26.9.14

Not Using Shampoo: Part 1

It's 4 weeks since I last used shampoo and I can truly say I feel happy with the look and feel of my hair. I will probably wash my hair tomorrow but it won't be with shampoo. You might find the idea of not using shampoo repulsive or radical but it can be very liberating. Interested? Please read on. 

In recent weeks I've washed my hair with bicarbonate of soda, beaten egg, chamomile tea rinses and have had plenty of no wash just brush days. I've used cornflour as a dry shampoo and have even tried rinsing my hair in beer (not very successfully). I haven't used a commercial shampoo on my hair for 4 weeks now. Is a no-poo regime achievable? I think it might just be. 

So, I'm beginning an experiment in not using commercial shampoo and conditioner for as long as I can hold out. My aims are to wash my hair less often and to use only natural products for washing, conditioning and dry shampoo alternatives. 

Over recent months I have been contemplating a more natural approach to haircare and reading vast amounts about switching to a no shampoo regime. At the end of August I finally decided to ditch shampoo.

I have been washing and conditioning my hair almost daily since I was a teenager. Whilst my hair used to look and feel great after a daily shampoo and condition on the rare days that I didn't use shampoo it looked very greasy and out of shape. According to no-poo experts overuse of commercial shampoo strips our hair of its natural oils and encourages unnatural greasiness. If we stop using regular shampoo our hair will initially react by producing excess oil but will in time readjust to producing just enough oil. Eventually the theory is that hair will revert to its natural state of being self cleaning and can be kept clean by just thorough washing with water. This is the final stage that may take years not months to reach. Wouldn't that be wonderful!

It's only taken me 30 plus years to question how relentless, time consuming and possibly damaging daily use of shampoo is. How can regular shampoo be any good for my hair if it looks so greasy the next day? What exactly is in my regular shampoo and conditioner? Is my hair really that naturally greasy? Why some days even after washing and conditioning does my hair feel so lank and heavy?

I recently bought Happy Hair a new book written by Lucy AitkenRead who blogs over at Lulastic and the hippyshake. It's a comprehensive yet fun read that tackles the background science, necessary resources, methods and common problems associated with relinquishing shampoo. It has helped steer me through the process of beginning a no-poo regime but as no one head of hair is the same it can only be a guide. 

My first 4 weeks of not using shampoo have been very interesting. What I missed most in the first few days were the bubbles and lather of a regular shampoo but I didn't miss the daily washing and drying routine. My hair definitely produced more oil in between washes over the first 4 weeks of this venture. Some days were grim and all reflective surfaces were avoided. Patience is the key. 

As I end week 4 my hair's oil production is beginning to calm down, My hair is softer than before, stays in shape better and has a shine that look different to the glossy coating normal shampoo gives.

So what works for me as alternative to shampoo and conditioner? I initially tried the classic no-poo regime of bicarbonate of soda mixed with water followed by apple cider vinegar rinse. And yes it restored my greasy hair to clean and shiny in the same way as regular shampoo once did. However, I don't really like the gritty texture, saltiness or vinegar smell of this combo. 

To my amazement what my hair seems to really appreciate is one beaten egg, a good scrub and a rinse. Nature's very own fabulous 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner! It really, really does make my locks clean, odourless and shiny. I put it into a plastic bottle and squirt a small amount at a time onto my hand (it's so slippy it can easily fall off your hand) and massage and scrub my head before rinsing with warm, not hot (obvs) water. It feels more like shampoo than bicarb which is a bit  like a loo cleaner, to be honest. Alternatively I just use warm water and give my hair a thorough scrub with my fingertips. Do not underestimate the cleansing powers of pure water! Three chamomile tea bags steeped in boiling water left to cool also makes for a successful and pleasant wash. Regular brushing with my new natural bristle brush also helps (so I read) with the process of encouraging self-cleaning hair. 

I'm not sure exactly where this experiment is taking me. A good result would be that I can go longer between washes and be happy with the appearance and feel of my hair (washed or unwashed ) most days. I am prepared to give this experiment 4 months (until Christmas). If my hair still looks greasy in between washes or if I find this project too much of a burden then I will revert to shampoo. However, I do not intend to use regular haircare products again and would instead choose to use an organic products occasionally on my hair. I may have to find an alternative to my regular hair salon and stop colouring my hair. Radical action. Ideally it would be great to ditch shampoo completely and use just water or natural ingredients. 

