Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No Poo Convert

A No Poo update from The Conscious Shopper, who hasn't washed her hair in four days...

Three months ago, I embarked on the Great No Poo Experiment to see if I could switch from washing my hair with shampoo and conditioner to baking soda and vinegar. Why go no poo?
  • To save money. Compare a $5 bottle of shampoo to a $1 box of baking soda.
  • To save packaging. Shampoo and conditioner usually come in plastic bottles, and even if you recycle those, their next life is probably a park bench. Baking soda comes in a cardboard box and vinegar in a glass jar, and because you only use a small amount each time you wash your hair, you end up using a lot less packaging.
  • To avoid potentially harmful chemicals. Although there are plenty of eco-friendly, less toxic shampoos and conditioners on the market, what could be less harmful than baking soda and vinegar?
  • To live naturally. Hey parents, have you ever noticed how long you can go without washing your kids hair? Supposedly, that's how hair is supposed to be, and if you wash it less and put fewer chemicals on it, your hair can look that natural, luscious, and shiny too.
After seven weeks, I wrote an update on my experience, which can basically be summarized as No Poo Sucks! My hair felt like I had brushed toothpaste through it, and I was getting a nasty white residue on my hair brush (that sometimes I could see in my hair). Plus, I could only skip one day of washing before my head transformed into a grease ball.

Six more weeks, and I'm a convert! What changed?

Several people commented/emailed me suggesting that the problem might be hard water, so I turned to my trusty friend Google and discovered several solutions:
  • boil the baking soda/water mixture before using
  • add some salt to the baking soda/water mixture
  • buy a water softener system
The water softener solution negated the money-saving factor of no poo, and knowing how my hair feels when I go swimming in the ocean, I just didn't think the salt solution was a good idea. So I tried boiling the baking soda/water.

I have no idea why, but it worked! My hair now looks and feels normal again - no more toothpaste feeling or white residue. And it not only looks fine, I think it looks healthier - less frizzy, more shiny, all around more manageable.

So there you have it. It's been a long three months to get here, but no poo works for me!

These pictures were taken on a day I used the baking soda and vinegar and air-dryed my hair.

Note the natural wave that for most of my life, I've blow-dryed out because it would dry funky if left to it's own devices. (Though it's hard to say whether it's air-drying better now because of the no poo or simply because my hair is getting longer...)

Either way, it looks nice, healthy, and normal. No one would suspect that I don't use shampoo on my hair!


Aurora said...

Thank you for this. I had a dream last night that someone suggest I do this, and I was disgusted (even though I had the idea to do this some time ago. Perhaps it was a sign to try again! I am a little worried that it isn't so easy with dark hair? My hair always shows up grease and white flecks before any of my blond friends.

Organic on a Dime said...

Thanks for sharing! I have to ask though...did it make your hair smell like vinegar? I woud love to try this!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Aurora - I think the transition period is much shorter if you don't have the hard water problem. You just have to get through a week or two of ponytails.

@Organic on a Dime - I use apple cider vinegar diluted with water with a cinnamon stick in it, so it smells like pouring apple cider on my head and I can't smell it at all after my shower.

Kathryn Grace said...

I've been no-pooing for eight months today, and wouldn't go back to shampoo and conditioner for anything. My hair has gone through stages of greasiness and dryness, and I continue to work with how I brush it, what I brush it with, how often to wash with soda and rinse with vinegar, how often to use water alone. Bottom line, I love my hair better with no-poo than with any of the dozens and dozens of products I tried over the years, most of which left my hair feeling gloppy and looking limp, though I washed it every single day.

Done with all of that! I'm glad you chose to stick with it.

In answer to Aurora's question above, I'm brunette, though not that gorgeous deep color, on my way to gray. You can see for yourself how it works for me on my blog, as I posted images there the first few months.

utahlawyer said...

I went no poo about 11 months ago and I love it. I only have to wash my hair about every 7-10 days and it looks great. I started using a vinegar rinse a few months after I started using baking soda to wash my hair. My hair looks best after the vinegar rinse and it stops smelling like vinegar once it dries. The best part is the skin on my face is also looking so much better.

