When I first heard about people not shampoo-ing their hair, I immediately thought of the worst…that somewhere out there was a group of yucky greasy haired folks walking around. This was about three years ago when I first discovered the Mothering forums. There was a post link with hundreds of replies to this whole ‘No Poo’ thing. Gross, I thought.
Then last summer I started noticing a trend in bloggers who also decided to stop using shampoo. Amy of Angry Chicken is someone whom I admire so when she gave up using shampoo I became curious. Then I noticed that Meg of Sew Liberated converted too. If these beautiful, crafty woman were doing it, maybe I should try it too?
I first started noticing that maybe you didn’t need shampoo when I had my first son. He was born with very little hair and what precious hair he did have all fell out and he was lacking in the hair department until he was about 18 months old. So I never bothered shampooing his hair because he barely had any. And it never looked bad at all, actually it looked great. In fact I only started shampooing his hair when we was just over two years old only out of peer pressure…everyone else was doing it.
Why Would You Ever Give up Shampoo?
Supposedly most shampoo is laden with terrible chemicals, which is truthfully not hard to believe. Plus going through bottle after bottle creates a lot of unneeded waste and expense. And if you were like me, if you go a day or (gasp) two without shampooing your hair does look like a big greasy mess. Am I right? The real reason I wanted to give up shampoo wasn’t so much for the chemicals or the landfill situation, but because isn’t it always nice to give up being dependent on something that we don’t even really need? Especially something that corporate culture insists we need everyday? It’s kind of a liberating feeling.
The way that shampoo works is that it strips your hair of it’s natural oils. So your body reacts from it’s oil shortage by making more. Then you wash it the next day and strip the oils again, which means that once again your body produces more oil, you see how the cycle works. But by not using shampoo you let the hair oil factory regulate it’s oil production levels to create a healthy balance.
Using baking soda instead of shampoo is a good way to cleanse your hair without stripping it of it’s oils. In fact some people claim that they don’t even use baking soda, they just rinse their hair!
My Entry into Being Shampoo Liberated
I first stopped shampooing last August and it was a total disaster. Maybe it’s because my hair was really long or maybe I didn’t wait long enough through the transition period (it can take a while for your oil glands to slow down their production). I went back to shampoo using. Then in October I cut my hair up to my shoulders and decided to give it a try again. This time I was successful. I started out by combining a tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of water in a little ramekin every two or three days and bringing that into the shower with me, but soon I got lazy and just combined the two in the same proportion into a large empty plastic bottle (an old Dr. Bronners bottle). I squirt out about half a cup onto the top of my head and give my hair/head a good massage with my fingertips. Then I flip my head over and repeat with the underside of my hair. Then I thoroughly rinse it all out. Some people follow that up with a rinse of diluted vinegar, but I haven’t really found a benefit to doing that with my hair. My hair afterwards is tangle free.
It did take about a week of transition where I had my hair in a pony tail everyday, but after that my hair actually gained more volume. Scott mentioned that he’s never seen my hair look so healthy.
But Then I Went Back to Shampoo for a Bit
But because there is a bit of ‘girly’ in me, I started to miss the nice shampoo smells and big soapy lather. So over the winter I started to shampoo every two week or so. Then I went for another haircut and loved the way my hair felt after her shampooing that I went caved and brought out the shampoo bottles again. At first I hoped that I could shampoo just once a week, maybe every four days if need be. But I soon realized with shampoo it’s an everyday or nothing commitment. My hair got dependent on shampoo all over again.
So now I’m back to baking soda. And I really don’t think I’d ever switch back. And for those ladies who highlight or color their hair, using baking soda on colored hair is just fine. I highlight my hair (hey, I never said I was completely natural! I do have my vanities.) and the color hasn’t faded a bit. I do the baking soda routine about every four days now. Which means that those days in between I take shorter showers which helps with the whole drought situation. And the fact that I don’t have to keep buying shampoo helps with the whole financial/economy situation. And of course, Scott is back to complimenting my hair again, which is always incentive to keep going. See, it’s a win-win-win situation.
Are you also one of the crazy no shampoo-ers? Tell me your story.
Update: My hair was featured on MSNBC’s website. Check it out!
Update: A 16-Month Update.