Caucasian Hair Cleansing: Shikakai, Shampoo, Conditioner, Bentonite and more!

I have been promising this post for a while! This is a repeat of the microscope cleansing experiments we did with my (African) hair but using my hubby's (Caucasian) hair. Here it is!

The Experiment
I used my own shed hair and imaged it:
-on its own without any washing
- washed with one type of test cleanser only (2 minute water rinse, 2 minute test cleanser, 2 minute water rinse and air dried for 4 hours)
- the test cleansers were plain water, shampoo, conditioner, bentonite clay, shikakai, apple cider vinegar (1:1 ratio with water) and baking soda. ACV and baking soda had an extended time of 10 minutes in the cleansing phase.

The Results

1. Oily hair

My hubby shampoos his hair every 2-3 days and does not use conditioner or oil so his hair is pretty oil free. I therefore applied shea butter to his hair to create the oily surface needed for the experiment.

'Unwashed' Caucasian hair which is relatively oil free due to frequent shampoo use

Oily Caucasian hair with shea butter used for this experiment
2. Water only wash

The water only spread the oil around the hair strand but did not really clean it off.

 Oil spread over the strands in the water only wash
3. Shampoo only wash

The shampoo wash as expected gave the cleanest most oil free strands.
Shampoo cleaned Caucasian hair
4. Conditioner only wash

The conditioner wash gave mostly clean oil free hair with just tiny spots of oil visible

Hair conditioner cleansed hair - mostly clean some oil circled in white
 5. Bentonite clay wash

The clay wash resulted in a very similar result to the conditioner wash. The hair was mostly clean with some oil visible. In this case subjectively there was more oil than with the hair conditioner. I have circled some of the more obvious bulges in white

Bentonite clay cleansed hair

6. Shikakai 

Shikakai gave a somewhat clean result. Quite a bit of oil was still visible after the two minutes of cleaning.

Shikakai cleansed hair - not all visible oil is marked, just the more obvious spots

7.  Apple Cider Vinegar

The result with ACV was similar to water only washing, the oil just seemed to spread

ACV wash - oil spread over the strand, no real cleansing observed

8. Baking soda

As with ACV, baking soda also seemed to spread the oil and not really clean the oil off the hair.

Baking soda wash - hair remained oily 
Additional notes:
Running warm water was used for all washes. In each wash or rinse,  hair was rubbed gently to simulate normal hair washing. Hair conditioner - Tresemme Naturals Conditioner, Shampoo - Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Shampoo, Bentonite Clay - Detox people, Shikakai - Hesh, Sainsbury's, ACV - Sainsbury's, Baking Soda - Dr. Oetker.

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.


  1. It's super soft and comfortable, and you can use it in so many different ways, and with any type of hair.. hair

  2. This is very useful for all. Thanks for sharing with us
    cleaning products in Chennai


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