Shampoo Free

Most exciting news ever!

19 April, 2016

No, no, not that. Or that.

Guys, OBVIOUSLY, the exciting thing is that my book Happy Hair comes out in Spanish today!! Woooo!

This morning I woke up and told Ramona how excited I was. I said “Now Dora the Explorer can read my book and give up shampoo and discover healthy, shiny toxin free hair! Haven’t you always thought she looks a little full of parabens?”

Every so often I get a huge surge of numbers to this blog from various Spanish speaking countries due to articles being written about how I don’t use shampoo. I still laugh when I think about one of them that had captioned a photo of me with something like “Lucy Aitkenread, pHD en absolutamente nada”

Now, I don’t speak Spanish but I’m pretty sure I got what way they’d crumbled their cookie! (Or something.)
Pelo feliz: La guía ideal para dejar el champú
So, fair enough. I don’t have a degree in hair, or any piece of paper that says makes me an official spokesperson on health. But what I do have is over four years experience of life without shampoo, using healthy, natural alternatives to shampoo, and SIXTY PIECES OF PAPER (a No Poo book, that’s what I have) that people say has changed their life.

(They do really say that! How cool and nice? You can read the reviews of Happy Hair on Amazon and buy it in English, if you like.)

Two passionate readers of that book, Gabriela and Cyn, who happened to be professional translators, read Happy Hair and knew Spanish speakers had to have it. They have painstakingly translated it over the last few months and it has been SUCH a pleasure working with them.

I am pretty sure that this Spanish edition of Happy Hair is gonna help a whole load more people get the hair they have hankered after their whole life – clean, healthy and strong.

If you know any Spanish speakers please help me spread the word!
Pelo feliz: La guía ideal para dejar el champú en Amazon

UNO DE LOS LIBROS MÁS VENDIDOS INVITA A LAS MUJERES A DEJAR DE USAR CHAMPÚ
El movimiento de lavado sin champú llegó a América Latina.

Lucy AitkenRead tiene 33 años, escribe en blogs, es columnista de la revista Cosmopolitan, hace 4 años que no usa champú y asegura que tiene el cabello más fuerte y más brillante que nunca. Happy Hair: the definitive guide to giving up shampoo fue uno de los libros más vendidos en Amazon cuando se lanzó su versión original en inglés, y AitkenRead espera que la edición en español corra la misma suerte.

Gabriela Rabotnikof tiene 32 años, es traductora y, cuando leyó el libro, supo de inmediato que iba a funcionar en América Latina. “Terminé de leer el libro y me puse en contacto con la autora en seguida para ofrecerle traducirlo. Gracias a Pelo feliz, las personas vuelven a tener el poder en sus manos: el libro cuestiona los productos capilares poco saludables de una industria multimillonaria y ofrece alternativas para tener un pelo sano de manera natural”.

El movimiento libre de champú cobra cada vez más fuerza y es reconocido a nivel mundial a medida que la gente se concientiza sobre los productos químicos que se aplica en el cuerpo. AitkenRead escribió este libro tras la espectacular recepción del experimento “No Poo” que publicó en su blog, Lulastic and the Hippyshake. Lucy cuenta: “Todas las semanas, me escriben mujeres que consiguen tener su cabellera más fuerte, más saludable y limpia luego de haber sufrido durante toda una vida los problemas de la caspa y de esos días en los que el pelo está inmanejable. ¡Ahora el movimiento se está masificando!

Pelo feliz: La guía ideal para dejar el champú en Amazon
Pelo feliz: La guía ideal para dejar el champú
“Este libro me acompaña en la difícil transición que implica dejar de usar champú. Es un compañero ideal que guía al lector en cada paso del camino sin aleccionarlo. Cómprenlo. Léanlo. Y dejen el champú”.
Laura

“Hace más de 9 meses que dejé de usar champú y llegué a un punto muerto. Una amiga me recomendó esta guía ¡y recuperé la inspiración! Incluso si nunca se les ocurrió dejar el champú, es una lectura que genera conciencia. ¡Sencillamente brillante!”
Lisa

“Es una introducción genial al método No-poo y, además, es útil para quienes ya hayan dejado de usar productos químicos. Hace 7 meses que no uso champú y esta guía me dio muchas ideas y explicaciones para algunos de los dilemas con los que me encontré. Buscar el tema en Internet es una buena opción, pero esta guía filtra un montón de información confusa y aclara muchas dudas con total sencillez. Disfruté mucho de la parte relacionada con la ciencia y de las ideas para el pelo ceroso”.
Sra. P.

