I’ve been no-pooing! Uh… sounds like a personal issue. But it’s not really, I promise.
About six weeks ago, I ran out of shampoo. Shampoo is something that has always bothered me due to the toxic ingredients like dimethicone and sodium lauryl sulfate, to name a few. (Read about why those ingredients are dangerous here.) But who can live without clean and beautiful hair?! One day several months ago I came across the idea of “No-Poo” which is a clever way to say I’ve ditched shampoo and see, I’m still looking socially acceptable. While I respected and admired the women going no-poo, I thought it was a little too crunchy for me and kept buying my crappy natural shampoos, each one worse than the one before.
The problem with “natural” shampoo is that they typically contain a lot of alcohol, which is extremely drying. My long hair was once color treated, and the ends are still damaged from that process. I am also a stay-at-home mom who is lazy when it comes to doing my hair and make-up everyday. I’d rather spend my personal time working out and baking a million freakin’ cookies. Long story short, I wasted two years of my life with frizzy, dry and damaged hair which the most styling I usually did was brush it. We are talking air-dry with a little argan oil or coconut oil on the ends, sometimes. My shampoo and conditioner were not helping.
Six weeks ago when I ran out of shampoo, I had no excuses anymore.
I read stories about an adjustment period after beginning no-poo where people’s hair looks greasy, flat and well, disgusting. This is because normal shampoo dries the scalp, which in turn creates extra oil to fix the problem. Once shampoo is no longer used, it takes a while for the scalp to catch up. I admit – I was scared! I had seriously gone through almost two years of awful hair and I was really sick of feeling like I looked terrible. Every person who claimed to have gone through this adjustment period claimed that it was totally worth it because of the beautiful hair they were now experiencing. I thought about how I really didn’t have anything to lose and so I took the plunge and started the no-poo experiment.
I must have had really bad hair before, because I had no adjustment period. The first time I tried this, my hair looked better than before! So I sat down to write this post and tell everyone how wonderful baking soda and raw ACV is for a natural hair care option. Then I started reading. Many people have shared their negative experience using BS + ACV. I was disappointed to find that many people claim after several years of using this method, their hair became damaged and brittle with split ends and breakage.
Can baking soda can destroy your hair?
I read this post which explains that the pH of baking soda is far too alkaline (9.5) in relation to that of the hair and scalp (4.5 – 5.0), and so over time it will dry your hair out and damage it. A lot of people claim it is terrible for your hair. I also read this post which explained that using an alkaline solution such as baking soda “opens your hair up” and then the acidic raw ACV rinse closes it back up. This process is likened to that of a perm or color treating your hair.
The science suggests that yes, baking soda can damage your hair. It seems the ultimate goal of DIY hair is to achieve the hair and scalp’s natural pH of 4.5 – 5.0. Even though my hair was looking really good, it is possible that I was causing some long-term damage. There are a million and one recipes out there to try, and so I reluctantly decided to try other DIY shampoo methods to see if there was something better.
The no-poo recipes I have tried.
As you can imagine, this experimenting process is time-consuming. With no-poo, you are supposed to wash your hair as little as possible. I was making it once every three or four days with the BS + ACV method. My hair is fine, but I have a lot of it and it is really wavy underneath and kind of frizzy on top. It needs a lot of moisture on the ends, but something that will take out any grease at the roots. We also have hard water here, which is a very important factor in which no-poo methods will work for me. Our water is so full of crap even our filtered water leaves a white crusty mess once the real stuff evaporates. (Santa, send me a shower filter my husband approves of, please?)
- First I tried egg yolk and olive oil treatment on the ends. I decided not to add the recommended water to the mixture because it was so runny I couldn’t imagine getting it to stay on my hair. When will I learn to dilute per instructions? The aftermath was ridiculous. And, as I suspected, it did not absorb into my hair the way I hoped. My bathroom was a greasy egg mess… try getting that off your mirror!
- Next I tried my Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap mixed with water. If you have hard water like I do – NEVER TRY THIS. I had a horrible waxy build up on my hair. I guess something in the soap reacts with the hard water and leaves a filmy residue. It was so bad it’s making me wonder if I should switch away from using it as a body wash, which I have done for the past five years. It’s probably why my shower always feels grimy! Anyway, this was one of the worst methods for me. Next!
- Bentonite clay, raw ACV and honey mixed with water. I read this post and got really excited. I actually followed the instructions too! The problem is that the honey did not rinse out. My hair felt gross and waxy. We were going somewhere that night, and so I tried to blow dry my hair but it was sticky and greasy looking all the way down. I had to go back and use shampoo on the ends to get it out.
- Bentonite clay, raw ACV and water. I really like the creator of the above recipe, and so I tried her recipe again without the honey. No dice! I was really surprised, but my hair was greasy at the roots right after it dried. I don’t know if I did something wrong, but at this point I was so frustrated and tired of having greasy hair.
I ended up going back to shampoo for one day. My hair was not greasy, but it was so dry and frizzy it was pointless. If I am going to be soaking my head in toxic chemicals, I want perfect shiny and beautiful hair. If I still have crappy hair, it’s not worth it.
The most important thing I have learned is this: Natural hair care is NOT one size fits all. It’s not even one size fits two people. I really think every person needs to adjust recipes based on their hair types and what kind of water they are working with. Natural hair care is complicated and at times frustrating. It takes a long time and a lot of trial and error to get things right.
I’m back to BS + raw ACV for now.
This is my hair after my first time back using it, after two weeks of awful-ness:
It may be drying out my scalp and hair, but I can’t tell. It’s working for now. I will keep trying other methods and deep conditioners, but if this is the natural method which works, this is method I am going to use. Here is the recipe I use:
Baking Soda Wash:
1 tbsp baking soda
1 cup filtered water (I use filtered water which has been boiled in my tea kettle and then cooled. This supposedly helps with the hard water.)
I put this in a plastic squeeze bottle and can get two uses out of this. Please note it should feel like slimy water once it is mixed. I apply it to my roots and then rinse it out really, really well.
Raw ACV Rinse:
1 tbsp Raw ACV
1 cup filtered water
I mix this in a glass canning jar and again, I get about two uses out of this. I pour it near the roots and let it soak down the length of my hair. Then I rinse, rinse, rinse with the coldest water I can tolerate. This makes my hair so soft and tames the frizz really well. It’s awesome!
My ends are really dry so usually I put some pure Argan Oil on the ends while it is still wet.
What is your hair care regimen? If you have any good recipes to share, please do so in the comments below!