No [sham]’Poo

My hair has been, not a matter of pride, but a matter of. . . frustrating vanity. I’m that girl who hit puberty and it took a year to realize that the oily greasy mess of my hair was not attractive. Thus began my daily, and on rare occasions every other day, hair washings.

Even as an adult when I would go more than 24 hours without a hair washing my hair would feel disgusting, separate into oily strands and just blech. Sometimes I would stretch it a day by pulling my hair back into a ponytail, but any strands that came loose were stringy. To sum, if I had to make any kind of public appearance I has to have wanshed my hair that day… No more than 18 hours ago.

Now thats not all. I have that hair that is tempremental about shampoo. I had a shampoo collection of 5 to 6 varieties based not just on my moods but my hair’s moods. One day a shampoo would just not work and my hair will be limp and blech. Hence a wide collection that I would randomly switch up.

My hair . . . was a pain. Some of you reading this don’t know me, so I should introduce myself a little. A part of me loves the idea of sustainable living, being self-reliant, finding alternative medicines, maintaining health and curing disease with nutrition, and natural remedies. Then there is the lazy part of me. I will read all kinds of books, find them inspiring, then go on with my life.

Until I read Hair Gone Wild! by Diane Kidman.

I read her story of going without shampoo and thought “why not me?” No. Really. Why not me?

So I began my no shampoo (also known as “No ‘Poo”) journey. Despite how tempting it has been, I have not shampooed since Sept 23, 2012. Or rather that was the last day I shampooed. The enticement of not needing to shampoo everyday, soft hair that I can style, reduced static and unknown secrets that my hair might reveal was enough to motivate action.

Day 1: 2 cups of water and 2 tbsp baking powder mixed; and 1 tbsp of white vinegar in 1 cup of water

I started enthusiastic and yet slightly skeptical. Got my hair wet, poured on the baking soda mixture, scrubbed, and rinsed. It was disturbing. No foam, no way of telling if my hair was getting clean.

I washed my face and then rinsed with the vinegar mixture. I rinsed my hair and finished showering.

Then. . . My face started to itch. I looked in the mirror as I was drying off and the side of my face and neck were red, slightly swollen and little bumps were appearing. Great. I know an allergic reaction when I see one. So I took a benedryl. I looked great for work later! (sarcasm)

But I wouldn’t give up. The reaction was only where my face wash and the baking soda mixture met. Clearly out had to be some weird reaction to the combo. Thankfully no reaction since. Now about my hair that first day. Nothing special. It still felt a little greasy where I poured the vinegar mix.

By Day 4 I decided to omit the vinegar after reducing the ratio didn’t seem to remove that greasy feel, and I even tried using a mixture of lemon juice and water–nada.

I knew that it was going to be a couple rough weeks to start off, so I didn’t worry when my hair didn’t seem to get better. As time passed though, it started to feel. . . Weird. Like when I washed it it wasn’t quite clean.

By the end of week 3 it was waxy. I don’t know how else to describe it. By midweek 4, I was in tears ready to shave my head or use shampoo, anything. I cried to my husband about feeling ugly and disgusting, and a whole other of random unrelated things hoping he would tell me to calm down and just shampoo my hair. But he didn’t. He told me to keep at it a bit longer.

I did what I do when my hubby won’t let me give up: research. I learned that sebum (our hair’s oil) is something that all mammals have. . . as a waxy waterproofing coating. Ok. Waxy feeling accounted for, but what do I do. After all waterproofing sebum probably doesn’t just wash off. Any why did the weird waxy coating seem like it was dirty–as if the baking soda mixture wasn’t rinsing out properly?

I found a blog of a woman who had a similar problem as me: greasy hair, very hard water, fussy fine hair, and a sebum build up when trying to go No ‘Poo. I wish I saved her blog, but I can’t find it right now. Either way, she tried the diluted apple cider vingar most No Pooers use, she tried diluted white vinegar and lemon juice. She tried undiluted white vinegar and undiluted lemon juice (both working but having their own problems –ie bees like white vinegar, you have to remember to get the lemon juice from the fridge). And she finally used citric acid blended into water (because citric acid looks like sugar crystals).

Basically I learned from her that I needed an acid to break down the sebum build up. You know that vinegar that I stopped using? Well, vinegar, lemon juice, citric acid all could work. . . If I use them. Thankfully she mentioned how using it undiluted really helped her hair.

I poured probably a cup of straight white vinegar on my hair. Scrubbed like my life depended on it. It wasn’t quite better yet, and the massive amount of vinegar left a not so pleasant smell but the waxy feel was gone. The next day washing with the baking soda and some undiluted lemon juice made it feel legitimately clean for the first time since I stopped shampooing.

Now, I brushed over all the little changes I tried (making a making soda paste, rinsing with rosemary tea, trying a water lemon juice mix as a rinse, rinsing with ginger lemon tea… You get the idea), so don’t think I didn’t try different solutions.

Either way, here’s my right now. After my freakout I finally got my hair to work right. I wash out every two to three days. It doesn’t ever feel waxy anymore.  And even when it starts to get a little oily 2 days without washing it still feels cleaner than it did a mere 18 hours after shampooing. I probably wash more than I need to, but I love the feel of freshly cleaned hair.

The biggest thing I love is how incredibly soft my hair feels. I still have winter static problems, but it looks and feels better than that freshly shampooed hair.

My only regret is the different scents that I had with shampoo. I know there are ways but remember that laziness I described earlier. . .ya.

My current hair washing procedure:

Before showering prepare:

Using a small mug our other container mix enough water and baking soda for the water to feel slippery.

This can be 2-3 tsp for half cup of water. I don’t measure, just add by feel. Sometimes some of the baking soda will settle to the bottom. Thats okay. You don’t normally use all of this liquid.

Pour up to 1/4 cup undiluted lemon juice into a mug or other container.

I usually end up pouring the quarter cup amount but honestly I can use just 2-3 tbsp.

Start my shower and rinse your hair. Just get it good and wet through. Pour baking soda mix onto your hair. Start gently massaging your head, focus on the crown of your head then work the edges of your scalp.

I have shorter hair (shoulder length) so I don’t focus on the ends, but you may need to if your hair is longer.

Rinse out your hair. Be thorough when you do this.

Next pour the undiluted lemon juice on your hair. I usually pour some on the crown of my head, then gather up my ends and pour the rest on them. Work it through your hair. I usually notice how my hair starts to feel smoother and silky as I do this.

Then rinse out your hair again.

Sometimes if my hair didn’t quite feel right: too silky smooth (it’s hard to describe), I’ll use just a little of the baking soda mix on the crown of my head.

There you go! It’s been over a month of feeling good about my hair. As I said before, it has been soooo soft. Even my husband was surprised when he felt my hair after I raved about it’s softness.

I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures for you. The best thing would have pictures of right after shampooing and 2 days after shampooing vs right after washing and 2 days after this new washing regime. But I’m not going to start shampooing again just to get good pics.

On a side note, I plan to try using citric acid mixed with water instead of lemon juice: easier than trying to remember to get the lemon juice from the fridge. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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