Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dear Shampoo, You're Fired

      Natural, organic, crunchy, ethical living can be sort of a slippery slope.  When I was in Law School, I cut out bleached carbs, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils.  Gradually, I started switching to a diet that emphasizes veggies above all else.  This was all for health reasons.  When I became a mother to Punky, I further cut out most juices and junk food except for on special occasions.  The more I read, the more I tweaked our diet, removing processed junk and "non-food," adding whole foods, etc.

      Then I got pregnant. 

       I started reading even more.  A lot more.  And I started to slip.  It wasn't just processed junk that had to go, but also pesticides and hormones.  One lecture on food ethics and Fair Trade/Equal Exchange became a necessity.  Factory meat was quickly banned from our house.  Now it was not only about health but about responsible stewardship of the planet and treatment of the creatures on it (including other humans).  But they go hand in hand, the ethics and the health.

      As it turns out, the simpler, healthier foods also have the least negative impact on the environment.  But my focus was mostly on food.  Sure, we switched to mostly "green" cleaning products, but I wasn't nearly as "into" it as I was with food.  I had switched to vinegar and borax to wash Flintstone's diapers because I was told it worked better (it does), and had switched out a lot of our other cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, citrus, etc.  But I wasn't "on a mission" the way I am with food.

       Then I found out about the conroversy with Aveeno.  I was partially shocked.  Carcinogens and toxic chemicals in baby wash and lotion?  Then again, I've always wondered what half the stuff in those ingredients lists was.  Why was I shocked?  Obviously, because I am fully integrated in a culture that takes these products for granted. 

        I immediately went out and got Flintstone a simple, green baby wash.  I started shying away from all the goo-type bath products our bathroom is overflowing with.  Luckily I don't use many products at all.  As a teenager I learned that the more harsh products you use to wash your face, the more oil it produces.  So for a long time I've only washed my face with water.  I DID use lotion pretty often under the (faulty) assumption that I was taking better care of my skin by doing so.  I went out and bought a jar of organic coconut oil, which works great.

       But there was one bottle (or, I should say pair of bottles) I found myself reaching for every other day:  Shampoo and Conditioner.  And these, of course, contain all the same pointless toxic crud as the rest of it.  And they come in plastic bottles that, even though we recycle them, create more waste.  And I have been known to spend quite a bit more for fancier versions that promise things I know they'll never do.

       I've been having so much success with switching out cleaning products and making herbal remedies, it suddenly seemed obvious that I should be able to do the same with bath products.  A couple quick Googles, and I had more information than I had ever hoped for.

      So, about a week and a half ago, I fired my Aveeno shampoo and my conditioner.

      I read tons of recipes and articles about going "No 'Poo," which is the very unfortunate name of what is a growing movement of hippies brilliant people who have caught on to the fact that grocery store shampoo is actually a pointless waste of money which is actually bad for your hair.

      By far the most common recipes to replace shampoo and conditioner are baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV), respectively.  You mix the baking soda with water, about a tablespoon to a cup, which you can adjust to suit your needs, rub it into your hair, and rinse.  Boom, no shampoo.  Dirt and oil gone.  Follow up with ACV mixed with water, about 1/3 cup to a cup ratio, again adjusting to your needs, pour into hair, let rest for a few moments if desired, and rinse.  It detangles and imparts shine without adding anything to your hair.  There is no residual vinegar smell.

      In the beginning, I got a little fancy with it and blended my baking soda mixture up with cucumber, but I didn't like the idea of having to keep my "not shampoo" in the fridge (or putting something that cold on my head in the shower!), so now I'm onto just the baking soda and ACV, though the cucumber did work well.

      I haven't shampooed my hair since 2011.

      Now any article you read on this will point out that for the first couple weeks, your hair can get a little greasy.  This is because shampooing every day (or even every other day like I did) actually programs your scalp to produce more grease (just like your face, DUH!).  Once your scalp realizes it's no longer under attack, the amount of grease it produces drastically decreases.  I've read many blogs by women who have been shampoo free for a year or more and only need to use the baking soda/ACV rinses once a week because their scalps produce so little grease.

