Thursday, March 25, 2010

Confession: I've Gone Poo-less

Just to clarify, I am talking about shampoo here. Unfortunately, with a baby in diapers, there is still a fair amount of poo in my life to deal with. [sigh] But that is another story for another day.

My confession is that I have not used any shampoo on my hair for months. There, I said it. I feel so much better now. If you know me IRL (in real life), you know that I don't walk around with dirty, stinky hair either. My shower routine is simple and easy and costs pennies. I am no longer spending money on detergents that I dump on my head and then wash down the drain. My hair is looking the best it has looked in the past year (even though I am long overdue to get my dry uneven ends trimmed).

Let me back up a bit and explain what led me to this decision to chuck the shampoo bottle. Let me take you back to a day when my hair was lush, back when I was pregnant with my youngest son. There is something wonderful about pregnancy hormones. When I am pregnant, my nails get strong and my hair gets thick. Well, my son is nearly 14 months old and my hair has gone through some transitions since then and it is not so lush. Around the beginning of summer last year I noticed that my hair started shedding twice as fast. Obviously, my hormones were shifting out of that pregnancy mode and all of that hair that I had not shed during pregnancy was now falling out with great gusto. My hair also turned into a big bundle of frizz. I determined that last summer would be the "year of the bun" and waited for this wonderful phase to pass. I waited and waited and waited. I tried various shampoos and conditioners hoping that each one would be the magical potion to turn my long locks into something I didn't want to hide.

Fall rolled around and I was still disgusted with my hair and continued pulling it back into a bun. Around this same time, I had stumbled onto several articles on the web praising the virtues of going shampoo-free. I had also read the book, Curly Girl, which also advocates not using shampoo. All of the authors swore that their hair was not greasy or dirty, but better than it has ever been. Each proponent of this had slightly different reasons for choosing to go poo-free. One wanted to be more "green" and environmentally friendly and not pollute our waterways with chemicals. Another did it to save money. The one thing that they all seemed to agree on is that shampoo is a detergent that strips your hair and scalp of its natural oils. This makes your hair drier and if it has an ounce of curl in it, frizzy. (Hmmm...sounds familiar) Also, when you remove all the oils from your scalp, your body feels like it needs to produce even more. this can cause an over production that can cause dandruff (another problem I have struggled with). After all my hair frustrations, I figured what could this hurt to try.

Some poo-free advocates don't use anything but water to clean their hair, but most use a bit of baking soda mixed with water to wash - about 1 or 2 teaspoons per cup of water. This can be mixed up and put into a squeeze bottle or empty shampoo bottle (feel the irony) and kept in the shower. Just shake the bottle, squirt some in your hair, massage it in and rinse. Many also use a vinegar rinse made with 1/2 water and half vinegar. Apple cider vinegar seems to be the favorite. Then their are still some who just skip the shampoo and simply use conditioner to wash their hair.

So, what do I do? Well, I tried the conditioner only thing. It was ok, but I didn't like how my scalp felt. That's probably because I have always had dandruff issues. So, I decided to try the baking soda and vinegar route. I just massage a bit of baking soda into my really wet hair. I rinse this out and follow this with a weak vinegar rinse. I have a squirt bottle I keep in the shower and fill it maybe 1/8 full of vinegar and the rest with water. I let this sit a minute in my hair and rinse it out.

And my results? I had a week or so that my hair felt so dirty. From everything I had read, though, I expected this. Your scalp is used to getting all its oils stripped away so it is used to producing lots of oils to compensate for this. It takes a little time for your body to figure out that it doesn't need to do this. So, when you first start, it is only natural that your hair will go through an oily period. It does pass. I have found that my hair looks so much better than it has in a long time. It is way less frizzy. Although, I still struggle a little with dandruff, it is improved a lot. I now notice that the dandruff is worse when my body is stressed.

I find that I am happier with my hair if I still use conditioner once or twice a week. It is smoother and less frizzy. I have weird hair. Over the years it has gone from poker straight to curlier and curlier. I keep it long and don't' really get curls. It just likes to frizz. My bangs which are short have become very curly, especially since my last pregnancy. Because of this frizz/curl, I like a bit of conditioner. One idea that I read about and may try is smoothing your wet hair after showering with a washcloth repeatedly to distribute the oils from your scalp through your hair. Another was to brush your hair repeatedly with a natural bristle brush to distribute the oils. I kind of like this old school method because I remember reading stories about girls with beautiful long hair brushing it 100 strokes a night. Sounds kinda romantic.

So, the bottom line is that I am no longer searching for that perfect hair care product, I am saving a TON of money, I am being "green", and my hair looks better than ever. I have retired the bun and it only occasionally comes out, usually when I am short on time and need to leave the house in a hurry with somewhat wet hair.

If you are interested in more information and tips about going poo-less, here are a few articles:

The No-'Poo Do

Info: Shampoo Free

How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo

Let me know if you, too, chuck the poo!

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