No ‘Poo – Six Months Later

It’s been 6 months since I quit using shampoo for good. I’ve stuck with it – I’ve only used sulfate-free all natural shampoo a small handful of times (3?), and it’s been months since the last time I used even that. When you start on this regime your hair goes through some changes. It takes a couple weeks to get past the uncomfortable transition phase. But that’s actually not the end of it. My hair has continued to change over the last 6 months.  I wouldn’t say it looks any different in general so much as it just behaves differently. So how is it doing now?

-I still have to make occasional changes to the way I wash my hair.  The way I was doing it before isn’t what has continued to work for me, and I’ve sometimes needed to figure out something else and adjust. I no longer need to leave the baking soda solution in my hair for a day or night before washing. But I have needed to change up the ratio a bit and use more baking soda to water. I also decreased the amount of ACV to water I’ve been using, and I’ve been spraying much less onto my hair after I wash it. I’m still using it as a leave-in. I think very soon that will change too.

-My hair never gets greasy, ever. It feels more like I just over-used a fancy deep conditioner. But it’s not like I can stop washing completely. At that point it gets really hard to style.

-I don’t think it looks thicker, but I definitely have to use more hot rollers than I used to.

-I still have absolutely no natural curl. No hint of a wave. Nothing. So many other people get curls, it’s just not fair.

-Because my hair is so moisturized, I’m not afraid of damage. I can afford it. I don’t care anymore about using hot rollers or blonde dye. I don’t use or need heat protectant spray.

-I don’t mind the smell of vinegar anymore.

-Hair spray may have a smell, but my hair does not. It smells like absolutely nothing.

-My face is greasier. Yeah I know, gross. I’m definitely best to carry oil blotting sheets. I can’t explain this, but I know I’m not the only one.

-Unless I’ve diluted the dye too much, my hair color does not fade. Some people have expressed concerns about this, thinking it will fade faster, but it doesn’t at all. When I dye it again it’s only because I have roots, or put too much conditioner in my dye trying to make it last longer, which is a habit I need to get out of. I’m often asked how I keep my hair so bright, even 6 weeks after a dye job. Like I mentioned in another article, baking soda does strip color. But I don’t wash often enough for that to be an issue.

-I haven’t had a hair cut since February, and it still looks great. It’s not like I don’t get split ends, but splitting and breakage is vastly reduced. My hair looks totally healthy, not like I’m overdue for a trim.

-Besides minimal jars of hair dye, I have spent zero money on routine hair care since I picked up all my supplies back in February. Back then, I bought 2 boxes of baking soda and one bottle of ACV. I’m getting towards the end of the first box of baking soda, and have only refilled my ACV-water mix once. It will be more than another 6 months before I have to buy any of this stuff again.

-Going forward one day I’d like to see if I can transition from BS and ACV to water only.

What it all comes down to is that my hair is much healthier than it was, and for better or worse it behaves that way. Overall I feel like I can be a whole lot more hands-off than I used to be. Quitting shampoo hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been worth it, and I feel better that I’m not putting as many chemicals on my head or down the drain. I haven’t been a perfect hippy, but it’s a start.

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The bus. Ridin’ dirty.

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Does No ‘Poo Work on Dyed Hair?

13 days into going no ‘poo, I had an urge to dye my hair platinum blonde. When I get crazy ideas like this it means it’s seriously time to do my roots, because it must be looking shitty if I’m that unsatisfied. I dye my hair super blond and follow up with Punky Color, so I was a bit worried about what would happen. Would baking soda doom me to a life of natural hair?

Holy shit

Holy shit

The truth is that baking soda DOES fade color. The alkaline opens up the hair and makes it more porous, so it actually accepts color very easily. But for the same reason it lets it go just as easily too. Although I wouldn’t say it’s quite so much that you have to give up on either. The thing is, in a no ‘poo regime you wash your hair far less often than you probably did when you were using shampoo, and I feel like this helps to balance things out. Another thing to remember is that apple cider vinegar does the exact opposite of baking soda, which is why they compliment each other so well. Its great for sealing the color in.

