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No 'Poo Update

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, I've quit using shampoo.

Disclaimer: I started with pretty good hair. It's thick, wavy, slightly oily, and fast-growing. In a bit of unexpected grace shared by no other family member, it has changed from dark brown to all-over silver, a shade I'm happy with and refuse to dye.

I've washed and blow-dried my hair daily for years, employing two different shampoos, a conditioner, gel, spray and styling brushes. My hair looked sharp, but was dry, brittle, and thinning.

If I skipped a day of this regimen, I'd have noticeably "second-day hair". If I went three days, my hair would be smelly, lank and greasy.

So, what does sixteen days without shampoo look like?

Well, fabulous, if I do say so myself. Fresh, smooth, soft, bouncy, clean, and static-free.

And shiny? Hell, I'm practically a traffic hazard. I'm getting compliments on it from strangers in the street. Who are squinting in the glare. (Okay, that was hyperbole.)

Here's what I do:
  • A hundred brush strokes at night--this loosens oils and dirt and stimulates the scalp.
  • Every second or third morning in the shower, I wet my hair and apply a little baking soda to the roots, rub it around, and rinse it out--this has a freshening effect
  • Then I put some diluted apple cider vinegar on the ends and rinse that out--this rebalances the pH.
  • All the other mornings I just rinse with warm water--this removes dust and distributes the oils.
No shampoo, no soap, no conditioner, no styling products, no blow-drying.

The first week, I had Homeless Person Hair and I nearly gave up (though it was never stinky). The second week was slightly better, so I stuck with it.

Then yesterday, sudden transformation! My hair came alive. I'm wearing it down, and it's bouncing around my shoulders and being generally fabulous. Seriously, I feel like a million bucks.

What's more:
  • My scalp doesn't itch
  • My hair smells nice
  • Way less of it is falling out
  • I'm saving at least fifteen minutes of primp time every morning
  • I'm saving quite a lot of hot water, too.
  • No more deafening blow-drying. God, I hated that blow-drying!
  • I've got only a single jar of baking soda and a pump bottle of diluted vinegar on my bathtub edge
  • These products are practically free, they're so cheap to use
  • I leave the house with damp hair, like a teenager, then pull a comb (a comb!) through it when I get to work--and it looks good. How awesome is that?

No 'Poo: one of the best changes I've made so far in Project Empty.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
You are just amazing! And following this has been so fascinating! *beams at you admiringly*
Jul. 2nd, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)
Well, thank you! Many of the changes I've made have resulted in (for instance) some inconvenience in exchange for satisfaction. Or some decrease in elegance in exchange for a feeling of authenticity.

But this one? Man, it's No 'Poo FTW! Cheaper, easier, faster, more sustainable, nicer, and better-looking!
Jul. 2nd, 2008 03:23 am (UTC)
wow! and the way you describe your hair "before" - that's exactly how mine is!


sounds like your hair is fantastic :)
Jul. 2nd, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
Heh. I might have been over-bragging just a--um--a hair there. It's clean and bouncy and healthy, but I'm a haircut or more away from a really polished look.

And that haircut will have to be by a stylist who can cut to my hair's nature, rather than foisting a "look" on me that depends on loads of product and heat. The trick will be finding that stylist.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
Oh, and my point--I did have one--is that going shampoo-free is worth a try if you're interested, but the road to a polished professional look may be a bit longer than two weeks.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
Okay, I was so intrigued when you posted the original plan to do this. Especially when the article referenced that it would work for curly hair. I'm not quite brave enough to try it yet, as I can't begin to fathom what a mess of dreadlocks I'd be likely to have after a week. :) I would love to experience my hair without all the crap that's part of my normal routine though. Please keep us updated.

You continue to inspire me woman! Go you!
Jul. 2nd, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
My beautiful nieces all have super-curly hair. The oldest is going No 'Poo. I'll let you know what she reports.

Meanwhile, here is a glowing report from a presumably quite curly-haired No-Poo-er. A little bit different approach than mine, plus some great explanatory detail.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 05:50 am (UTC)
Oh, and how much the Essence of Shiny-Haired Sauvitude is your Cary Grant icon?
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 2nd, 2008 09:17 am (UTC)
You know that's not gonna happen, right?
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 2nd, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
Nah. My head looks fat.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
I think it's so cool for environmental reasons that you're doing the no shampoo thing, but it's not something I would go for.

That's no disrespect, it's just that I like shampooing! It's one of my favourite parts of the morning routine. I do feel that your way is wiser. But my haircare routine was already as simple as I feel comfortable with. I just wash it in the shower every morning (with shampoo, but not conditioner because I'm too lazy, and because the water required to rinse out the conditioner seemed excessive, the sheer amount of conditioner I'd have to use seemed excessive -- I'd often use a couple of bottles a week, and the highly perfumed nature of most conditioners annoyed me and often gave me a skin reaction. At least perfumey shampoo can be well rinsed out.), wrap it in a towel while I dress, and comb it. End of. I'm not really a styling product person.

It used to amuse me no end when I was travelling. Invariably my fellow female backpackers would have straightening irons with them. :)

My long, naturally wavy hair was getting a bit ragged looking, though. I agree with you that daily shampooing is probably excessive, but I have shower OCD (remind me to tell you of the time in Greece when the solar powered water pump broke down for a day, and I ended up buying bottles of mineral water to bathe in), and didn't really want to stop. So I mixed a little hair serum and a lot of water in an old spray bottle, and now use that as a detangling spray. It lasts forever. My hair is easier to comb, and not frizzy. In all, my hair doesn't look as crazy as it did before. So I'm calling it a win. :_
Jul. 2nd, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
To be accurate, my decision to get rid of shampoo was one thing--prompted in part by the effort to minimize water use. The choice to quit styling and blow-drying my hair was another, and not necessarily connected. But as with most of my decluttering, things seem to go down in gangs.

"No-'Poo" alone is kind of a low-impact change in terms of frugality (I spent perhaps $60 a year on haircare products), detoxification (I still have at least two mercury amalgam fillings in my teeth, for instance), and simplicity (the baking soda and vinegar routine takes time, too).

But the whole package--no more shampoo AND no more conditioner AND no more styling AND no more blow-drying--meets several of the "why change" criteria I've sketched out for myself--and what's more, it gives me a thrill of rebellion that I'm really enjoying!

I can't believe you bought mineral water to bathe in! Well, I can, but...cool!
May. 1st, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
I wonder if I'd stop losing hair if I went no shampoo...sigh.
May. 1st, 2010 05:53 am (UTC)
I can't speak for anyone else, but my hairdresser says I've got a hell of a lot of hair for a woman my age. I quit using shampoo--well, almost two years ago now, according to that post from the wayback machine that you're commenting on.

I occasionally use a little Castile soap. Mostly just warm water. I even quit using baking soda and vinegar and stuff. I can't say anything really definitive about wonderful hair quality because I now wear my hair really short, and it's gray, so the tressy glory days are gone, but I can tell you that it's wonderfully simple.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )



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