No, this is not about constipation. It is about my hair, which happens to be the subject of this week’s Spin Cycle.
I have thick hair. VERY thick hair, like enough for three people thick. It’s thinned a bit as I’ve aged (yet another wonderful gift from the Perimenopause Fairy), but it’s still much thicker than your average head. It is also very wavy, although not quite wavy enough to be curly, which is really inconvenient unless I keep it short, which Beloved hates.
Once I moved to Ohio, with its long, DRY winters, I discovered something else: I can spend six months of the year looking like Christopher Lloyd in the Back to the Future films before Doc Brown went gray. Or a mousy brown Ronald McDonald; take your pick.
Oh, with dandruff. We must not forget my horrifically flaky scalp (although I’m sure you’d like to).
Thus began The Search For Non-Frizzy-Dandruff-Free Hair, which, until recently, has been A Miserable Failure. No amount of product, blow-drying, flat-or-curling ironing could tame my terrible tresses, unless I was prepared to spend two hours and a small fortune every day doing something about my hair and I’m sorry – I haven’t been that concerned about my appearance since I was 16.
Once I’d moved north, I consulted a hair-stylist about what I could do to cut down on the frizz without putting so much crap on my head that it effectively turned my hair into a gleaming, rock-hard, non-moving helmet. This wonderful woman (who has, alas, moved away) suggested I not wash my hair every day. In fact, she suggested I only wash it every four days. It would give the natural oils produced by my scalp a chance to do what they’re supposed to do – nourish my hair and keep it from drying out.
It worked, too – on the fourth day. The problem was that no matter the brand of shampoo I used, it would strip my hair so badly that it would take 3 days for it to recover. So I started going longer and longer between washings: first five days, then seven, then ten. After awhile, I stopped rinsing my hair in the shower between washings, because even getting it wet was making it dry.
Then, about a year ago, I ran across Richard Nikoley’s post about his no soap and shampoo experiment. After that, it seemed like blog posts and articles about doing away with shampoo popped up everywhere, and I read them all avidly.
As of this writing, I haven’t used shampoo for almost a year (Beloved hasn’t for about 8 months). My hair, despite being in need of a trim, is simply gorgeous. It is not dirty, or oily, or greasy or smelly – it is strong, shiny, sleek and healthy. And my dandruff, while still present, is not nearly as severe.
Now, we do wash it; about once a month, I scrub my scalp with a paste made from water and baking soda, then rinse it with raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, which I am convinced is The Greatest Conditioner Known To Mankind. (I also wash it if I do something that gets it visibly dirty or if I swim in chlorinated water, which is even worse for hair than shampoo.) I also vigorously brush it every morning and every evening, to distribute the oils from my scalp down the the strands of hair, especially important now that my hair has grown past my shoulders.
I should also mention that we haven’t gone so far as to give up soap, although we no longer use harsh deodorant or antibacterial soaps. It’s good old Ivory for us, unless I can get my hands on some old-fashioned, hand-made lye soap. My use of deodorant has also decreased a great deal; I no longer apply it unless I forget my magnesium oil for several days in a row. Marvelous stuff, that magnesium oil, although Beloved won’t use it because he says it burns his skin (and I have to be careful about how and where I apply it).
So there you have it. If you’re questioning my sanity, I guess I can’t blame you – I’ve given up grains, dairy and “healthy” vegetable oils, I eat raw meat, and I no longer use shampoo. But, you know, if I’ve gone off the deep end…well, I kinda like it down here.