I’ll tell you a secret. Ok, it’s less of a secret, and more insider knowledge so you’ll be privy to something known only by my close friends. I haven’t washed my hair in over 7 years! I know, that sounds disgusting but what I’m really saying is I haven’t used ‘commercial shampoo’ in almost a decade. How do I clean my hair? Simply stated, the household’s best friend: Baking Soda! The ‘No-Poo’ movement isn’t a new thing but myself being a product, fragrance, and new hairstyle junky (I submit exhibit A proving no boring hairstyles even while not shampooing!), had to find a few hacks to keep this routine as fun as testing out new shampoos. I’ll share my recipes.
Why Give Up Shampoo?
The goal of shampoo is to clean your hair and primarily remove the sebum and pollutant build-up. In general, shampoos leave your hair clean, bouncy and smelling good, BUT, the tradeoff is over-stimulating your oil/sebum production forcing the NEED to wash your hair way more than you should have to, stripping your hair of natural conditioning and exposing you to some pretty harsh chemicals that are largely unnecessary. Commercial shampoo is generally made up of surfactant like sodium lauryl sulfate with a co-surfactant or other ingredients. Sodium lauryl sulfate and its’ similar sodium and ammonium compound cousins are known skin and eye irritants, toxic to organs, reproductive systems, and endocrine disruptors, as well as potential (but not proven) carcinogens. At the end of the day, who needs it! I just want my hair to feel clean and smell good.
Let’s talk one more bonus to giving up the shampoo for good: Efficiency! In my daytime work life, my biggest strength is trying to make processes as simple and efficient as possible. Why work harder when you can work smarter? To that end, why do more when you can do less and have the same great result (or better)! I’ve cut my hair-washing schedule from an everyday routine to a twice-weekly activity. Why would I every want to add that task back into my life. Hello to an extra 5 plus hours a week of not dealing with shampooing and drying long hair.
The No-Poo Details
The base of what I use to clean my hair is baking soda. You can use the kind in the yellow box from your grocery store or I would also suggest seeking out the aluminum free kind you can find at most health stores (there is some controversy on this ingredient in baking soda at all so perhaps further research is needed). I like to change up my routine from time to time based on my hair’s needs or if my routine needs spicing up.
Everyday Baking Soda Cleanse-
I keep an oil (like kitchen olive oil) dispenser with a mixture of baking soda and water in it for general hair washes. Using the dispenser is useful in getting the mixture right to the scalp to clean the oils and leaves the rest of the hair with less exposure, keeping some of the natural oils in. The ratio is about 3 tablespoons of baking soda to one cup of water. For a little extra bit of fancy, I add a few drops of essential oil to keep it smelling fresh and different. My two favorite oils to scent my hair wash are lavender and lemongrass.
Something For The Product And DIY Lovers-
When I want a bit more shine, softness and fragrance, I wash my hair with a mixture of raw honey, baking soda and water. Honey is antifungal, antibacterial and is slightly acidic so it helps to balance the scalp and fight dandruff. I make this shampoo in a single-use amount right before use. With a half cup of very warm water, I dissolve a heaping tablespoon of raw honey (For an in-depth look at the benefits of raw honey wash, head over to this article from our friends at Empowered Sustenance). To that mixture, I add a tablespoon of baking soda, stir, add directly to my scalp and scrub. With all of these ‘No-Poo’ recipes, you will have to get used to the absence of suds. There is no luxurious lather but your hair will be squeaky clean and healthy.
Those Days You Need A Little Extra-
For the rare occasion that I have a lot of product or stuff in my hair, I’ll make a paste using BS and Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap. A little bit goes a long way so you only need about a tablespoon of BS and a dime size amount of Dr. Bronner’s. If you aren’t familiar with this soap, I recommend checking it out for multiple uses in your personal care and house cleaning routines. It is fair trade certified, mostly organic and created mostly from natural oils. I still use this sparingly in my hair care practice, but am happy to have it when needed.
What About Conditioner!?
Conditioning with the ‘No Poo’ method couldn’t be easier. I regularly use a rinse of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and that keeps my hair soft and shiny. For this mixture you add about a tablespoon of ACV ( further instructions here ) to a half a cup of water and use it as a rinse over your entire head. I choose to add a few drops of a strong smelling essential oil to keep from smelling like a salad. After leaving this rinse on my hair for about a minute, I rinse using cold water. There are so many other great DIY conditioner treatments out there for deep conditioning, but this one is a great option for everyday.
*A word of warning*
I’ll end this article with cautionary advice. If you are planning on transitioning to a ‘No-Poo’ lifestyle and forgo your shampoo forever, be prepared for a transition period. Your hair will be greasy for a little while and probably not look great. Think about it- You have been faithfully chemical’ing up your scalp for years and your oil glands have been keeping up with you! It will take them awhile to get with the new program, but it will happen. In my experience, it took about 3 weeks for my hair to go from being greasy to being normal again. It is really just an exercise I patience and hat wearing. In the end, it is totally worth it to going from washing your hair everyday to only a few times in a month and knowing that you are lessening the toxic crap you are rubbing into your body’s biggest organ.
Stay tuned for my recipe for dry shampoo to keep your hair looking right in between washes! Smells great and makes your ponytails look amazing. Coming soon.