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UPDATE 10/20/16 – I am happy to report that I am no longer having the hair problems that I did for so many years. I attribute this to quite a few different things, including continued work on my health and autoimmune illnesses. Mineral balancing (HTMA) had played an incredible role in improving the health of my hair. It took about 2 years for the damage from the no poo method to resolve. I can't believe how much the no poo method impacted my scalp and hair health. It still is not the same as it was before I started it, but I am really happy with where I'm at. I know so many people that no poo works well for, but sadly, I was not one of them.
UPDATE 8/18/15: Since writing this post, I have had quite the struggle with my hair. Not only have I had a lot of hair loss, thanks to my autoimmune disease and mineral imbalance, but the effects of going no ‘poo for those 5 months left me with years of damage that I am just now getting resolved. I know the no ‘poo method works for a lot of people, but it didn’t for me (which was a bummer because it was so cheap). The only products I have found that REALLY made a difference in improving my scalp and hair health since that time are the products from Morrocco Method. I share my experiences with their products below.
UPDATE 1/15/15: This article was originally published on January 21st, 2013. Since then, a lot has changed. You can read my updates from 3/19/13 and 5/15/13 below. It took my well over a year to fix the damage the no ‘poo method caused my hair. I was so frustrated that it didn't work for me because it worked well for so many other people. You can read about my personal hair struggles and the products I am now using here.
UPDATE 5/15/13: Well, folks. I'm not going to lie. This is no longer working for me. Over the last month and a half, I have noticed my scalp becoming drier and itchier. My hair is not as soft as it was for the first few months of the no ‘poo experience, and I was not quite sure what was going on. I did some research and found that some people experience problems with the no ‘poo method, as it alters the pH of your hair and scalp, creating dry, flaky, itchy patches, as well as drier, more brittle hair. While my hair was still looked healthy, my scalp was really unhappy. I tried a few other no ‘poo methods, like using plain coconut milk, herbal rinses, etc., and nothing helped. I have since switched back to using pH balanced shampoo (I use Aubrey Organics), although I only wash my hair 2-3 times per week, as it doesn't get overly oily or dirty. I am pretty bummed about my experience, because I personally know people who have been no ‘poo for years and years and they love it. But, it's a good example of what works for one person may not work for another. I still am an advocate of keeping our chemical exposure to a minimum, so I really hope others will still give it a try, or look into other ways they can cut out chemical-laden hair products. Would love to hear your experiences.
UPDATE 3/19/13: I am over 4 months into my no ‘poo journey and I am still loving it! My hair is soft, healthy, and happy. I have had many people ask about whether the baking soda lightens my henna and I can attest that it does not, at least on my hair. I re-did my henna about a month ago and it is still the same shade a month later, as it was when I did it. Read how to use henna for hair here. I have also had some people say that doing this long-term will ruin your hair, but there are enough people out there who have been doing this for years and years and have healthy, shiny hair to believe that. We are all different, so find what works for you!
ORIGINAL ARTICLE, PUBLISHED 1/21/13
So, I am finally doing it. I am finally jumping onto the “no ‘poo” bandwagon.
Over the last year, I have greatly reduced my chemical exposure. Because I am working on healing my autoimmune diseases, I am trying really hard to eliminate toxins. I have never really used a lot of toxic things in my home, but over the last year, I have really stepped it up and now make pretty much everything I need. I now make my own coconut oil toothpaste, my own deodorant (that really works!), and my own cleaning supplies (most of the time).
When I do purchase cleaning supplies, I only use the eco-friendly products from my affiliate partner, Tropical Traditions, because I like them, they work, and they are non-toxic. For skin care, I don't put anything on my skin that I wouldn't put in my mouth. There are only three companies that I buy skin care items from: the non-toxic, herbal skin care from L.c. of acirema, the beef tallow body balms from my affiliate partner vintageTRADITION, and the non-toxic skin care products from my affiliate partner Tropical Traditions.
I have stopped using hair dye and only use henna. I made that switch well over a year ago. While I didn't dye my hair often, I always preferred my hair to be red, rather than the dirty blond I am naturally. My sister introduced me to henna and I have not looked back. Henna is amazing. Post on it coming soon!
All that said, the one place that I was lacking was shampoo and conditioner. I've made my own coconut milk shampoo before and I loved it. Not sure why I didn't stick with it, other than that I am a habitual shampoo and conditioner purchaser. I stay away from the mainstream brands for the most part, but I have been suckered into buying the expensive, organic stuff at the health food store more than once. Frankly, I'm sick of spending money on it. So, it was time to go no ‘poo. A simple Google search for “no poo” will yield countless blog posts, instructionals, etc., about how to make the switch. So, after reading quite a few sites, I decided I was ready! 🙂
Kicking the ‘Poo to the Curb
So, why do I want to kick the shampoo habit? The most important reason is to further reduce my chemical exposure. Even the organic and natural shampoos and conditioners still tend to have some not-so-healthy ingredients in them. Plus, they are ridiculously expensive.
But, how on earth was I going to give up shampoo and conditioner? All of that lathery goodness and rich conditioning power? I was uncertain.
After my hours of “research” on Google, I decided that I could do this. Since my thyroid issues have really acted up, I feel like I am getting dandruff regularly, something I have never had a problem with. I read a few sites that said the baking soda and ACV actually help with the dandruff, so I was excited to try. All I needed was baking soda and apple cider vinegar, two items that I always have on hand. Save money? Check. You can also add essential oils to the “conditioner”. I chose to add some rosemary, since I had that on hand.