       I am currently right in the middle of the "greasy" phase, and you know what?  It's not nearly as bad as I had feared.  Granted, I wear my hair up in a bun or french twist for work every day, so it doesn't really matter much if it's greasy, but I DO have bangs, so if there's grease there, you can see it.  Maybe it's not as bad for me because I wasn't shampooing every day when I made the switch?

       I have already noticed a change in the texture of my hair.  I have had SUPER baby-fine hair my whole life.  It has always taken me GOBS of product to get my hair to do anything.  Already, after just a week without shampoo, my hair feels fuller, the strands feel thicker and healthier, and my hair is noticably more managable.

      This weekend I let my hair air dry (as I pretty much always do), but instead of drying into it's usual sad, stringy, "please do something to me now" state, it dried into these nice, flowy, loose waves.  With no product in it at all.  I can't wait to see how it looks in a couple weeks!

      Needless to say, I am now totally on board with this whole "no poo" thing.  Still NOT on board with the name, but I'll just have to deal with that.

      I will try to update you all in a month or two to see how it goes.  I know anyone reading this is now thinking, "Yes, that's all well and good, but I want to SEE it."  Of course.  But when I DO take pictures, I'm usually the one behind the camera, so for now, this is the best I can do.  I will try to get a better picture of my hair (like, with it actually down) this weekend.

All I can think is how much I do NOT look good at this angle :-)  But it's the only picture I currently have of my shampoo free hair.  Enjoy.

      Added bonus?  This was one of my Project 52 goals!  BAM!

      For more information, I found this blog very informative.


Emmy said...

Will be interested to see what you think as you continue to do this

MiMi said...

I'm not sure I could do it. I've heard that you shouldn't wash it every day, but for some reason...I might :)

Impulsive Addict said...

I only wash my hair once every 4 days. My hair is very dry so the more I wash it, the worse it gets. I am very interested to hear how you like it in the next few weeks. This is something I can do! {But I love the smell of a good shampoo/conditioner.}

When eating fruits and veggies, do you make a chemical to spray on them to remove pesticides? I use water. Yep. Mother of the Year sitting RIGHT HERE.

Emily said...

Very, very Interesting!

Katherine said...

I washed my hair with apple cider vinegar in high school, hoping to get smooth, shiny hair. What I got was huge, frizzy hair. It was soft, but uncontrollable. But my hair has always been weird.

Diandra said...

I tried going "no 'poo" last year, and my hair started falling out. :-( I am kind of a shampoo test area anyway, many products will give me itching or rashes, and I had hoped the baking soda stuff would help, but at least at that time it really didn't. Maybe I will try again some time this year, but last time I was really looking like an old broom.

Shawna Faye said...

Very, very interesting. I've always only used water to wash my face and people always look at me like I'm nuts when I tell them that. But it's true the more you mess with your skin (and hair) the worse it looks. I've been cutting down the number of times I shampoo my hair, maybe I'll go poo free too.

Karen Peterson said...

I add baking soda into my regular shampoo every couple of weeks to get all the gunk out. It makes a really good chemical-free clarifying shampoo. I don't know if I could completely cut the shampoo, though. That scares me a little...

CanadianMama said...

Okay, I'm gonna try this. I have super dry hair and live in a really dry climate so added grease could be helpful actually. But, I need to use product (mouse, hair spray, etc). Will that be okay? Will the "shampoo" get the product out? I need to use product because I have super curly, frizzy, dry hair that needs control lol! Thoughts? Also, do you have a link to the actual "recipe" for this? Thanks for the education!

Carrie Roer said...

This is not the first I've heard of this, and once again it intrigues me... (I think the Simple Mom blog might have posted about it last fall?) I think this might be the best time of year to give it a try since it's soooo dry right now in the middle of winter. I've just gotta find containers to put it in, and the motivation to stick with it for awhile (since I normally only wash my hair 2-3 times a week anyway!). Looking for a new post soon on how it's going for you...