I blogged about my experiment here: if anyone wants to check it out.

Anonymous said...

I've been doing the "no poo" thing for 2 years now and my hair has never looked better.

My experience, is that the most common problems are that people use too much baking soda (you really only need about 2 tablespoons for a whole bottle), and they don't use enough vinegar because they're afraid of the smell. This leads to big-time build up of both baking soda scum and sebum (especially if you have hard water).

I also found that combing my hair while it had the vinegar solution on it really helped to remove the build up, as did brushing it (when dry) with a wooden bristle brush.

Here are the details of my experience in case any body's curious:

Wendy said...

Great post!

A few years ago, we had a problem with lice, and we tried all of the commercial "medicated" shampoos to no avail (it's being reported that lice are becoming immune to the chemical used in these shampoos). After several weeks of battling the little buggers, we finally went au naturelle and used olive oil and vinegar. It worked!

Which makes me wonder - if we had gone "no poo" and been using vinegar rinses all along, rather than regular shampoo to clean our hair, would we have had a lice problem at all?

Kellie said...

Looks great Erin! I, unfortunately, am a No Poo drop out. Just couldn't make it work. :(

Anonymous said...

I've been no-poo for almost two years now, but I gave up the baking soda side of the equation after a couple of failed tries. I've been doing cider vinegar only fairly successfully, but I wonder if I'm missing something by skipping the baking soda. I think I'll try the boiling trick. What ratio of soda to water do you use?

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@hergreenlife - I use 1 Tbsp baking soda to 1 cup water.

daharja said...

I've been using no-poo for about 2 1/2 years now, but occasionally I do revert to shampoo leftovers my mother leaves behind. But mostly no poo, and it works for me.

I have naturally quite dry hair, and one thing that helps is to was a lot less frequently. I now wash (no poo) my hair about three times a fortnight, and that seems to be about right.

The only reason I even do it that much is because I use a leave in conditioner occasionally during winter, because the heating dries my hair out massively.

I also found that using the no poo method helped my eczema. I think I was allergic to my shampoo and didn't know it, and the wash-off was getting on my skin (on my body) causing rashes and I didn't realise it was the problem.

Able-Bodied Girl said...

i have a question! i just started the no-poo thing, and followed the advice about boiling the BS mixture. but mine has been crystalizing once it cools down. what am i doing wrong???

i use 1 part bs to 6 parts water (filtered, and not hard). i mix it together in a small stainless steel pot and simmer/boil until disolved. then i let it cool a bit and put it in my BPA-free bottle.

should i be boiling the water first, then adding BS? too much BS?

otherwise, i'm on day 4 and loving it! thanks for your insights :)

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Able-Bodied Girl - I do boil my water first, but I don't know if that really makes a difference. You could try experimenting with different amounts of bs - I do 1 Tbsp. per cup of water. Good luck!

Truthseeker444 said...
Great advice, I have linked it from my own blog. And posted a pic of your hair.I have now been 6 weeks without washing my hair, I have used nothing only warm water. Tomorrow I will try the baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
My blog examines the mystical properties of hair, and how the high dose chemical cocktails we use rob us of these gifts. I would be interested to know if your sixth sense improved when you went chemical free?
Sandra Barr

zeina said...

hi! I know this is two years after the fact, but I started no-pooing about 6 weeks ago and have been reading all I can on the subject.
Your initial predicament was similar to mine, so three shampoos ago (I shampoo once every 3-4 days), I started boiling water. I still get a ton of white residue on the brush though (I don't brush every day either because I have curly hair and brushing it just makes my hair pouffy).
Did it take you a full six weeks to get rid of the residue? Thanks!

Sara Muffin said...

Thank you so much for making this post. I was experiencing the same problem with the no poo method and I was very frustrated! I didn't want to go back to regular shampoo, so I can't wait to try boiling the water first. Thanks again :)


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