Rye Flour Shampoo on Natural Hair

In October, I started a personal protective style challenge with the intention of improving my length retention and the overall health of my hair. One of my strategies for success was to eliminate commercial shampoos from my regimen. Instead I would use naturally derived shampoos to cleanse my protective style each week. For these natural cleansers to work, they must have the same consistency as a tea rinse so that I could easily wash my protective hairstyles. In the first month, I used the water washing method and honey washes, but I wanted something more. During my research, I came across herbal and other alternative shampoos, including rye flour shampoo. I was intrigued to learn how it could be used on my natural 4c hair.

What Is Rye Flour?

Rye is a grass that is grown as grain and is used for flour, bread, beer, some whiskeys, and in animal feed.  Rye is high in carbohydrates and dietary fiber.  It provides small quantities of protein, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins. 

With a natural pH of 5.5, this shampoo is great for the scalp which also has a pH of around 5.5.   

WARNING:  Rye flour has lower levels of gluten than wheat flour, however it may be unsuitable for use for those with Celiac disease or other gluten intolerances.

Creating Rye Flour Shampoo

Making rye flour shampoo only requires two ingredients:  distilled water and rye flour.  The process of making this shampoo is straightforward.  As a guide, I used this Victorian bran shampoo recipe and substituted the bran for rye flour.  

NOTE:  You can make this shampoo with either light rye or dark rye.  Making this shampoo with light rye flour would make the process of making this shampoo easier. If you are using dark rye flour I recommend sifting out as much bran as you can before starting.

Directions

1.  Place 2 tablespoons of rye flour into a bowl.

2.  Bring 1 cup of distilled water to a boil.

3.  Once the water has boiled, add it to the rye flour and allow it to cool.

4.  After the infusion has cooled, use a cheese/muslin cloth and/or a coffee filter to remove any additional bran from the infusion.

Customization

What I like about this natural shampoo is that cleansing and medicinal effects can be boosted with herbs.  Orris root, lavender, or peppermint are just a few herbs that can aid in scalp and hair health.  

Recommended Batch Size

For best results, use this shampoo immediately.

Bowl of rye flour, orris root, lemongrass, and lavandin to make an herbal rye flour shampoo
Rye flour shampoo can be customized with a variety of herbs to aid in scalp and hair health.

Using Rye Flour Shampoo on Natural Hair

This shampoo is really easy to use and can apply it to your hair like a tea rinse. 

It’s important to note that rye flour shampoo doesn’t create suds like soap or shampoo.  As a result, this shampoo may not be favourable to those who prefer to lot of suds when washing their hair.   As a mild cleanser, you might find it better to use it on hair without a lot of product or buildup.

Double Bowl Method

The first method of application requires the use of two bowls.  Place the rye flour shampoo into one bowl then place the second bowl in a sink or bathtub.  Hold your hair over the bowl that you’ve place in the bathtub and then pour the shampoo over your hair.  The bowl in the tub will catch the runoff shampoo.  As you’re pouring the shampoo over your hair be sure to scrub your scalp. Once all of the runoff is in the bowl, exchange the bowls and start the process again until your scalp and hair have been thoroughly cleansed.  Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. 

Applicator Bottle Method

The second method of application is much easier to use, especially if you’re short on space.  Pour the rye flour shampoo into an applicator bottle, then apply the shampoo to your scalp and hair.  The nozzle is great for getting the shampoo directly to your roots, especially if you’re wearing breaded hair styles.  Be sure to scrub your scalp and squeeze the shampoo along the length of your hair. 

I personally like to leave the shampoo on my hair for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly with lukewarm water. 

Results of Rye Flour Shampoo on Natural Hair

I was skeptical about using flour to wash my hair.  I’ve baked before and I’ve seen what happens to flour when liquid you add liquid.  I thought that I would end up with a sticky mess on my hair or that I would have a lots of bran flakes stuck in my mini curls.  Besides, how could flour clean hair? 

I have to say that I was surprised!  This shampoo did in fact clean my hair.  My hair wasn’t extremely soft like when I washed my hair with soapwort root shampoo. My hair did feel clean and though slightly rough, similar to the feeling I get when I use a bentonite or rhassoul clay mask.

I didn’t follow the shampoo up with a rinse out conditioner, but I did maintain my usual moisturizing routine.  My hair felt stiff immediately after washing, but I was surprised at how much it softened over the next few days. 

Dark rye flour is a bit of a hassle to work with, but I look forward to trying it in combination with other herbs.  If I’m able to find light rye, I think that making shampoo will be so much easier.

Have you ever washed your hair with rye flour shampoo?

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