Saturday, November 8, 2008

Going no poo

I have been conducting an experiment the past week about goind "no poo", or using no shampoo. I MUST wash my hair every night if I intend to be presentable the next day. I might can limp through if I put cornstarch on my hairbrush, but really I need to wash my hair.

However, it is firmly winter and my hair was exceedingly dry at the ends to where I was getting split ends. That almost never happens to me, so I knew the weather was taking its toll.

There was a bit of a spiritual quandry at this realization as I had just been blessed with a check from my mother. I WANTED to spend it on hair cuts and perms with Precious, but, long story short, I realized that it was better if I did not spend it on that. Instead I put it to meat to be used for the family.

However, that still left me with raggedy hair. So I had my 12 yr old cut it. Yep. I had Precious cut my hair. It was only the second time (iirc) in my adult life that my hair was cut at home. It was the first time she had EVER cut hair. BUT it is only hair, right? So I let her go to it.

With careful coaching (which is kind of hilarious since I had no idea what I was doing either), I talked Prec. through the hair cut. She did a phenomenal job! She has a very good eye, and there was very little difference or bad angles from one side to the other. I had her just under cut it, then cut the other layers longer, but the cut was blunt. The next morning I decided i wanted a bit of an angle, so I cut the angle myself (should have let her do it though!).

Now, I thought that going to get perms together would be an excellent fun thing. But I honestly think she got so much out of being able to actually cut my hair. I showed I trusted her, she got a VERY important job, and she got a feeling of satisfaction.

Anyway, since my hair was so raggedly before she cut it (and because I was talking to SHAW about what to do about HER hair), I started researching how people go "no poo". After much reading I found that, as many things on the internet, there is a lot of enthusiasm for a process that is only marginally successful. I read enough to know that washing with baking soda was going to be very irritating to my scalp, and washing with apple cider vinegar was not going to "cut it". There was so much disappointment and confusion, that it almost seemed like only a few people hit the exact right combination (after weeks "detox" where their scalp produces so much oil that they could not really go out). I heard enough references to "barbie hair" that I knew that was not for me.

Now, I have a dear friend who washes her daughter's hair with conditioner ONLY. Her daughters have mixed heritage, and the ringlets on her youngest are softer than silk with just using conditioner.

So I decided to try conditioner only on a week that I did not need to go out too much. I figured I would try it, day by day, and just stop if it does not work. I also wanted to try out what I had heard. Some people are so excited about a new thing, that they post "I have been going 'no poo' for a day and I love it!". I wanted to post this as a document of my trial of no poo--for good or ill.

I must say I am incredibly, and pleasantly, surprised with the results SO FAR. I use mane and tail conditioner. I have been doing this for several days, not quite a week. So this is not a definitive conclusion. But just to keep you abreast....

The downsides of conditioner only are three:

A) It seems to use a lot of conditioner because there are no bubbles. I think the action of scrubbing your head is the main source of cleaning. At first I found myself using twice as much conditioner as normal to "wash" my scalp. I am learning, however, that if I wash my hair with the conditioner while under the water, I feel that the conditioner is doing a better job at cleaning.

B) As alluded to above, it takes some scrubbing. With shampoo, there are so many cleaners that they seem to act like "scrubbing bubbles" to clean your scalp without much effort. I FEEL that I need to scrub harder.

c) There is not the feeling I am used to after my hair is dried after the washing. (however, read below where I talk about when I washed my hair with shampoo to see the difference).

The upsides of CO (conditioner only) are these
a) Less drying chemicals. Conditioner is supposed to add moisture and coating. Shampoo is supposed to strip things away. Stripping away means that your hair is unprotected.

b) My hair SEEMS to hold a curl better and for longer. I want to experiment with this further however, so do not think of this as a definite statement.

c) My hair STYLES better. This is for absolute certainty.


After many days with CO, I tried shampoo. I wanted to see if there is a difference in how my hair behaves, but to be honest, I also felt that I wanted my hair to FEEL more clean.
For many days wiht the CO, my hair had looked very shiny, healthy, bouncy and CLEAN. It looked clean, but it felt different. So two days ago I tried only shampoo. I looked at it as a scientific experiment: I wanted to see what my hair would do. My scalp did feel much "cleaner" BUT it did not look any better at all, in fact, my hair seemed to be greasier later in the day than with CO (this also needs to be repeated to make sure it is actually because of the shampoo, and not because of hormones, etc).

Also, my hair was an absolute NIGHTMARE to brush and style the next day. I have started brushing my hair 100 times in the morning--50 times upside down and 50 times right side up. When using CO, my hair might be slightly unruly for about the first 25 brushes, but after that, my hair suddenly calmed down, accepted the brushing without problem, and my hair looked shiny and healthy. When I brushed my hair after shampoo, I kid you not that the static made some of my hair stand out almost 90 degrees from my head. It was one mass of static and unprotected hair. It was a pain in the patootie to bush and style.

I decided that the feeling I got from shampoo is from being used to the feeling of my hair and scalp being stripped of oil. It feels lighter (cleaner) but it did not LOOK any cleaner and it was a pain to brush.

I washed my hair the following night with CO and the next morning, my brushing was not full of static. It looked clean, though it did not feel as light, and behaved well.

So far, I am going to keep going with the CO method. I am also going to try a shampoo every once in a while just to see what happens. If after a considerable length of time (say 3-4 weeks) of daily or near daily CO with the rare shampoo, my hair still looks good, then I will consider this the best for my hair. If not, I will simply go back to shampoo--I am not opposed to shampoo, just wanting to find out what is best for my hair and scalp. It appeals to me to not be battling my own oil production, but rather to achieve balance so that my follicles are not under duress. I am not going to keep this up if my hair looks oily or dirty :-).

I will keep you posted!

(FWIW--my hair is straight as a board, baby fine, but I have a TON of it. I use a boar bristle brush. I have an antler comb and a plastic comb, though I usually use the plastic comb because it is usually right there in my reach. I started rolling my hair in hot rollers. I use whatever shampoo I have, and mane and tail conditioner. I use a generous squirt of paul Mitchell hair sculpting lotion and 2-3 pumps of paul mitchell smoothing "super skinny serum", which is excellent for adding shine to hair. I take this handful of "stuff" and run it through my hair, then brush, then roll. I also use a decent amount of hairspray to hold the curl (my hair HATES to keep a curl). I will hopefully post pics soon).

1 comment:

Ace said...

I am going through this very same thing! I did some horrible stuff to my hair, so I don't really have real hair to work with (see my hair raising adventure posts and prepare to think I am nuts :) but BEFORE, I went no poo and it was awesome. My hairdresser kept asking me what I used. I used Dr. Bronner's soap (mint in the morning, lavender if it was night :) and followed with a leamon juice rinse. Worked great. I have fine, thick hair with a bit of a wave...but it is starting to thin a bit.

However, on The Princesses, I stopped using shampoo totally and their hair has never been better. I just scrub their scalps with baking soda once a week (or if they got sweaty that day, so much more often in the hotter months) and rinse. I usually just rinse them everyday. Princess Joy has tons of curly hair and I use a bit of watered down conditioner in a spray bottle and "wet" it when I need to brush it. But, the other day it was dry and brushed better. So, who knows.

Keep us updated.

Many Blessings ;)
Ace