Hair

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Washing

Possessing, as I do, a head on which the hair on its chin is the same length as that on its crown, I don’t feel very well placed to advise on shampoos. Thankfully I do have a few female friends with luscious long hair who have experimented with different recipes for the cause. And they’ve come up with some great combinations.

The first is one I’d never have thought of. Get yourself some rye meal flour, nettles and burdock (or one or the other). Boil the latter, strain it through some cloth and then add a couple of teaspoons of rye meal. Mix this together really well so it has the consistency of watery porridge, leave it in your beautiful mane for a few minutes and then rinse out.

The same soapwort recipe I recommended for soap earlier is even more suitable for hair. Just as you would with a conventional, commercial product, massage the solution into your hair, leave it for a minute or two, and rinse out.

This can also be tailored to your hair type: add fennel for greasy hair, chamomile if you have light hair, rosemary if you have darker hair and sage for an itchy scalp. As a treat you can also add a handful of lemon verbena or lemon balm to give it a citrus smell, and some catnip to promote its healthy growth. Both of these you can cultivate in your back garden, just keep the cat away from the latter.

Haircutting

One of the biggest surprises from Freeconomy members was the amount of people who use it to get their haircut. Given how preciously some people protect their flowing locks, it certainly wasn’t one of the skills that I thought would be shared most frequently on the site. So if you fancy a new look, or its all become a bit unmanageable, search for a hairdresser in your local group and get it done for free.

Failing that, you could go and get a free semi-professional job. I often see signs on the windows of hair salons asking for brave volunteers who are willing to let their apprentices practise on them. Your other alternative is to, like me, have done with it and shave it off – as well as being incredibly low maintenance and saving you time making weird shampoos, it also means no one will notice when you eventually go bald.

Shaving

That said, if we had any sense, none of us would bother shaving. I go through phases of doing so, and have sometimes let it go all Giant Haystacks. I do like having a shave though, and I must admit it feels simultaneously both refreshing and stupid. Other times I’ll do it if I am trying to look my best to impress a young lady – having the same financial status as a caveman is one thing, looking like one is another.

To shave without money or electricity, a cut-throat razor is your best bet, unless you want to go palaeolithic and use flint. If you don’t have one, you should be able to find one on a gift economy website, as many people have them lying unused in this age of multi-blade razors, convenience, David Beckham billboards and disposability. If you are vegetarian or vegan, use the leathery surfaces of a foraged birch polypore (non-coincidentally also known as a razorstrop fungus) instead of leather to sharpen your razor.

I’ve had mixed reports from female friends that simply using friction can remove leg hair permanently from your body (it’s also good for removing dead skin and calluses). The best tool for this job is a pumice stone. This can be done dry, but it is advisable to at least soften the area you are about to use it on with warm water and/or oil. I have personally yet to try it for my bikini line, you’ll be disappointed to hear.

Instead of shaving foam from a can, you can use a soap made from a mixture of lye and either vegetable or animal fats (please use roadkill, as both wild and domesticated animals are having a tough enough time as it is without you killing them for a shave). This is time consuming, but then again, so is watching the telly. To make lye, all you need is a bucket or barrel with holes in the bottom, under which you place a large enough receptacle to retain the run-off. Line the top container with straw, and then the ash of a hardwood. Next pour rainwater over the ash a number of times – the more times, the more concentrated it gets. Each time the water is leached out of the top container and collected in the receptacle below, before being poured back over the top of the ash again. To test whether the lye is ready, you’ll need an uncooked egg (ideally from one of your own chooks). Drop it (the egg, not the chicken) into the lye. If it floats with a quarter of it above the water, the lye is perfect for making soap; below that and the lye is too weak and needs a few more repetitions of the process above; if it shows more than a quarter, it’s too strong, which can be remedied by just adding water until only a quarter shows. The water should get fairly hot, so allow it to cool.

Now it’s time to add the fat or oils (which should be the same temperature as the lye after it has cooled) to start the saponification process. Stir it until the mixture begins to thicken, add any of the beneficial herbs that are suitable for your skin type (which I mentioned above), pour into a mould and allow it to ‘cure’ for a month or two.

By which time your beard or leg hair will be very much ready for its application!