Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bye Bye Shampoo

Getting rid of shampoo and using less chemically options has somehow become known as "no poo." As in, "I am going "no poo" starting tomorrow!" This terminology vexes me, but I still find the process intriguing. (Dudes: you may find this process less intriguing. Don't worry, there are lots of other manly sites you can go visit. )

At the very beginning of my Paleo journey, I attempted something like this. Unfortunately, the experiment coincided with a July trip to Italy. The combination of unmanageable hair, jaw-dropping heat and humidity, and travel photos was a tough one, and vanity/comfort finally won out. 

So, fast forward a year or so, and I realize that when I get breakouts, they seem to be around my hairline. Check the shampoo bottle: While I made sure it was paraben, sulfate, and silicone free, I didn't even think to check for "hydrolized wheat gluten".

So I tried looking for shampoos that met all those requirements, and also had some kind of vanilla smell: with no lavender or citrus. Evidently, that sort of shampoo does not exist.

Fine shampoo. To hell with you! I've been trying to get my hair to grow to about waist-length for years, and always managing to get it "almost there". Then I go to the salon and they cut off 2-4 inches of horribly damaged length. It's not like I'm not asking for Crystal Gayle hair length, here, and I realize that years of dyeing and crappy diet and all kinds of other stuff had probably taken their toll. Hmm. Maybe what my hair needs is "less crap".

So the great "No Shampoo Experiment" began.  

My hair is really long, and fairly thick It also tends to frizz quite a bit, if there's any kind of humidity. Since it's long, it has enough weight to it that it stays relatively flat on top, but the ends puff up alarmingly, and I end up with a sort of "Cocker Spaniel" thing going on. While it looked really cute on my childhood doggie, I am not a fan of it on me.

The first time I tried it, I was overjoyed. I'd gone to Crunchy Betty's No Poo tutorial, and familiarized myself with everything. I got a little nubby scalp treatment thing from the beauty supply store, diluted some ACV, mixed up some baking soda solution, and wow! It looked great! Lots of shine...although I was shocked at how much less curl there was. I did miss the shampoo smell, but hey- that's why I have what I lovingly call "granola perfume". 

We also went for a walk in the fog, and my hair didn't frizz: although the ends curled up a little. I wasn't using any lotions or potions on it either.

Then I did it again...and again...and again.

After the third and fourth "again", I wasn't too thrilled with it. I wash my hair twice a week, sometimes three times- My hair was used to that with regular shampoo, so transitioning to "no-poo" on that same schedule wasn't the problem. My scalp didn't itch or go into super oily mode. I was thrilled with the volume and shine. I definitely didn't miss the frizz. There was really only one big drawback: the ends of my hair were starting to feel like sad little brillo pads. I tried adding a little coconut oil, and that just made the ends look all stringy- and they were still dry. Jojoba did the same thing.

So of course, I did my reading. Everyone who does this says there's a learning curve. There were all kinds of solutions to this problem: masks, henna, hot oil treatments,with seemingly only middling results. Typically, people would give up. Chopping all my hair off was beginning to sound like a valid option.  A few things stuck with me though, and I decided to try one of the potions (based on the fact that I had all the ingredients in my fridge.)

And: voila! I have tried this twice, and my hair feels better and better each time. It looks great, too. As I have continued with the experiment, I find that I am not "shedding" as much, which is an exciting development- both for me, and whoever is responsible for the shower drain.

Here's my recipe for success. Keep in mind that this is a lot more feasible if you wash your hair at night, but you could also pre-make this. Amounts are approximate: I don't measure.


Full-fat Greek yogurt
Baking soda
Apple cider vinegar


Little bowl (optional)
nubby scalp brush
wide tooth comb
boar bristle brush (optional)
flexible plastic bottle with a long conical tip (like a hair color bottle)
empty bottle for vinegar rinse


Brush all tangles out of your hair. Mix 1/4 c. Greek yogurt and 1 tsp. honey- You can use a bowl, I just glop it into my hand. Mix it up, and massage it into the dry parts of your hair.  Throw it into a ponytail, and watch a TV show while it works its magic. You can wrap it in plastic wrap (or a towel) for extra conditioning if you want.

When you are ready to wash your hair, heat water (about 4 c.) until it is warm enough to dissolve baking soda and liquefy honey. Some people thinks that boiling the water first gives you better results: if you do that, wait until it has cooled a little before pouring it everywhere.

While water is heating, measure 2 TB. baking soda into the flexible plastic bottle, and 2 TB ACV and 1 tsp. honey into vinegar rinse bottle.

When water is ready, fill both bottles not quite full: they need some sloshing room, so you can mix the ingredients. Shake to combine.

In the shower, use the pint on the bottle to get baking soda solution close to your scalp. Focus on the roots, mixture will run down the length of your hair. Use nubby brush to really work it in- this also keeps scalp from getting gross. Let it sit for awhile, while you do the innumerable other shower things you have to do. Then rinse thoroughly.

OK: shut eyes, tilt head back, and pour ACV mix over scalp, and onto length of hair. When hair is saturated, comb through with wide tooth comb.  Rinse.

Then do the usual blot dry. I comb it through and use the hair dryer after that

The boar bristle brush is something I use between washings: it redistributes the natural oils from your hair, so they aren't just hanging out by the scalp.

Has anyone tried a version of this?

No comments:

Post a Comment