“Hace casi 6 meses que no uso champú gracias a la ayuda de esta guía. Me acompañó paso a paso y me dio mucha información científica interesante pero no tan específica como para aburrir. Destaco el sentido del humor con el que está escrita, en un estilo muy accesible, y todos los consejos para resolver las situaciones de emergencia. También me encantaron las muchas (¡muchas!) alternativas naturales que la autora ya probó y sobre las que puede hacer comentarios de primera mano. Es una gran inversión”.
Mustardseed

To celebrate I have launched a new site HappyHairGuide.com – a website solely dedicated to helping people get healthy locks. So far you can read some tips on how to apply egg on hair for a super conditioning natural shampoo, how to stimulate hair growth naturally and homemade conditioner for hair from your kitchen. Yay! See you over there!

Parenting

The one word that will turn you into a positive parenting wizz

12 April, 2016

Now, I’m not talking about the kind of positive parenting that makes the parent feel good and the child bad (I’m looking at you, reward charts!) I’m talking about the positive parenting that is wholly based in joy, in mutual respect and the idea that both parent and child can be very, very happy! And there is one simple word that will get you well on the way to being this positive parenting wizz.

And yes! I know that probably sounds implausible- a title intended to make you click through when really it’s something far more complicated, like, the one word is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and what will make you a positive parenting guru is:
S- Sublime natural parenting skills passed down to you from generations of intuitive parenting
U- Unlimited Nanas, Grandads, Aunties, Brothers who will come and give you a break
P- Piles of chocolate
E- Exercising mindfulness for thirty minutes every hour
R- Reading everything ever written by Naomi Aldort, Robin Grille, Alfie Kohn, Sarah Ockwell-Smith
and so on.

But no! That’s not this post! I really mean it! ONE WORD.

It will make you a happier, more positive parent in two ways – practically, life will feel happier for you and your kids. And mentally, you will experience a shift that will help you feel far, far, far more content.

Okay, let’s go.For real - one word that will make you a positive parenting guru!

The word? (Are you as excited as I am?! Yes?!) YES! The word is Yes! Oh jeepers, this is confusing.

Yes

Before I became pregnant I thought a parent’s main job was the No-er. The person to just say no a lot, to help that child be safe/ not get too spoiled/ to know boundaries.

When my first child was born I began to say “yes” intuitively. Oh, you wanted breastmilk now? Just 35 minutes after your last breastfeed? This pamphlet tells me to say No. But I shall say yes! Oh, you only want to sleep close to me? My health visitor said NO WAY, but I say YES WAY!

I didn’t go all the way though. I still held tightly to my role as no-er. It took some reading to help me realise that my role as a parent is that of a Yes-er! Her partner in this dance of life.

My daughter took me on a journey of yeses. Some were easier than others. (Here’s an example of a time I said a big yes to something and it turned out to be exactly what we all needed – also lots of ideas in there for getting your parenting mojo back!)

Sometimes I had to do a lot of research before I said yes. (For example, saying yes to risk taking! Letting a child play on whatever they want on the playground, without calling Be Careful.)

And as my children have grown, and I’ve grown as a mother, my YES has become bigger and more confident and I feel it is one of THE things that leads us to have a happy home. (N.B we have really freaking bad, grumpy days too. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t reached positive parenting nirvana yet, my friends.) I would say we have a large amount of happy time primarily because the word YES abounds in our house.

I believe that this yes-loving parenting takes the benefits of love bombing and injects them into every day life. Love bombing is a practice made famous by psychologist Oliver James involving taking your traumatised/ disconnected/ struggling child off for some one to one time where you do whatever they want.

After love bombing, many report that it has been the first time for months, or years, they have remembered how much they love their child.

James has seen HUGE results from this method. He believes that love bombing restores connection and resets a child’s emotional thermostat. I believe that we can lovebomb every day by saying yes more!

Yes or some form of yes

I believe adults have fallen into a trap of saying no. In fact, some of the websites dedicated to positive parenting are chockablock with advice about how to say No kindly and with compassion, and then giving a star on their chart when they accept our no without a tantrum. No is often our default, often before we have even registered the question. Perhaps we believe that children are always kind of messy or chaotic and their requests are never sensible or fitting. I’m not sure. But I know I hear a lot of Nos.

I beleive that positive parenting needs to be based on saying yes.

Sandra Dodd says

Don’t say no. Always say yes. Or some form of yes. See your role as helping her get what she needs rather than negotiating for what’s most convenient for you.

Yes can come in all sorts of forms:

“Yes, we can do that in 15 minutes when I’m done with this. If you’d like to help, I can be done even sooner.”

