For just over a year, I have been doing the 'poo free thing. Instead of using commercial beauty products to clean my hair, I've been using more natural stuff. Today, I put mud in my hair.
When I first started my no 'poo journey, my hair was becoming dull and lifeless and my scalp was unbelievably itchy. I had read so many great things about how much better everyone who had gone through the process liked their hair. I was tired of spending money on the commercial, expensive chemicals that I put in my hair every week. At first I considered going with some products from companies that sell chemical free hair products, but those were even more expensive than what I was already using. So I thought, I have nothing to lose and I dove in head first.
So, here I was. I had made the decision to not use any commercial hair products, and I was going to do that for at least one year. Now what? Naturally, I asked google. I got hundreds of search results from videos to recipes for making your own shampoo to entire ebooks with DIY natural beauty products.
There was simply so much info out there, and so many people had done this successfully that I didn't quite know where to start. Or even how to get going on this. So I searched my cabinets and started there. With baking soda. And apple cider vinegar. But how much of each to use? And how often to use them?
I had already learned that shampooing your hair everyday actually dries it out, so the past several years I had been shampooing my hair only a few times each week. I have thick, curly hair, which I like straighten with a flat iron each time I washed it. THAT is a huge task and one that I don't like to repeat daily.
Here's what I learned. I'm sharing what I do here, but I can tell you that it's not an exact science. You have to test your hair and let your hair tell you what it needs. Sometimes I don't even use the baking soda and just rinse my hair with vinegar a couple times.
How to wash your hair without shampoo:
- Put a bit of baking soda (maybe 1-2 teaspoons) into the bottom of an empty plastic sports drink bottle.
- Fill it with warmish water and shake it up to dissolve and activate the baking soda.
- Carefully pour it all over your scalp and use your fingertips to gently massage the baking soda and water mixture into your scalp and the roots of your hair. (Did you know that shampoo is technically made to cleanse your scalp, not your entire length of hair?)
- Thoroughly rinse your hair.
- Repeat if you'd like.
What about conditioner?
- Pour about a half inch to an inch of apple cider vinegar (ACV) into the bottom of a different empty plastic sports drink bottle.
- Fill it with water and give it a shake.
- Gently pour the mixture over your hair starting at your scalp and letting the rest run through the length of your hair.
- Allow it to sit on your hair for a few minutes--wash your body, shave your legs, etc.
- Here's the hard part (especially in winter): rinse your hair with cool water. You don't have to use ice cold water, but make the water as cool as you can stand it. (The cool water helps to close the hair follicles. ACV also helps to restore your hair to its natural pH level.)
That's it. It's really that simple. You might find that you need to adjust the amount of baking soda or ACV that you use. It's not really an exact science. Also if you have an itchy scalp, like I did, the ACV will help to calm that itchiness down quite a bit. Essential oils also help with itchy scalp, although I will admit to not using EO's as often as I probably should.
Another note: your hair will go through detox. Detox is definitely not for the faint of heart. Honestly, I felt like giving up. But I wanted the healthy end results so I kept going. If you saw me last summer, my hair was ALWAYS in a pony tail. My hair, as it went through detox, was GROSS! It tangled easily. Very easily. So easily that it annoyed me. It was greasy. Not easy to manage at all. The good news is that the detox ended (not quick enough) and my hair became soft, shiny, strong, and healthy. Just the results I wanted.
Was it easy? Sorta. I mean using the described method above was easy. But hair detox was not easy. Or pretty.
Was it worth it? 100% YES!
Why does the hair go through detox? When you shampoo with commercial products, the chemicals in these products end up coating the hair to make it feel soft or look shiny. Your hair naturally produces oils to keep it balanced correctly. When using store bought shampoos and conditioners, your hair begins to produce LOTS of oil to compensate for the ingredients in the products you are using. When you stop using those products, your hair has to adjust to that. It needs to stop producing so many excess oils. It takes several weeks for your hair to adjust and start producing just the right amount of oils. Therefore detox will also take several weeks. Everyone's hair is different. So one person's hair might take just a few weeks to detox, and another person (like me) might have to suffer for the entire summer. There are things you can do to speed up the detox, but that's for another post. And anyway, I didn't try any of them.
So why did I wash my hair with mud today? At the beginning of the summer, I was getting bored, OK I was getting annoyed, at my hair washing process. And I decided to try something different.
Enter "the shampoo bar". This bar boasted all good ingredients like coconut oil, essential oils, castile soap, lye, etc. I didn't see a problem with any of the ingredients. In fact the first few times I used it, my hair felt wonderful! I thought I had found the perfect solution to my baking soda and ACV routine. I still used the ACV rinse, but replaced the baking soda with the shampoo bar.
What I didn't realize is that soap acts like a dirt magnet. It rinsed out of my hair, but left a sticky residue that I couldn't see or feel. Until I went to a weekend long event with Mr. Sew Happily Ever After. It was sunny, dry, and dusty. Very dusty. Dirt was flying everywhere. After that weekend, my hair was thoroughly coated with dust. And guess what? Yep, all that sticky soap residue was invisibly in my hair and caused the dust to coat each strand.
Since that weekend, my hair has not been quite the same. It has become dull and lifeless, difficult to manage, and sometimes it feels like it is coated with a layer of wax.
I was really embarrassed to go get my hair trimmed a few weeks ago, and thought I was going to have to break down and actually buy some cleansing shampoo or something. I also began having major trouble with dandruff, something that had not plagued me since I started this journey.
I started poking around online reading about what ingredients to avoid in hair care and also reading about how to solve my waxy hair problem. I also have this DIY recipe ebook for beauty products. In my research and the DIY book, bentonite clay is suggested as a cleanser.
At this point I was getting pretty desperate and I realized that I had nothing to lose. As a last effort, I mixed up a bentonite clay hair mask. I used bentonite clay, water, and apple cider vinegar--adding just enough of the liquids to create a yogurt-like consistency. First I wet down my hair. Then I massaged the mud mixture through my hair starting at the roots and working to the ends of my hair.
I piled all of my hair on top of my head and covered it with a plastic bag so the clay wouldn't dry. After 10 minutes, I completely rinsed my hair followed by an ACV rinse with 10 drops of Tea Tree essential oil (supposed to help with dandruff). I'm happy to report that my hair no longer feels like it is coated with wax, and it's soft, smooth, and manageable once again!
If you do use bentonite clay, you should be cautious as it could clog your drain.
I'd love to hear about your 'poo free journey. Any hair care recipes or tips that you'd like to share?