Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The No-Poo Experiment

My shampoo bottle is about to run out, and I'm contemplating whether or not to buy another one.

Several months ago, I quietly started experimenting with no-pooing... not using shampoo.

Before you recoil in horror, I wasn't walking around with slimy greasy icky stinky hair. I was washing it, just not with shampoo. I'm not a hippie!

To be kinder to your scalp, your skin, your plumbing, your reproductive system, and our water system, you can bypass parabens, Propylene glycol (PG), butylene glycol, isopropyl (SD-40), Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and wash your hair with baking soda and diluted vinegar.

How well does it work? 
Well, my hair was soft, shiny and it squeaked clean when I rinsed it. It did feel different (the strands were more separated -- more volume but not frizzy), but not unpleasantly different. I didn't go through the "greasy stage" that a lot of other people do who try it. I'd say it works perfectly well.

How to no-poo:
I mixed about a tablespoon of baking soda into a half cup of warm water, dumped it on my head, and massaged it in little circles into every spot on my scalp. Then rinsed.

As a "conditioning rinse," I mixed about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into cup of water, poured that on my head and rinsed.

There are more complete instructions and information here and here. Purportedly you're supposed to rinse with cold water, but no thanks.

Why I quit no-pooing, the cons:

1. There are no suds, because it's baking soda (made into a thin paste with water). I like suds; they make me think the shampoo is doing something. Mentally, it was hard to feel clean without a good lather.

2. Because it's anti-aromatherapy. When you're scrubbing away the oils, dirt, dead skin, and sweat in your hair, you don't smell tropical breezes, cucumber melon, lavender mist, apple blossom, cherry vanilla or tangerine blast... you smell oils, dirt, dead skin, and sweat. And that's followed with vinegar. Your hair doesn't smell bad after you're done, at all, it just doesn't smell sweet, and I like frilly smells. I've heard you can overcome this by adding a few drops of essential oils, but I never did it.

3. I never put it into a good container, so it was messy. This isn't a flaw of the system, it was my own laziness for not putting the stuff into nice bottles. Often, then, I had vinegar running down my face or baking soda dripping down my eyes. Granted, it didn't sting like shampoo would, but it was just not pleasant.

With that said, I'm still considering going back to it.

Why go back to it? The pros of no-pooing:

1. It's cheap.

2. It works.

3. It actually kept my hair cleaner longer. With shampoo, I can make it about 22 hours before it starts getting a little slick. With no-pooing I could easily have gone a lot longer. How much longer? I don't know, because after 48 hours I would wash it again just because.

4. If you're at all into earthy crunchy stuff (it doesn't have to get political here, if something is not toxic to your body or the environment then...?) it's pretty obvious why.

I'm still eying a cheap bottle of Suave in the hair care aisle, and will probably end up keeping a bottle on hand for those days when I just need a good Coconut Mango Tropical Tahitian Breeze sudsy lather. But on the rest of the days, I might just hop back into no-pooing.

What are you thoughts? Have you ever no-pooed? Would you ever consider no-pooing? Why or why not?

51 comments:

Sarah said...

I haven't used shampoo in a month or so now. Whenever I tell people that, they think "EW!" But my hair is softer and shinier and healthier than it has EVER been.

And I don't even use baking powder. I was my hair with conditioner... Basically, after you put it in your hair, you just gently massage your scalp and it loosens any dirt, while still leaving in some of the good, healthy oil that keeps your hair protected. And this is advice I got directly from a hair stylist. It's best for people who have curly hair, as it also happens to be the driest.

Once in a while, I'll do the baking soda thing just to remove any buildup and to give it a little extra clarification.

I don't think I'll ever use shampoo again.

Molly said...

This is interesting to me because just last week I realized as I was blow drying my hair that I had actually forgotten to wash my hair in the shower. Duh. So I just finished blow drying and went with it. It was feeling less than clean by the afternoon. :) I have short hair so I do have to wash it every day....if I want my children to take me seriously, that is. I have very entertaining bed head when my hair is short. Just for fun, I might try this no-poo solution. Although, I'm with you. I like the yummy smells even a cheap bottle of shampoo can offer me.

