You might think that this picture should be for a cooking post, or maybe another cleaning post. But nope, this is a picture of my shampoo and conditioner. That’s right, I use baking soda to wash my hair and apple cider vinegar to rinse my hair.
And I LOVE it, and I doubt I will ever go back to using regular shampoo and conditioner again.
This is a pretty long post, but bare with me. This is one of my favorite things that I do, and I am really hoping to inspire you to try it too!
What’s wrong with Shampoo?
One of the main ingredients in shampoo is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS. Did you find it when you checked your ingredient labels? SLS is a detergent, degreaser and foaming agent. Besides your shampoo, you can also find it in dishwasher detergent, toothpaste, bubble bath and other products that foam, as well as car wash soap, garage floor cleaners, and car engine degreasers.1
It can cause skin irritation, hormone disruption, eye irritation and even eye deformities and is possibly carcinogenic when paired with some of the other typical ingredients in shampoo.2 Lovely, just what I want to be using to wash my hair.
Because it is a detergent and degreaser it actually strips your scalp of the natural, healthy oils it produces and dries your scalp and your hair out, hence the need for conditioner. The conditioner does not stay on your hair in the same way that your natural oil would, so it needs to be continually replenished.
Also, once your scalp is stripped of it’s oils, it reacts by making more oil which results in the oiliness that so many people experience after a day or two of not washing their hair. Their scalp is actually overproducing oil to compensate for being stripped of it’s oils.
So you’re in this vicious cycle where you wash and strip your hair of it’s oils, put fake “oils” on in attempt to minimize the damage, and then have greasy hair the next day because your scalp overproduced it’s natural oil and now you have to wash it again. There’s got to be a better way!
Enter the No ‘Poo method of cleaning your hair.
Step 1: Use baking soda to “wash” your hair.
Baking soda is a gentle alkaline compound effective for cleansing and removing build up from your hair. The typical formula is 1 Tbsp of baking soda for every cup of water.
For fine, thin or short hair you may need less baking soda. Try it out a bit and see what works best for you. I have long and very thick hair and I use a full cup of water and 1 Tbsp baking soda each time I wash my hair. If you have shorter or thinner hair you probably don’t need to use that much every time.
I use a 8 oz travel size squeeze bottle and fill it up with the water and baking soda mixed together and shake it up to dissolve the baking soda.
In the shower I squeeze the water/baking soda mix onto my head beginning around my crown and then all over my scalp. I scrunch my hair up at the base of my neck and squeeze more water into my hair. I work it through with my hands, scrubbing my scalp and rubbing my hair.
Now remember, this isn’t soap or detergent, it won’t foam or lather. You won’t get the “Aaahhh” feeling that you get with your Herbal Essence, but it is cleaning your hair, and in a much gentler, more natural way.
Leave it on for a minute or two and then rise as normal.
Step 2: Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a mild acidic and is useful for detangling and clarifying, balacing the pH level of your hair, and sealing the hair cuticle. The recipe for hair rinse is 1-2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar to every cup of water. If you have dry hair, use closer to the 2 Tbsp and if you have oily hair use 1 Tbsp or less, and again, experiment and see what works best for you.
I tend to have hair that is a little drier and frizzier, so I put about 2 Tbsp. and a cup and a half of water into a reused apple cider vinegar bottle and shake it up. I pour it over my head in the shower, starting at the top of my head with just a little, and then again scrunching up the hair at the base of my neck and concentrating most of solution towards the bottom and ends of my hair. Wait a minute or two and then rinse it out.
You have just cleaned and clarified your hair gently, naturally, simply and frugally!
A few other notes:
*When I decided to stop using shampoo, I didn’t jump right into using baking soda. I bought a shampoo bar (like a bar of soap) made up of natural oils at a arts and crafts fair this summer. I used the shampoo bar from September until I just ran out of it in January and then I switched to baking soda.
I liked the shampoo bar as it was more like actual shampoo – it lathered and sudsed and smelled good. And my hair looked nice and reacted well to it, but since I’ve been using baking soda, I actually think I like it even better and my hair is even nicer now. But, if you’re a baby stepper and aren’t ready to try just baking soda yet, look into a shampoo bar and rinse with apple cider vinegar.
