Last month I decided to try no poo. It’s short for ‘no shampoo’, and it means that I’ve ditched my traditional hair cleaning products. And I am not alone. No poo’s following is growing, and people choose it for a variety of reasons.
Why did I choose to give up shampoo? Modern shampoos typically contain artificial colors and fragrances, and a variety of ingredients that haven’t been specifically tested for safety. Shampoo and conditioner come in plastic bottles, and there are problems with recycling plastic. Also, as compared to the more environmentally-friendly organic shampoos and conditioners I was using, this solution is super-cheap. And of course I was intrigued by many claims that hair is healthier and more manageable without shampoo.
Ditching shampoo does not mean that I have stopped washing my hair. Instead of using shampoo and conditioner, I have switched to baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I am able to buy organic apple cider vinegar in glass bottles at my local grocery store, so the solution is plastic-free. I committed to two weeks of no poo, to see how it went. I was sort of hoping for miraculous hair results. My hair is long, naturally blond, thin and fine, and somewhat oily. My ideal result would be that my hair color remains the same, my hair doesn’t tangle, it loses the oiliness, and it gains some shine and (dare I hope?) body.
So how do you actually do it? What I do is wet my hair, and then mix 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda with a little water to make a paste. I spread it through my hair, starting at my scalp, and then rinse it well. I re-purposed an old 8-ounce shampoo bottle for the apple cider vinegar. I put in about 3 tablespoons of the vinegar, filled the rest of the bottle with water, and added a few drops of peppermint and chamomile essential oils (which is what I happened to have on hand) to make it smell not so vinegar-y. After rinsing out the baking soda I squirt a few tablespoons of this solution over all of my hair and rinse it out.
I have also tried using lemon juice instead of vinegar, and that worked. It is a good alternative, I think, if you absolutely cannot stand the smell of vinegar. At this point I don’t even notice the vinegar scent anymore, but I know other people find it highly irritating. The theory behind the mildly acidic rinse is that it restores a more natural pH to your scalp, but I don’t know if it matters what kind of rinse it is.
It’s been almost a month now, what’s the verdict? I would say my feelings are mixed. My hair feels very much like it did when I was a kid – it’s super-soft, but also very thin and fine. I have not achieved the results that some people report, where they can go days without washing their hair. I have tried skipping a day, and I end up having to keep my hair in a ponytail when I do that, because giving up shampoo hasn’t eliminated the oil for me. Since I shower every day anyway, if I have to wash my hair it’s not exactly a huge inconvenience.
Any changes seem to be detectable only by me. No one else has noticed a difference since I ditched shampoo. No poo seems to be getting me the same results at a fraction of the cost and with less environmental impact. For me, the pros outweigh the cons, so I am continuing on with no poo, even if I am not necessarily a shampoo-free evangelist.
What about you? Have you tried no poo, or would you consider it? Any tips or tricks? Please share!
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You can catch up with the rest of Amber’s hair-raising adventures on her blog at Strocel.com.