Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cecilia's Recipe: How to Make Gugo or Gogo Shampoo

In Cebu, Philippines, where I grew up, we used to wash our hair with Gugo or Gogo shampoo. Rectangular sheets of Gugo bark were bought at the wet market. We soaked a bark sheet overnight in a basin with water, and the next day, we used the red-brown liquid as hair shampoo or rinse.  

Local people have used Gugo since ancient days because it lathers; it has saponin, which has a foaming characteristic. Gugo promotes hair growth and overall healthy scalp and hair. Before the advent of modern shampoos, when Filipinas were using Gugo, women had incredibly beautiful hair -- long, black, shiny, thick. 

I've been looking for the Gugo bark in Cebu and during my last visit, personally went to the wet market, only to have vendors give me a blank look when I said, "Do you have Gugo?" Apparently, store-bought shampoos have replaced Gugo, and now it's difficult to find. A shame, because this is really good stuff.

Fortunately, after a long search, my nieces, Edith Manguerra and Baby So, found Gugo for me. 

Gugo or Gogo's scientific name is Entada phaseoloides; it is also known as St. Thomas Bean, Matchbox Bean, and Elva Climber. It grows wild in the lowland forests of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Africa, Pacific Islands, and other Asian countries.

Every part of Gugo has medicinal properties. It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-fungal, lowers blood pressure, among other medicinal functions.  My main interest is its bark decoction, which is used to promote healthy scalp and beautiful thick hair.

The simplest way to use Gugo is to soak a bark sheet in a basin of water for an hour or longer. Squish the bark in the water to create suds.Use the foamy red-brown liquid as shampoo; rinse off with water. You can use it as a rinse after your regular shampoo and rinse off with water. Someone in the internet suggested using the Gugo decoction/mixture as a rinse and leaving it on. (This sounds like a good idea to me; the longer it sits on the scalp, the better.)

You may squeeze in lemon to the Gugo decoction (in the Philippines, they use calamansi, a small citrus fruit). You can add a bit of vinegar. And you can also add a decoction from Rosemary herb, which is also famous for promoting hair growth. You can also add essential oils.

You can use a bark strip 4-5 times, as long as it lathers in water. Dry in between use. (The locals use the bark as a body scrub, like a loofah.)

This is what I did recently to make Gugo shampoo:

1. I soaked a bark sheet of Gugo in a basin with distilled water overnight.The water covered the bark. 

2. I cut perhaps 4 eight-inch branches with leaves from my Rosemary bush. I boiled these in approximately 16 oz distilled water to make a "tea" for around ten minutes. 

3. I got a big jar and poured in the Gugo decoction.  I placed a strainer on top of the jar lid and poured in the cooled Rosemary "tea." 

4. I squeezed a lemon and added the lemon juice to my mixture.

5. I added three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to my mixture.

I have a lot.  I will pour these into two or three spray bottles and add strips of the Gugo bark. I think the bark sheets will keep the mixture potent, and more of the Gugo-power will leach onto the mixture. I will refrigerate what I won't use right away

I will use it as shampoo or rinse. I can also use it as a hair tonic and rub into my scalp once or twice a day as desired.

Here's another tip: be sure and wash your combs and brushes regularly. There is a chemical that clings to dirty combs and brushes that promotes hair loss.


1. Gugo Strip Shampoo
a. Get a small strip from the bark, put in dipper (Tabo). Add lemon.
b. Hang the Gugo strip after bath. It is reusable as long as it has suds. (If it has no more suds, put in your compost.)

2. Bottled Gugo Shampoo
a. Put half of a Gugo strip in a bowl, let it stay for 30 or more minutes.
b. Squeeze! Enjoy forming natural suds, then put in reusable plastic bottle.
c. For every 250ml (or less) plastic bottle, add 1 or more lemon and half teaspoon natural or organic vinegar. I use cane vinegar. Vinegar is preservative and also another beauty secret to make hair manageable.

Read also
How to make Tea from Hibiscus or Gumamela
Herbs as Natural Remedies
The Sugarcane Plantations of the Philippines and Muscovado

 This is all for now,

tags: beauty, hair, gugo, gogo, shampoo, rinse, Philippines, Entada Phaseiloides


Unknown said...

Hi! Thank you for the helpful article! May I know where you found the Gugo bark in Cebu?

Unknown said...
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Cecilia Manguerra Brainard said...

They had a difficult time finding the gugo bark in Luzon.

Unknown said...

I bought gugo bark online for I couldn't find any here in manila. You can buy your gugo strips here