Why go Shampoo Free? Save money, ditch the toxins and release your hair’s natural beauty

I whirl from one project to another, like a marble that keeps spinning off the shiny edges of the furniture! The current project is a book! Eeek! I finally finished the first draft this weekend; 10,000 words on how to give up shampoo, over 32 shampoo, conditioner and styling product alternatives, the scientific basis of No Poo and a whole load of stories from my 2.5 years Shampoo Free. It is pretty comprehensive – I will call it Happy Hair: The definitive guide to giving up shampoo.

It should be out really soon, but here is a little preview from the WHY section!


Release your hair’s natural beauty
It was a trip to the hairdressers that confirmed for me that we are all being hoodwinked by the beauty industry! It  was my first visit since giving up shampoo and I was nervous about having to ask her to forgo the products when washing my hair.

I was imagining a dropped comb, a face contorting with repulsion,  and, as the full realization of having massaged the scalp of a head that hasn’t seen a single goop of shampoo for over a year, projectile vomiting into the mirror.

Marvelously, that scene didn’t happen.

In fact, she barely blinked.

(Mind you, this salon is based in particularly wild corner of South London, where one infamous resident has taken to squirting pedestrians with her breastmilk. You’ve really seen everything in Peckham.)

As the hairdresser began cutting my hair she explained that she was “thinning it out”- I guffawed (glamorously) in shock. My WHOLE life hairdressers have been trying to cut my pathetically lank hair in a way that would add volume. I explained conspirationally that I was sure giving up shampoo had actually improved my hair. She looked at me as if I was an idiot “Of course it would! Using shampoo regularly just totally strips your hair out!” I was astonished that a hairdresser would so passionately admit that shampoo may not be bringing out the best in people’s tresses.

Tons of people are finding that giving up shampoo has uncovered a new, better side to their hair.  Dull hair has become glossy, frizzy hair curly, lank hair voluminous. (If you originally had dull AND frizzy AND lank hair your now look like Diana Ross!)

“I stopped using hair products a year and a half ago and curly hair takes to it very well! However the most satisfying thing is loving my hair in its most natural state, without needing products to change or “improve” it.”

Save Money
It isn’t the ticket to becoming a millionaire by age 33 (unless , of course, you write a book about it  *evil billionaire laugh*) but giving up shampoo can relieve a tight budget.

Even if you use the traditional alternative to shampoo – a Bicarbonate of Soda wash once a week  you will only get through one jar every two months. If you throw in a weekly cider vinegar rinse too you’ll probably use up a bottle every three months. Depending on where you shop that is a mere £8-13 a year on hair washing paraphernalia.

Moreover, loads of people manage to wean off using natural alternatives regularly so end up spending far less than that.  Inconceivable!

In our home we were using a bottle of shampoo and conditioner every month at a cost of £5. We now use water and are saving £60 every year. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when we are old fogeys we will be able to go on a luxury £3000 cruise with the savings! Wahey!

“I have to admit my reason for going poo-free was monetary! I have been surprised at the results of using nothing and comments of how wonderful my hair looks! Both my children never shampoo their hair – they are 3 and 6. The 3 year old only ever washes her hair occasionally and it looks beautiful. The 6 year old has her hair washed occasionally by the grandparents and it totally destroys the natural beauty and lustre of her hair. It takes a few weeks for it to come back to normal.”

Eliminate Toxins
I gave up shampoo about a week after reading the research published by Bionsen that revealed the 515 chemicals women put upon their bodies daily. I initially thought “Ha! They didn’t research ME!” but then I looked at the back of my shampoo bottle and realized that in my shampoo alone there were about a billion items I didn’t recognize in the slightest.

In an ideal world I wouldn’t lob imposing names out there like big fat toxic grenades, to scare people into giving up shampoo. I’d really rather talk about the magnificent simplicity of taking a lemon from the fruit bowl and cleaning our hair with it. But we do need to ask some big questions about what we readily pour into our pores. So quick! Take cover!

  • Sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate cause shampoo to be lovely and bubbly but are also skin and eye irritants that come with major warning labels.
  • Cocamide diethanolamine is in over 100 shampoos available on the high street. Cocamide DEA is not only an allergen with high potential as an irritant but it is classed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 2b Carcinogen.[1]
  •  Parabens  have been connected to higher estrogen levels, which wreak havoc with the hormones.
  • Quaternium-15 is a preservative that discharges formaldehyde. It is an allergen that can cause dermititus as well as having been linked to cancer, particularly leukemia.
  • Methylisothiazolinone has been connected with neurological damage and Alzimers, often abbreviated to MIT.
  • 1,4-dioxane has been found in almost a quarter of the products in the Skin Deep Database from the Environmental Working Group. This is cause for concern. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies dioxane as a probable carcinogen.[2]
  • Almost all commercial shampoos involve mineral oil, a byproduct of crude oil being turned into gasoline. It is pretty much the leftover sludge. It is in many shampoos and actually sort of acts like a sludge on your hair. It coats each shaft, indeed adding a glossy sheen, but also preventing any toxins and excess oils ever leaving your hair.