So here’s what I think you should do. Wash your hair (or just apply baking soda as I do in a spray bottle) right before dying your hair, so it’s ready to soak it all in. When you rinse it out do it with water only. I used to use a bit of shampoo to get rid of the messy excess, but the funny thing is, the first time I dyed my hair after starting all of this was that a TON less color came out in the shower. It was like fourth or fifth shampoo hair vs first shampoo hair. This means two things. First of all, I did not re-decorate the bathroom and myself once again in avant-garde splashes of pink that just never seem to come out. Secondly, it seems that because of the baking soda, my hair was holding a lot more color than it ever used to. So because of this, it should be totally unnecessary to wash your hair again when you rinse your color. That excess I was trying to get rid of just wasn’t there. When you’re done, spray liberally with the ACV. This seals the cuticle and your color. And damn if it doesn’t make my hair the softest its ever been in my life.

Try as much as you can to then only wash your hair once a week. It will be easier to get to this point using no ‘poo than with shampoo. In fact many people go on from using baking soda to using water alone. By the time you need to dye again, it will be because of your roots, not because of color fade.

For the moment, I’m still not at that point yet. Almost, but not completely. My hair doesn’t get badly faded anywhere except by the roots, where the baking soda gets scrubbed in. It looks mildly bleached there. Everywhere else it’s never held up better. My tips used to look brown after about a month, now they’re still black. So this is great. It’s working and I’m on the right track.

So it’s been nearly two months now and I still haven’t fallen off the wagon. I haven’t used shampoo since January 31st. This is challenging, but I have no regrets and no plans to go back.

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Quitting Shampoo – Week 2

Feb 8th. I didn’t plan on updating EVERY day, but here we are, I have updates. Today I felt totally gross. Though I STILL didn’t look gross. I credit the fact that I had already only been shampooing only once a week. So I used a normal amount of baking soda if not more, and when I could still feel the grease through the water, I dragged a bar of coconut oil soap once over my hair. I feel much better. Scarlet said my hair looked incredible. She’s going to try this too. And I’m thinking about how much fun it could be coming up with different food-based hair recipes. I’ve also noticed that my hair is not breaking in the shower. I used to have big nasty handfulls of broken hair in there, now I’m down to MAYBE one strand. This is a big deal. All of it is.

Picture time!

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Feb 10th. No wash yesterday. My hair hasn’t gotten any greasier, but it hasn’t gotten any less greasy either. I added a vinegar rinse for the first time today but I didn’t notice any difference at all, and I think I was pretty generous with it. And it smelled awful, even though the smell was gone even before I got out of the shower. I’m just feeling a bit discouraged. I don’t feel like my hair is nice right now. Plus I need a hair cut, my roots suck, and my baking soda is not only years old, but I just figured out it’s baking powder, meaning it’s half cornstarch. This sucks.

(If you’re having trouble with the transition phase too, check out http://ecottached.blogspot.ca/2011/11/no-poo-day-two.html)

Fuck it. I got back in the shower for a second time and went nuts with the coconut oil soap, tons of vinegar, and a bit of conditioner. Tomorrow I’m going to go buy some REAL fresh baking soda, two spray bottles for my mixtures, essential oil, and a boar bristle brush. Persistence for the win. Montage!

Feb 11th. We went to walmart and I got everything I needed. The spray bottles could only be found in the gardening section, so they’re huge and fit at least 5 cups each. I put a few drops of clove essential oil in the “conditioner” to dilute the vinegar smell. It worked, it smells totally weird, but much better. Then I thought what the hell, I’ll put some in my “shampoo” too. I’m excited to try this out, but my hair doesn’t need it, so I’m going to leave it alone for now.

What I realized though is that having this stuff in spray bottles instead of squirt bottles is genius. I wanted spray bottles to make sure I was applying it evenly, and not using any more than I needed. Not wanting to wash my hair until it really needs it again, but still wanting to try it in some way, I just lightly sprayed them on my dry hair. It turns out my notion that this might be a great refresher in between washes was right. I thought it was far fetched, but my hair just perked right up. My ends are also noticeably softer from the vinegar for the first time. I have no idea why it suddenly worked. And now I smell like clove!

