Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Trying Something New // No (sham)Poo

Photo Credit

February 6, 2012 was the date of my last shampoo.
Ever? I don’t know. But hopefully for most of the rest of my life, if possible. That’s the plan right now anyways.

Shampoo and conditioner are two of those items that contain a bunch of chemical crud that makes you feel clean but can actually do more harm to your skin than good. I’m not an expert, but some of the chemicals in these products are cited as causing skin irritation, pre-mature aging of the skin, weakening your natural barrier to bacteria and viruses…and a whole slew of other scary side effects. But it is not my purpose here to sound an alarm and scare everyone. 

Here’s my point of view:
If I have the opportunity to choose between something that is safe for my skin and something potentially harmful, I’m going with the safe option. I want to give my skin, my body, the best chance it can have for being healthy.

PLUS there is the added benefit of cost savings. Many safer, all natural, alternatives are much cheaper than store bought stuff. Now I am one who couponed my way to about 12 free bottles of shampoo last year and I still have four or five left. I won’t be saving any money since free is free, but the alternative to shampoo and conditioner is cheap enough to be worth the effort. (And I plan to donate the extra bottles so they don’t go to waste, since I do believe shampoo is better than nothing at all.)

So how do I keep my hair clean?
Wash with Baking Soda (this is a cleaning agent) and rinse with Apple Cider or White Vinegar (a conditioning agent) three times a week. 

Many people call this the “No ‘Poo Method”…in case you want to Google it for more info. There are various approaches as far as how much baking soda (BS) and apple cider vinegar (ACV) to use.

This is my current routine on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays:

1) Before my shower, I prep about 2 tbsp of BS per 2 cups of water in my old shampoo bottle, and about 2 tbsp of ACV per 2 cups of water in my old conditioner bottle.

2) In the shower I wet my hair, then squirt and rub the BS solution all over the scalp, not the tresses, to remove any build-up and dirt.

TIP: My hair is long and thick so it clings to my scalp when wet. I found the best way to evenly work the BS solution into my scalp is to flip my hair over so the roots separate from the scalp.

3) Rinse the BS solution out thoroughly.

TIP: I use a large wide-tooth comb during my rinses to make sure everything washes out and keep my hair from getting tangled.

4) Rinse tresses with the ACV solution. I start squirting at about ear-level and work my way down. I do not use ACV on my scalp. This is because the scalp already produces oils that moisturize the roots of the hair. ACV will help condition the tresses that may not receive as much moisture from the natural oils.

5) Thoroughly rinse the ACV using the comb.

Honestly, the ACV smell was tough to take the first few times. But if it is rinsed out really well, then once the hair is dry you cannot smell anything. I tested this by asking my husband on random days to smell my head. He didn’t know I was doing the no ‘poo method yet…and he couldn’t smell a thing! Even on the days I didn’t wash, no ACV or body odor. 

Now there is a catch.
But this is still worth it so keep reading! Shampoo and conditioner strip the scalp of natural body oils causing pores to overproduce. Most people do not notice because hair gets washed every day or every other day. When you stop using shampoo, the scalp goes through an adjustment period. During this time, the pores have to “learn” how to slow down and not produce so much oil. Until it learns, there can be a lot of greasiness to contend with.

The adjustment period is different for everyone
This is why there are so many variations on how to use BS and ACV – the different amounts can affect oil production in different ways for different people. The quoted average is three to four weeks of ponytail hairdos until the greasiness subsides. After this, hair reportedly has more volume, many see natural curls and waves come forth, others talk about having amazing “beach hair” that doesn’t tangle or dry weird after a swim in the ocean. Also, after using the no ‘poo method for a while, it seems the goal is to decrease to washes once a week with only hot water rinses when sweaty....and the hair will still be amazing every other day of the week.

I cannot attest to all of that yet, but I did keep a short log so I could see how long my adjustment took and any other traits worth mentioning... 

The day after my BS & ACV wash, one month since going 'poo free.

My experience so far:
I had two weeks right at first that felt really gross on my no-wash days: super greasy roots that even a ponytail had trouble hiding. My hair also felt stringy and tangled during the wash and after it dried. Then I had another week or so during which I didn’t feel gross, yet things were still normalizing. I could comb through my hair pretty well, but running fingers through it was near impossible still. I am now at a point where my hair feels soft and clean every day. 

However, it still feels different. I feel like my hair does not have as much volume and I do not see my natural waves. (In the pic above, I had braided my hair before bed so I could have some waves). It could be because of how long my hair is and the weight is naturally pulling everything down. Or it could be I have not adjusted completely. 

I also feel like my hair could be softer. It is suggested to use a natural boar’s hair brush to help spread oils at the roots down through the tresses. Maybe once I get one of those, I will have softer, shinier hair. And I do miss the pretty hair smell…you know, tropical fruits and flowers…indulgence. I imagine this can be easily solved with an essential oil spray.

I know I’m not done experimenting with this yet. So far, I like the results. It is a simple and truly clean method for getting my hair clean. And last week a cashier said, “I love your hair. You don’t seem many redheads with good-looking hair.” Haha! BS and ACV must be doing well for me!

I’ll post updates if I come across anything new on the topic. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions…..or even tips! I am certainly still learning!