Nicole said...

I think I may try this. My hair gets oily pretty easily, and being long, it takes a decent amount of shampoo to get it clean. My sister-in-law is pretty crunchy and uses baking soda for both toothpaste and deodorant, so this isn't a foreign concept to me. If I decide to try it, I'll let you know how it goes!

Deoxy144 said...

I never got no-poo to work for me, but I've good luck with shampoo bars. I use J R Liggett's but I have also heard good things about Chagrin Valley shampoo bars. You still get the lather and the scent, if you want it, but can avoid all that toxic stuff. Usually, you still need a vinegar rinse after washing with a shampoo bar.

Sarah St. Hilaire said...

Nicole was doing the no-poo for a while. She had been hooked on expensive poos (I'm enjoying this poo thing) and she likes crunchy stuff, so decided to make her own homemade no-poo. She was liking it! Not sure if she still is using it, but it definitely worked for her for a while.

Laura O'Neill said...

I haven't done the baking soda mix, but did try out a 'shampoo' bar that was basically a mild soap. I am with you on wanting the whole 'experience' with nice smells, though.

I just might need to give this a try as saving money is a good thing!

Farmer's City Wife said...

Very interesting! I bet conditioner smells better than baking soda, too :).

Farmer's City Wife said...

Mm hm, the greasiness of my hair directly effects my mood. If I have greasy hair, I will be grumpy, period. >:( Gah!
"I do have to wash it every day... if I want my children to take me seriously, that is." hehehe, That's hilarious, and I know how you feel!

Farmer's City Wife said...

I've seriously considered both the deodorant and toothpaste route (using various recipes I've seen online... coconut oil, cornstarch and something or other for deodorant). My husband doesn't want toothpaste without tartar control, and I don't want deodorant without BO control, hehe. But I guess I can't speak until I give 'em a try.

Farmer's City Wife said...

Lather, scent, no toxic? Sounds good to me :-D. How about cheap?

Katherine said...

I did try just washing my hair with water for a few weeks but my hair got so wirey-feeling I couldn't stand it. So I'm back to my shampoo and conditioner for the time being. At some point I might try your vinegar/baking soda method but not right now.

I do wonder how the variations in water treatment might effect these experiments. I detest Maryland water. Not in Florida or Texas have I ever had mold (pink and black) spring up in bathrooms and showers so fast as I do here in Maryland just because water dared to evaporate. While I've heard of hard and soft water, I don't know much about it though I suspect part of my water gripes in Maryland come down to the amount (or lack thereof) of chlorine used in our water, but I don't really know.

That said, I love the idea of removing chemicals from my life. But between the questions involving the type of water, the fact I am due to give birth any day now, and the fact we are moving in a couple of months (within Maryland), it just isn't an issue I can sort through right now.

Karen Shiffler said...

I was actually thinking about it this morning. I don't need to wash my hair everyday, and it's not greasy. So I only wash every other day. I have heard a lot of good things about not using shampoo, though. Although I think I'd go the route of the essential oils...I also like the good smells!

Farmer's City Wife said...

Yes, it does work, I just have a hard time getting enthusiastic or excited about it, hehe.
Sarah, you're hilarious :-p.

Farmer's City Wife said...

I've never seen a shampoo bar in the store, but I have never looked for one, either. Any particular brands to avoid, or ones you like?

Farmer's City Wife said...

I didn't know you were having a baby soon. Congratulations!
Yes, I'm so with you... in the grand scheme of priorities for life, no-pooing isn't very high up there for me. But since I'm on the fence about going back, all things considered right now I thought maybe I could give it another go.

Karen Shiffler said...

Also wanted to add- I've been in situations where I had to shower in a cold shower. There was just no avoiding it. And my hair was ALWAYS softer afterwards.

Kimberly Lewis said...

