Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ok, that's it. Talking poo is where I draw the line

Day 1 no-pooing - clean and shiny
I embarked on an epic adventure.  I am experimenting with something shocking and controversial.

No . . . not heroine or meth . . . no-poo.  That is . . . no shampoo.

I was out with a girlfriend and the topic turned to hair care.  She told me she doesn’t wash her hair everyday . . . and I have to say I’ve never seen her hair looking gross or dingy.  She told me about no-poo-ing.  I’d never heard of such a thing, but I found it intriguing and decided to do some research.  What I found convinced me to give it a go.  So I took some baking soda and apple cider vinegar with me into the shower and I’m off to become a new no-poo me.  

The idea of not lathering up your hair with perfumed detergent . . . that IS what shampoo is . . . will make most people cringe.   IMy husband is not so keen on the the idea and, honestly, I was skeptical.  I know what my hair is like if I skip even one day of shampooing . . . yuck. 

But shampooing hair every day is actually fairly recent.  It only became a popular thing in the 1970’s.  Now it’s so common that people think it’s gross not to wash your hair every single day.  

Modern shampoo has been around since the 1930s . . . but even then they only shampooed their hair once a month.  Look at photos of women from that era.  Their hair is thick, shiny and beautiful.  It wasn't shampoo and conditioner making their hair so hot!

It wasn’t until the 1950’s that women began shampooing their hair more regularly . . . once a week . . . hence the statement, ‘”I can't go out tonight. I have to wash my hair.”

But as formulas got gentler in the 70s and 80s, daily shampooing became the norm.  Why?  Not because women had greasy, stinky hair but because of commercialism.  We’re constantly inundated with advertisements that say we can’t be beautiful unless we by this product or that. 

Many of the ingredients found in shampoo aren’t particularly healthy for you or your hair.   They are drying and irritating and actually strip your hair and skin of their natural oils.   Which is why you have to use goopy conditioners to make your hair feel soft and smooth.

Day 2 no-pooing
Isnt the purpose of shampooing hair to remove dirt and oil from your hair?  That’s why you wash it every day, right?  If you don’t you end up with a nasty, greasy looking mess, yes?

True, but everyday cleansing may in fact trigger a vicious cycle.  By stripping hair of its natural and necessary oils it causes the scalp to produce more oil in response; which is what makes it nearly impossible for some people to go without shampooing for even one day.

Day 3  no-pooing
The scalp must learn to scale back production of those oils.  The more the natural oils are stripped away, the more oils our bodies will make. So if you stop using detergents, your body will still be overproducing oil.  It may take a few days or even a few weeks until your body reaches a balance again.  Once it does, though, your hair will begin to have more body and shine than it probably ever had.

Some no-pooers use only hot water to wash their hair.  Maybe I will get to that point but right now that seems a bit too much . . . or too little . . . for me.  Maybe once I get past my dependency on shampoo I’ll be able to do that, but I suspect that may be a ways down the road.

For now I’m using the baking soda / apple cider method.

Baking soda is gentle on your hair.  It is the weakest alkaline, and it very gently clarifies hair from chemical buildup. 

Apple cider vinegar is a mild acidic, which counteracts the drying effects of baking soda.  It detangles the hair follicles, seals the cuticle, and balances the hair’s pH balance.

To wash – add 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda into a 16oz cup. Once in the shower, fill the rest of the cup with water and stir until the baking soda is dissolved. It will be cloudy but not gritty, if the mixture feels gritty or pasty, either add more water or use less baking soda. Now apply the mixture to your hair, starting at the roots and then working it through the rest of your hair with your fingers.  It won't lather like shampoo.   Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then rinse.  You also won’t get that squeaky clean feel  but it does give your hair a distinct "smooth" feeling.   It feels nice. 

To condition - add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water. When you've mixed up your conditioner, pour it on and work it in just like you did the baking soda.  You can rinse it if you want to, or you can leave it in.  Belive it or not, your hair won’t smell like vinegar. 

This is not a perfect formula for every person.  It depends on how oily or dry your hair and scalp tend to be.  You may have to tweak it. 

If your hair feels too dry, use less baking soda.   If you find that your hair is too oily try using less vinegar or none at all.  You can also use lemon or tea as a clarifier.  You can even use honey as a conditioner!

Day 4 no-pooing

In the early days of my no-poo experiment I was working as a bartender in a private club . . . which in Connecticut means that smoking is allowed.  I don't smoke, but I appreciate that they have freedom to do so.  That day was a particularly smoky day at the club . . . cigar and cigarette smoke was heavy despite the air cleaner.  

Day 5 no-pooing

When I got home from work, the first thing I wanted to do was take a shower.  I had an internal debate as to whether or not to no-poo because my hair was really stinky.  I decided to continue with my planned course of action.  I washed with baking soda/water and rinsed with the apple cider rinse.  I was truly surprised.  My hair was clean and smelled fresh . . . not a hint of smoke.  

By day four I thought I would have had some issues with oiliness in response to not having used commercial shampoo.  Another surprise . . . my hair was only slightly . . . very slightly, oilier than usual.   

Day 10 no-pooing
Into the second week of no-pooing I am pleased with the way my hair looks and feels.  It's healthy, feels good and it's manageable.  My hair smells clean, too!  Although, I can't say "Gee, my hair smells terrific!" but that's because I'm not dousing it with perfumes.  

Day 20 no-pooing

Day 30 no-pooing

More than 30 days have passed since I last shampooed my hair.  There is no doubt in my mind that I can go the rest of my lifetime without using the stuff.  I am very satisfied with my hair using the baking soda wash / apple cider vinegar rinse method.  My hair is clean and fresh.  It's full, soft and healthy.  It feels good, it looks good.  What you see is what you get . . . decide for yourself.  

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