Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In Need of Natural Hair Help

Julia of Color Me Green mourns how going 'no poo has changed her hair and seeks natural solutions. 

My hair used to be totally straight and fine and shiny and long, and I considered it one of my nice features. But it's changed over the past couple years, I think in part due to 'no poo. I went no 'poo (no shampoo that is) in March 2011 and loved it. For a while, my hair felt the same as when I used conventional shampoo, but without the added chemicals. However, around two years later I realized that my split ends had gradually grown out of control. So out of control that my hair had gotten shorter, I had given myself layers, and even after getting a trim, I still have split ends all along the length of my hair.

Comparing my hair before I started no poo (left) and after

This is partially due to my bad habit of breaking off my split ends. However, I googled it and found claims from others that baking soda had caused their hair to become more brittle. I had been using a thick paste of baking soda because I found that easiest to apply, but maybe I would have been better off with a more watery baking soda-to-water ratio.

I've also noticed some other changes in my hair over the past couple years. It has a little wave (but maybe that's age, since my mom's hair got wavier as an adult), and it's now kind of stringy.

my baking soda for hair washing

In an attempt to repair my hair, I've gone back to regular shampoo and conditioner - using Aubrey Organics products for dry, damaged hair - but I'm still finding split ends all the time. I know regular trims are recommended to clean up split ends, but I'm loathe to get it trimmed since that will just keep it shorter without growing much in between. My goal is to have hair that looks somewhat long and lovely by next summer for a certain special occasion. So - I need help!

I recently tried doing a natural hot oil treatment, which is supposed to improve your hair's feel and appearance. I used a recipe from Crunchy Betty based on coconut oil, since I had it on hand. However, I found the process awkward and messy rather than luxurious as she claims. My hair was extremely oily for the next couple of days and washings, and after that it was back to its brittle appearance.

Have you tried no poo? How did your hair react, and what ratio of baking soda to water worked best? Do you have any favorite natural conditioners?


De in D.C. said...

I have very oily hair, so no-poo never worked for me since I couldn't get rid of the grease. However, Aubrey Organics gives me absolutely horrible split ends! I've tried a few formulas, and they've all been the same. I may use it once a week, but that's it.

I'd highly recommend trying Beauty Without Cruelty's Daily Benefits shampoo instead.

EMMA said...

No-poo did the same thing to my hair.
Now I've got it short so I just use the bar of honey soap that's in the shower.

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

I would try a shampoo bar. I love mine from Dress Green. I have very thick curly hair and have never been willing to experiment with no poo. My husband doesn't need any conditioner with the shampoo bar and I think you probably wouldn't either. I'm still using Avalon Organics (not the most natural) most of the time.

robbie @ going green mama said...

Thank you for the ideas on shampoo bars. Am looking for a greener option.

All Natural Katie said...

I did no poo for 6-12 months with a very watery mixture with baking soda mixed it (think 8 oz of water with maybe a tablespoon of baking soda mixed in). I would either mix the baking soda into the water and put in a glass container or warm the water up and put a tablespoon of baking soda in right before using in the shower. Basically used about 8 oz of water with 1 tbsp of baking soda. I also rinsed with a cup of water with about 1-2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to condition the hair. This worked well for my fine hair. No more split ends! Maybe you could try more water to baking soda ratio.

After a while, I started using my all natural soap bar (to wash my hair. Have been using natural soap for over one year. No issues, but I do find that sometimes my hair is a little dry. I might add the ACV rinse back in.

If your hair is dry or breaks, then I recommend washing it less often, using an apple cider vinegar rinse, or doing a pre-treatment with a natural oil like coconut oil (either put it on the night before or leave it in a for a little bit right before you shampoo). You will have to make sure you get it all out with the baking soda/water mixture.

Christy said...

I concur with All Natural Katie - wash less frequently, use ACV and coconut oil.

I have been using no 'poo for about a year now and I have found a few tricks to avoid overly dry, brittle hair.

- I use a fairly weak solution of baking soda and water, very liquify. I started with a much thicker, almost paste like consistency and it really started to dry out my hair.

- I use ACV as a toner / rinse after washing, and leave it in for several minutes (duration of my shower) the same way I would with conditioner, then rinse.

- I only wash my hair once a week, and now I can say that unless I exercise and sweat heavily, my hair stays shiny looking and not greasy. By the end of the week I have pony tail days, and often on the last day I have my hair in a bun, so that I don't have to overly process my hair with styling.

- Every few weeks I massage coconut oil into my scalp and wet hair and leave on without rinsing. I put my hair in a bun for a day or two then wash my hair again as usual, then dry and style. This has helped avoid dry hair.

My daughter is more prone to split ends than me and I find that using a natural conditioner every so often helps. That and cutting her ends off. Sorry.

I have found that the no 'poo method doesn't work for everyone though. I wish you luck!

Cherie Wilkinson said...

Did you rinse with vinegar?
No 'poo works by altering the hardness and pH of the water using backing soda, you need to restore the pH back to normal to avoid damage to the hair. Vinegar restores the pH of the hair.

Cherie Wilkinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julia (Color Me Green) said...

Thanks for all of this advice!
Cherie, no, I didn't rinse with vinegar. I didn't really understand the point of it, but that makes sense that it could restore the pH and potential damage.

I can try to wash my hair less, but it gets greasy easily. Maybe I need to just live with wearing it up on greasy days to protect it in the long run.

I think my local coop has Beauty without Cruelty, I'll have to try that out.


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