I have been using baking soda and essential oils for several months now. I love it. If you put your water in a cup and add four or five drops of various oils you can add enough soda to make a paste. Smells wonderful and you can customize it to your mood. I have nearly waist length naturally wavy hair. When using conventional (chemical) shampoo I have to wash my hair every other day or so. When I wash with soda I can go an entire week without it getting greasy! Amazing. Funny story. I've been doing 'no poo' and no conditioner all winter with no problems and no static. I got a trim a couple weeks ago and my stylist used chemical shampoo on my hair. I had static in my hair for the next three days until I washed it with soda again. Weirdness!

Farmer's City Wife said...

I'm not sure if they'd be added to the vinegar or the baking soda... but this might help me get back into it.

Farmer's City Wife said...

GAH! hehehe Maybe if I had a detached shower head and could avoid freezing my body...?

Farmer's City Wife said...

That's crazy (about the static)!
Thanks for sharing how to add the essential oils. I wasn't sure if they went into the vinegar or the soda. I don't know much about essential oils -- is the kind you use to make candles and the kind you can eat and the kind you put in your shampoo all the same kind? Or are there different "grades"?

The Sojourner said...

I've never tried it, but I'm feeling really tempted with having seen it several places on the internet lately.

Your Con #2 is actually a pro for me; I don't like shampoos that smell. Or lotion, or air fresheners. Bath and Body Works gives me a nervous breakdown.

Also, not having to wash my hair every day could be kind of cool. And I'm a miser. A miser with approximately 42 inches of hair, so any super-cheap haircare is a good thing in my book.

Farmer's City Wife said...

LOL, if it were just scentless it'd be fine (I prefer scentless lotion, too), but it's pungently gross, hehe.

Katherine said...

You know when I first saw the title of this post, all I could think was, "What are those chickens up to now?" LOL

Farmer's City Wife said...

ROTFLOL!!!

Amy said...

I off and on no-poo all the time. When I was pregnant my hair was fabulous. It was scary nice. I never had those greasy days either. Since I am no longer pregnant, I am not getting the results as well as I did. It still works, but once in awhile I have to go back to shampoo for a refresher, I guess, lol. Last time I stopped because my hair was getting greasy faster. But I will probably go back again.
If you want aromatherapy add essential oils! Get a squeeze condiment bottle (you can get them real cheap) and put about 1/3 baking soda and fill the rest with water. Then I added about 20 drops of lavender. I also added it to the apple cider rinse too.
My hair would be super shinny and full of body.

Farmer's City Wife said...

LOL, I wish I had "scary nice" hair :-D.
Yes, I think a condiment bottle (or even a reused shampoo bottle) will greatly enhance my experience.

Tykes Mom said...

I actually just blogged about this same thing yesterday (http://the-north-forty.com/2011/03/21/everyday-beauty-products-for-cheap/). I found that it cleaned my hair very well, and the apple cider vinegar gave my hair a wonderful shine. That being said, it left my hair lifeless and flat. I went back to using cheap store-bought shampoo and conditioner just because I like to have soft, moisturized, nice-smelling hair. But I still recommend that everyone try it. Everyone's hair is different, so it may work really well for some people (and it's such a great money saver!).

Farmer's City Wife said...

Ooh, excellent post! I just linked to it. The peroxide rinse is something I could easily try, and a lot cheaper than listerine.

Masha said...

I've done it. Not your recipe, but I have made my own shampoos with natural cleaners, and lots of essential oils. I don't have oily hair at all (thank goodness, as I only get to shower about 1 or 2 times/week!) but I find the less often I wash my hair, the healthier it is, and the less harsh the shampoo (or no-poo) the better. Flat beer works REALLY well for volume and soft, shiny hair by the way!

You mentioned deodorent too, and lemon slices, rubbed in your underarms work fantastically well at reducing sweat and eliminating any odor! It lasts all day too, I know folks who've used this out in the desert too. Good luck!

Farmer's City Wife said...

Lemon slices? Hm...

Kimberly Lewis said...

Oh yeah! I nearly forgot... I also found a more natural hair styling product line. It's all based on cornstarch! I buy it through my Frontier food CoOp. http://www.suncoatproducts.com/index-hairspray.htm

Kimberly Lewis said...

