Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chemical Free Frugal Hair Washing

Severus Snape, not as greasy
as described in the book
They used to call me greaseball. When I was a kid, I had long, straight, thin, stringy hair which accumulated grease like mad. Sort of like Severus Snape, only a female version. Once, I was even got in trouble in school because the teacher thought I didn't shower often enough. My hair looked greasy no matter what I did. I would wash my hair daily and it would still look terrible. I didn't know what to do!

Aside for once, roughly a month and a half  ago, I haven't used shampoo in approximately 4 months. My hair looks terrific. Full bodied, thick... and shall I say- non greasy!
Why no shampoo and how does that work?

I read an article a few months back about all the dangerous ingredients found in shampoo, most of them highly carcinogenic, and since then, I've been scared to use shampoo on myself  or my kids. When you shower in warm water, your pores open up and absorb whatever  you put on your skin, bringing whatever it is straight into your blood stream. When you eat, all toxins first get filtered out in your kidneys before they can enter your blood, but when things get absorbed  by your pores, there's no such benefit; I've come to the point where I don't want anything on my skin that I wouldn't feel safe eating. (ETA: Then again, I have no degree in science and never studied  it in depth; this is just what I've understood, but I make no guarantee about its scientific accuracy.)

Since I'd read about the nasty shampoo ingredients (and consequently looked for and found them in every bottle we had), I haven't put shampoo on my head. Instead,  what I did was I used my homemade soap bar on my hair, and occasionally used Dr Woods Castille soap, because neither of them contained nasty chemicals.
But my hair reacted badly.
You'd think that with something as drying as pure soap in my hair, my hair would have been absolutely dry and moisture free, but no, that wasn't the problem.
Once I started using pure soap in my hair, my hair was the greasiest it had ever been. Even an hour after my showers, my hair felt like I had taken an oil bath. It was gross.
I couldn't figure out why.

Until I read an article that explained how the body works.
Did you know that your body secretes oils all the time to moisturize your body and your hair naturally?
When you wash away those oils with something like shampoo, or something especially drying like natural soap, your skin goes into overdrive and makes so much more grease to replenish all the oils that are gone. The more frequently you wash the oils out of your hair, the more oils your body produces and the more frequently you absolutely need to wash your hair to prevent yourself from looking like a grease ball.

The solution is to cut back on the frequency of hair washing.
Instead of washing your hair daily, switch to every other day, and then when your body gets used to that, switch to twice a week, then once a week.

I don't use shampoo at all; when I wash my hair, I wash it with baking soda when it starts to get greasy, and the rest of the time, I wash it with plain water.
This is called going "no-poo", short for no-shampoo.
I'd read about going "no-poo" a few years ago, but I gave up too soon.
You see, when you stop using shampoo, your body is still keeping up the oil production that it had been doing until that point, until it "realizes" that you're not going to be stripping the oils away anymore. Gradually, your scalp produces less and less oil until you're able to go completely shampoo free without anyone being able to tell.
But until that point, your hair will get greasier and greasier, even though you're washing it with baking soda. Your hair might start looking a bit nasty, like you've just stepped out of the shower when it's completely dry. A cute hat will help at this time.
But once you get past that point, your hair starts looking better and better, until you're where I am- completely oil free, nice hair... not using any shampoo, whatsoever.

People who do the "No-poo" route often rinse their hair with apple cider vinegar as a conditioner, but I can't vouch for that as I've never tried it.

What type of shampoo do you use? Have you ever heard of going "no poo"? Would you dare? Or no?


  1. Im a new reader and I'm learning and gathering ideas about frugality.I love the idea of no shampoo.that would save me loads of money. Thx!

  2. I tried the baking soda route and my grease levels eventually declined, however, I had to stop. Baking soda is, after all, abrasive; after about 6 months my hair was dry and brittle, with a ton of split ends, and I had to cut most of it off. I was washing my hair every three days or so. Additionally, I've had problems with dandruff since childhood and baking soda did nothing for my scalp. The dandruff became much, much worse (despite claims the vinegar rinses would cure it in time). This was hugely disappointing.

    I've started to move back toward no poo again, but a better compromise for me is *low* poo. I started reducing the frequency of my shampooing gradually (I'm now down to one wash every fourth day) and not washing at all, even with just water, in between. My oil levels are adjusting well, and the dandruff shampoo is helping to keep my scalp under control. I also think that water washes in between were making my scalp worse; it may just not want to be wet. In any case, the shampoo I use is also diluted (when I open a new bottle, I pour half into the old one and fill both bottles the remainder of the way with water). This reduces chemical exposure, makes the shampoo last longer, and saves money. So I'm unfortunately not in a position to go fully poo free but I'm making progress just the same!

  3. I tried the baking soda route and it was way too drying even though I only wash my hair once a week. I made some homemade shampoo bar soap about a month ago which seems to be working okay, but I have to wash my hair twice a week. I just read an article by a guy who says he hasn't used any soap or shampoo (he just rinses with water)for a year and now has healthy skin and hair--before he had had several dry skin issues. It took him about a month for everything to adjust. I may try that next.

  4. I use Lush shampoo bar followed by a vinegar rinse. I infuse the vinegar with fresh rosemary and add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil; this takes away the vinegar smell. Without the vinegar rinse the shampoo bar made my hair kind of 'fluffy' and weird! I've been using these for over a month now, washing twice a week, and I love the results!

  5. i use the no-poo method too. I dilute the baking soda and only use it near the roots where it gets greasy then rinse. I follow with apple cidar vinegar which i dilute too (i also add a few drops of eucalyptus or tea tree to it) it gives the moisture back to my hair after baking soda dries it out. Loving it so far. I wash my hair once a week :-)

  6. I've been no-poo for nearly a year, but the way I do it is to use just conditioner when I "wash" my hair. You have to find a light conditioner with no silicone or other ingredients ending in -one, and then you just cover your hair in that, massage well, and rinse. The Suave range in the US is really good, cheap and they have a lovely coconut-scented version. I find it gets my hair just as clean as using shampoo, and it is lovely and soft and glossy where it used to be greasy on top and dry at the ends.

  7. My hair was getting dry so before bed I used some Extra Virgin Coconut oil on my hair. In the morning I washed it out and my was very soft.

  8. Hi, I've been no 'poo for four months now and I use apple cider vinegar to rinse which for me is key to keeping my hair conditioned and stop it drying out. I used to wash with shampoo every three days but did the same as you, gradually washing it less. This week, I washed it with water only on day 5 and then with Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vingear on day 8. I'm aiming to get to the point where I was with just water on days 7 and 21 and with the BS and ACV on days 14 and 28. I think my top tip is to brush/ comb your hair 3-4 times a day to redistribute the natural oils your hair produces to stop you from having a greasy scalp and dry hair and I always comb my hair during washing - both before and after I apply the ACV.


  9. I put straight aloe, from the plant on my scalp when it feels itchy or if I need more body... some nights I load up with aloe and rinse in the morning. I have only been no 'poo for a few weeks, but my kids are starting to try it as well, becaue it is working. we have put a light layer of olive oil on my daughters really long hair and it looks great. Honey is also a good conditioner for the in between days.


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