Well, this is a slightly awkward post because I thought covering Muslim women didn’t have hair…O.o I wanted to make a post on this, just because a bunch of my friends started asking about my recent no ‘poo journey.
I decided to stop using store-bought shampoo, for many reasons, about three months ago. The most immediate reason was to help lessen my fall out (didn’t really work, but I think the fall out is being caused by other factors). But one of the biggest benefits I have noticed is that I am finally making some progress on struggling with a dry scalp and the light dandruff I’ve had since I was around 11. This post is going to explain what I have found works for me, and also an idea for a no ‘poo starter kit for you or a willing friend 🙂 Before I jump into my process, I’d just like to say that I am not an expert on any of this and have been trying to figure out what best works for me after doing a bunch of reading online and asking a friend who has gone no ‘poo herself.
My Past Regiment: A lot of people seemed pretty horrified after hearing this, actually. It used to be shampooing every other day (because I don’t like showering without washing my hair), and I used Head & Shoulders. I really hate greasy hair, and I always felt like my scalp was crying to be cleaned every couple days because of my dandruff. I do believe, however, that whatever they put in that shampoo specifically is meant to keep your scalp addicted to that shampoo by manipulating the way your skin deals with dryness and dandruff. (I also think that shampoo and conditioner products are a conspiracy! Look into the history of how shampoo was marketed when it was first made yourself! It’s just like diamond engagement rings.) I would also have my mom put oil (olive oil, coconut oil, or a mixture of blackseed oil with other oils) in my hair once a week, not even really because of my hair or scalp (although it help), but because I used to have bad headaches in high school and really busy college quarters and that was one of the best ways to get them to go away. I never really used conditioner too often, I heard it was bad for hair. But I would use some sort of conditioning mask every couple of weeks, especially once I started experimenting with bleach and dyes.
Introducing My Current No ‘Poo Regiment
How It Works: The shampoo is a baking soda solution, and the conditioner is an apple cider vinegar solution.
Now, some people are a little weirded out by that (“but I use that to scrub the counter!”) but what I say to nay-sayers is, at least you could drink whatever you’re putting on your hair and not have to call poison control…(well, minus essential oils, I don’t think those are safe to ingest.)
What I Do: “Shampoo” and “condition” two-three times a week.
My Experience with No ‘Poo
What I Miss about Real Shampoo: The smell and the bubbles. Maybe the pump on the bottle, too. That’s about it.
Why I Love Going No ‘Poo:
- I control the amount of clean I get my scalp and hair.
- I add whatever natural supplements I think my scalp needs, and this works well for me because I make individual batches of my hair washes. If my scalp feels dry, if my hair is ridiculously flat, if my hair is breaking a lot, etc., I can put whatever I know will help my hair out the most. It’s funny, because some of us might gravitate towards more natural products, with little stickers on the bottle that say “coconut milk” or “papaya enzymes” on them. I’m just cutting straight to the chase and using the real deal.
- It actually cleans BETTER than shampoo and conditioner! (People don’t believe me when I say this!)
- I don’t feel like my scalp is sticky, gunky, or soapy after I’ve showered.
- I guess it’s better for your hair. I’ve definitely noticed improvements in my scalp health so far. I think it takes a couple years to really tell the difference, though.
- I didn’t even have to go down the slippery road of “natural” and “organic” shampoos. My mom bought two tiny bottles of organic shampoo and conditioner a couple years ago for $60. That’s just not worth it to me. And getting past all of the jargon and labeling is something that needs a bit of knowledge, which I don’t have or care to have. I stopped using aluminum based deodorants around 4 months ago. It took two days of research and a half hour of staring blankly at the shelves at Whole Foods. The lady working there had to come and help me.
The Downside to No ‘Poo
- The smell of apple cider vinegar, and losing out on that tingly clean smell from shampoo. This can be helped with adjusting the amount of vinegar you use, and perfecting the aromatic additions you make to your conditioner solution with trial and error. I’ve almost figured out what works for me.
- The time. Maybe I just always shampooed my hair like a neanderthal in the past. Now I actually clean my scalp really well and rinse out the solutions really well. I also make individual batches of my shampoo every time I wash my hair, so I don’t just jump into the shower and have a bottle of shampoo waiting for me. This can be solved by making bigger batches of shampoo and conditioner.
