Thursday, October 6, 2011

My "No Poo" Experiment

I remember when I was a little girl my grandma went to the salon every Friday to have her hair washed and set.  I remember being amazed that she could go all week without washing her hair.  I am proud to say that I now know her secret.

I have been on a quest to find a shampoo and conditioner for years that had minimal ingredients and didn’t cost an arm and a leg.  I knew there was something out there that wasn’t full of ingredients that were both harmful to my body and the environment, but I hadn’t found it yet.  Then last year, I began reading about a method known as “no poo”.  The “poo” means shampoo.  Hmmm…..I love self experimentation and had to give this a try.  Here are some blogs that I have found helpful along the way about the “no poo” philosophy.
The first step in my own experiment was to see how long I could go without washing my hair.  Nature Moms' post explains the relationship between shampoo and scalp oil in a way that makes sense to me, “It's a supply and demand relationship, much like nursing a baby. The more your baby wants to nurse, the more milk your body produces. If you suddenly stopped nursing your baby there would be a lot of excess milk, engorgement, etc., for a while until your body returned to a state of balance.” 
The results of the first part of this experiment were amazing.  I was able to go about three weeks before I felt that I absolutely had to wash my hair.  Now, before you start thinking I am totally disgusting, let me say this; I did shower every day.  While showering, I would scrub my scalp well with nothing but warm water.  I didn’t want to use any products on my hair during this time period because I wanted a retraining period for my hair.  At first, I got that yucky feeling around the neckline when you feel like you have to shower and my scalp was definitely itchy, but I just kept on going.  Each time I showered and then dried and styled my hair I would ask my biggest hair critic, my teenage daughter, how my hair looked.  She wasn’t aware of my experiment at the time.  Each time she gave me good feedback.   It almost seemed that once I passed the first week, my hair looked better and better.  I will say that I have normal to dry hair and have never had an issue with too much oil.
The second step in the experiment was to wash my hair after I felt it had time to detox from its addiction to shampoo.  For this first try, I used Dr. Bronner’s soap to clean my hair.  I was a little worried because I had always used conditioner on my normal to dry hair and I would not be using any conditioner during this experiment.   The soap worked fine although I did have some fly-aways.  I think since I had developed a bit of an oil base on my scalp, it didn’t require the conditioner as it had in the past. 

With time I noticed something I never expected to happen.  The longer I went without “washing” my hair, the dryer it became.  How could that be?  Isn’t your hair supposed to become more oily?  I decided to change things up a little in this experiment.  Rather than using Dr. Bronner’s soap, I switched to a paste made of baking soda.  I massaged the paste onto my scalp and rinsed with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water.  The apple cider vinegar helped restore the ph balance and made my hair very soft and shiny. 


I am continuing the “no poo” method today and don’t see myself switching back to regular shampoo anytime soon.  I love that my hair is no longer dependent on shampoo and it makes traveling super easy.  Plus, the cost of baking soda and apple cider vinegar is extremely cheap.  What I have been doing for about four months now is “washing” my hair once a week with the baking soda paste and apple cider vinegar.  (Ha Grandma! I am now a once a weaker too!)   Since my hair tends to be on the dry side, I use apple cider vinegar a few more times a week without the baking soda paste to keep my hair moisturized.  If I use a little too much apple cider vinegar the ends of my hair look oily and I have to run it through warm water again.  So, there is definitely a learning curve with all of this. 

I LOVE discovering new things about my amazing body.  I have been super happy with this experiment.  It has not only satisfied my need to find a shampoo and conditioner that is safe of chemicals (I can eat everything I put on my hair) but I have also eliminated gels that I used before.  I always used a minimal amount of gel, but now that my hair has a bit of an oil base to it, (not to be confused with a dirty, oily head) I don’t need the gels.   Plus, I have once again learned that my body (scalp included) are uniquely different than every other person’s and what it requires is quite different than what other people require.  I love learning new things about myself and my body.