Thursday, September 10, 2009

No Shampoo

Lest my friends think I am insane, here is a little explanation post that was sparked by a comment that I left on another blog.

All my life I have had straight hair. Super straight hair. Hair so straight that I have had perms that lasted less than twenty four hours. So straight that for high school prom, the beauty shop slicked my whole head with gel, wrapped my hair in curlers, and baked it under the dryers. I had the lovely, high-piled, curly up-do that was all the rage then, but my hair was as hard as a rock. Completely stiff. It took five washings to return it to normal.

So, as anyone with straight hair can tell you, I have always had a struggle with hair products. Almost anything (that I am willing to pay for) weighs down straight hair. Even the wrong kind of shampoo can leave your hair stringy and lifeless. This has led to a lifetime of less-than-enthusiastic hair care. Why bother when no matter what you do, it looks the same.


About a year ago, I had someone suggest to me that I stop using shampoo altogether. After I looked at them like they were crazy, I did a little research and found out that my friend was not as crazy as I thought. So a new regimen was born (and has continued).

So here's what I do:

For my "shampoo"
I mix one tablespoon of baking soda/bicarb with one cup of warm water.

The ratio is important. If you want to mix more at a time, you can, but just keep that 1T to 1C ratio. I use a whole cup when I wash my hair, but I have long hair (four or five inches past my shoulders), you may not need as much. Too much baking soda/bicarb and you will have crispy, dry hair. Too much water and it may not clean effectively.

For my "conditioner":
I mix one to two tablespoons of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)to one cup of warm water.
(I actually make a double batch because I find that I need more for rinsing my long hair)

I mix this up fresh every time I wash my hair. It only takes a few seconds. But if you want to mix up more and keep it in bottles in your bathroom, just follow the ratios and you'll be fine.

So I wet my hair thoroughly and pour the soda mixture over my scalp a little at a time gently working it in as you go.

This is the part that may throw some of you because there is no lather. We have been conditioned to think that foamy bubbles=clean. But trust me it is working.

I let it stand for about a minute and the rinse out with cool water, completely flooding your scalp. Don't skimp on the rinsing. I made that mistake once after I had been doing this for a few months and afterward my scalp was so itchy that I though I was having an allergic reaction, lol! (the vinegar also helps with this because it neutralizes the soda)

After my hair is well rinsed, I pour on the vinegar mixture, and massage into my scalp. Let stand for one or two minutes. Then rinse with cool water.

Towel dry and you are done.

A few notes:

Cool water is important. It calms your scalp and is nicer to your hair than hot water. I normally wash my hair in water that I would consider too cold for a shower, wrap my head in a towel, then crank on the hot and finish my shower.

There is an adjustment period. Your hair has to "detox", especially if you use a lot of product. For about a week or two, you find your hair feels or acts different. The same is true if you are traveling and the water has different mineral content, so be aware. I'm not talking "Bride of Frankenstein" different, just a difference in texture and touch.

If you use styling products (i.e.-hairspray, mousse, gel) you should comb out your hair before washing. It helps to loosen the gunk and allow the soda to do it's thing.

This will make your hair clean. Literally "squeaky" clean. I find myself going longer and longer between actual washings. At this point I only actually wash my hair two times a week with warm water rinses whenever I shower in between to remove dust and dirt.

Yes, in the shower, your hair smells like vinegar, and I know that this is a smell that most people don't like. But it fades as soon as your hair is dry, I promise. Your hair will smell like clean hair, which is to say, like nothing. No perfumes or scents. If you like a little "smelly" for your hair you can add a few drops of essential oil to the rinse. Lavender and citrus are nice, Tea Tree can even help with dandruff and scalp issues. I've even used Vanilla extract. Experiment.

Why this works:

Traditional shampoo is a detergent. So, by it's very nature it strips your hair of everything, both good and bad. That's why we need conditioner; to put back all of the natural oils that the shampoo stripped away. That is also why your hair gets greasy. Your scalp is trying to compensate for all of the missing natural oils.

Baking soda/Bicarb doesn't do that. It removes the dirt and debris and leaves your hair and it's oils alone to do their own thing. The vinegar makes your hair shiny and soft, while also neutralizing the soda.

So there it is. My foray into the "crunchy" hippie lifestyle. I love it. My hair has never been healthier or shinier. It actually has body and doesn't go flat two hours after I leave the bathroom.

And the icing on the cake?


Here the Midwest US the supplies cost me about six cents a wash, and they keep on the shelf indefinitely. Take that, $35 dollar bottle of shampoo!!

1 comment:

JulieMom said...

Thank you for posting! I wonder what it does to curly hair...maybe I'll try it this weekend.

And where are the pics of this LONG hair?! I wanna see!