Filed under: Lifestyle
I have not shampooed my hair for about 3 years. Yep, it’s true. But if you saw me, you probably wouldn’t notice.
Sound gross? It’s not! I actually have a very clean scalp and very clean, healthy hair. How? I wash my scalp and hair with baking soda. Interested? Keep reading.
Why Ditch the Shampoo?
The real goal in hair washing is to get the scalp clean, and manage hair oils. We’ll talk about the specifics of how the “no poo” method accomplishes these goals in a minute. But first, let’s consider how shampoo works. Traditional shampoos strip hair of natural oils. But hair oils (and other body oils) are largely produced as needed – so if you’re constantly stripping your hair and scalp of their natural oils, your body will boost production to make up for it. This leads to an increased need for shampoo! And so you get caught in a circle…you use shampoo, your body makes more oil for your scalp, your hair gets greasy, you need to wash your hair again, you use shampoo, your body makes more oil…etc.
(You might also be interested to know that many shampoos contain potentially harmful ingredients – Look up ingredients and brands here)
So how does this work?
The No Poo method tackles the goals of a clean scalp and managed hair oils in a slightly different way. The scalp is cleaned using gentle cleansers such as baking soda. And the scalp and hair are allowed to return to their natural oil balance, which usually eliminates the problems of dry or oily hair.
My Personal Methodology
When I first started, following instructions I found at mothering.com, I mixed up a baking soda paste by adding a bit of water to a handful of baking soda and scrubbing it into my scalp just as I would shampoo. Eventually, I realized that it was much easier to scrub the baking soda into my scalp when my (considerably long) hair was dry, so I began washing my dry hair before getting into the shower to rinse. (As an added bonus, this method also saves water as well as the gas used to power our water heater!)
After rinsing thoroughly in the hottest water I can stand, I rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar. (My early mistake was not diluting the vinegar enough, earning me the nickname of Fish and Chips around the house.) These days, I fill a water bottle about ¼ full with vinegar, then fill the rest with water. I also add a few drops of essential oils – usually lavender, since I have that on hand and it smells nice. I keep this concoction in a sports-cap water bottle in the shower and squeeze some over my hair, then rinse out well.
I don’t use any hair products at all, and I try to brush my hair morning and night – gently and with a natural bristle brush to help distribute the oils produced by my scalp down to the ends of my hair where it is most needed. I currently wash my scalp about once a week, and rinse my hair one additional time during the week. My hair begins to get just a little oily the day before I wash, but it is generally only noticeable to me. Before I went no poo, I needed to wash at least every other day or I had greasy, unmanageable, and just plain gross hair!
If you’re thinking about trying this method, be forewarned! Most people experience a week or two of “icky hair” while their scalp struggles to adjust to the new routine. I did not experience this transition time, but many do. If you can outlast this period, though, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful, all natural hair and scalp!
Here are some basic instructions on living “no poo.”
- Rinse your hair daily with hot water and brush with a natural bristle brush.
- As often as needed (for some people, this is every few days, for some once a week is enough), scrub scalp with a baking soda paste and rinse well.
- Rinse hair with diluted vinegar (apple cider vinegar smells nicer).
- Take good care of your hair between washings by brushing gently and minimizing the use of hair products.
If the simple baking-soda-and-vinegar routine doesn’t seem to work for you, here are some variations on the basic routine that some people have found helpful:
- Add a honey scalp massage to help with dry hair or itchy scalp
- Wash with an egg instead of baking soda.
- Use beer instead of vinegar.
- Use a rosemary essential oil infusion instead of vinegar.
- Use lime or lemon juice instead of vinegar.
- Use some essential oil on the very ends of hair to cut down on frizzies and dry ends.
There are now quite a few blogs about not using shampoo. (and there are always a few threads on no poo at Mothering.)
Not for You?
If ditching the shampoo is not for you, but you’re interested in using less-toxic products for cleaning your hair and scalp, you might consider the great Shampoo Bars made by Heart of Iowa Soapworks and sold by PrairieLand Herbs.
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