March 10, 2014

Goodbye to ‘Poo: Tips & Hints for Natural Hair Care.

Mum in chair

Over a month ago, I decided to stop shampooing my hair.

It wasn’t so much of a choice as an act of desperation. My scalp was so dry and itchy that at one point I feared I had head lice. (As someone who works with young children, it’s always a possibility.) While I was aware of the “no poo” movement and personally knew of some people who had forgone shampooing years ago, it was the one area of natural body care that I could not bring myself to do.

For starters, I have very fine hair, oily that tends to look visibly greasy by the end of the day. The few times I went without shampooing, my scalped itched worse than usual than there was the smell. (Personally, I think there are few worse smells than unwashed hair.) Therefore, there was simply no way I could go without doing something daily to clean my scalp and hair.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a recipe that used baking soda and vinegar that I decided to actually try it. I’ve used both in DIY cleaning products, so I thought they could handle my greasy scalp. Turns out, I was right.

While I’m probably never going to pass for a Pantene model, my hair looks and feels better than it has in ages. My scalp has stopped itching as well.

Doing the no ‘poo method hasn’t been without it’s drawbacks. In the beginning, I used a ton of baking soda and didn’t wash it all out thus resulting in crunchy hair that looked like it was suffering from the worst case of dandruff imaginable.  It also took awhile to discover that massaging my scalp before washing my hair greatly aided the baking soda in removing in any grime.

The no ‘poo method may not be for everyone, but for it’s worth a try for anyone who struggles with similar hair and scalp issues. At the very least, it may save you money that you would usually spend on shampoo and other hair-care products.

The tips below can make the switch from shampooing to no ‘pooing painless and easy.

1. Pick the right baking soda.

Generally speaking, the finer the baking soda the better. If the baking soda you are using is clumpy, then mash out any clumps with a fork. For those that are really choosey, sift it through a (clean) sieve or flour sifter.

2. Think less rather than more.

As I mentioned above, my biggest mistake was using too much baking soda. A little truly goes a long way. My hair is well below my shoulders, and I have found that a Tablespoon is the ideal amount. If you have short hair, a teaspoon may be enough. You may have to experiment to find the right amount.

3. Preparing the paste.

Add water to the baking soda. The ideal consistency should resemble paste. Massage the scalp or brush it before applying it. It’s not going to foam like shampoo. I start by applying it at the front of my hairline and working it to the back. (Concentrate on the scalp rather than the actual hair.) Rinse it out the same as you would shampoo, but spend a few more seconds rinsing your hair than you usually would to make sure it’s all out.

4. Condition (optional).

Those with ultra-oily, short hair may be able to skip this. If you usually use a specific conditioner, apply normally but  but use less than you usually would.

I like to alternate between my regular, commercial condition and a vinegar rinse. While some swear by using apple cider vinegar, but I haven’t notice a difference between it and the plain white stuff.

I use one tablespoon of it with about one cup of water. Tilt the head back, pour it over the head, and then rinse again. (Be careful to avoid splashing it near the eyes, because it will sting.)

If you are scared of smelling like vinegar all day, then don’t be worried—the smell evaporates quickly.

Style as usual but if you use styling products, consider using less than usually do. (Baking soda is so good at removing build-up, that you may need less product to achieve your desired results.)

5. Dandruff treatment (optional).

Even though dandruff has been less of a problem since I started this routine, the occasional dandruff treatment is nice and has really kept those pesky flakes at bay.

Add 10-15 drops of tea tree oil to 1-2 teaspoons of oil. (While jojoba oil is my go-to oil of choice, I have found that argon oil is even better. It’s much lighter and washes out better.)

Massage into the scalp and hair and leave on for at least 10 minutes. Even possible, leave on overnight, but be sure to cover your head with a towel to avoid leaving oil stains on pillows or sheets.

When washing, add an extra 1/2 teaspoon or so of baking soda to ensure all the oil comes out.

Ditching the shampoo turned out to be one of the best things I ever did for my hair and scalp. When I think of all the time and money spent looking for the “perfect” shampoo to cure my scalp and hair woes, I want to weep.

While some may be reluctant to completely ditch shampoo altogether, friends of mine who have taken a break from it and supplemented with the baking-soda-vinegar method claim that their shampoo works better than ever when they go back to it.

In any case, it can’t hurt to try it especially since most of us probably already have the two main ingredients somewhere in our homes—it could very well the key to ending those bad hair days.


Relephant reads:

2 DIY Dry Shampoo Recipes for Dark & Light Hair.

4 Easy DIY Body Care Recipes.

Dudes: how to have Great Hair, naturally.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives




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