No ‘Poo, No More

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.

16 thoughts on “No ‘Poo, No More”

  1. Amen, sister! I almost never shampoo. I wash it once or twice a week just with hot water. I love the idea of using the baking soda and apple cider vinegar. That might be just what I need. Because just recently I suddenly have dandruff too. So I’ve been using a dandruff shampoo about once every two weeks. But maybe, the baking soda/vinegar thing might help the dandruff. What do you think? Anyway, I’ve finally convinced my curly haired sister in law to stop with the shampoo, and she says it’s been life changing!

    And I haven’t used mass produced soap in years either. All that soap scum that Mommy gets in her shower from Pop’s Irish Spring/Dial/Dove is exactly what gets on your skin. It’s essentially the same stuff as in Ajax. You should buy some nice handmade soap at one of your Farmer’s Markets.

  2. So you’re not on the Moroccon Oil fad? : )
    I now wash my hair less frequently than I ever have because it has gotten so much drier.
    Maybe I should try the vinegar as a conditioner. I don’t use conditioner.

  3. Apple cider vinegar sure is multi-purpose, isn’t it? 🙂 I’m going to have to try that… I don’t use any products on my hair after the shampoo/rinse-out conditioner mode because I don’t like that it makes my hair not feel silky (in spite of the claims it’s ‘supposed’ to…oxymoron, perhaps?) I also only wash my hair when I can’t stand it anymore (depending on the time of year, it can be more than a week between washings) and like you, I brush it vigorously in the morning and right before bed (and sometimes a couple of times during the day, just to keep the tangles at bay since it likes to snarl itself up for no apparent reason, especially when it’s windy or I’m busy running around). 🙂 The two things that will last the longest (if you take care of them) as you get older is your hair and your teeth – so I take supreme care of both…now to work on the rest of me, and I’ll be all set for old age. 😉

  4. So how often do you wet/rinse it? I work out pretty intensely 5-6 times a week, and find that I have been washing/drying/styling it more than I would like.. but after sweating so much I dont know of a better option. I am trying to figure out how I could cut down too..

    1. Beloved pretty much wet/rinses his hair every day. For me, during the winter I don’t get it wet unless I’m washing it. During the summer, when I’m more active (and my head really sweats in the warm weather), I’ll get it wet and rinse it out at least once a week, if not more often. I’m willing to bet you could rinse yours out every day if that doesn’t make it to dry, and wash with the baking soda every few days.

  5. The first time she brought baking soda and vinegar into the shower, all I could think about was the volcano I made as a child for the Science Fair! But, I am (by necessity) an understanding and patient husband. I figured that at least it would clean up easily – I mean we were naked and the bathroom door and window was closed.

    Well, there was no explosion, though we smelled like pickled old people. Of course, not after our hair dries. Then again, if the people at work keep asking where I keep the salad dressing we may need to reconsider.

    1. Nope! The first time we rinsed with the apple cider vinegar is when Be made the quip about smelling like “pickled old people.” But the odor of the vinegar was greatly diminished when we rinsed it out, and went away all together when our hair dried.

  6. Going No-Poo is most difficult in the initial phases. I have really fine, straight hair, so when I first started doing it, my hair was an outrageous disaster. Baking soda and ACV are great! I’m travelling a lot right now, so I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s soap, which is portable and doesn’t have any crazy ingredients. Once I’d eliminated crazy chemicals in my food I was like…”Why am I still putting this nonsense on the rest of my body!?” and the choice was clear.

  7. I use AC vinegar as a rinse, but it is diluted… about 4 Tablespoons per quart. I had just read this somewhere and started using it. Are you using the AC vinegar straight?

    For shampoo I use
    * 1/4 cup distilled water
    * 1/4 cup liquid Castile Soap – I use unscented, but you can choose your favorite
    * 1/2 teaspoon jojoba oil

    I found that here:

    And, love it.

  8. For all the no-‘poo people, I’m curious, do you still put products in your hair? I’d like to try this, but I also use a styling paste so I don’t want that to build up in my hair between rinses.

Comments are closed.