*If you decide to go the no ‘poo route, be aware that your hair will probably go through a transition phase for maybe 2-8 weeks. You have been coating your hair with chemicals and it takes a while to get all that nastiness out of your hair.
Also, since your hair has been overproducing oil, it will take a little bit of time for it to balance it self out and not produce so much extra oil. Honestly, your hair will not look pretty, it will probably be greasy, dull, hard to comb or brush, and just generally blah.
But, if you can push through those few weeks, you will be rewarded with better hair than you ever had before. So, if you can, wait to start until you have a few weeks that you don’t have to be looking your absolute best.
*You may have to tweak your solutions to get the right balance for your hair. If your hair is too dry, use less baking soda or try rinsing with honey instead of vinegar. If your hair is too oily, use less vinegar, or try rinsing with lemon juice, or try not using a rinse at all.
*You will probably be able to get rid of all of the other hair care products you usually use, or have bought in the past trying to manage your hair. It will save you money and time, and help you simplify your life.
What’s so great about it?
Besides the fact that it is insanely cheaper than conventional shampoo and conditioner (even if you buy it on sale with a coupon!), and that it is simple and easy, the best part of the no ‘poo method for me is that my hair has never looked better! I have had (as I’m sure many of you do) a love/hate relationship with my hair.
I have nice thick hair that is naturally a pretty shade of auburn that I always get comments about – I really like that about it. But, I also have always struggled with managing my hair – it’s thick, and used to be frizzy and kind of wavy, so I always fought to straighten it or spent a lot of time trying to get it to lay nicely. I used to wear my hair in a ponytail a lot.
Honestly, my hair now is about as close to perfect as it could be. I am not trying to brag, but I almost never have a bad hair day anymore, even when I haven’t washed my hair for several days to a week (I do shower in between washings by using a shower cap). It lays nicely, it’s not frizzy, I can sleep on it and not get bed head, it’s not greasy or oily, it is healthy, shiny, and soft, and just nice.
It is also so simple and easy for me to maintain. It takes me about 10 minutes to do it after I wash it. I usually let it air dry for a while and then blow dry it for about 5 – 10 minutes with a large paddle brush, just depending on how much time I have, and then let it dry the rest of the way.
If I feel like it is a little bit frizzy, I will take a little, just a very little, coconut oil on my hands and rub it onto just the ends of my hair. And that will last me until the next time I wash my hair, I just have to brush it in the morning, and I’m ready to go.
It has simplified my life because I don’t have to spend a ton of time “doing” my hair, and I don’t waste money on extra hair products trying to tame or manage my hair. This method is so perfect for this busy mom, with not a lot of time to spend on herself, but doesn’t want to wear her hair in a ponytail everyday.
I have never been this happy with my hair before, and that is why I will never go back to using regular shampoo and conditioner!
Even if I wasn’t trying to be as frugal as I can be, or didn’t care about the products that I used on my body and how they affected me, as well as our world, I would still probably use this method for cleaning my hair because of how simple and easy it is, and how great the results have been for my hair. I love it when I find such a perfect combination of being frugal, going green and simplifying my life!
Update September ’10: It’s been a year now that I’ve been no ‘poo and still going strong! I did hit a bit of a bump in the road earlier this summer. My hair was very greasy and felt almost sticky on the back of my head the day after I would wash. This was not normal for me.
So, I did some reading and decided to switch from ACV as a rinse to lemon juice, and it worked! Again, I had nice, shiny, smooth hair. I think with the warmer weather that my hair was overproducing oil, and lemon juice is a great option for a rinse when you’re hair is oily or greasy.
I used lemon juice in the same ratio as ACV, about 1 Tbsp per cup of water. And for my long, thick hair I used 2 Tbsp and 2 cups of water for my rinse.
Now that the cooler weather is setting back in, I have switched back to ACV as my rinse with none of the greasy, oily problems that I was having before.
So, if you trying to go no ‘poo and having some trouble, really be sure to experiment and try different amounts of baking soda, or different rinses. It could make a big difference in your hair!
What do you think of the ‘no poo method? Are you willing to give it a try?