Hey all you adventurous types! I'm looking for a few intrepid souls to join me in a natural body care experiment. I've done it once before years ago, and I'm giving it a try again: I'm going "no 'poo" for a while. (Thankfully this has nothing to do with toilet habits and everything to do with hair.)
I've written pretty extensively on other blogs about natural body care products. I enjoy crafting salves, creams, oils, and scrubs, and making those things with whole organic ingredients is a breeze, a lot of fun, and an effective way to cut down on the artificial preservative-fragrance-and-dye-ridden products that populate our bathroom shelves. The lone holdout in these experiments (Tooth powder? Check! Face masks? Check!) was always shampoo.
Looking around for guidance on natural DIY shampoo replacements left me with a lot of bad advice and a LOT of bad hair. "Just use Dr. Bronners!" they said. Waxy straw nightmare. "Just make a nice nettle tea rinse!" they said. Did nothing but make me smell like a pot of greens in need of some hot sauce. "Just use conditioner!" they said. Grease-ball-nightmare.
The one thing that I did come across that worked was a method of hair-washing called "no 'poo" that involves a baking soda rinse followed by a vinegar rinse. I made it about a month the last time I tried it (I cave in the face of Aveda hair care products, a guilty pleasure) so I figured I'd give it a go again. Here's how it works:
Take your shampoo and conditioner and put them away. Don't throw them out because you might hate
this and need to go back to them :) Then get a nice organic apple cider vinegar like Bragg's and a box of plain-old baking soda. If you want to fancy it up a bit, you can also get some fresh herbs to steep in your vinegar. I like sage for the antimicrobial action and the smell, and mint for the scalp-stimulating effects. Rough 'em up and poke them in the vinegar jar.
When you're ready for a shower, take two cups with you (I use plastic solo cups because I'm clumsy, but you can definitely use glass jars). In one cup, dissolve 2 tablespoons of baking soda in warm water. In the other, dilute 2 tablespoons of vinegar in warm water. If you have hair that's shoulder-length or shorter, use 1 tablespoon of each. Wet your hair under the shower, then slowly pour the baking soda mixture over your hair (please don't get it in your eyes!!). Work it into your scalp and down the length of your hair and then rinse with warm water. Then take the vinegar and do the same thing, only follow with a cool water rinse. Baking soda and warm water open hair cuticles, and the vinegar and cool water are important for closing them again and preventing frizz and damage.
Your hair should feel silky smooth!
A note about this process: everywhere you read about "no 'poo" notes that there's often a week-long adjustment period during which hair can look a little funky. Normal shampoos strip all of the natural oils from hair, causing sebaceous glands to produce even more than they should. When you move to no 'poo, you may notice it takes this oil production a week or so to "catch up" with the new routine and slow down oil production. The take-home is this: stick with it for a week if you can before deciding whether or not you like the results.
So here is my challenge to you: if you want to try "no 'poo" for a month (or more!) with me, post a note at the bottom of this blog. After a month of no 'poo, post a picture of your lovely locks and let us know how it worked for you--whether you loved it or hated it or something in between.