(Edit: OH CRUD! I totally spaced that it's Blog Action Day 2010. So instead of submitting some lovely and pertinent post about water, I post one about my greasy hair. Which I guess is sort of peripherally related, since it means I don't have to wash my hair as often nor use as much water, but it's still a poor excuse.
So anyway, even though I didn't get my act together enough to participate this year, I'll at least suggest to y'all that it would be a great site to check out, see what others are saying, or even get on the bandwagon on your own blogs!)
(And now, back to our regularly scheduled inanities...)
A Search for Shortcuts from a stringy-haired Suburban Greenmom...
I have these days when I really don't have time for the full-out shower. Between packing lunches and making my coffee and guarding every last precious moment of sleep...But without intervention, my hair gets oogy if I don't wash it every morning.Or more to the point, my hair gets oogy if I don't wash it every 36 hours. Which means I could wash yesterday morning, and then again tonight, and then skip a day...you get what I mean. But my schedule seldom allows that, because I still need to look respectable at 9pm on many days and don't necessarily have time for a shower at 7, so the practical math eludes me here.
Yes, I've heard that if you get your hair out of the habit it gets used to less washing and produces less oil, but I don't have the luxury of looking like a greasy smelly hippie at my professional engagements for 2-3 weeks to find out if that's true. [UPDATE: a couple of people took issue with this comment; I apologize if it sounds like I'm anti-hippieness, I'm actually very pro-hippie. I included the comment because I found the photo on someone else's site as an example of why she was scared to go no-poo, and it made me giggle, mostly because I'm a pretty big hippie myself, or at least the child of two pretty big hippies who sort of brought me up in their image.] And I know that some of my esteemed Boother colleagues and our lovely readers have gone "no-poo" --Erin, and Kathryn, and the Utah Lawyer on whose blog I found the picture of the greasy smelly hippie, which made me laugh (unless that's a picture of one of our readers' significant others or relatives or something, in which case I'm sure he has a great personality...)--and many others. Even Crunchy Betty, one of my Absolute Favorite Bloggers Ever, just took the pledge 3 days ago. But I'm just not there yet. Someday. In the meantime...I wanted something a little less dramatic, and I wanted to not wash my hair every day.
So I started looking at some of those "dry shampoo" things--you know, where you spray it on your hair, brush it out, and presto your hair no longer has that stringy oily "oh look she didn't shower today" vibe. There are plenty of on-the-market ones, mostly aerosol sprays...but enough people comment on all those sites that the make-your-own recipes often work better than those anyhow and use the same ingredients minus the chemicals, for much cheaper. I'm all over that, of course.
I started poking around. Patrice, here, has recipes which involve ground oatmeal/herbs/baking soda, or cornstarch or cornmeal with a few drops of essential oil. Beyond Jane has some similar ideas, as does this sort of generic Essortment site. Beauty with Brains is one of the only ones I've found so far that actually reads like someone who's actually tried the different recipes and come up with something she likes, as opposed to the vaguely "I need something to blog about how about this" feel the other sites kind of have. (Then again, she could be faking, I guess!) Crunchy Betty is another who tests before she posts. All the bloggers caution about mess, which seems valid...and one mentions adding a little unsweetened cocoa powder to your dry shampoo if you have dark hair and don't want to risk the white flecks sticking around if you didn't get it all out! (This seems...creative. I'm not sure about it, though, if for no other reason than I'd smell like chocolate all day and get hungry.)
So, not wanting to be one of those bloggers who posts recipes I found elsewhere and doesn't try them myself, I embarked on a Grand Adventure. I visited my local Home Economist (do you have one near you? Seriously, look around! It's the original "everything in bulk, nothing but bulk" store where you can go in and get two tablespoonfuls of rice flour if you want, or as much as you want, or whatever. Lots of spices, way too much candy--my kids go crazy in there--and nothing organic or free trade that I've seen, but on the other hand you cut WAY down on packaging. And it's cheap!) and got a little of a bunch of things: cornstarch, oat flour, rice flour, and cornmeal. And went to work, every other day. (The even numbered days got the basic Natures Gate Herbal Shampoo.)
