Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No 'Poo!

No, this doesn't have anything to do with dirty diapers or poo--or stinky poo as we call it at our house. "No 'poo" refers to cleansing your hair without soap or shampoo. There are about a million different methods that fall under the the "no 'poo" definition--probably because there are so many different hair types!

Now, why in the world would I ever want to stop using shampoo and conditioner? Some people do it for environmental reasons, others because of sensitive scalps or to save money or because nothing seems to work quite right for their hair or just for fun. For me, nothing seems to work quite right for my very fine, thin, stick-straight and generally oily hair. And I think I can save us some money, though the savings aren't much when a $6 bottle of Ganier Frutis lasts for 2-3 months. My thin hair doesn't need much shampoo or conditioner to be clean.

However, I decided that since all conditioners seem to weigh down my very fine hair and shampoos tend to over-dry it, I wanted to try something more natural. Back in January or so I decided that once my bottle of shampoo/conditioner 2-in-1 ran out, I would be switching to baking soda and vinegar to clean my hair.

To be honest, I didn't do a lot of internet research on this switch. I have several online friends who use a couple different methods of no 'poo, so I mostly just talked to them about it. Becky at South of Sunnybrook was especially helpful. :) The method that enchanted me the most, if that's really the right word to use, was the one that uses baking soda and vinegar rinses. Why? I don't know, maybe because I think baking soda and vinegar are some of the most wonderful cleaning products in the world and every household should have a nice stock of them. :)

So, the fateful last squirt of my shampoo came on May 10th. I knew it was coming and had prepared myself by talking with my friends to know what to expect and to figure out what to start with. The two things I heard the most were: 1) this takes some experimenting to get it right for your hair and 2) it will take a while for your hair to adjust to not being cleaned by soap--be ready for your hair to look nasty for a few weeks. Here follows my log of this experiment.

Week 1 (May 11-17):

Day 1--I decided to start with a routine that involves me massaging about a tablespoon of dry baking soda into my dry scalp, rinsing it out, and then rinsing it with a mixture of 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 cup of water. Hair looks and feels great! Vinegar smell only sticks around for as long as my hair is wet.
Day 2-- Hair is a bit greasy but not bad.
Day 3-- Hair pretty greasy, which is totally expected. Hope it doesn't look this bad for church on Sunday... It was really hard to get the baking soda down to my scalp, it wanted to stick to my hair. Gross.
Day 4-- Re-read some info a friend sent me. She mixes her 1 tablespoon of baking soda into 1 cup of water (and then does the same vinegar rinse I'm doing). That sounds a lot easier than getting dry baking soda into my greasy hair. Tried that. Hair immediately felt much, much cleaner. I still massaged my scalp (which is good for your hair follicles) and followed the rest of my routine. When dried, my hair looks amazing--no grease, just nice shine. I think I will keep this change for now.
Day 5-- Hair looks great again after washing.
Day 6-- Decided to try cleaning my hair every other day. Today was a no-wash day and my hair looks gross and greasy.
Day 7-- Hair looks great again after cleaning.

Week 2 (May 18-24)

Day 8-- No-wash day again. Hair looks gross. I'm going to try to keep this up for a while to see if my hair adjusts, but I don't enjoy the gross hair days.
Day 12-- Another no-wash day. My hair is definitely adjusting to this new pattern. It still looks greasy at the roots and not quite as clean as on wash days, but it's not embarrassing to go out and about in it. It doesn't hold styling as well (I only dry if I have to and curl with an iron on its lowest setting--nothing more), but enough to look fine.

Week 3 (May 25-31)

Day 18-- I had an epiphany earlier this week. I realized that if I'm not washing my hair every day, that I don't have to take a shower in the morning anymore! This saves me a ton of time in the mornings with my little toddler running around, bent on creating havoc. So I've switched my showers to the evenings. This is working great, though I still need to wet my hair to actually fix it decently in the morning. Towards the end of the 2nd day, my hair still looks rather gross to me. Most people wouldn't think twice about it at this point, but I know it doesn't look as nice as it does when it's only 24 or 36 hours since being washed. BUT it does seem to be adjusting to this routine, so I'm going to keep going with it.

Week 5 (June 8-14)
I wasn't thrilled with the no-wash days. My hair looked great at 24 hours post-wash, but definitely needed to be washed between 36 and 40 hours post-wash. By 48 hours (time for another wash!), it looked awful. That just wasn't working for me, so I switched things up again. I am back to washing my hair every day (it is summer, after all!), but only with half the concentration of baking soda and vinegar. So I was doing 1 tablespoon of baking soda per 8 oz. of water; now I'm doing a half tablespoon (more like a heaping teaspoon) of baking soda per 8 oz of water. The same goes for the vinegar. Seems to be working fine so far.