For more about the benefits of apple cider vinegar, see http://www.naturalnews.com/038131_apple_cider_vinegar_hair_treatment.html

Feb 12th. I don’t know if it’s because I slept with baking soda in my hair, but I woke up feeling NO GREASE for the first time in two weeks. All I felt was a lot of baking soda, but my hair looked fabulous right out of bed. Consequently I didn’t feel the need to wash it, but I did anyway to get the baking soda out. When I felt a bit of grease through the water, I used a dab of coconut oil soap. I sprayed the bottom half liberally with the vinegar mix as a leave-in conditioner. Oh. My. God. I can’t believe this, my hair feels normal. But it feels better than normal, it feels amazing. No grease, no grime, no baking soda residue, just thick, super soft hair. I can’t believe it. The transition phase didn’t last very long, but it felt like forever, and I think I’m actually out of the woods. My hair looks and feels awesome. Between the baking soda, vinegar, and red dye, it’s worthy of me saying that I care for it with a volcano of epic-ness.

Epilogue of sorts: I dyed my hair on the 13th and 15th with no wash, just water and vinegar after to seal in the color. I didn’t wash my hair again until the 18th, because I had a hair cut. But I totally could have gone longer. Everything is going great.

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So let me break down my trial and error for you into what really worked for me. What you’ll need:

-2 spray bottles

-Non-expired baking soda

-Apple cider vinegar

-Essential oil of your choice

-A boar bristle brush to move the oil from the roots to the tips and make it shine

-Natural sulfate-and-detergent-free soap or shampoo bar to get you through those really tough moments.

Total cost to me: About 35$ for absolutely everything, that will last me a year or more. But it’s quite possible you already have these things in your house, making it virtually free.

Mix one tablespoon of baking soda for each cup of water (you can choose to use distilled water, or boiled and cooled if your water is hard) in one bottle, and between 1 tablespoon per cup and half and half of vinegar and water, depending on your hair needs, into the second bottle. I didn’t even pay attention to the ratio I used, I think it was about 1/5. Add about one drop of essential oil for each cup or two to each bottle. Keep in mind the benefits and/or aromatherapy qualities of each. In the shower, scrub the roots well to lift any dirt and grease, and use a bit of natural soap if you’re feeling desperate during the transition phase.

There is definitely a learning curve to this. Aside from the transition phase, it takes some time to learn what works best for you, as far as the ratios of your ingredients etc. Contrary to what seems to work for most people, I’ve been finding that this works best for me when I spray baking soda on my hair a day before washing, using a bit of a higher ratio than recommended, and apply more and scrub and rinse the next day. The vinegar is also by far the most effective for me when used as a leave-in. So even when the transition is over you might need to experiment before you get the best results. When I did things the “normal” way, I found my hair returned to being stringy, greasy-ish, and a bit crunchy. Using my sprays on dry hair mostly fixed how bad it looked and felt when it was getting pretty bad, and when I washed a day later things were fine again. I had to do a month of trial and error before things worked themselves out.

The transition phase varies widely, I’ve heard everything from none to a few months. The most common seems to be approaching 2 weeks. Just hang in there, use ponytails, bandannas, hats, or snoods when you need to. And remember it totally does get better. You can do it!

On the 25th, I’ll answer the million dollar question – Does no ‘poo work on dyed hair? Find out soon!

Quitting Shampoo – Week 1

People have always said I have nice hair. One of the reasons for that, my guess anyway, is that I’ve always used as few products as possible. I own products, and I have used them. But it’s pretty rare. I like to be super gentle, I don’t even blow dry except on rare occasions when I have to. Another reason I hate products is that it would just be too gross, because for the last few years or so I’ve been seriously cutting down on shampoo, and days of product buildup would be gross. I want to keep it relatively natural, and I don’t want to be high maintenance. I do what I need to do to feel hot, but I won’t do anything unnecessary or not fun. And now after slowly spacing out my shampoos more and more, with the help of dry shampoo in between, I can go 6-7 days between washing my hair. Awesome.

