I Tried It!: No shampoo haircare

I Tried It!: No shampoo haircare
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Hey there readers! Were any of you able to attend the NE Corridor Quality of Life Action Team Meeting last week? Plans are getting underway to make improvements in our area according to what we, the residents of the NE Corridor, think are the highest priorities. The next meeting will be help Thursday, August 22nd from 5:30-8 pm at the Crosstown Community Center at 3279 Winthrop Avenue. And don’t forget about the National Night Out Cookout on Tuesday, August 6th from 6-8 pm at Arsenal Park.

I have a confession to make: I haven’t washed my hair since January. Now don’t write me off yet—I’ve definitely showered since then and my hair has been cleaned, but not shampooed. I’d been reading about the “water only” or “no-poo” method of hair care and wanted to see if it could work for me. You might be thinking, “But this is a health and community building blog! I don’t come here for beauty tips!” True, but I believe that our health has a great deal to do with what we put in and onto our bodies. Many commercial prepared beauty products are full of harsh chemicals like sulfates and petroleum byproducts that clog our pores and strip our skin, hair, and nails of their natural moisture. Subsequently, we end up spending money on products designed to make our skin and hair behave they way they would normally, if left to their own devices.

Cleansing your hair without shampoo can be done a couple of different ways. Some people simply don’t wash their hair—they only rinse it with clean, clear water in the shower. To remove dust, skin cells, and other particulate matter, the hair is brushed with a natural boar-bristle brush, which has coarse bristles that distribute your hair’s natural oil from the scalp to the ends of the hair. Others use a solution of baking soda and water to cleanse the scalp and a rinse of vinegar and water as a conditioner. Commercially prepared “no-poo” solutions, once only available in high-end salons, can now be found at your local drug store.

What I liked: Cleansing your hair “no-poo” style couldn’t be easier! Take a small handful of baking soda and mix it with water in your hand until it makes a slippery “paste.” Work this into the roots of your hair thoroughly then rinse. Depending on how much conditioning your hair needs, you can then apply a rinse made from ¼ cup vinegar and 1 cup of water (add a few drops of essential oil if the vinegar smell is off-putting) to the ends of your hair or work a tiny dab of coconut oil into the very ends of your hair. “No-poo” hair care is also cheap—you can wash your hair for months for only a few cents. And I felt better knowing that I wasn’t applying a product full of ingredients I can’t pronounce to my head and then washing it down the drain and into our water system. The best part? My hair has never looked better! It doesn’t look weighed down by soap residue and holds a style longer. I wondered why I had spent hundreds of dollars on shampoo and conditioner for my entire life!

What I Didn’t Like: I’m not going to lie: my hair looked seriously greasy for the first three weeks of the no-shampoo experiment. I was warned that it takes about two weeks for your hair to become re-acclimated to its natural texture and oil level, so I was prepared for some bad hair days before I kissed shampoo goodbye. A hair tie, scarf, or baseball cap might become semi-permanent features in your wardrobe during this transition period. Don’t get me wrong—it wasn’t awful, but a week out from a job interview might not be the time to start this hair care routine. If you are going to use a brush to remove dirt and debris between “washings”, a boar bristle brush is a necessity–the plastic bristles of a styling brush just don’t do the trick. You can pick one of these up for less than $10 at a drug store. “No-poo” is great for everyday hair cleansing, but if you have excess dirt or styling products in your hair, this gentle formula might not do they trick for you. I also found “no-poo” to be kind of drying. I had to play around with the baking soda to water ratio to find what worked best for my hair.

The Bottom Line: I was pleasantly surprised with the results of my “no-poo” experiment. Once I got over the first few bad hair days, I’ve never been happier with the way my hair looks and feels. Now, I’ve settled on a combination of traditional hair care and “no-poo”, reserving shampoo for times when my hair is especially dirty, sweaty, or exposed to chlorine. The cost savings are unbelievable and I’m scrubbing less soap scum off my shower walls.