Update 31/5/15: Since writing this post over a year ago, things have changed. I have stopped using bicarb soda for my no poo hairwashing routine. After over 2.5 years of bicarb & ACV washing, my hair became brittle and prone to split ends & breakages. I have since learnt this issue is caused by the extreme alkalinity of the bicarb soda when applied to an acidic environment (the scalp) and the changes in the hair follicles as a result of the bicarb. I am currently washing my hair with ONLY the apple cider vinegar (diluted in water), and slowly experimenting with other natural ingredients. I now recommend only using bicarb soda during the transition period (to help with oil build up as your scalp learns what scalps are supposed to do in the absence of commercial shampoo/conditioner), and dropping the bicarb once you get through the transition period and your scalp starts to regulate. If you have questions, please ask away in the comments below. I’ll be writing a longer post on the topic in the coming weeks. Sarah xoxo
No, we’re not going to talk about poop today. We’ll talk about that later this month. 😉
For today, we’ll stick with hair. ‘No Poo’ refers to washing your hair without shampoo. Yep, this dirty hippy girl doesn’t use shampoo.
Now, before you go thinking I am either
d) any combination of the above
- It’s usually filled with toxins. Chemicals that make your skin itch, and your blood boil
- You keep a really clean diet – why put that stuff on your skin? Newsflash: your skin covers your entire body, and it’s an absorbent little sucker. If you wouldn’t put it in your body, don’t put it on your body!
- If it’s ‘natural’ – it’s probably not. And some ‘natural’ things can be pretty durn scary too.
- If it’s genuinely natural and harmless – it’s probably really expensive.
- You have stuff in your kitchen pantry that you could use instead!!!
- The shampoo & conditioner cycle really messes with your head… Shampoo strips your hair of the natural oils, and conditioner replaces them. All this leads to one very confused scalp – to produce oil, or not to produce oil?
My shampoo contains one ingredient: bicarb soda (as per my note at the top of this post, I now only recommend bicarb for use during the transition period)
My conditioner contains one ingredient: apple cider vinegar
Easy peasy. Cheap. Natural & toxin-free. Convenient. Simple!
I used to shampoo. And I used to condition. And I used to use all kinds of styling products that left my hair constantly wet, crunchy, crispy, overly stiff, frizzier than when I started, greasy, and/or just plain weird. Because I have crazy ridiculous hair that didn’t like to do anything I wanted it to curly hair.
I had read about the No Poo method – just caught snippets of articles for years. But never really thought it was something I could do.
My hair is definitely on the dry side, so I thought surely I neeeeeeed conditioner for the oils!
Then a few things happened, and you better believe I was proven wrong.
I decided (with some convincing from friends) to grow my hair out again. I was loving my long locks, but growing increasingly discontented with the fact that I couldn’t find a shampoo/conditioner product range that I was perfectly happy with. I was using a natural-ish shampoo, the best I could find, and then one day… My local organic store stopped stocking it.
This was exactly the final push that I needed.
I decided to embrace the No Poo method, to at least give it a whirl, even though fears of a transition period lurked in my head (see bottom of post for explanation).
I started using bicarb soda and apple cider vinegar and nothing else to wash my hair. And my hair LOVED it! My hair took to it like a duck to water and I felt liberated. Liberated from the grips of commercial and chemical-laden shampoo & conditioner!
I made the change a good year or two ago, and I’m still going strong. Oh, and I only need to wash my hair ‘properly’ (using the following method) about once every 1-2 weeks. In between, I just rinse with water straight from the shower nozzle.
Here’s the No Poo method that works for my dry, curly hair:
1) Wet hair thoroughly.
2) Put about 4 Tablespoons of bicarb soda in a small bowl (I use a metal one, it’s probably has about a 3/4 of a cup capacity). (Edited 31/5/15 to add: in light of what I have learnt over the last 6 months about the pH of bicarb soda and the effect it has on the scalp, I now recommend only 1 Tbsp of bicarb soda – and only during the transition period)
3) Apply almost all of the bicarb soda evenly to your scalp and roots by wetting your hands, taking a small handful, rubbing hands together to create a very thick paste, and massaging evenly over scalp (working in sections).
4) Grab the last handful of bicarb soda, rub your hands to create a thick paste, and apply from the roots down the length of your hair (you only need to do the top approx. 5cm of your hair).
5) Massage scalp well once more, and rinse thoroughly.
6) Fill a small bowl with approx. 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar and top up with 2/3 cup water. Grab the ends of your hair together and dunk into the bowl (getting as much hair in as you can), then pull your hair out.
7) Top up bowl with a little more water (to even further dilute the apple cider vinegar), then pour over your hair to rinse, starting from the scalp. *beware not to get it in your eyes – tilt your head back!
8) Add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to your bowl and top up with 3/4 cup water. Rinse your hair by pouring over.
9) If you have long hair, repeat once more.
10) Rinse thoroughly with only water.
11) And a bonus, this is the drying method that works well for my hair: Gently scrunch dry with a towel (if you have curly hair, pleeeease don’t rub it dry), wrap your hair up in a towel for 30 mins so it stops dripping, then let it down and air dry. I always wash my hair in the evening and go to bed with it just slightly damp, as I find that by morning I will have much neater and better set curls than if I just let it air dry.
HOT TIP: If you have lots of thick, really long hair like I do… this is all so much easier in the bath rather than the shower.
Transition period: Word on the world wide web is that some people experience a ‘transition period’ when switching to No Poo. Basically, the scalp goes all, “er mah gerd freederm!” and starts producing oils like crazy to make up for all the oil production that has been stifled by the lather-rinse-repeat routine. This settles after a short period, and your scalp gets used to a new life in paradise. Not everyone experiences a transition period – it didn’t happen to me and hopefully it won’t happen to you! If it does, just wash more often and persist. Once your scalp resets, you’ll be golden. 🙂
Once your hair is dry, there is NO lingering apple cider vinegar smell. If you want that shampoo-y smell, either fill a spray bottle with water and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil and spritz with that before air-drying… or if you’re feeling really indulgent, spritz with diluted rosewater.
I don’t regularly spritz with anything, because I like to cut corners & save money, but also because people already tell me my hair smells nice so I don’t bother.
How bizarre, hair that actually smells like hair smells nice! (That was a little bit of sarcasm, by the way.)