Shampoo-free!

I’ll say it straight and plain (sort of like my locks): I haven’t washed my hair even once this year. It’s not a resolution I’m necessarily married to, but I approached it as more of an experiment and, well, it’s one that has worked.

Let me rewind. Last year, I spent a lot of time and effort researching the products that we were using on our bodies and around the house and the ingredients that were in them. Like so many people, we were pretty trusting when it came to the name brand products that we brought into the house. I read about parabens and phthalates and lot of other dirty business. It’s actually terrifying once you get started,  but I also believe that every little bit helps. For me, making a small change now allows me to focus on one thing completely and then I add another a few months later and another after that.

2bb6be5f4c7a4a86eeaa775ec751f6c0Infographic found here.

Since I lean toward using more natural products anyway, it was pretty easy for me to switch over to new products and brands when I started. Desert Essence (I love their oral care and hair products) and Andalou Naturals (I use a variety of their facial products, their body washes and their 1000 Roses Oil is the most decadent product in my entire line-up)  became my go to brands and we carried on without incident.

We found chemical-free dishwasher detergents and had already been using natural cleaners around the house. We continued what we were doing in that regard. (When I say we, Kevin isn’t picky. He is basically along for the ride. He isn’t motivated to do his own research, but he is interested and gets on board if I share it with him.)

My naturopath has been pushing me to put a Paleo focus on my diet for about a year. I’ve made a lot of changes, but there’s still room. I probably found this article on my Twitter feed (where I find everything) and I was totally intrigued. No shampoo? Whoa. I read it and I talked about it and over a few weeks, it just stuck with me. I knew that there was no way for me to get it out of my system unless I tried it. Not as a Paleo devotee, but just as a curious observer.

So, I did it.

I had one false start in the days around or just after Christmas. I stopped washing my hair, but then on my birthday, we had plans to go out for dinner and I just couldn’t resist – I washed my hair. That was the last time.

I’d done a lot of research about how to get away from washing your hair with shampoo and everything that they tell you is dead honest – the first two weeks are the toughest. Like, agony. The first couple of days are easy and give you a totally false sense of mastery, but once the natural oils are no longer being stripped from your hair, they start to build up. And build up. And it took about 12 days for my scalp to regulate itself and knock it off with the excess oil production.

So, here’s the thing with shampoo and why billions (-ish. probably.) of dollars are spent on it and other hair products every year. You use it to wash your hair and it takes off everything. It also dries out the scalp triggering your super smart body that already knows how to take care of itself without any assistance to flush oil into the place where it should be. It overcompensates, thus making it necessary for your to shampoo more. It’s a vicious cycle.

Here’s a great article about someone who has spent two years “no poo.” (Seriously, is there a worse name for a trend??) Here’s another one with links.

I’m 83 days in and I’ll probably keep it up. At first, Kevin just thought it was gross and he’d say so every time I would make my “X days since washing my hair” declarations. Until about a month after I started, or, rather, stopped, while we were standing in the elevator, he said, “You know, I hate to say this, but your hair looks shinier and healthier than ever.”

There are plenty of resources online telling you how to do it, but here’s my version:

  1. Stop washing, conditioning or adding any product to your hair.
  2. Endure some oily, greasy, gross feeling days – about 14 of them. (Scarves, hats and hair elastics will help. Also, apparently, hair brushing helps. I didn’t know this at the time I was going through it.)
  3. After the oils have regulated themselves – trust me, you’ll notice – mix up two bottles of 50/50 solutions of baking soda and water and apple cider vinegar and water. The baking soda and water will become your shampoo substitute and the vinegar and water will become your conditioner substitute. Pour the baking soda solution directly onto your scalp or into your hand. I don’t use a lot of it, but probably a bit more than I would shampoo. Massage it into your scalp and the surrounding area. Rinse. Next, do the same with the vinegar solution.

That’s all there is to it, but here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • I “wash” my hair with the baking soda solution about once a week now. I only use the vinegar about once every three or four “washes”.
  • You don’t really need to wash the length of your hair. You just need to wash the scalp area.
  • Brush with a bristle brush to distribute the natural oils through your hair.
  • I’ve noticed that my hair takes a lot longer to dry than it did before. I have no idea why that is.
  • Once I gave up the shampoo and conditioner routine, I was able to drop styling products as well.

If you’re interested in decreasing the chemical and toxin levels in your life and your personal products, here’s an app option to help you do that. And if you decide to try giving up shampoo and hair products, tell me how it goes.

Do you have any of your own natural beauty tips? Please share!

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