as body wash. That has been less successful. I harvested a really nice root, peeled it, chopped it (I was going to grate it, but it seemed like I was losing all of the soap so I switched to chopping), put it in the foot of a pair of stockings with a little chamomile (told you I’m hooked) and tied it off. First use, very little suds, no odor control, it worked well as a loofah (between the hard chop and the stocking texture) and a little skin softening. So I researched more and found a site about modern native americans using yucca soap to process raw wool. Couple things came out – first, they remove the root by pounding with a hammer, then smash the root itself. Then, according to the site, yucca root only suds in cold water. Ah ha!

So I have collected more root and will be smashing it this afternoon. I tired the old batch in cold water this morning and had mixed results. I added a little baking soda to a glass of cold water and then frothed the sachet in that before washing. It still did not froth as much as I would like – a couple possibilities; it’s getting to old/used up; the chopping didn’t break up enough of the fibers; and/or I am using narrowleaf yucca which may be less effective than the preferred banana yucca. Banana yucca does grow here, but apparently not in my backyard. So if this next batch is no good, I’ll have to look a little further afield to see if I can find yucca bacatta.

So that’s where we stand right now. Hair, check, skin… still working on it.



  1. okay, so i’m happy to hear things are going well. i have developed a dry lock of hair on the upper back of my head. i don’t have any idea why…the rest of my hair remains soft and full of body. i’m very interested in the chamomile thing, though, and must try it.

    i wish i had yucca of any sort in my back yard…..

  2. You don’t have yucca there? I have rarely been anywhere that I couldn’t find it, even if it required sneaking into somebodies garden 😉 Then again… when digging up the root, I suppose that would be uncool!

  3. Oh… actually… look for plants in your area that contain “saprosin” — that is the chemical in yucca that makes it useful… and lots of things have it… anything listed in an edibles book that they say tastes “soapy” is probable to have saprosin….

  4. Another update…. went back to Chicago for most of a week, the weather was mostly cold and rainy. Very humid. And I was horrified to find that my hair turned into a dry, frizzy, staticy mess.

    Now… when I think about it, that has always been an issue for me… so it may have just been “normal” and irrelevant of the hair care regime. But nonetheless… when I travel next year I’m going to have to find a more intensive moisturizer… or go dreads. Not sure which, yet, but dealing with it the way it ways last week really tweaked my melon:-)


  5. And another……………

    Yesterday I was ready to henna once more… and my ends have been a bit dry, so I pulled out the olive oil to give it a good conditioning before applying the henna.

    The thought was that henna pushes oils into the hair shaft, so this would give me a condition and the henna would strip the excess oils.


    I went through the process and rinsed my hair with baking soda water… and my hair never dried. Too much oil. So I rinsed it again with very hot water with a tiny bit of dish soap swished in. Its still all oily… wet looking.

    So I’m gonna give it another rinse with hot water and dish soap… or else with vinegar and baking soda water, not sure which, maybe both…. I have to work in a couple more hours so *something* better do the trick! I’m just trying to avoid stripping it so badly that I’m back to square one.

    (On the flip, the extra oils seem to have made the henna really rich this time. Or else, its just repeated uses… we’ll see on that one too!)


  6. hey! i got really concerned about that dry, crispy spot, and finally stopped using ANYTHING. zip. nada. warm water rinses and scalp massage. it seems better. i am just toughing it out…hair seems heavy, but not greasy or smelly, and i still have lots of body, so i’m happy overall. i still have moments where i miss “silky” but i think that’s just cultural training talking, ya know?

    the real test will be when i go on the road again in a couple weeks, and don’t have access to showrs with lots of warm rinse water to flush my hair….THEN we’ll see how i like it 🙂

    what the hell, a few 10’s of thousands of aborigines can’t ALL be wrong, eh?

    thanks for the updates!

  7. Hey Kate!

    So I take it that the chamomile didn’t help? Strange.

    I think, really, that climate/local conditions probly plays a much bigger part than I ever realized. Here in Colorado my regime is working really well. But after that trip to Chi-town, I kinda cringe everytime I ponder how its gonna work when I’m traveling next year. I guess I’ll have to wait and see 🙂

    Where you headed this time?


  8. i forgot all about the chamomile. going out for some tomorrow. i’ll let you know….

    i’m heading first to florida, then across the south to so. cal. (the slabs) then to coastal northern ca.

    subject to change on a whim 🙂

  9. Ooooh… I’m jealous. My new header pic is coastal nothern cali…. beautiful area 😉


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