Friday, January 13, 2012

Coming Clean

I have a confession to make: I haven't shampooed my hair for a year.

(Waves of consternation roll over the web. Horrified readers, reeling with shock, click frantically through their "Blogs I Follow" list, searching for the "delete" button. Meanwhile Marigold, calmly ruminating upon her stump of wisdom in western Washington State, remarks "What the hay? I've never shampooed my hair, and no one gives a peanut!")

Yes, you read that right. No shampoo for a year. That's not to say I haven't washed my hair. I have - but not with shampoo.

Last January I went no-poo: which is the common term for washing one's hair by means of something other than shampoo. There are various methods available: water only, which I haven't tried; conditioner only, which I also haven't tried, as it's recommended for naturally curly-headed types (and oh how I wish I were one of those). Then there's the baking soda / apple cider vinegar (charmingly abbreviated as BS and ACV) method - what I use - in which the hair is washed with a baking soda/water solution, and rinsed with vinegar and water. I keep small containers of baking soda and vinegar in the tub, with empty cups, and mix up just enough every time I shower.

Having written two earlier posts on this topic (which you can read here and here), I shan't repeat what I've said before. I will only say that after a happy year of clean, soft, shiny, shampoo-free hair, I will never go back (nor will Mr. M, who actually grew back some of the hair on his bald spots after giving up shampoo). Wintertime static is almost non-existent; my hair never needs conditioner; and though I regularly use a curling iron on my bangs and the ends of my long hair, I have no split ends.

(Warning - perspiration ahead. The squeamish may wish to skip this paragraph.) Since my no-poo journey began in wintertime, I did wonder how my hair would behave through a summer of sweaty outdoor exercise. Wouldn't I be tempted to wash it more often, or slip back into shampooing? Quite the contrary - my hair actually stayed cleaner this past summer. If my scalp got sweaty on a non-hairwashing day, all I had to do was let the perspiration dry, then brush thoroughly with a natural bristle brush - and the hair looked and felt as clean as it had before I exercised.

As with any alternative cleaning method, no-poo isn't for everyone - but it certainly works for me. (My only regret is that I can't come up with a replacement for commercial hairspray too - or one that works as well. I've tried all the recipes out there, but they lack the muscle of the storebought stuff.)

If you've read this far, and would like to find out more about going shampoo-less, click here for a link with very comprehensive information. Or you can just Google "no poo" and see what comes up. Those of you with naturally curly hair (lucky you!) might be particularly interested in the conditioner-only method.

Happy anniversary to my shampoo-free (but still clean) hair!

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  1. Congrats on your no-poo method. I use such cheap shampoo I'm afraid baking soda would be more expensive and my hair is so dry that I'm afraid the soda would make it drier.

  2. Very cool! I'm going to try this as I am trying to avoid industrial detergents and a shampoo without them is hard to find. (I am using Shikai right now and it is pretty 'clean') But I would love to not have the static!

    re: your other comment - the industrial detergents, especially in 'cheap' shampoos are likely 'causing' your dryness. I bought a 5lb bag of baking soda at Costco for Not Much Money!

  3. Dear Mrs. Micawber,
    You are correct. That is exactly what I was thinking. How did you know? I, myself, have tried using Peanut butter, but alas it was far too sticky even after rinsing. Can you imagine how the hay stuck to me? I looked more like a porcupine than a goat. Oy. Then I tried Peanut oil, but it added far too much body. The Goatmother gives us baking soda for indigestion once in awhile. I'm thinking I just might try your method even though no Peanuts are involved. Thank you so much for your wonderful suggestion.

  4. Oh, by the way, I think you are in excellent company. I remember reading that Robert Pattinson (Twilight) never washes his hair. Although I am not sure if he uses your method or just doesn't bother with any method. If he uses the 'no method' approach, it might explain why his hair never moves in those scenes where his coat is blowing.

  5. Mac n'Janet - I think Cecelia may be right. FYI, a vinegar rinse might actually help the dryness from the shampoo. It restores the acid balance.

    Marigold - I would love to see you coated with p.b. and hay, but I am sure the Goatmother would not appreciate having to scrape you off. I had not so far heard about Robert Pattinson, but I think I may have read somewhere that Jessica Simpson is or was no-poo. (Not that it really matters.)

  6. Hello extra clean lady! This article has interested me enormously. It is wonderful to be able to read about 'drastic' changes to everyday habits without having to undergo the drastic changes oneself. Of course now I have read about the success of your lifestyle alterations I am seduced into jumping on the bandwagon and trying it out for myself. You do know the English are very good at sitting on the fence, don't you?

    Have a beautiful poo-free week!

  7. Indeed, I have been interested in this myself for a couple of years. I did the water-only method for 6 weeks, and probably would have continued if it wasn't for the super-oilyness my hair was suffering. Reading the information on you link right now to see if it with provide me with an alternative that will suit better. Thanks so much for sharing :)

  8. Claire - so nice to hear from you. I think my hair would do even better if I stopped using hairspray, but that will never happen. :) As it is I'm very happy with the routine. Good luck.

  9. Mrs. M - I have been using the baking soda wash with the ACV rinse for 10 days or so now. Works Fantastic! Clean hair, less frizzy, soft, stays cleaner longer. I have my daughter and husband trying it too. My husband has thin, baby fine hair that he wears long just to have more hair, I am hoping that this will make his hair thicker so he will let me cut it! :o)

  10. Sue, I'm way behind in reading posts. This is great - thank you for sharing this. I color my hair, and I've just done some searches that aren't very positively conclusive on the effects on the color. Some say it lightens the color a bit, some say it strips it. I'll keep looking before I experiment on myself. But love this info! BTW, I've been using your laundry method for about 2 weeks and so far am very happy with it! I'll do a few more weeks before I post.

  11. What an interesting concept. I wonder how it works hair that has been dyed. I have heard that in clothing, vinegar can prevent color from bleeding out, so I wonder if the same is true of hair.
    I may have to try this. The good shampoos are salon only and I can rarely afford to justify spending upwards of 15.00 or MORE on each container of hair product.
    Thanks for the information!

  12. What fun. I heard a story on NPR about how hair doesn't need to be washed twice a day and now wash mine twice a week and it has not caused the world to end. Lucky me, I can try the conditioner only approach.

  13. KUDOS! To u and Babs! I read her article as well and I am sold! I do not wash my hair often as I don't really use hair products anyway. I will never buy another bottle of shampoo or conditioner! I feel so liberated! Baking soda and vinegar, here I come! <3


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