“I’ve been using Bicarbonate of Soda for 8 months now. I had been getting an itchy scalp with regular shampoo but since going poo-free my scalp is itch free and my hair is lighter and more healthy. I think my natural colour is more vibrant too. My husband and son both had eczema but since our whole family of five has gone poo- free they no longer have eczema. Best move ever.”

Happy Hair is out soon and you’ll be the FIRST to know about it!

Posted in Green things | 7 Comments

This is a “I’ve had an insect up my nose” kind of a day

I sort of feel like our current life can be just summed up in lists of insects. If you think every blog update about our life features more insects than strictly necessary you should try having a daily conversation with me. I pretty much just itemise the insects and the locations I’ve found them. “Cockroach. Sock.” (Well boring.)

It is the Numero Uno, possibly single, thing I dislike about our new, getting down with all the nature kind of living arrangement. We’ve been here four months now but I still get the uncontrollable grossed-out convulsions whenever a bug surprises me. The worst thing is the roaches. They are bush cockroaches, prolific less because of filth and more because our yurt is slap bang in the middle of an orchard. But they look far worse than the normal domestic cockroach. They have shiny black shells and can be as big as a grown up’s thumb. When they sit on the ceiling, the way our little lamp shines, they become monstrous, their silhouette doubling their size.


Places we have had cockroaches in the last week:
On top of my head
Up Tim’s trousers
Up the trouser leg of a guest

Also, other places we have had bugs:
Up my nostril (an ant)
In our bed (a granny bug)
Inside the coffee pot (a stink bug – the skunk of the insect world)

I sweep and dust everyday.  (Yes, DUST! This from me, who was meant to dust the house as a child as my only household chore, and instead just used to stand in the middle of the room and squirt the spray so that it smelt as if I had dusted. Sorry, mum) We do the dishes and stuff. And don’t have piles of junk. But still, they march on in, as if they own the place.

Non-insect wise we pass the days in flurries of home/ farm activity. Lurching from play to tasks and to play and trying to keep it all as seamless as possible.

It is really winter here now. The nights are cold. As cold as I’ve ever known a night to be. I sleep with three woolen jumpers on, and three down duvets over all of us. Cosleeping is crucial not only for attachment’s sake but to stop us getting hyperthermic. I realise how solo beds are a modern invention- bought in with the luxury of efficient heating. Other bodies are the superior way to stay warm. (The bugs, understandably, realise this too.)

Ramona, at three and a half, is the bee’s knees. She bakes, three times a day. Half of it eaten before it makes it into the oven. Her imagination has exploded in a mushroom bomb of fantasy. Everything is a someone to her – elaborate games of hospitals with a box of screws.


Juno is almost a match for Ramona, talking as much (most of it in a sort of Finnish. However, yesterday she shouted the milking cow’s name across the paddock, as clear as day. “STELLA!” she yelled. She says “Poo” for potty now which feels like it has heralded a cool new stage in our Nappy Free life) and climbing as much and eating as much and dancing as much. Whenever she hears any kind of beat she sort of vogues- striking these poses with such aplomb, bobbing her head to the beat.

Juno is also obsessed with insects. She vogues into a David Attenborough stance, on her belly, commando crawling closer and closer until her eyeballs can absorb every bit of the stomped-on roach or the still-surviving, slightly pulsating black stripe of ants.

Which is great, really. Because we have many. Far, far too many.

Posted in Parenting, unschooling | 6 Comments

Cheerleading Breastfeeders in the Court

I walked passed a mum breastfeeding her newborn in the Food Court at the Mall a few weeks ago. (I try and avoid the Mall like the noro-virus- mostly because there is a tiny carousel of horses right in the middle that both the girls could happily kill an afternoon on. Without even KNOWING they played music and spun around. This last time we went a boy set it in motion with a buck his generous dad handed him. Pheweeee. The girls were like MIND = BLOWN. We can never return. They will hold a Sit In on the saddles until I’ve emptied our bank account into the horses’ throats.)