Only my husband (and you) are in on this secret. My hair has its bad days but still passes his sniff test. He's being converted gradually and is now washing his hair less often too. Also, as I've started a new job my work colleagues are non the wiser.

Here' s my no-poo diary days 1-33.

Day 1: Clarifying shampoo and clarifying conditioner (to cut through product build up) Saturday August 23rd
Day 2: No wash
Day 3: Egg wash
Day 4: Cornflour dry shampoo
Day 5: Water wash
Day 6: Egg wash 
Day 7: No wash
Day 8: Bicarb and cider vinegar
Day 9: No wash just brush (with new bristle brush)
Day 10: Egg wash
Day 11: Water wash
Day 12: Bicarbonate of soda wash and cider vinegar rinse
Day 13: No wash just brush
Day 14: Cornflour as dry shampoo and a good brush
Day 15: Egg wash
Day 16: Water wash and chamomile tea rinse
Day 17: Water wash and chamomile tea rinse
Day 18: Egg wash
Day 19: Water wash
Day 20: Water wash and chamomile tea rinse
Day 21: Bicarbonate of soda wash and cider vinegar rinse 
Day 22: No wash just brush
Day 23: Egg wash 
Day 24: Water wash
Day 25: Egg wash
Day 26: Water wash and chamomile tea rinse
Day 27: Water wash and lemon juice rinse
Day 29: Egg wash
Day 30: Water wash and chamomile tea rinse
Day 31: No wash just brush
Day 32: Egg wash
Day 33: Bicarbonate of soda wash and apple cider vinegar rinse

I hope you found part one of my no-poo experiment useful and interesting. I'm happy to try to answer any questions you may have in the comments section below. Feel free. 

As I reach the end of week 4 I feel I've turned a corner and my hair is beginning to reduce its grease production. I'm hoping part 2 will bring good news.



24 comments :

  1. I've just looked back over your September posts, your hair looks lovely in all of them. It's definately working! I've been reading your blog for a little while now, I do enjoy it! Love PennyL in Dorsetx

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    1. Thanks Penny. My hair has had greasy days over the last month but some days is as good if not better than pre non-poo.

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  2. I found your comments very interesting. Like you say, you have to give it while to test your new method.I too gave up using shampoo about 3 yrs ago because my forehead always had spots on it ! I put this down to the harsh ingredients in the shampoo. Then I read about Gamrie goats milk soaps and shampoo bars.( on inter) I always use Goosey Lucy's egg shampoo bar and I've never had spots since. The soap suits me. It's quite mild. All the soaps are named after the goats at Christine's farm " Christmas Croft" in Scotland.Have a look ,you might fancy some. She always posts really quickly.
    When I was young (65 now) we only washed our hair once a week and gave it a good brushing every night. I'd love a bristle brush but aren't thy expensive! I enjoy your blog.

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    1. I've checked out Goosey Lucy's egg shampoo bar and it looks wonderful. I would love to give it a try.I like the fact that it's made from pure ingredients. Thanks so much for commenting!

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  3. I wonder if this would work for skin as well, more specifically the face. Would less cleansing and moisturizing return the skin to its natural state like hair? I've always wondered if I over moisturize, would it signal the skin that it doesn't need to produce as much of its own natural oils, thus actually drying the skin more... It sounds like the same theory as your hair experiment.

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    1. I've had the same thoughts. I do think its possible that we disturb the natural balance of our bodies by using too many products.

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  4. how do you egg wash without the eggs scrambling. A friend of mine tried it and ended up with scrambled eggs in her hair, and thought that was far worse ( trying to comb and get the scrambles out of her hair ) than using normal shampoo!

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    1. I wet my hair with warm water then turn off the shower. I apply the egg and massage it in and then turn the shower on at warm but not hot temperature and rinse thoroughly. No scrambled eggs yet!

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  5. I've heard the Rosemary soaked in water makes a good hair rinse but I have not tried it myself

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    1. Yes I've heard this too and that its good for darker hair. I imagine it smells wonderful.

