To ‘poo or not to ‘poo…

I’ve been thinking about writing about this for quite a while, but honestly, I’ve been more than a little nervous to admit my showering habits… Or lack thereof… Then, I came across this story recently (thank you, Facebook!):

Some people have all but abandoned the idea of soap, shampoo and deodorant and yet still manage to have friends, romantic relationships and even office jobs.

A few years ago I decided to eliminate aluminum from my life wherever possible. It was easy to give up canned drinks and even canned supermarket food. But deodorant, one of the biggest offenders, and the fastest way for a woman who shaves her underarms to introduce this neurotoxin to the bloodstream, was a little more risky. But I went for it, cold turkey, in the summer (in Georgia) of 2007. I opted at the time for Tom’s All Natural Deodorant and found that although I was clearly perspiring more than I had been used to in the past, it was pretty easy to get used to. Plus, it felt good to know my body was working the way it was meant to. After a few months, I gave up on Tom’s, and I’ve been au natural ever since. If you know me, and wish to chime in now on my odiferousness, please do so via private message. 🙂

So, after baby #1 was born at the end of 2008, I wanted to try to phase out another major pollutant in my life, and decided to stop using shampoo. As you might imagine, giving up shampoo cold turkey is a bit difficult, especially for people with normal to oily head skin. Most proponents recommend easing your way into it, by trying to extend your time between showers, while also slowly weaning yourself off commercial shampoo. To be completely honest (a little late, right?), I found the transition to be extremely difficult, and have waited to share my method until today, now that I feel like I am getting consistently positive results. Many no ‘poo people insist that ceasing the use of commercial shampoo will add body to your hair, reduce frizz, and will allow curly or wavy hair to be more curly or wavy. It is the shampoo/conditioner residues that weigh your hair down, causing it to be limp and lifeless. I have found that my hair does have significantly more body when I go “no ‘poo,” (even after sleeping on it) and I have gone back and forth a few times over the past few years. Now when I use commercial shampoo I find my hair to be softer but much more frizzy. I believe my hair today is in its “natural state” of health and beauty.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Before my shower, I grab two peribottles. (I can’t help it, I think they are awesome.) I put about a tablespoon of baking soda in one (I fill it to the half-ounce line), and about the same amount of apple cider vinegar in the other.
  2. I put a small amount of very hot water in the baking soda bottle, and swish it around, making sure the baking soda is completely dissolved. I turn off the hot, and fill it the rest of the way (totaling 8 ounces) with cold water, and I add about 4 ounces of cold water to the vinegar bottle.
  3. I always brush my hair before getting in the shower – it’s easier to wash when it’s not full of knots.
  4. In the shower, I rinse, rinse, rinse my hair with cool water.
  5. I squirt the baking soda bottle on my head here and there, being sure to get my temples, part, and other oil-prone places. I only scrub my scalp, leaving the rest of the hair to get washed/rinsed on its own.
  6. After about a minute or so I rinse thoroughly with cool water, being sure to get all of the baking soda out of my hair.
  7. Then I squirt the vinegar bottle on my head. I’m a little more cautious about this one – I only put a little directly on my scalp, and try to make sure that my hair gets most of the treatment. This is your conditioning step; it moisturizes your head skin and also helps cut down on frizz, but too much on your scalp could make you look greasy.
  8. After another minute I rinse my hair very well again with cool water.
  9. I find that towel drying adds to my frizz problems, so I usually just wring out my hair (upside down) and let it air dry naturally.

Some things I have found:

  • I don’t recommend using this wash routine every day because the baking soda is very drying and could cause discomfort and/or flaky head skin. I have read numerous accounts of people going a full week without washing (rinsing in between washes) without looking greasy. I am washing every other day and feel like that’s just a little too frequent for my head skin; over the winter I have found more dry skin than I usually do.
  • The first few weeks of ‘no poo are going to be kinda icky. I tried it first while I was on maternity leave, so I wasn’t worried about seeing too many people. When I finally committed to it I was home with baby #2. Again, no one but me and my family to notice how shiny my head was…
  • If you’re getting started and you think your hair is just too nasty after one day, wash it again with baking soda, and your head will eventually establish its normal oil-making routine. When using shampoo to strip your hair of oils, you are also stripping your head skin of oil, causing it to over-compensate by making even more oil.
  • I have had to tweak and adjust the process and the quantities, so give it time.

This is just one way to go no ‘poo – there are tons of resources online for more information. Just know that if you decide to make the leap you are not alone.

And have fun!