I haven’t washed my hair in ten days, and I’m sure I won’t have to for another five. Is it because I’m a lazy bum who doesn’t enjoy washing her hair? Yes, somewhat. Does it mean I have stinky, greasy hair? No, not at all! In fact my hair has never been healthier or cleaner.
What sorcery is this you ask? A year ago I decided to take the #NoPoo plunge and I swore off store bought shampoo and conditioner. I started making my own out of 4 simple household ingredients and haven’t looked back since.The following is what I’ve learnt along the way, I’ve done loads of research on the subject and the internet is truly divided on the matter. The following is all based on my personal experience and what I’ve read about other people’s experiences.
1. What’s in it all?
It’s pretty simple, you use 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda with 1 cup of water as your shampoo, and ½ a cup of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water as your conditioner.
The bicarbonate of soda is a degreaser and will clean your scalp – it won’t foam and will definitely take some adjusting to, however you’ll know it’s working because your hair will feel slippery as you rinse it out.
The Apple Cider Vinegar balances the scalp’s pH and helps fight dandruff, while sealing your cuticles to make your hair shinier.
2. How it all works
The shampoos and conditioners we use are full of all sorts, and while I’m not anti-chemicals (everything is made of chemicals after all), I am against extra unnecessary ingredients.
Swapping to the #NoPoo method takes some adjusting. Your hair is suddenly being given something totally different from what it’s used to and has to adapt to this new concoction. Eventually your scalp will figure things out for itself and will start regulating sebum control. This means that if your scalp starts to get greasy your body will automatically slow down the production of sebum. Likewise, if your hair is dry your body will amp up the sebum production.
The result: Your scalp will run the show, it will take care of your hair for you. You’ll then just need to wash it every once in awhile to get rid of the dust and dirt which accumulates in it.
3. It’s not an exact science
I mentioned ratios and measurements, but the truth is that everyone’s scalp is different. If you enjoy playing scientist then you’ll love this! As you go along you learn to adjust the ratios to a mixture that suits you. I make mine in large batches which I pour into spray bottles I got at a garden centre.
If your hair feels dry and you get dandruff then you simply need less bicarbonate of soda and perhaps some more apple cider vinegar… play around with it until you figure out exactly what you need.
4. Does it smell?
I don’t walk around smelling like a bag of fish and chips, but neither do I smell of roses. Basically my hair has no smell. If you want your shampoo to be scented simply add some essential oils. Some oils are also beneficial to your hair and scalp, which is pretty win-win. Try lemon, patchouli, tee tree, lavender, or ylang ylang – these are good for your hair in different ways.
So while you don’t have that lovely shampoo smell, you won’t have the icky greasy scalp smell either.
5. Transitioning is hard
There are different ways of changing from store bought shampoo to homemade shampoo. First of all you need to assess your washing habits. If you wash your hair every other day you’re going to have to create longer gaps. Washing your hair so often doesn’t do you any favours and is torture for your poor scalp. Start increasing the time between washes until you bring it to every 4 or 7 days.
If you want the transition to be more gentle try switching to more natural shampoos, ones which have less harsh chemicals. These can be found at health shops, although they might be a bit pricey. If, like me, you want to take the plunge then just go for it. I’d recommend giving your hair a trim before so as to start off on the best foot possible.
6. But you have to push through
Times will get tough. There are times where you might want to throw in the towel. Remember that your hair is connected to the rest of your body and that everything has an effect on it. From hormones to diet to stress and the weather. Your hair isn’t separate from your body and sometimes it will change.
Don’t give up and instead analyse what’s going on so as to adapt your shampoo and conditioner ratios to improve it. My scalp once went waxy and nothing I tried seemed to work, it became frustrating and I definitely cried about at the time. My hairdresser suggested simply using a concentrated amount of shampoo and hey presto! All sorted. I later realised that it was all linked to my pesky hormones which were clearly having some sort of party.
7. Hairdressers may be tough to find
Speaking of hairdressers it’s important to explain to yours that you’re using your own products. They might be supportive, or they might try to convince you to use something else. Stick to your guns and if need be wash it before going to get it cut, then just ask for them to wet it before the actual cut.
I recently used conditioner on my hair since I was chopping a chunk off, when I got home I instantly ran to the shower to rinse it out… my hair didn’t enjoy the added gunk and rejected it, making my hair extremely greasy!
8. Coconut oil is your friend… ish
I’m honestly in love with the stuff, but it can be brutal. When I started this journey I decided to use coconut oil on my hair for extra shine… big mistake! It took me about 5 washes to get it out of my hair.
Clearly I had used too much, and the downside of the #NoPoo method is that it takes more washes to get something as oily as coconut oil out of it. Now I use coconut oil sparingly! I’ve filled a small spray bottle with coconut oil and added a sprig of rosemary and lemon essential oil. One spray and that’s it!
9. ‘Dry shampoo’ can be a life saver
Until your hair adjusts you might have days where your hair is suddenly very oily. Fear not- get some baby powder (talc) and sprinkle it into your hair, brush it thoroughly to avoid any white patches, and you’re good to go. The talc will absorb any grease and give you some more time before you need to wash it. It’s perfect for a quick hair emergency!
Bonus: The big picture
Personally, the #NoPoo method has worked very well for me. My hair grows at a steady rate, it’s very clean, and my hairdresser even told me she hadn’t seen a “natural wave” as healthy as mine in a long time.
What’s more is that I’ve saved money (since bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar are dead cheap), and I’ve also reduce my eco footprint as I no longer have shampoo bottles to chuck in the bin after sending even more chemicals down the drain.