Joining the "No Poo" Crowd

Like many of you, I have been conditioned to dislike my hair and to fix it with as many products as I can manage. Luckily for me and for the health of my hair, I haven't ever been able to manage more than shampoo, conditioner, and some kind of hair goop to give it oomph and possibly wave holding power.

I have purchased cheap shampoos (Suave), expensive shampoos (Aveda), and a myriad in between (Prairie Naturals, among others). I used to wash my hair every day in the shower. Then I had tiny kids and just couldn't manage a daily shower, so David and I switched to alternating days. This was a hard go for my hair for a while. Midway through the second day I would begin to smell my hair and by the next morning, my hair was limp and stringy.

I've had friends and acquaintances all along who only washed their hair once a week or not at all, but this was never appealing to me because, though several of them had nice looking hair, these people always smelled like they hadn't showered or washed their hair. I'm just not that counter-cultural.

About two years ago, I bought my first bottles of Aveda. I loved it. The ingredients are often organic, the company supports wind power, etc. etc. And, above all, it smelled heavenly. When I finally finished those bottles, I bought larger bottles. Only I bought different Aveda shampoo. Major disappointment. But I had these huge bottles of shampoo that I had shelled out quite a chunk of money for, so instead of selling the remainder on Craigslist, I trudged ahead and continued to use the shampoo.

This past fall, I was reading a sewing blog written by someone in Japan (I have forgotten the name of the blog now), when she mentioned that she and her whole family had given up shampoo and were now washing their hair with baking soda. She said (if I remember correctly) that she was concerned about the number of plastic bottles she was throwing away/recycling.

Living in Vancouver, where living spaces are small, I am often on the lookout for how people organize their lives in other small-space places. Japan certainly fits that category. So this jumped out at me as a legitimate way to reduce the number of bottles that need to be readily accessed in our washroom. (I am going to be the parent of three teenagers in a few years - two of them girls.)

So I thought about it for a few months. Wondered when a good time would be to try to ditch my shampoo. Then NPR ran a story on the "No Poo" movement. Then S. at Academichic posted her attempts at not using shampoo. I did some research on the internet and I finally decided to wash my hair with my shampoo for the last time on December 31.

It took a few trials to work out a routine that I feel works for my hair and for my already established morning routines (which affect 4 other people), but right away, I noticed a difference! My hair stopped smelling bad. It stopped being limp and stringy.

I have a four day cycle.
On day one, I first massage my scalp in the hot shower water. Then I wash my hair with a paste made of 1 tablespoon baking soda and a little water. I start at the nape of my neck, then work up to my crown and temples, and then do the top. I do not actively scrub my hair - I scrub my scalp using the pads of my fingers. Then I rinse with hot water. I do usually blow dry my hair. Done.
On day two, I do nothing - not even shower.
On day three, I massage my scalp in the hot shower water. I can feel the oils in my hair, but instead of feeling greasy, it feels a bit more like a protective coating. I do usually blow dry my hair. Done.
On day four, I do nothing - not even shower.

The next day is day one again. I have now been experimenting with adding an additional rinse of diluted apple cider vinegar. This controls some of my flyaway little hairs, but I think that for my hair length and texture, it is unnecessary. Folks with longer or curlier hair may want to do this.

This last hair cycle, I took pictures every day for documentation. (You'll have to just believe me that my hair doesn't smell.) The collages below go from day 1 to day 4 from left to right. Please note, I still don't actively style my hair. This is just not in my skill set.

Of particular interest to me is the indoor shot on the evening of day two. This is when my hair used to begin to smell and look bad. Looks pretty good, eh?


julia said…
This is certainly interesting and something I might be willing to try. I don't think I could skip the whole shower every other day though. But, I don't live where it is so cold either. Your hair does look great!!
I couldn't have skipped a daily shower when I lived in North Carolina - except perhaps in the winter.

It's funny about the weather here. This year Vancouver is having an incredibly mild winter. The past few weeks the temp has ranged from 8 to 11 Celcius (upper 40s in Fahrenheit). That's practically balmy for January!

I'm not sweating yet, but the folks running the Winter Olympics sure are...
Sue said…
That is really interesting thanks you telling us your experience!

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