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.


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