- It might sound crazy to invest in the things you need to buy, like little bottles of essential oils (you really only need one or two, to be honest) and it might seem expensive. But I think they last for a really long time, so once the initial $15-40 is spent, it should pay off. And actually, this might be less expensive than buying shampoo and conditioner.
No ‘Poo Explained
The Baking Soda Solution (Shampoo): I use about 3/4 of a teaspoon of baking soda in about a cup of water. The great thing about mixing your own shampoo is that you get to decide how strong you want it to be. If I didn’t have a chance to wash my hair and am washing it a day late, I’ll add a little sprinkle more of baking soda; if I am washing my hair a day early, then I’ll add a little less. I actually am obsessed with teas, however, and supposedly it’s great for hair growth and scalp heath. So I typically steep some sort of tea, and honey!, and mix the baking soda into the tea. (More on the teas and other supplements later in the post!) This is also where I add a few drops of tea tree oil, since it is good for problems associated with a dry scalp.
The Vinegar Solution (Conditioner): Now, this is the slightly stinky part and will take a little bit of tinkering around with. I use a splash of it in a cup of water, so my guess is a 1/2 teaspoon. I also have been trying to figure out a good mixture of aromatic essential oils to mix into it, just to cut the smell off the bat before it even gets into my hair. The oils I’ve bought are: tea tree, sweet orange, grapefruit, lavender, and peppermint. (More on the oils later in the post!) The conditioner really helps make your hair soft and silky.
- Before: make the concoction. Mix whatever you want in your containers. I use two glass jars with different colored lids. The biggest thing I’m going to say here is watch the temperature of the water! If I’m steeping tea for the shampoo, I try to make that a half hour or hour before I want to use it, just because it’s a horrifying experience to pour extremely hot tea on your head (surprise, surprise!) On the flip side, I have also filled cold water into my conditioner jar, and then it’s a shocker to dump cold water all over your head. So I leave a little bit of wiggle room (1/4 cup) in the jar, and when I’m ready to wash my hair, I test the temperature with my finger and can adjust by adding hot, cold, or lukewarm water.
- During: the actual application process. I guess I might have been shampooing my hair wrong my whole life, so I am going to write out what seems pretty self explanatory. The ends of your hair don’t really get dirty, the oils are produced closest to the scalp, so that’s the grossest part. So focus on the scalp! I bought a squeezy bottle and I transfer the contents inside my shampoo or conditioner jar into the bottle, and then it makes for easy squeezing. This way I can control the amount and where the liquid goes. And, you’re supposed to focus on the scalp and roots of the hair. Do a little at a time and really clean your scalp by using your fingernails (if they are short or long) to scrub and clean your scalp. I leave it in for a couple minutes and then rinse. Rinse very well, especially for the conditioner solution. Washing my hair takes three times as long as it used to, in the past I would just make a foamy mountain on top of my head and give it a rinse or two.
How Often/Etc. and the Dreaded Transition Period
Decide how many times you want to wash your hair a week. I do 2-3 times a week, and I use shampoo and conditioner both times. I am currently trying to transition into switching my hair washing routine to alternating washes where I shampoo and condition, and then just condition (it’s common for “no ‘poo-ers” to do that.) Some people actually go all the way to just using water to wash their hair, but that’s pushing it for me and I have no reason to go that far.
I had already started the transition of washing my hair with 1-2 times a week with regular shampoo when I decided to go no ‘poo. So I was already entering into Greaseland. By the time I went no ‘poo, I was a settled resident in Greaseland, and this is actually when wearing a hijab really worked in my favor! I think my transition was pretty quick, it took 3 weeks into my no ‘poo regiment for my hair to adjust. (Some people say it takes them two months!!) It’s gross, but just embrace the grease and move on with life. A helpful trick is slowly cutting down on the amount of baking soda you use, so start with 1 teaspoon and cut it down to 1/2 a teaspoon by your second month.
Teas: I have thus far tried herbal, green, and black tea. I go for aromatic teas.
- Black tea is my absolute favorite, although supposedly, green and black teas help stimulate hair growth. A downside to black tea is that it might darken the hair temporarily, but I don’t really care too much about that. And it makes my hair pretty soft.
- For green tea, I tried using a couple different kinds of green teas, but they just seem weak in comparison to black tea.