Week 7 (June 21-27)
I'm liking how this current hair routine is working out. The 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda and vinegar to 8 oz of water seems just about right for summertime. My hair still looks pretty good when it's time for the next wash so I could probably decrease the concentration of the baking soda and vinegar a bit more, but I think I'll just be sticking with this for a while. I imagine that when cooler, drier weather comes, I may need to re-adjust my routine but we will see when that time comes.

A couple notes:

-One thing I've found strange about this switch is how my hair acts when it's being styled with a curling iron (which happens 2-3 times a week). It still kind of bothers me when I curl it and it holds the curl while looking kind of, well, greasy. But then I just shake my head to help separate and settle the hairs and it looks fine. I'm guessing that I'm seeing that now that my hair is not being stripped of its natural oils.

-My husband says that my hair feels the best that it's ever felt (we've been married just over 3 yrs) and I think I agree. My hair looks nice and healthy to me, which makes me feel good about it. :) We'll see what happens when our baby is born since hormonal changes can have significant impact on how hair acts.

-I'm done with this for now, though I will probably update it later this year if I have to make any significant changes to my hair washing routine after the baby comes or with the weather change. Hope that others find this useful--or just fun to read. :)

Postpartum update: I did find that I needed to increase the amount of baking soda I used from 1/2 a tablespoon to a full tablespoon for 8 oz. of water. Apparently my non-pregnant hormones make me more greasy. That was the only change.

-It's now been almost 2 years since I switched to cleaning my hair with baking soda and vinegar and I see no reason to ever go back to shampoo. I'm very happy with this method and my hair looks better and acts healthier than it ever did before.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Alphabet Bean Bags!

My daughter is obsessed with the alphabet, so for her birthday (which was actually 4 months ago) I decided to make her an alphabet toy that she can really play with. She also didn't have many toys that she could throw inside, so I thought bean bags were the perfect solution!

It was a pretty simple project, though somewhat time-consuming. Making myself a template to cut along helped a lot. Mine was 4 inches square, but I think that I might make them slightly larger if I make a similar project again.
I re-used t-shirts that my husband and I don't wear any more for whatever reason. I did make sure they were in good condition.
Black fabric for the consonants, red fabric for the vowels. I cut a few extra of each color just in case I messed up later.
I took a while to find a good font for the letters and, unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the one I used--it wasn't one of the common ones, though. I found the right font size (they printed 2.5 inches tall, I believe), set them to print outlines only (save ink!), cut my freezer paper to 8.5x11 inches, and printed the letters out on the NON-SHINY side of the paper. (Be careful not to print on the shiny side or you'll have a yucky mess. This also will only work in inkjet printers--laser printers will melt the freezer paper.) Then I cut them out, being careful to safe all the centers.
I ironed them on (medium to high heat, no steam).
Yay, ready to paint!
And started painting. What I found with the jersey material (and vivid colors of the fabric) was that the colored fabric paint (I use Plaid folkart) would soak into the fabric and not show up very well. I ended up doing a coat or two of white fabric paint first, before putting the color down.
What I should have done, I realized after completing the project, was to put down a layer of the intended color to soak into the fabric and fill in gaps under the edge of the freezer paper and THEN put down the white on top of that first layer. This would get rid of the white outline and edges that I ended up with on my finished letters. Oh well, live and learn!
All the colors down!
They look so pretty! I let them sit and air dry for 24-48 hours, then ironed them (per the instructions on the paint bottle) to set the paint.
Then it's time to sew them together! Make sure that the upper and lower case letters don't get flipped upside down in relation to each other. I used about a 1/4 inch seam, leaving a gap for turning and filling, and clipped all the corners.
Turning them was pretty easy, but filling wasn't. If I had been using rice, then filling would have been a breeze, but I was using kidney beans and a home-made funnel (from paper--no pictures, sorry) and it took a bit of work to get the bags filled. Be careful not to overfill the bags or you'll have a hard time stitching the gap closed. I did not topstitch around the entire edge of the bags because I felt like that would be a huge pain.
All finished! No logical order to the bags in this picture, just colors. If you click on the picture, you should be able to see the bags in more detail (including the white edges that some of the letters ended up with).

My daughter loves them and I'm pleased with how they turned out. I may make a few more later on so that she has extra letters to spell her name and other common words.