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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

No Poo: Day One

No, I'm not writing about bowel habits.

Let's talk about hair, baby!

My four-year-old and her ridiculously-gorgeous hair

Did you know you can keep your hair clean, soft, shiny and manageable with only baking soda and vinegar? I first heard about "no 'poo" (as in "no shampoo") many months ago, but I wanted to use up my current shampoo first because I paid for it.  What I should have asked myself when making that decision is what the real cost of that shampoo is.

I've never been happy with my hair.  It's thick and unevenly curly/wavy.  It's always been hard to style or even keep in a pony tail!  In high school, I looked like Alice from the Dilbert cartoon: frizzy poof on top, flat around head, frizzy poof at the bottom, creating a triangle.  Now that I'm a mom, my hair has gotten extra oily, too, so it's always flat on top but still frizzy and/or stringy at the bottom.  I cannot wash more frequently than once a week because I get so frizzy (and no anti-frizz product can even hint at taming it), and then I move to oil slick spontaneously overnight, like flipping a switch.  Natural shampoos don't help - but probably don't make it worse, and commercial shampoos completely torture my hair.  Last week I brought a tub of baking soda into my bathroom for use in the tub.  A couple days later, I finished off one of my bottles of "natural scalp care" shampoo and decided it was perfect timing.  (Which reminds me: I need to throw the other bottle, a salon shampoo, in the trash.  Hair poison!)

There are many people talking about "no 'poo," and there are many recipes and methods out there.  I decided I liked the idea of mixing up the baking soda and water in a wash bottle instead of in my hand.  I'm glad I did.  It was so easy to squirt it through my hair with one hand while sectioning my hair with the other.  I have a lot of thick hair, so I have to apply it in sections (picture someone getting their hair colored with foil wraps).  I didn't measure the baking soda or water, which I realized, after the fact, was not smart.  Now I won't know how much to use next time!  I also left the vinegar downstairs, so I skipped it.  I did not have a smooth start to this process.

The standard recipe is 1 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar to 1 cup of water.  You have to find the recipe that works for you, using more baking soda and less vinegar for oilier hair or less baking soda and more vinegar for drier hair.  For each step, you leave the mixture on your hair for a minute or two and then rinse well.  Some people don't rinse out the vinegar, treating it like a leave-in conditioner.  (I've thought about putting the vinegar and water mixture into a spray bottle and using it after I get out of the shower when I comb my hair.)  Either way, the vinegar smell should go away as your hair dries.

Here is one of the blogs I found especially helpful.

Despite omitting the vinegar rinse, I noticed distinct differences in my hair.  When it was first drying, it was smooth and soft instead of frizzy and coarse.  The more it dried, the shinier it got.  I used a wide-tooth comb on it, and it went right though.  That's unheard of.  Then I (bravely or stupidly) took a fine-tooth comb to it to stimulate my scalp, and that went through, too!  I am AMAZED.  This is only the first wash!

I am interested to see how my hair handles the adjustment period.  Most people experience very oily hair for the first few days or weeks because their scalps are in high-production mode thanks to the drying effects of traditional shampoo and over-washing thanks to the same oil problem.  It's a vicious cycle.  Since I don't over-wash, I wonder if my hair will be oily sooner after washing than it is now.  I'm hoping the "no 'poo" method tempers the oil slick when it is time to wash.

I'm also interested to see how my hair handles being pulled back.  Currently, as soon as I wear a pony tail, my hair becomes oily, and I have no other style options until I wash.  The no-poo blog posts I've read (there are many great ones out there!) have reported alternating up dos with long styles without a problem, so only time will tell.

I'll try to update in a week or so with how it's going.

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