Are you brave enough to give up shampoo?

May 17, 2010 at 9:30 pm 9 comments

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I was!

When I was pregnant with Aaron, I had this unexplainable urge to cut out as many chemicals as possible and to incorporate as many natural things as possible.  Maybe it was all the lovely homebirthing Mamas I was around?  It started with giving up mainstream soap (commercial body wash, etc.) in the name of coconut oil.  This switch was one of my early curiosities.  I’d read a thread on my midwife’s forum about all the benefits of coconut oil and discovered that many people use it straight out of the jar in place of soap or body wash.  I didn’t realize it then, but coconut oil is often a base oil in regular store-bought soap.

I was hooked.  It was a little weird using it at first, since it is like slathering oil all over your body.  And it doesn’t quite rinse off the same way.  It didn’t feel gross at all, but it doesn’t all go away like commercial soap does.  Instead, it soaks into your skin, leaving the softest, healthiest skin I’ve ever had in my life.  Since I made this switch, I’ve yet to need any type of lotion at all.  Also, ladies – if you want the closest shave on your underarms and legs possible without any nicks, I promise you coconut oil is the best shaving solution.  Not only does it not wash off in the shower when the water splatters on your legs, it also extends the life of your razor.  I can use the same blade for 3-4 months and it’s like using a brand new one.

We forget that when we shower, 9 times out of 10 (or more) we aren’t filthy.  Unless you’ve been rolling around in chemicals or materials harmful for your skin, you aren’t filthy.  Sweat isn’t considered ‘filthy’ since it’s naturally produced by your body – excess is easily washed away with water.  Even mud and dirt aren’t considered ‘filthy’ since they are natural and water-soluble.  There is rarely a need for a harsh cleaning agent that also strips your body of it’s natural oils.

If you decide to give coconut oil a try (available in health stores, some grocery stores in the organic section and online), do use caution because it will make the bottom of your tub slippery.  Also, if you have a need for lotion normally, like for trouble spots, try using coconut oil instead.  Most lotions are also designed to, ironically, dry out your skin.  Why?  So you’ll keep buying the product, of course.

Anyway, as I got more involved in the crunchy way of life, I’d heard about women (and men) giving up their shampoo and conditioner for good.  I was curious but way too scared of this.  I’ve always had what I thought to be oily hair.  If I didn’t wash my hair every single day, it would oil up pretty obviously.

But what I didn’t realize then is that commercial shampoos create a very viscous cycle.  Something like soap and shampoo that we see as bare necessaties are hard to view as the biggest marketing scams on earth.  But you know what?  I really and truly believe they are.  Whoever decided to invent commercial soaps and shampoos, some of which can be extremely expensive especially when purchased in a salon, and turn them into a need rather than an ‘extra’ was brilliant.

Shampoo strips away the natural oils from your scalp and hair, which makes it feel healthy for awhile after the wash.  But as your hair dries and during the time leading up to the next wash, it works hard at drying out your pores, causing your body to overreact and create extra oil to make up for it.  Isn’t it crazy how our bodies are built to respond to deficits?  Thus, your hair and scalp end up feeling like an oil slick if you go too long without a wash.

The thing to remember about this method, called “No-poo”, is that it does take a little time for your body to adjust.  After all, your entire life it’s used to being stripped of it’s natural protective oils and having to work overtime to produce enough to accommodate.  When committing to trying the No-poo solution, one should give the process about two and a half weeks for your body to adjust.

In my experience, I saw amazing results for the first three days, then I had a few days of hair feeling more oily than I was used to.  Nothing gross, and I doubt anyone would’ve noticed if I didn’t point it out.  When I hit the two week mark, I noticed such a difference in my hair.

I have board straight hair, and a ton of it.  It used to take me 20 minutes or more to blow dry my hair.  But with this new method, my hair was so much lighter without the weight of the extra chemicals, and it would air dry in about 10 minutes, save for a few patches underneath near my neck.  I don’t even touch a hair dryer anymore.  Also, I don’t have a need for styling products unless I’m going somewhere really ‘fancy’ and I might use a touch of hair spray in the front.  It is more manageable than ever.

