Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My No-Poo Experience

What is no-poo?
The name no-poo probably scares people away because it sounds as if we are constipated or that we don't use shampoo. But actually, no-poo is a method for washing your hair with a homemade shampoo (baking soda + water) and a homemade conditioner (apple cider vinegar + water) rather than using conventional products that you may purchase at the store.

Why no-poo:
Commercial products have several ingredients in them. I honestly don't have a clue what the purpose of most these ingredients are. So instead of telling you why blah blah blah is toxic or this specific thing MAY cause cancer in certain lab rats or whatever is bad for the environment, I will explain the main reason why I was interested in an alternative method to commercial hair products.

You've probably heard that it is better for your hair to wash it every other day rather than every day. This is because commercial products "strip" our hair of its natural oil. Therefore, causing our sebaceous glads on the scalp to produce more oil to bring our scalp back to its natural state. It is a constant battle between these glands and the hair products removing the oil. The sebaceous glands start to produce more oil due to the pattern of the oil being removed so quickly.
It seems to me that if this natural oil is supposed to be there, why are commercial hair products removing it? People say because they don't want their hair to feel greasy, but do we dislike a little grease because we are used to not having it - due to using conventional shampoos? Grease typically implies unkept and dirtiness so we are used to thinking it is bad. It seems silly to me that I have spent money on shampoo that furthers the production of more oils on my head, to of course, continue to create a need for their product! These products are catalysts in the problem they make you believe that they are trying to solve.

This was my recipe:
I made 1 bottle of shampoo and 1 bottle of conditioner.  I used the following breakdown:
1 tbsp baking soda/1 cup of water = shampoo
1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar/1 cup of water = conditioner

-You can adjust either in various ways, but:
*When I added much more baking soda, it dried out my hair. It also kept clogging the spray bottle that I used because it did not dissolve (no matter how much I mixed/shook the bottle).
*When I used less baking soda, it did not feel "slippery"as it should and (maybe this is all psychologically) it did not seem to clean/deodorize as well.
*When I added more apple cider vinegar, my hair smelled like it. Several people will tell you that the smell goes away after showering, but when using more ACV, I smelled like a foot.

-Some people add essential oils to the conditioner because they do not like the smell of vinegar. This seems expensive to me. Also, I don't think the purpose of essential oils is primarily to make things smell better, so I try to limit my use.

The Transition Phase:
It is recommended to commit to doing this for about a month. Your hair will go through a transition period, where it is trying to figure out how much oil it really needs to produce since it is used to making so much to counteract the conventional shampoos from removing it. From all of the resources I've seen this period seems to last anywhere from 2-3 weeks. So if you are going to decide to do it, please please give it a month. You should begin to see less frizz, more volume, and less oily days in between washings. Many people give up because they hate how their hair feels during the transition time.

My issues with no-poo:
I have been going no-poo for about 5 months now. I know that it is not that long. But I swear I've tried everything except giving it more time.

The first week of it, I actually loved it. My hair felt clean. And then things changed. I went into the transition period, which wasn't awful, but then things didn't seem to get better. My favorite part of no-poo was that my hair grew quickly. I have been trying to grow it out for a few years now and it has only been noticeable in the few months that I was doing no-poo.

I read a blog on a hairdresser's take on the no-poo. I found it funny that she said no-poo'er's heads "smelled like head". It's true. I felt like my head picked up every smell - from taking a walk outside, to that Mexican restaurant we ate in....it is a minor thing but still unpleasant.

My hair was insanely dry. Putting my hands through it was a nightmare. It was tangly and felt like straw. I tried various no-poo recipes which left my hair feeling even less clean than normal.

I brushed my hair and my brush looked like I stuck it in a dirty vacuum cleaner. My hair had some sort of dusty residue on it. It was nasty to look at my brush, and even to try to clean it. I felt like my hair was getting dreads and I wasn't even trying.

My hair got really statically. Like more than I had ever seen. I'd never had this issue before and brushing my hair was a pain (literally because it was so tangled) and then dealing with the static -AHH.

And I missed the lather. With no-poo, it is difficult to tell whether or not the "shampoo" and "conditioner" actually is in your hair when the shower water is running. It is a petty thing, but I did miss it.

So...I really wanted this no-poo thing to work. I bought a 100% boar bristle brush to "spread my hair oils" from the top of my head to the ends. This made my hair softer. It was an adjustment to brush my hair for reasons other than detangling. And it was time consuming. The reviewers of the brush I bought  aimed for at least 100 strokes a day. I am not used to spending any time on my hair so this was hard for me to keep consistent.

I started using deionized water or boiling my tap water before using it to make my shampoo and conditioner. I thought I could tell a little bit of a difference. So then I thought I needed to do the next step...

I bought a shower filter. This was the most expensive part of my no-poo and probably offset the cost of my homemade shampoo and conditioner.  After reading information regarding the dangers of inhaling the fumes of chemicals in the water via shower, I decided it was a good idea to purchase a shower filter for health reasons (now I am not so sure) and not just for my hair. I hoped that I would be able to tell an immediate difference with my skin and my hair. Almost everyone who reviewed this particular filter said they coud tell a difference after one shower. I wasn't too keen on spending $60 bucks and then having to replace the filter every year for $20, but it seemed worthwhile. After using this filter for a month, I still cannot tell a difference. Maybe my water wasn't that "hard' to begin with but my hair is still completely dry. I have no idea what I am doing wrong.

With all of this, I am going to stop no-poo and actually try a shampoo/body bar instead. It was an interesting experience to try no-poo but there is too much troubleshooting in this for me. I don't like the smell of apple cider vinegar at all but especially carried around on me all day. I don't like the film on my hair that I can't seem to get rid of. And I get to take back my $60.00 water filter!

Also, the idea of having 1 bar of soap in the shower for my hair and body is extremely appealing to me. Plus, I don't have to spend time boiling the water or putting together my shampoo or conditioner. It will be MUCH EASIER to travel with 1 bar of soap rather than trying to deal with the trouble of ACV/BS in a carry-on. I wish the best for all you out there who are thinking of going no-poo.

Here are some great websites for going no-poo if you are interested:

http://www.crunchybetty.com/no-poo-to-you-too & http://www.crunchybetty.com/no-poo-it-gets-better

*This is a really helpful no-poo blog entry: http://ashleysgreenlife.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-to-wash-your-hair-with-no-poo.html

1 comment:

  1. I never thought of your catalyst argument before... Brilliant!