I’m not quite sure how I started using all-natural hair care methods.
I certainly didn’t plan on it and I didn’t do it cold-turkey. But I’ve come to the point where I can say that I haven’t washed my hair in 9 weeks.
Gross, I know, right? But I haven’t and after a few bumps in the road, I can confidently say that my hair does NOT smell dirty and that is softer than ever!
How about a little hair autobiography before I share the “no-poo” all-natural hair care recipes?
I have for most of my life been blessed with a head of very thick straight hair. It’s been neither oily nor dry and I’ve not had to fuss with it too much. That is until I started having babies.
I didn’t notice anything with my firstborn. Way back then, I was sporting a pixie cut until I decided to grow my hair long to donate. Somewhere along the way, I learned that my hair was to be my glory (1 Cor. 11:15) and I’ve never considered going back.
When my second child was born I began to have to deal with this teeny little wave in the center back of my head. Nothing a round brush and a blow dryer couldn’t handle, but the situation has become increasingly worse over the years. As the waviness has increased, so has the dryness. (A common problem for those with curly or wavy hair I understand.) I kept pulling vigorously and drying it straight. I didn’t want to use a straight iron and damage the hair because by this time, it was getting pretty long. I had begun to notice that my hair was much more manageable and less frizzy on the days where I skipped washing it and I found myself skipping a day or two here and there more and more. Over the years, I was needing to skip even more days in order to maintain a presentable, frizz-less style.
It had progressed to the point where, just a few months ago, I was washing my waist length hair every 5 or so days using an itchy scalp as an indicator that it needed to be washed.
(I can’t believe I’m admitting this to you!! How embarrassing!)
When I did wash, I would shampoo just the top and condition just the bottom because the top seemed the “oiliest” (if you can even consider it that) and the bottom was still super-dry despite my daily brushing with a 100% all-natural boar bristle brush. (LOVE my boar bristle brush!!!)
When I was fed up with my husband making fun of me saying I looked like this guy, I went in for my donation cut and walked away from the wash tub with curly hair.
I was so shocked. I thought I had straight frizzy hair and it never occurred to me that one can develop curly hair over time!
It’s been quite a struggle for me. I feel like an entirely different person. For so many years now I’ve been wearing a smooth appearance. That was my “style” and I liked it like that. I’ve had to learn all about what works for curly hair and what doesn’t. (No more towel after a washing. You have to “plop”.)
One of the things that works best for people with curly hair is to avoid shampooing. Curly hair is naturally dry and shampoo dries it out even more. All this time I had been letting my hair tell me what it needed and it was leading me in the right direction. I committed to not washing my hair full-time and that was, like I said, 9 weeks ago.
Please excuse the excessive use of fill light in order to make the curls visible on my dark ole head of hair, but this is pretty much how they look once dried after washing. I think the most noticeable difference between three and nine weeks is the improvement of wave around the crown.
So what have I been doing?
Well, first I realized that I needed to concentrate on repairing my scalp. The shampoo had left it very dry and very itchy and I was able to fix the damage by simply massaging food-grade aloe vera gel into the scalp. The relief was quick and within a week I would say I had stopped scratching my temples altogether!
After experimenting with various recipes, I have settled on a plain baking soda wash made by just boiling a quart of water and adding a 1/4 cup of baking soda. I started by rotating between that and using a castile soap based shampoo and it stripped my hair mightily and left it feeling extremely greasy whereas on the baking soda days, my hair was softer than I have ever remembered it being.
Baking Soda Cleansing
1-quart boiling water
1/4 c. baking soda
Add the soda to the water and mix or shake in a bottle until dissolved. (I use this bottle.) Cool prior to use. Apply liberally to hair and scalp, shaking first if necessary. Massage into scalp and hair then rinse well. (credit)
For the rinse, I was less than excited about trying apple cider vinegar on my head. Like with the problem solved by citrus vinegar, I can barely stomach the scent of it. After some experimenting, what I ended up with is a rinse that is refreshing and pleasant smelling. I think that the tea tree oil and peppermint both bring a nice balance to the vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 T. aloe vera gel
1 T. honey
8 drops peppermint oil
8 drops tea tree oil
Combine all ingredients in a bottle and shake well. (I use one like this.) After cleansing, squirt all over scalp and hair. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and enjoy the tingle. Rinse well. (You may use more to combat the harsh apple cider vinegar scent if you’d like. Smell your concoction, it should be somewhat pleasingly minty, but will still have a slight vinegar undertone.)
Our hairstyles are low maintenance around here, requiring very little product and we’ve discovered a satisfactory substitute for hairspray as well. A simple spray is made by reducing chopped chunks of citrus in boiling water. It smells wonderful and even acts as a potpourri while you’re preparing it.
1 orange, peel removed and chopped in pieces
1 lemon, peel removed and chopped in pieces
2 c. water
Add all to a small saucepan and boil until reduced by half. Strain and add to a bottle outfitted with a spray pump. Use as you would hairspray, but keep refrigerated or it will begin to smell badly after a few days!
A few cons to this is that it is obviously less of a convenience. You have to prepare your hair care, but ultimately, it takes just a few minutes. A second would have to definitely be that it is cold. Shampoo and conditioner are much warmer than these water-based products. But I just try to trick myself by using the word invigorating to describe it rather than freezing. It has a much more pleasant connotation, don’t you think?
I’m not done experimenting with different recipes. I have a few deep conditioners that I’d like to try and also a recipe for a natural gel. I’ll post them if I have any success, of course.
Now it’s your turn to chime in. Please, please, please if you “no-‘poo” join me in confession. What tips and tricks do you have to share?
Edited: I tried to answer many of the questions asked here in a “No-Poo FAQ” follow-up post so they might be a bit easier to navigate through.