(N.B.: my hair is medium brown with a smattering of grey around the hairline, fine but thick, utterly straight, oily at the scalp but tending to dry at the ends. It's just past my shoulders and slightly layered. Obviously your mileage may vary.)
Day 1: I did equal parts cornmeal and cornstarch, since those were the ones most-recommended by the sites I visit. Added a little lavender, chamomile, and orange essential oils. VERDICT: lovely smell, but it wore off by the time I brushed the stuff out of my hair. My hair looked nice all day, though I gave it a little touch-up in the evening--but I had absolutely no desire to yank it back into a barrette or ponytail to hide the oily roots, at any time. The only problem: the cornmeal was (contrary to what I saw in recipes) more difficult to really brush out, and when I would run my fingers through my hair all day I felt this weird grittiness at the scalp. Aside from that, though, I didn't have much problem with mess--but I didn't shake it all over my hair, I pinched bits and sprinkled them directly onto the roots of the hair in the places that needed it most, and pretty much all over right by the scalp, rubbed it in, and then brushed it out.
Day 3 and 5--I mixed equal parts cornstarch and oat flour, with a few drops of orange and ginger essential oil. Again, the oil smell never lasted into the actual post-shampoo hair, but I liked it. This was messier than the cornstarch-and-meal recipe, and it lumped a lot more. But the results were even better--so much better that I almost ditched the experiment and just stayed with this as the recipe. But as a diligent blogger, I still had rice flour and baking soda to try...
Day 7--since cornstarch seems to be the constant in all this, I went heavier on it: I did two parts cornstarch to one part baking soda, with a little lavender oil. No clumps, less mess, no grit, brushed out very easily. I will probably try the rice powder next, just to say I did (and besides, having bought the stuff, what else would I do with it?), but I have a feeling the straight cornstarch or cornstarch mixed with baking soda will be my final favorite. Glad I didn't stop at Day 5. (And when I'm done, I can brush some onto my armpits as a nice deodorant powder. :-))
Day 9--I ditched the cornstarch completely and just did rice powder. And my kids were in the other bathroom, so I couldn't get at my fragrance oils, and this was unscented. VERDICT: yuck. Rice powder has the same kind of grit as the cornmeal only smaller pieces, my scalp feels all gritty, and the hair isn't smooth or soft at all and still feels oily. Plus it's all over my ears. I feel like I've been to the beach, without the fun of having been to the beach.
Day 11--I decided to make a longer-term mix of cornstarch and baking soda. After I put it together, I realized I'd used baking powder instead...but since the two main ingredients in baking powder are baking soda and, you guessed it, cornstarch, I figured what the hey. Works just fine.
FINAL VERDICT: Honestly, cornstarch alone is probably going to be the best bet, maybe with a little baking soda added. If you have oat flour in your kitchen, a little of that won't hurt either, but certainly don't go out and buy it. The essential oils are nice, though they don't seem to last very long--I mean, you're basically brushing it all out of your hair anyway, and they don't linger much. My hair is fairly dark medium-brown, but the cornstarch/soda blend did not seem to dull or mask its color at all. (The rice powder sort of did.)
A boar-bristle brush would be, I surmise, pretty essential for this exercise (is there a vegan alternative?)--you need something with the close bristles to get all the powder out, and either be prepared to wash or rinse the powder off it it daily or have a dedicated brush for dry shampooing.
I'm officially now an every-other-day-shampoo person now. I challenge any of my friends to be able to tell which day it is by looking at my hair--you totally won't be able to tell, because it looks genuinely clean for two full days now. I haven't tried to go three yet, but that's the next step, and after that, whenever I have an empty shampoo bottle to store the stuff in, I'll try the no-poo combinations of baking soda/water and apple cider vinegar rinse and see if I can get off the chemical stuff all together...baby steps. In the meantime...well, remember the picture of the greasy smelly hippie. No one wants to see that.
Jenn the Greenmom