So, anyway. I was at the Mall, forced to go there after looking unsuccessfully for safety pins in no less than 4 shops on the high street. After seventeen hours on the horses I managed to buy the safety pins and we were just passing through the Food Court when this new mama caught my eye. The thought occurred to me that, outside of my own circle of extended breastfeeding friends, I can’t actually remember the last person I saw breastfeeding in public. Truly.

I had an urge to connect with her, as irresistible as my fingers responding to a sign that says WET PAINT, (what, don’t tell me you never lightly stroke the surrounding surface? Oh, you really don’t?) I was pulled towards her by the forces of the Cosmic Breastfeeding Brigade.

BUT! EEP! She looks a but scary! Not really like me at all! Cried my fearful mind.

COME YE! Soothed the CBB and I wandered over to her.

“It’s so nice to see you nursing your baby!”

“Oh! Yeah.”


“Sorry, just thought I’d say I really appreciate you nursing in public as it makes it all much easier for mums, I reckon, um..babble, babble..”

“Yeah, I normally do it in the toilet but I just didn’t today.”

“It’s a bit nicer out here, eh.”


We smiled and had Meaningful Mother to Mother Eye Contact etc and it didn’t end awkwardly AT ALL. Of course, on my way out I thought about how awfully patronising I probably sounded, and how idiotic it was for me to even mention it, it’s such a non issue.

But turns out it is an issue. The latest edition of our local newspaper had as it’s front page “Mother told to leave for breastfeeding in the Food Court of the Mall”… Yep, that REALLY HAPPENED. She was told by staff to stop breastfeeding or to leave. Isn’t that just gobsmacking?

How awful I felt for the mother asked to leave- how horrendously humiliating- and how glad I felt that I did have that encouraging conversation with another breastfeeding mother just a few weeks earlier.

Mystic Meg aside, (Come on, that is WELL WEIRD that I had that funny solidarity chat in the food court of the Mall I never go to, eh?) I did feel like at least it’s not all completely out of kilter. Because other mums will be saying kind things to other publicly breastfeeding mums all over the place- I know they have to me- and every single one of these is a counter weight to all the nonsense and humiliating guff spoken to breastfeeding mums at other times.

WE are the antidote to ignorance! WE are the salve for wounds of embarrassment and rejection!

(Our kind words are SO important and so us our own public breastfeeding and campaigning for more welcoming attitudes to nursing mothers.)


So go on, really, the next time you see a breastfeeding mum, go over and give her a verbal High Five. Leave out the patronising, and no need to glorify it or Boo Hiss at a bottle, but simply let the mother know that she is making the world a kinder place for other mothers and babies. Have the courage to tell a breastfeeding mum that you appreciate HER courage.

I might head to the Mall and let the kids spend their dream day on the carousel while I breastfeed brazenly and cheerlead anyone else doing so!

PS I wrote something like this but better last year…

Posted in Breastfeeding, Parenting | 12 Comments

Just how DO you buy ethically without spending loads of dosh?

Every so often on this blog I get to work with companies that I am one hundred million per cent behind*. (Yes, yes one hundred million doesn’t exist, bla de bla *yawn*)

I am well excited to be introducing you to Muddy Carrot. They are the answer to the title’s question! They are a family team -run from their kitchen table- and they work hard to source the most creative and ethical products out there. I love any company that makes ethical shopping easier because, flip, we don’t need any more barriers in the way, that is for sure. I ESPECIALLY love a company that have a range of green AND affordable products.

What a salve it is, in a week where a factory worker stiches a cry for help in the label of a dress, to discover a company where the products stocked have the actual aim of healing the world, rather than destroying it.

Let me point out some of my favourite bits and pieces- please do bookmark this page for your Christmas shopping (ARGH! I JUST SAID CHRISTMAS!) as I reckon you could nip on here and nail your stocking shopping in just a few clicks.

1. Heavenly Hedgerows

The Heavenly Hedgerows range combines my two favourite things- foraging and eating. (I am a frugal glutton, pahahaha.)

“Heavenly Hedgerows was born of a love of foraging for wild food, inspired by a free-range New Zealand childhood and the delights of the West Country’s bountiful seasons. We hand-pick all our key ingredients from local hedgerows and prepare and bottle them in small batches in our farmhouse. We are passionate about good quality, locally produced food. From jellies and jams, West Country Honey, to delicious liqueurs – all our products are made from wild fruits and berries, hand picked by us and made in our farmhouse in Keynsham.”