- The herbal tea I use is chamomile tea, which is really good for helping with skin health in general, things like soothing inflammation and calming the skin. I am sure there are other herbal teas that are great for hair (why does “rose hip” sound like to would be good for hair? It probably is.)
Oils: These are the oils I have: sweet orange, grapefruit, lavender, peppermint, and tea tree oil. I went for aromatic oils that weren’t that pricey, really just because I am desperately trying to combat the smell of apple cider vinegar. My suggestion is to only use 4-5 drops in a cup of solution. Once you figure out what the oil does in your hair, you can adjust the amount up or down.
- Sweet orange oil is one of my favorite smells, but it is slightly sticky (because it is “sweet” I think) so I only put a drop or two if I use it.
- Grapefruit smells sour, but it really works well with the vinegar.
- Lavender is my favorite. I thought I hated lavender in the past, but I realized it smells like bergamot on steroids (aka what makes earl grey tea). And it has a lot of good qualities in and of itself.
- Peppermint oil was something I wanted to try for the smell, it’s a greasy one though. I tried it last time I washed my hair and it left my hair a greasy mess, so I had to wash it again the next day. I don’t recommend it yet, maybe I used too much.
- Tea tree oil is a boss in its own right, and I love the smell (although everyone else in my family hates it.) It really helps with dandruff (it’s a natural antiseptic) and was the most widely recommended product I read about to help with overcoming dandruff. Tea tree oil is really watery feeling, so I can easily add 4-5 drops of this oil plus another aromatic oil on top of that in any solution I make.
To the shampoo, I add tea tree oil for dandruff and an aromatic oil just for fun. To the conditioner, I pull out all the stops and go for a mixture of aromatic oils. Actually, I’ve even made a little spray bottle of hair mist with water, lavender oil, and sweet orange oil, and I use it sparingly on my damp hair after I get out of the shower.
Honey: It’s not hard to get out of your hair! I thought it would be. I typically add a teaspoon to my shampoo solution. It actually makes my hair have crazy volume, like I teased my whole head. And it makes it pretty soft!
Egg: Yes, I said it! I use an egg in my hair once every two weeks. I approach it like a mask. First you cleanse, then you put on the mask, then you tone and moisturize for normal skin care. So what I do is, I shampoo, then I use the egg, and then I use conditioner. It doesn’t make my hair smell at all (we don’t buy organic eggs, but we buy cage-free eggs that are a bit small and brown), which someone warned me it would. It washes out pretty well, but just make sure you wash it out with cold water! I read about that on another blog and it made me laugh, because the other girl said that the egg sort of cooked in her hair…gross! I recently dyed and bleached part of my hair after 8-9 months of not doing anything to it, so now I’m a little concerned about undoing some of the damage, and I think the egg is going to be a life saver! My hair has never felt softer than after I use an egg.
My Recommendation for People with Dandruff: Use chamomile tea, honey and tea tree oil in your shampoo, and a little bit more tea tree oil in your conditioner. My dandruff has almost gone away completely, and I’ve tried a lot of things, including prescription shampoo. Mine is pretty mild, and I struggle with a dry, itchy scalp more than actual dandruff. It’s gotten a lot better since I went no ‘poo, but I also started taking daily multivitamins around the same time I switched, and I’ve noticed that my nails grow faster and stronger, so the vitamins might have something to do with it, too!
Make a DIY No ‘Poo Starter Kit for Yourself or a Friend!
What You’ll Need:
- 2 glass jars with lids (around 1 cup)
- 1 squeezy bottle (if you can find one that is more expensive than a buck, I would go for it, just because it’s probably better quality)
- box of baking soda
- bottle of apple cider vinegar
- box of tea
- essential oils (I recommend buying tea tree oil for dandruff and an aromatic oil that you like to start out with)
- bottle of raw or pure honey
Here’s the idea:
Get some sort of gift basket that all of this will fit in. Wrap the boxes and bottles in something cute, or give them cute labels or stickers, sort of like you’re making your own “No ‘Poo” brand. I would say don’t bother taking off the original labels, just because you might be curious as to what’s in there and want to read the ingredients again at some point.
It depends on what kinds of items you’re buying and how organic or not they are, but I think this starter kit could cost you from around $30-100.