Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Experience With No-Poo

Here I am, doing another occasional blog about something totally random.

So, 8 weeks ago, after much reading and a gradual move towards more natural crunchy things, I decided to try going no-poo (you know, the whole quitting shampoo thing).  I thought I'd write about my experience in case someone comes looking for as many opinions as they can get.  I'm also going to explain what works for me and my greasy hair.

So, I started as most do, with the 1 tbsp baking soda, 1 tbsp cider vinegar thing.  I dissolved my baking soda in a cup of water right in the shower, and dumped it on my head, and massaged for a bit.  My hair felt awful.  I rinsed with the vinegar, diluting it with my shower water in a bigger cup.  Felt slightly better.  So I got out, towel-dried a bit, and as I combed it out I realized that it felt... how do I describe this... gluey.  It was slightly sticky and if I squeezed it, it stuck together in a solid mass.  It was as if I had rinsed not with vinegar, but with soft beeswax.  For three weeks I played with the ratio of baking soda and vinegar (which was almost certainly what was causing the icky feel), and feeling like a greaseball.  My hair was  stringy, greasy, gross... my hands were gross and sticky after touching it. 

I started reading about using castile, so I bought some castile bar soap.  It still made my hair feel icky, but a different kind of icky.  I then decided to stop messing with the "cleaning" part, and start experimenting with the "rinsing" part.  Now, I have an overabundance of sage in my backyard - apparently, if you don't cut it back in the fall, it grows back on all the old wood.  So I took a bunch of it and steeped it in boiling water, and ended up with a strong sage tea.  I washed with baking soda and rinsed with sage tea and my hair felt better.  The clumpy waxy feeling was gone... though this may have also been due to my increased vigor with the baking soda part.  Next step achieved.

So enough back story.  Today, after what I've learned, here's what I do when I wash my hair.
  • I brew enough tea for a 2-pint mason jar (usually a handful of sage and a spoonful of some kind of loose tea). To this I add 1/2 tbsp of cider vinegar.  When I shower I pour enough of this into my cup to fill it halfway (I think it's a 16 oz cup).
  • I take a small cup and I mix together 1 tbsp each: baking soda, liquid castile (made from bar soap and water), and water.  I add a couple of drops of essential oil - lavender, bergamot, lemon, rosemary, whatever.  If my hair is feeling particularly bad or I've waited too long, I add 1 tsp of borax.  
  • When I get in the shower and get the water good and hot, I add a little more water to my baking soda mixture and pour it on my head.  I scrub my whole scalp thoroughly for a minute or two.  With this mixture still in my hair, I take a wide-toothed comb that I keep in the shower and I comb my hair out.  This is easier than it sounds, I assure you - this mixture makes tangles fall out no problem.  This ensures that the length gets clean too.
  • I rinse this out, then top up my tea cup with shower water.  If I'm in the mood I add oils to this too just to add scent, sometimes palmarosa or ylang ylang, or sweet orange - just a drop or two of anything.  I pour this slowly around my whole scalp, work it in slightly, then rinse out.  That's it.
I know it seems lengthy and involved, but really other than making the tea, it takes next to no time at all, even for the washing.  Prep takes about 2 minutes, and the whole washing-rinsing process takes about 7 minutes, or however long two songs are, because by the time I'm done, the music I've put on is only on the third song (current shower music is selections from Avalon by Sully Erna).  Anyway, I know a lot of people advise using a boar bristle brush, but I find this makes my hair look greasier.  I prefer a comb or a plastic brush these days, with the BBB for smoothing out the top.  It's been 8 weeks and my scalp has accepted the new routine and is easing up on the oil.  I can now easily go 4 days between washing.  Really, when you work it out, 7 minutes every 4 days versus 5-10 minutes every day or two?  It's actually a huge time-saver.  It also means I can take fewer showers and more baths, which is preferable to me.   My hair isn't as fluffy as it used to be, but I like it that way.  It looks healthy and shiny.

So, to anyone who's iffy about trying the whole no-poo thing, what have you got to lose?  A whole lot of chemicals and a few weeks of your life while your head adjusts.  It's such a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things.  I know it feels awful and you think you look awful, but honestly nobody is going to remember your hair.  From a distance, it just looks like hair.  It's greasy, but it's clean, and that sounds so weird.  I looked back at photos I took during the worst of it, and it just looks like hair.  I got through it and nobody said a word or gave me a funny look.  No hats, no buns, just me and my hair.  So..  yeah, it can't hurt to give it a try.  I did and I'm not looking back.

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