Well I’ve become even more interested in this since I heard of the “no ‘poo” movement, and since I dyed my hair this outrageously pretty and bright pink-red color I wanted to shampoo as little as possible to keep it looking good. So I did some research. I have to say it looks pretty damn amazing. Save money, help the environment, and have the best hair you’ve ever had in your life? Hell yes. There are a ton of great resources about this on the web, here’s one of the more popular ones http://www.crunchybetty.com/no-poo-to-you-too.

So now I’m trying it. And here’s my progress.

Before. This picture is a tad old, but accurate nonetheless.

Before. This picture is a tad old, but accurate nonetheless.

Feb 3rd. It’s Sunday, and I haven’t washed my hair since Thursday. Normally I wouldn’t wash it again for another few days, so I figure it’s a good time to test this out and see if it looks totally clean. I see that people are generally using baking soda as a substitute. I couldn’t find any baking soda, so I mixed a teaspoon and a half of sugar in conditioner because I read that one person used that too, and it’s gentler anyway. To my surprise, the sugar-conditioner mix actually lathers a tiny bit. Also, that lather is WHITE. With shampoo it immediately turns hot pink. You know what this means? It’s not stripping color out of my hair! Awesome! My hair looks pretty bright and clean, but I think using conditioner on my scalp put too much moisture in it and it’s weighing it down. Next time I’ll just dilute it in water or something.

Feb 4th. Ok, so my hair WAS clean, really really, but all that conditioner was really weighing it down and making it look greasy. I didn’t look so great. So instead of waiting 4-7 days I decided to try the more traditional baking soda method today. I didn’t have any apple cider vinegar for conditioning, so I used regular conditioner on the ends.

My hair is definitely clean, the conditioner is gone. I’m feeling like this is definitely something I can keep up. For better and for worse though, it feels like it was rinsed with salt water. It feels a bit dry and it’s a bit hard to comb, but it has some badass volume, and I’m always looking for more of that. I’d even venture to say it looks a little teased. Mike says he might try it. Maybe I used too much baking soda. It does have to be used pretty sparingly, and I didn’t measure when I put it in the bottle. A little bit of detangler has helped pretty good though. I’m tempted to rinse it again. But I kind of just want to wait and see what happens instead of messing with it too much and driving myself crazy.

Just look at my big stupid grin. This is me, not believing my hair can be this thick after just air drying.

Just look at my big stupid grin. This is me, not believing my hair can be this thick after just air drying.

Feb 6th. By today my hair still looked pretty ok, but it was starting to feel a bit greasy and look a bit stringy. Right on track as it’s been 6 days since my last shampoo. It was MUCH less than it would normally be at this point though, I’m sure nobody would even notice, but it was enough to prompt me to try this again. This time I used a VERY small amount of baking soda, less than half what I did before, and rinsed it really well to make sure it was all out of my hair. I also only used about a third of the bottle. Someone suggested pouring it over dry hair so you can tell if you’re getting it everywhere, and that’s all it took. It’s just as clean as last time and still has that same feeling, I guess this might just be normal. But I’m really looking forward to trying this with baking soda that isn’t years old and adding a vinegar rinse. Both have been added to the shopping list.

Later: My hair is greasy again like it was this morning. It’s pretty safe to say it’s entered the transition phase. However it is really shiny, and my rings, which have been tarnished for quite some time, are really shiny too! Never buy jewelry polish again!

Feb 7th (one week). I scrubbed really hard with water today. And, ok, one little squirt of the baking soda mix. Even though my hair still looks ok, I just don’t like how it feels. The shampoo is calling me. I’m also starting to break out, so maybe it’s time to put this bitch up in a ponytail. But I will persevere. I also haven’t been curling it, first of all because greasy hair doesn’t curl, and secondly because I really want to witness what my hair does in its natural state. It’s winter anyway, so I haven’t been wearing any pretty vintage-y dresses that need curled hair to look right. And in my new position at work, I sit where nobody can see me or the weird shit that may pop up on my screen. Perfect timing.

Later: I went to visit my former boss, a super cool chick, and told her I was quitting shampoo. She looked totally perplexed, and stated she couldn’t tell at all, my hair looks perfectly clean, and asked if it smelled. I let her have a whiff. It doesn’t 🙂

I was going to put this all into one article, but it got ridiculously long. Coming up next is week 2 🙂