Oh yeah! I nearly forgot... I also found a more natural hair styling product line. It's all based on cornstarch! I buy it through my Frontier food CoOp. http://www.suncoatproducts.com/index-hairspray.htm

Farmer's City Wife said...

Thanks for sharing, Kimberly!

Tykes Mom said...

Thanks for linking. The peroxide one is very common. Apparently dentist's even recommend it. Hopefully it works well for you!

Amanda (Glimpsing Heaven) said...

I have been wanting to try this, but I had a question about safety of the essential oils. I wanted my hair to smell good after I was done washing it, so I started researching essential oils. In my research, I came across several sites that said several essential oils should not be used with certain medical conditions, directly on the skin (or scalp), if you are pregnant, or on infants. The part about not being used directly on the skin is concerning. Also the information that I read was conflicting as to which essential oils were safe and which were not for certain conditions, pregnancy, or infants. Do you (or does anyone who reads this blog) have any good sources to know for sure which oils are safe all of the time for everyone - even conservative married Catholic women of childbearing age who want to be careful just in case God decides to bless them? :-)

I did come across a couple of suggestions for leave-in conditioners. Aloe Vera Juice, Coconut Oil, and Golden Jojoba Oil have all been suggested as stand alone or in varying combinations. Although I haven't researched their safety (surely they are safe - I can't imagine anything about those that could be dangerous), it seems like it is worth trying. Has anyone tried any of these? Does anyone have any suggestions other than these? Thanks and God bless!

Farmer's City Wife said...

Thanks for providing the great resource :).

Farmer's City Wife said...

Hm... I vaguely remember hearing/reading something like this once but I have no particulars; I just didn't use 'em 'cause I was too lazy to find them in stores :). Hopefully somebody else can weigh in -- you might want to post the question on the Facebook page (as I'm not sure how often people check comments on older posts).

Erika Marie said...

I've thought about trying this. I've tried to go without washing my hair but my hair gets very greesy, even by the evening of a washing. I do use a shampoo that has none of parabans and SLS but it would be nice not to have to use as much! Maybe one day, in the summer when no one will see me for a while, I'll try it again. :)

Farmer's City Wife said...

I hear ya! I only ever no-poo on the quiet :).

Geenabean99 said...

 I actually just no-pooed about 30 mins ago. LOL sorry. Anyway I thought I would give it a try. I am semi-crunchy and I am trying to switch out my beauty products. I already switched my cleaning products and make my own laundry detergent. My hair is long and hard to take care of. I want to cut it short but my husband has begged me not too. I have two young children and just don't have to time to wash, blow dry, and style my hair everyday. I am hoping this works. My hair would start to look greasy about 18 hours after I washed it. 

Farmer's City Wife said...

Did it work for you?? :) I hope so!
I know what you mean about long hair -- I'm gonna get mine whacked off soon. It's just too hard for me to handle.

JamieMonster said...

I am currently experimenting with the no shampoo trend.  I do think my hair feels clean and doesn't stink BUT like you I like the yummy smells of traditional products.  I even add cinnamon leaf and lavender essential oils, but the scents don't really stick to your hair.  Furthermore, even though I can go longer without washing, I don't think my hair looks as nice on the non-wash days as it did when I used shampoo.  I dunno.  I'm going to stick with it for a while, but with an internship and vacation looming, I may go back to my shampoo.

Farmer's City Wife said...

Yeah... I've pretty much gone back to shampoo (for some of the reasons you listed and more). I really wanted to make this one work, and I suppose it works well enough... but not well enough for me to embrace it wholeheartedly (unless I'm doing it wrong). If I'm out of shampoo (which happens), I use it as a backup.

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rachel hess said...

I've always had problems with static until I switched to baking soda. Be wary washing teeth with baking soda (all the time) its very abrasive and will eventually strip the enamel off. Stick to maybe once a week with that and use regular (I use fluoride free) toothpaste the rest of the time.

Farmer's City Wife said...

Good to know about tooth brushing :). I've stuck to Tom's Naturals fluoride-free and like it well enough; though I have a dentist appointment this Wednesday so we'll see how it's treating my pearly whites then.

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