The best part?  I’ve gone up to 5 days -yes, 5 – without no-pooing and even at that point, my hair was not oily.  While we were home in St. Louis a few weeks ago, I took a shower every other day, but since I was in a hurry, I didn’t no-poo my hair, I just pulled it up while I showered to keep it dry.  My sister will vouch for me – we were talking about oily hair and I had mentioned that I hadn’t done anything to my hair in 4 days, and she couldn’t believe that it looked like I had just washed it.

I’ve been doing this method for about 3 months now, and I can tell you that I will never go back to shampoo – never.  In fact, I’m kind of sad thinking about how much money I’ve spent on shampoo my whole life.  I’m just glad I never thought it was necessary to spend $50 on some salon high-brand shampoo as some of my friends have!  This was never about money, though, because I would never stick with it if I didn’t actually have satisfactory results.

So here’s how the No-poo solution works:

The “shampoo” part of the process is simply a solution of baking soda and water.  I have a gallon jug (you can use an old milk jug or any clean container) that I fill with 1 part baking soda to 3 parts water.  This is usually about 4 cups of baking soda if you’re using a gallon jug, then filling it the rest of the way with water.  Leave enough room at the top that you can shake and agitate the liquid because the baking soda will always settle at the bottom between uses.

I kept an old, regular-sized shampoo bottle that I refill as needed.  This makes showering a lot easier.  I usually get about 4 washes out of that bottle.  Keep in mind, since it is mostly water, it will take quite a bit for each wash.  I keep the gallon jug next to the tub because it never fails that I will forget my shampoo bottle is empty after I’m already in the shower.

To wash your hair, start with the crown on top.  Shake your bottle vigorously to mix the baking soda and water, and gently and slowly apply liberally to the top of your head.  It’s such a cheap solution, I am VERY liberal with it.  I try to make one pass around my entire head.  Now, it does take some getting used to because it’s so watery and we’re used to putting a thick, gel-like substance on our head that just sits where you put it.  This solution does not taste good and while it’s not painful, it is annoying if it runs into your eyes.  Next, you massage the solution into your scalp.  Be gentle and use the tips of your fingers, not your fingernails.  But also use enough pressure that you’re actually rubbing your scalp.  Move around your entire head, and apply more solution as necessary.  Once you’ve massaged it into your entire scalp, make sure you have gotten all of your hair.  For instance, I have long hair, so I have to lift sections to get to all of my scalp, and also apply more to the ends of my hair.

Then you rinse with water like normal.  The feeling is amazing.  It feels so much cleaner, and unlike shampoo, it doesn’t leave a film of any sort.  I know one of the best marketing tools shampoo companies use is making the shampoo smell amazing.  One of the my favorite things about this method is using essential oils in the baking soda solution.  I have a wide range of scents so I can change it up every time I refill my little bottle (sweet orange is my favorite).  It’s fun to mix and match and experiment with different smells when I’m in the mood to.

Next is your “conditioner”.  The rinse for the No-poo solution is simply Apple Cider Vinegar, available at any grocery store or even Wal-Mart.  I buy this in as big a bottle as possible (usually a gallon at the grocery store) and also keep it right next to the bathtub.  I also purchased a small bottle in the kitchen section at Wal-Mart that you usually put ketchup or dressing or some condiment in.  The kind you can easily squirt liquid from and aim it where you need it.

Vinegar is a natural Ph balance for the human body.  In fact, one of the best things you can rinse your face to balance out your complexion is vinegar.  Okay, so it doesn’t have the best scent, but most people don’t realize that vinegar has NO scent once it dries.

Use the ACV liberally on your hair, paying special attention to the ends of your hair.  And then rinse again with water.  I promise you, you aren’t going to smell like vinegar.  I can’t stress this enough.  Paul can’t even tell I use vinegar on my hair unless he’s in the bathroom with me when I’m using it.