The Bramble Vodka and Lavender Jelly would make ideal small, quirky gifts. Lavender-Jelly

2. Granny Marmalade
How many different kinds of marmalade are possible, do you think? Muddy Carrot stock three kinds – three-fruit with cinnamon, orange, lemon and ginger, and three-fruit marmalade.

3. The Harrogate Cake Co.
One day, I’d like to receive a cake in the post. That would be the very best day of my life. Each cake here is made in the Harrogate Bakery by hand and every once can be FREELY parcelled up and delivered to your favourite person on a special day. Order a tea loaf for a chum and then turn up that afternoon… “Oooh, what is this? Cake? Oh, I mustn’t. Okay, I will…”ethical cake

4. Cyril’s Soap Shed
A beauty range of handmade goats milk soaps – there is a number for everyone here. Bust out some of this gardeners soap for the weed wacker in your life and they will love you FOREVER. (Money can’t buy you love, eh? Whatever, Beatles!)ethical soap

5. Little Travellers
Little Travellers is the most delightful range of jewellery and homeware made by AIDS victims. I love the large dark bead necklace, teaspoons, and this lush bracelet.ethical teaspoons

Quick! Pretend it’s Christmas and buy cake and jam and then forget that you did it and scoff it all for tea!

This post was in collaboration with Muddy Carrot- please check out my disclosure for more on that…

*Every so often I drop a link for people I am not completely and utterly behind too – I justify this compromise by telling myself that this is what allows me to mostly stay home with the kiddos and work on things like the Social Justice and Childhood Initiative etc. I will always disclose, never sneak a link in… But I don’t feel perfectly comfortable about it. It would be interesting to hear what you think about that – whether I should remain more idealist than realist in the administration of this here blog!!

Posted in Thrifty | 13 Comments

Do you wanna dye the chickens?

For several months now our household has been run to the soundtrack of Frozen. Rarely is a question ever simply posed, always it is sung Anna- styles to the tune of Do you Wanna Build A Snowman. (Please tell me we aren’t alone in this?)

Here are some of the things going on in our lives, brought to you through our favoured communication method… We are all especially adept at making any number of words magically, and majestically, fit to the ditty…


Do you wanna vomit in this bucket?
Last week we travelled for two days to go to the winter NZ unschooling camp at the bottom of the North Island. What an incredible time we had. It really feels like a bit of a tribe. All these families who just love the idea of natural learning and consensual living. Unfortunately a bug swept through the camp and took out 100% of the children. There was spew EVERYWHERE. We were there for two vomit filled days… and then we spent two days travelling home- Juno vomming all the way. It says an awful lot that we still enjoyed ourselves.

Do you wanna pop some tags?
While we were down there we explored the town of Feilding which, I reckon, is THE BEST TOWN FOR POPPING TAGS IN THE WHOLE OF NZ!! We got so many wonderful things for just a few cents. And best of all they had a little homemade map showing where every secondhand shop was – why doesn’t every town have this, eh? Get on it, towns. Ramona has taken to singing Macklemore, but with a funny switch in of words…. she sings “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my bottom” PAAHAHA. What a comic.

Do you wanna wear your gum boots?
We have had some RAIN over the last few weeks. Real hoofing down, smashing onto the canopy of the yurt rain. Which has meant wellies have become a key fixture in our lives. In NZ welly boots are called gum boots and Juno is OBSESSED with her gum boots. She will happily put them on, take them off, put them on, take them off, put on Ramona’s taken them off, put on mummy’s, take them off, put on daddy’s, fall over and bosh her head, for half an hour.

Do you wanna dye the chickens?
I am a rubbish farmer. We are on such a steep learning curve and there is so much I don’t know about agriculture and this self-sufficent life. I feel like I keep doing ridiculous things. Last week when Ramona and I did the chicken run (each family takes two days a week to milk the cow, feed the hens and collect the eggs etc) I tipped our scraps out just as the chooks ran under the bucket. Within our scraps was a whole load of beetroots entrails that splatted right on the two white hens. They were instantly pink and stayed pink for a WEEK. Rock and Roll hens, eh?

Do you wanna blow your nose?
We all have colds. Snotty, hacking, eyeball aching colds. We are making the most of all the home-grown lemons and ginger and honey from the next door neighbour’s bees but, uggggh, we feel blah. We are having rough nights- Juno can’t breastfeed easily so cries a lot and we are all just tossing and turning. Tim snores when he has a cold and last night I am fairly sure it was his snoring that attracted a possum over – I woke up to hear a possum cackling away RIGHT NEXT TO MY HEAD – only a sheet of canvas between us. Rascal.


