Monday, April 22, 2013


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?


Anonymous said...

No I have never tried it. This one is hard for me to consider. I am a wash the hair everyday girl. Wash the face then the hair is the first thing I do every morning. I guess its not really all that different if I did that every day with vinegar instead of shampoo but I just can not imagine my hair would feel the same. My hair is the absolute opposite of yours. It is fine, limp, and stick straight. Currently it is chin length. I would love to grow it out long but every time I try I never get past the shoulders and I end up chopping it off. I guess it should be baby steps anyway. If I was going to go through the process of no poo maybe I should actually stop coloring it first. I can for sure tell you I am not ready to commit to that just yet!

Moonwaves said...

I have very dark hair that stubbornly refuses to hold any colour other than its own. I did try once with a freebie kit I got from somewhere or other (one of the big brand name ones). I left it in for longer than I was supposed to and still ended up with almost no noticeable change (except for the permanent red streak that now adorned the bathroom wall) and even that small amount was gone within a few weeks. I haven't ever bothered again. Given the price of getting it done professionally I always thought it I really wanted a change, I could buy a good wig instead and then be able to switch colours as often as I liked without having to wait. And in the meantime I've come to the conclusion anyway that I've put enough hours of worry and stress and just plain old living into the white hair I do have (and there's quite a bit of it now) that I'm not going to pay to cover it up!

I've heard that colour actually lasts longer if you don't use shampoo, though, so it might be ideal for you. You could always try to do baby steps by only using shampoo every second day and maybe just rinsing with water on the other days. I'd heard about it years before I ever got around to doing it but honestly, it is worth it. :-)

Anonymous said...

i've been trying to go no poo since February this year and like you I have thick curly hair. I'm using baking soda and the vinegar rinse and definitely concur on the topic of smell. I rinse it out really well and don't smell anything, nor does my boyfriend.

My hair hasn't really settled yet, I think it's still adjusting to not having shampoo. sometimes the ends are really "moisturised" and sometimes they're quite parched looking. I have been getting the itchy scalp too, but have found the solution to that to be combing in the soda and then later again combing in the vinegar rinse. I have had to start washing my hair twice a week instead of once, but that's ok.

I was chuckling to myself reading about how you feel when you go to the hairdresser as I have yet to experience this! I think my hair is around the same as it was when using shampoo and i don't plan on going back to shampoo any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Moonwaves, like you I have really thick, naturally curly hair. Due to the thickness, I've never in my life washed it more than once a week. It just takes an eternity to dry (due to thickness and length) and I just do not have 45 minutes each morning to wash and dry it. So I'm really interested to see how this would go...I think my hair would transition well. If it gets too frizzy I usually use a straightener - that might be the only problem as I'm not sure what would happen applying heat to traces of vinegar. I will try and see!