Our hair on average grows six inches ever year. That means, depending on how often you cut it, you have a lot of hair to take care of! My hair has always been thick and straight, but strangely prone to tangling. When I gave up using disposable products, I needed to develop a zero waste hair care routine that would keep my hair happy and the landfill empty.
Shampoo and Conditioner
I absolutely fell in love with shampoo bars once I first started using them. I found that J.R.Liggett's original shampoo bar keeps my hair well tamed and not too greasy. You rub it right on your hair as if it was soap and it suds up quite nicely! I usually then either skip the conditioner altogether or use a conditioner I purchase in bulk at my local health food store by filling up my own container. I tried using coconut oil in my hair as a conditioner but found that my hair was already too greasy for that (but it may work great with dry hair!). That being said, everyone's hair is quite different so if my routine doesn't work for you, you can also test out Lush's Shampoo and Conditioner Bars, Plaine Products refillable containers, or a homemade option like baking soda rinses and apple cider vinegar.
I often go quite a few days between hair washes to conserve water but hate how it makes my hair greasy. To combat the grease, I put in a little bit of dry shampoo in the morning and comb it through. Although you can buy fancy versions that cost a fortune, I prefer to make my own dry shampoo at home with just corn start and cocoa powder. Just add in enough cocoa powder to get a close color match with you hair and sprinkle on. It doesn't take much to make a world of a difference!
Every now and again I need a little help keeping my hair in place. Instead of using an aerosol can of chemical spray, I make my own hairspray at home! The recipe is extremely simple as you only need lemons, water, and vodka to make it (you can read the entire recipe here). And no, I promise you don't walk around smelling like a cocktail. The hairspray recipe can also be adapted by increasing the quantity of lemons (therefore increasing the strength of the hold) or dissolving a little sugar in it (also increasing the strength).
Brushes and Combs
The best way to avoid waste is to use up what you have first which means I'm still using an old plastic comb I've had for years now. But if you're in search of a new comb or brush, make sure you get one that is plastic free. You can get combs that are wood or bamboo that can be completely composted if they break. Hair brushes will often come with a little silicon or rubber in them in order to keep the bristles in place which means they'll be a little trickier to dispose of, but still avoid plastic. You can also stop by your local thrift shop to see if they have any combs that were donated - just don't forget to boil them in hot water to kill off any potential critters left behind.
Hair Ties, Barrettes, and Bands
If you're anything like me, you break hair ties way too frequently. And although collecting them off the ground and sanitizing them is a perfectly good (and cheap) option, sometimes I just crave a set of new hair ties. Thankfully, Kooshoo has created plastic free hair ties that are functional, cute, and eco-friendly! Every since they sent me a free sample a few months ago, I haven't gone almost a single day without putting up my hair.
I personally don't use barrettes or head bands any more but if you do, purchase ones that are made from 100% natural materials. Use cotton head bands instead of elastic or plastic ones. Barrettes can be purchased that are just wood and metal.
It doesn't occur to many to think about what happens to all the hair that is chopped off at salons. Well, shocker, it usually ends up in the trash. Since hair is an organic substance and perfectly capable of breaking down in compost, then consider cutting your hair at home. Collect the hair scraps and simply add them to your compost pile. If you still like going to a salon for your hair cut, check to see if there is a Green Circle Salon near you. Green Circle offers collection of hair clippings, foil, coloring tubes, and other salon waste to be repurposed or disposed of safely. Hair clippings, for example, are used to create booms or mats that are used to soak up oil spills.