Do you wanna build a house?
Over the last couple of months Tim has been building an extension on to the yurt. He has used recycled walls from other houses, old windows and other bits and bobs and it is all coming together. It is already making winter much, much easier than living in the yurt alone. It also means that we are happy where we are, on the farm, and that we are going to wait until something even better comes along before we move – like an actual, co-owning, intentional community something- or other. And this could be quite a while away. It is so nice to feel content and not in a hurry to get to the next thing. We haven’t had that for a while.


You see? It doesn’t have to be a snowman…

Okaaay, byyyyyyyyye.

Posted in Bombaround, Parenting | 10 Comments

Such a typical boy!

I have the child that people use to make a point about how boys and girls are just *so* different, even as babies. “I hate to stereotype but my child is SUCH a typical boy! Completely different to my daughters!”

ME TOO! Look:

My child is unstoppable, a thundering, prowling, into- everything child.

My child is a clambering climber, and has always attempted to mount every piece of furniture in a room, even before crawling.

My child is so, so brave- falling down without a peep and getting straight back up to tackle the challenge again. Two bruises gracing the forehead just now.

My child loves to throw. Balls, ornaments, shoes, knickers, everything must be tested against gravity. Often thrown with force at my head.

My child is immensely strong- an item grabbed will never, ever be recovered from those intense, grasping fists.

My child is physically aggressive. I was given a small black eye when my kid was only 9 months old. My elder daughter cowers before her fisticuffs loving young sibling.

My child loves anything with wheels- zooming toy cars and trains about as if on some kind of advert for toy cars and trains.

My child is passionate about construction- building up towers and knocking them down (and throwing the blocks at people’s heads.)

My child even hides for a poo, and you KNOW boys always hide when they’ve got to do their business.

But you know what? My child is a girl.

Juno is so, so different to her older sister, Ramona. She exhibits so many of the behaviours and character traits associated with boys. Instead of proving the rule, she disproves it.

You know what? Children are different! They show different personalities not because of their gender but because they are different people!

It’s a funny thing, but people communicate with Juno in a much more masculinised way. Ramona was always Sweetie or Honey where as Juno is nearly always called Buddy, Lil Fella, even Brute by one particularly nice stranger. It’s almost as if people can’t reconcile this quite physical disposition with a little girl.

How about, instead of ring fencing certain behaviours go specific genders, we give freedom and space for our children to become whomever they are? Where instead of a subtle rejection of our son’s love of dolls, we welcome it as entirely natural. Where instead of being shocked at our daughter’s physicality, we give her ways to express it fully. Where we let research debunk gender myths, rather than allow anecdotes to perpetuate them .

We will eventually create a world where all character traits belong to all children, where they can follow their passions with gusto, and where not one child feels oppressed by someone else’s inaccurate expectations.

Bring that on.


Have you ever addressed “typical boy/ girl” remarks? How has that gone? Any tips?

PS- This book, How Gender Myths are hurting our relationships, our children and our jobs, looks FASCINATING! And I really enjoyed this blog post from a mother of farting, naked girls!

Posted in Feminism, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Bowel Movements and Protest Movements- an update from the yurt

I bet you thought I’ve been a bit quiet about our family life recently due to some sort of new, principled stance about sharing our private news all over the internet? HA! I’m a blogger! I’ve merely been saving these intimate stories up for a far wider audience…

Here are two updates, covering children waving axes around, cracked eggs, more insects on more faces, bowel movements and protest movements…An update lulastic

A little excerpt from “It’s No Use Crying Over Cracked Eggs

Ramona will often come about with us on our farm chores. She climbs right up in to the coup to fetch the eggs from the chickens and hands them down to me. She’ll then carry one home in her hand, treating it like the precious cargo it is. There have been one or two smashed eggs in this process but they are just likely to be from one of us older ones. 

Last week my husband Tim insisted on carrying one home in his pocket.

Oh really, you will NEVER guess what happened next! Read on…

And here is the latest update, fresh this week, “Occupy Yurts” where I consider the difference between the stages on which Juno and Ramona learnt to walk- Juno, here at the organic farm in a remote corner of NZ, and Ramona in the midst of a protest camp at Occupy London…

Juno meanwhile has stumbled into leg confidence along rows of cabbages, across the wizened roots of mandarin trees and through paddocks of grass taller than her. She has far, far superior balance compared to that of her sister, whose feet only had to negotiate the flat, smooth paving stones of St Pauls, but she hasn’t had such a comprehensive introduction to capitalism.

Read on…

Posted in Parenting | Tagged | 2 Comments