I originally started to write an update on going no 'poo in November 2010, although even then I didn't get much further than the title. So I'm making it fit into the A to Z challenge just to get it finally written. Before doing that, I'm having to go back through some old posts, trying to make sure I don't forget to mention anything I may have experienced along the way.
To read about how it all started, go to this post from March 2007. Wow, that makes it six years since I stopped using shampoo. That was three weeks into my no-'poo experience and a week later I posted an update. I also posted updates in a thread on the forums then called It's Not Easy Being Green, now the Green Living Forum and that thread can be found here if anyone is interested.
To recap a bit: I have very thick, long, curly hair. And by curly, I mean curls sometimes and lots of frizz all the time. For years I was in the habit of shampooing twice and finishing off with some conditioner although I never did subscribe to the wash every day idea and usually just washed it once a week. About six months before giving up shampoo I switched to using SLS-free shampoo and conditioner. But once I gave up, I didn't look back.
There was a fairly long settling-in period for me and from what I've read on the subject, it seems that that is probably due to the fact that I only washed my hair once a week anyway. If you wash your hair every day and give up shampoo, it seems like you are more likely to have a more extreme but far shorter settling in period. I'm lucky in that even when my hair is greasy, it doesn't look too bad and if it's tied up, isn't that noticeable. So during the worst weeks of the adjustment period, I might not have always felt great but I didn't look noticeably different. I tried various things to help. Oatmeal rubbed into dry hair to absorb the grease remains my favourite. Just brush it out afterwards and, if you like, rinse your hair after that with hot water. But I honestly can't remember the last time I did that or felt the need to do it.
My hair did suffer a setback when I moved to Germany as the water here is extremely hard, especially in comparison to the water where I lived in Ireland. When I left Ireland I had not used shampoo for over a year and by then I was just washing once a week using water and every month or so doing a vinegar rinse. But really I was just doing the vinegar rinse because I still felt like I should be doing something. After moving here I did start to get a somewhat itchy scalp quite often and after checking stuff on the internet I realised it was most probably linked to the very hard water. So I started doing a vinegar rinse every week and that has improved things again. One day when I have my own place with water barrels all around, I'll be able to use filtered rainwater to wash my hair with and won't have that hard water problem to worry about any more either but for now I have a small plastic jug (500ml) that I fill about quarter of the way with cider vinegar and then top up with water. When I get in the shower the first thing I do is wash my hair with water, giving my scalp a decent scrub. Then I slowly pour the vinegar rinse over my scalp, rubbing my scalp and hair well (and making sure to not get any in my eyes, because, hey, it's vinegar people and that stuff stings!). I leave that in my hair while I finish washing myself and then at the end I rinse my hair thoroughly with water. Any slight lingering vinegary smell if I'm not too careful when rinsing disappears as the hair dries.
And that's it. My hair might still be frizzy but it's not anything like it was before. If I leave it to dry naturally the curls are lovely. It's the next day when I brush it that they disappear a bit but I've tried not brushing and i hated it. I've often gotten compliments on my hair and no-one has ever mentioned anything to me about it smelling funny or horrible. That's not to say it never smells horrible but it doesn't do so any more often than it did when I was using shampoo and if it does, I just wash it. Remember, no shampoo does not mean no washing. Actually, it's usually only a bit of a problem in winter when I first start wearing my wooly hats again and they get wet. Perfectly normal for that to end up smelling a bit, I reckon, and easily fixed (until the next time I wear a hat anyway).
Unfortunately I cannot say that I have never used shampoo since March 2007 because I have yet to find a hairdresser that will cut my hair without washing it first. I get my hair cut about once a year though so it's not too often. When I come out of the hairdressers I do find myself thinking that my hair is lovely and soft and shiny and expensive smelling. But it usually only takes about two or three hours before the itching starts and by the end of the day I'm back to wishing I hadn't let them do it. It takes a week or two for my hair to settle back down after a trip to the hairdresser and the funny thing is that even though they've usually used conditioner as well, my hair gets more tangled and difficult to brush than it usually is. That was probably the biggest surprise to me actually, because before I stopped using shampoo I would have sworn to anyone who'd listen that it was impossible to brush my hair if I hadn't used copious amounts of conditioner.
So, there's no big bottles to lug around when travelling (or to decant into smaller bottles to carry with you when travelling), you save lots of money by not needing to buy shampoo and conditioner, you produce less waste (packaging) and less run-off going down your waste pipes and in my case, end up with better looking and more easily managed hair. It's definitely worth a go in my opinion.
Please note that enthusiastic as I am about giving up shampoo, I do also know that there are some people that this does not work for. If you have certain skin conditions it might not be for you. My gut feeling tells me that if you've doing it and your head actually hurts, it might be time to go and see your dermatologist. But all in all, I'd certainly recommend that everyone gives this a go at least.
Have any of you ever gone no 'poo?