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  6. I use a mix equal parts baby shampoo and bi-carb soda. Simple and works great on my hair/scalp.

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  7. hello there , Debbie here from Ireland.I am wondering if you would know how to cope with frequent visits to a swimming pool and not washing hair with shampoo? i use small quantity of all in one shampoo at the moment.I have fine normal sort of mid length uncoloured hair which is usually in good condition.Thanks!

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    1. Chlorine will weaken and dry out your hair so protection with a swimming hat will help. I have also read that using a conditioner every two weeks (without shampoo) on the scalp and ends of your hair can help with hair that feels out of condition. An egg wash or a mashed avocado as a nourishing treatment can also repair damage. I hope this helps.

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  8. A really interesting post. I've heard about No Poo before, I've enjoyed reading about how you're getting on with it.

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  9. I've been using 'Faith in Nature' hair shampoo and conditioners on and off for years now and find them non-irritating and pleasant to use. Have used the apple cider vinegar and rinsed it off too. A good quality organic acv will not smell afterwards and is a much more pleasant smell anyway.
    Wishing you luck with this experiment.

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    1. Thanks, yes an organic acv would probably be better.I do like the Faith in Nature range so many organic shampoos to try (even chocolate). I may treat myself one day!

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  10. I had thought you were just going to switch to a shampoo bar so I was surprised! I have to wet down my hair every day so it can be re-styled, but don't always need products.

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    1. Yes I have gone cold turkey on the shampoo for now. I do think less full washing (like you do) can only be good for your hair and the environment.

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  11. I have heard of No poo but have never been brave enough to try it. It was very interesting to read about your experiment and recommendations of others too. Sarah x

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  12. Hi Claire, I look forward to hearing your progress on this. I wonder if the no poo method would work on longer hair? So far I have only tried natural shampoo's and conditioners from Odylique (which didn't work for me), Faith in Nature I loved the chocolate shampoo and conditioner, Louise Galvin shampoo and conditioner (pricey) and now I'm using Neal's Yard Rose shampoo. I'm finding with the NY one I need to wash my hair every couple of days but can go without conditioner.

    Your hair looked great in your last post!

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  13. Your no poo post was very informative and interesting Claire - and you seem to be pleased with the results so far. Your hair certainly looks lovely!
    About 15 years ago an older colleague at school told me that she only washed her hair once a week. I had been washing and drying daily so I could blow dry my hair under into the long bob style I had at the time. So I decided to wash once a week from then on and had my hair styled to layers that flipped up and have never looked back.
    Currently I'm using Aveda shampoo and conditioner however I'm interested in using natural cleansers and non commercial if possible so will be following your no poo journey with interest :)

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  14. Ooh, this is fascinating! Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I wash my hair every other day and can't let it go any longer. So I totally get what you say about the more you wash your hair, the more it needs washing. But I don't know if I could go cold turkey... My son's hair is quite short and I tend to just wash it with warm water and his hair is so, so soft and smells amazing all the time. Similarly, my daughters very long hair gets washed once a week, after swimming, and is always lovely. Maybe I should learn something from my children! x

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  15. Thanks for sharing. Your hair looks great. Perhaps some people have different results because of hair texture and water hardness issues. YMMV. :)

    I have long hair (past my waist) and I haven't used shampoo in 2 or 3 years. Most people would think it's weird, so I don't tell anyone. The first experiments with bicarb were somewhat messy and after a month of that, I ditched it. Yes, my hair was somewhat oily for a few weeks or so, but as I put it up, it wasn't too bad.

    I just use warm water and I 'm still rinsing with a natural apple cider vinegar. I wash my hair 1 or 2 times a week and it feels so soft. I don't use a hair dryer; I bought a natural bristle brush and use it once or twice a week.

    When my gray hair came in, it was very wiry and sprung out all over, but since giving up on shampoo, they behave very nicely. I'd never go back to putting all those chemicals on my hair. I'm interested in trying out your egg treatment for a special occasion!



    I also don't use soap on my face. After a bath or shower, I use olive or coconut oil for moisturizing.

    ~ skye

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