I have to say, I was nervous. Yeah. I have always taken comfort in a good sudsing of the hair and a nice thick conditioner. How on earth was baking soda going to clean my hair and apple cider vinegar going to condition it. And, even more importantly, was I going to smell like a bottle of salad dressing all day? Would people walk past me and cringe at the cloud of ACV surrounding my noggin? Well, I was about to find out.
I took a couple squeeze bottles and made my mixtures:
1 tablespoon of baking soda + 1 cup of water = shampoo
2 tablespoons of ACV + 1 cup of water + 5 drops of rosemary essential oil = conditioner
I carefully labeled the bottles and headed for the shower, announcing to my husband that I was giving up on shampoo and apologizing in advance for any funky smell, texture, or look of my hair moving forward.
In the shower, I wet my hair and squirted the “shampoo” all over my head, careful to not let it drip in my eyes. I massaged it into my scalp and then let it sit for a minute or two before rinsing with warm water.
Then, it was on to the conditioner. The first time, I squirted the ACV mixture all over my head and massaged it in. This seemed to make my hair really oily (see my note on Day 3 below). So, the second time, I only used a little on the ends of my hair and it was MUCH better.
When switching from traditional shampoos and conditioners, it's important to know that your hair will go through a detox period. This, I learned from Mommypotamus' new DIY Organic Beauty Recipes book (affiliate link). The ingredients in commercial brands of shampoo and conditioner essentially coat your strands of hair with silicone. The detox process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your hair, the types of products you use, etc. Your hair might feel dry, course, or tangle easily. Bear with it, because it shall pass.
The other aspect of the hair detox is that your scalp will need to learn to readjust the amount of oil it produces. So, there might be a transitional period where your hair gets super oily, but from everything I have read, this passes as your body regulates production.
My detox period was really short, honestly just a few days, as you'll see in my diary below. I never really had an extreme oily period, other than the first three days. After that, my hair was back to normal, the dandruff started to clear up, and my hair felt smooth and soft.
I know A LOT of people are skeptical of the no ‘poo method — hey, I was one of those people! So, I wanted to keep a diary of sorts, chronicling my no ‘poo journey. I know everyone's hair is different and if you're used to using a lot of hair products, or really heavy conditioners (think Pantene), then your hair may react differently. Also, success with the no ‘poo method will depend on the type of your hair, though I have met people with all different types of hair that have had success. My hair is very, very fine, and pretty thin (thanks to the massive amounts of hair I am losing daily due to this dang thyroid issue), but so far, so good.
Day-by-Day Playbook of Jessica's No ‘Poo Journey
Exciting, I know. But, considering how skeptical I was about this whole thing, I figured at least one person might find it interesting.
Day 1 (Sunday): Washed with the new concoctions. Hair felt good, but seemed to still be a bit oily right off the bat. Let air dry.
Day 2 (Monday): Hair seemed more oily than it would have been normally, and was pretty flat. Didn't wash.
Day 3 (Tuesday): Hair SUPER oily, from roots to tips, by the time shower time rolled around. Washed with the baking soda/water mixture, and conditioned the just the ends of my hair with the ACV/water mix. Hair felt and looked great when it dried.
Day 4 (Wednesday): Hair feels smooth and soft. Not oily at all. Did not wash today. Still flat, but I have only been letting it air dry, which yields very flat hair for me.
Day 5 (Thursday): Hair not greasy or oily looking. Pretty flat, but still feels great. Washed today and blew dry, which gave it some much needed body (no hair products used). Hair was a little tangle-y as I was combining through it.
Day 6 (Friday): Didn't wash today still had some body and wasn't oily.
Day 7 (Saturday): A little oily around the temple areas, but not bad. Washed and blew dried again (no product used). A few little tangles at the ends of my hair.
Day 8 (Sunday): Had a little more oil than “normal” it seemed. I didn't wash today, but the sides of my hair seemed oilier than other days.
Day 9 (Monday): Oilier than normal. Washed. Hair still feels great when it's dry – smooth and soft.
Day 10 (Tuesday): Skipped the wash. Hair looks normal — no oil.
Day 11 (Wednesday): Washed hair, though it really didn't look like it needed it.
Day 12 (Thursday): Hair feels smooth and soft. No sign of oil. Skipped the wash.
Day 13 (Friday): Washed hair, but again, it didn't really look like it needed it.
Day 14 (Saturday): I am confident that my hair is sufficiently detoxed and I won't be experiencing any further issues. I'll stop with this silly diary and quit boring you to tears now 🙂
Here's a photo on Day 14 of the no ‘poo experiment. Yes, I took it myself. Hubby wasn't home and I didn't feel like waiting! Sorry for the blur — it's hard to get a steady shot with your hands over your head! 🙂
For a twist on the baking soda and AVC concoctions, I do like my recipe for coconut milk shampoo and body wash. I really like how it makes my hair feel. I actually had forgotten about this recipe until I ventured out into the official no ‘poo world. I whipped up a new batch of it and remembered how much I like it. I am going to start alternating that with my baking soda and ACV moving forward.
So far, I am quite happy with the results of my no ‘poo experiment and have no plans on going back to my old ways. This is working for me and I'm going to stick with it. What about you? Have you tried the no ‘poo method? Does it work for you? Share your experiences below!
Want to get a second opinion on this whole no ‘poo thing? Check out this post by my friend Sandra at The Prairie Healer. I guess I inspired her to give the no ‘poo idea a try and she shares her story in her fun post!