And that’s it.

I encourage you to at least take the N0-poo challenge.  Give it a try for two and a half weeks.  And if you don’t like it, go back to whatever you are using.  But if this works, how do you lose with better hair than ever AND saving a ton of money on shampoo and conditioner?

If you decide to give this a try, please come back and share your experience!

Now, if I can just get brave enough to try the natural crystal deodorant…


Entry filed under: Uncategorized, Urban Homesteading, Natural Parenting & Hippie DIY Stuff. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. homebirthhoney  |  May 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Ok…I am VERY particular about my hair (it is my vanity downfall)…but I am going to work up the nerve to try this.

    • 2. patrioticquilter  |  May 17, 2010 at 10:44 pm

      That’s great! Believe me, I know how hard it is to make that kind of commitment. You just have to remember that you might have a block of days where you aren’t happy about it because it feels like your body is over-producing oil. I had about 4 days like that, then it started getting better pretty quickly. Then after it all evened out, it was such a difference. It just feels lighter and better. Now when I go to the salon to get my hair cut, I have to remind my stylist not to shampoo me : ) Please, please let me know how it goes!

  • 3. Beth C  |  May 18, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Andi, thank you! I haven’t read the after-effects from anyone yet, so this is such a wonderful post. I’ve tried the natural crystal deodorant and didn’t die, so maybe it’s time to try no-poo….

    • 4. patrioticquilter  |  May 18, 2010 at 7:48 am

      Yay! Yes, you SHOULD try it! What did you think of the deodorant? Are you still using it?

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tomas Gallucci. Tomas Gallucci said: Ever heard of the "no-poo" method? tags #bloging #blog #bnbhuntsville @bnbhuntsville […]

  • 6. Darci McVay  |  May 22, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Gonna give it a try! Here is a question: Do you think this method (especially the vinegar) will help my two kids who have severe acne problems? I was just thinking that the PH balancing ability of vinegar might help them.
    I am going to start us all on the NO poo challenge!!!

    I will let you know how we do. THANKS, Andi. You have lots of good info.

    • 7. patrioticquilter  |  May 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks, Darci! I’ve actually read a lot of articles saying that vinegar (especially Apple Cider Vinegar, which is used in the No-poo Solution) is a natural remedy for acne. I should’ve talked more about my thoughts this, but the blog was getting pretty long, and I think I’m going to do a separate blog on facial remedies. As you can imagine, I also think that facial remedies on the market today are so overpriced and are more damage than good.

      Most acne washes and medications do the same thing as shampoo – they strip the skin and pores of natural, protective oils. In an effort to make up for the deficit, your body works overtime trying to repair the damage, creating a viscous pattern. Also, the ingredients in those washes and medications are pretty harsh.

      I’ve been blessed with fairly decent skin, but when I was pregnant, I had horrible acne. It wasn’t severe, but it was pretty bad at times. Instead of trying the expensive washes, I did use ACV. I made a solution of 1 part apple cider vinegar to 8 parts water (i.e 1/4 cup ACV to 2 cups water) and mix it well. Then apply it directly to the face and let it dry. Sure, ACV has a scent to it, but no matter how applied (especially since it’s watered down), it has ZERO smell to it when it dries. You can also use regular vinegar, but I find ACV to be a little more gentle and the smell is a little better.

      Please do let me know how both of these work out!

  • 8. Nikki Olandese  |  June 21, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I’ve been meaning to start this FOREVER now!!! I’m committing to it today! I’ll check back in a few weeks to let you know it goes. I’m also going to try using ACV for my face. Since I had Quinn, I’ve had horrible break outs. And I can’t afford the fancy stuff. So, I’m going to give it a try. Should I continue with moisturizer or will the ACV balance me out so I won’t have to worry about it (except for sunscreen, of course).

  • 9. Canister Set  |  January 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

    ~,” I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information *:’


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