“Yes, you can buy that. Let’s think up ways you could save up or earn the money.”

“Yes, we can do that tomorrow morning because right now I’m about to drop from exhaustion.”

Our role as parents isn’t to say no or “put in the boundaries” rather it is to open the gates! Our children are often quite unable to set about getting what they need without our cooperation (on a practical level, for example, our fridges are too heavy to open, our taps too tall, our packets of crisps too tricky) – we are the ones who can support them to get their needs met. It simply isn’t fair to disallow them this opportunity purely because of their size and how long they’ve lived on the planet. (In fact, it’s prejudiced.) Saying yes creates a bit more of a level playing field.

Equal = happy

Saying yes acknowledges the thing that is important to your child. It says that their wishes are important to the family. Saying yes to your children let’s them know that they are valued, equal members of this unit. And, we all know that the happiest groups of people are those with the most equality amongst them. See more on this or read The Spirit Level.

Is it a stretch to apply this research, albeit tentatively, to the family? The Spirit Level concluded that equal societies = happier societies because there is more trust, less anxiety and mental health problems, and less health problems. I absolutely believe the same applies to the family. More equality in the home leaves more room for trust and connection and general well being. I reckon family is a microcosm of society and therefore equality amongst the family is vital and meaningful and a means to happiness. (Although I would LOVE to see some research on the relationship between hierarchy in the home and wellbeing of family members.)

YES is money in the bank (I don’t really mean “money”. Or “bank”)

You see, our children, when they come to us asking for something are putting in a bid. And the answer we give them either builds them up or not.

World-renowned relationship researcher and co-founder of The Gottman Institute, Dr. John Gottman, has conducted 40 years of research with thousands of people. From his research has emerged a practice that is important to the emotional connection between two people – the act of “turning toward” your loved one when a bid is made.

Take for example a simple bid for attention. “Will you play with me?” A positive response would either be “Yes, let’s play” or something like “Oh, I would LOVE to play with you. You are my favorite person in the whole world to play with. At 6:00, I’ll be finished with my work and ready to play. Let’s make it a date!” This helps the child feel acknowledged and important. Each time you turn toward your child in this way, Gottman says you are making a deposit in their Emotional Bank Account.

Read more on that here.

On a very practical level, when you answer your child’s bid this way you will feel enormously more connected to them, and therefore happier. They, likewise, will feel much more connected and steady in their relationship with you.

Less distraught child moments definitely add to your happiness as a parent, don’t you reckon?

Positive parenting is about connecting, filling up cups and putting joy/money in the emotional bank!

Positive parenting dismantles a culture of control

We aren’t meant to live coercively. Forcing or manipulating people to do things. It’s the old military industrial complex making us that way. I believe humans are meant to choose freely, in joy. Letting go of being controlled and a need to control circumstances or people is so, so, SO LIBERATING! We can absolutely choose this freedom in our role as parents.

Saying YES to our children frees us up from the awfulness of feeling like we can or should make other people do things. It releases us from thinking we can make our child a happy/successful/safe adult. All we can do is help them know happiness right here, today, when they ask for something they’ve identified as being important. Positive parenting is saying yes to this moment.

This being present, answering this request, right now is mindfulness in practice. Mindfulness shrugs off that culture of control. Mindfulness says “I can’t control everything. So I am just going to BE. Right here, right now, in this moment.”

The radical in me loves mindfulness because it disrupts the training we’ve received in our culture that leads us to use power and control unconsciously (with ourselves and with others). We perpetuate systems that we internalized from childhood because we remain unaware of how they operate within us and through us. Mindfulness is a game changer because it allows us to create awareness of what we’ve internalized and it shifts us toward greater consciousness of ourselves.

Read more from Teresa Brett here. And more on mindful parenting here – three GREAT tips.

So mentally, cultivating a culture of freedom in your home will make you all more positive. Saying yes will give your heart wings.

(Although, having said that, my first endeavour of truly applying the culture of freedom principle in my own home led, in a very practical way to happier sleep situation for Ramona and I.)

Positive parenting is based on a principle of YES

Saying yes isn’t a rule. In fact, we should be in the business of dismantling rules and nurturing principles. Saying yes more is a principle! The principle is that we are open minded and we value our children’s requests and ideas! And we meet their request and ideas in turn, with principles! So instead of the answer to a request being “No! Because our rule is Dinner Is Eaten At the Table!” the answer might be “Ah, you feel like having a picnic dinner on the rug! Well, we do value family time together, so how about we join you there?” (Read more eloquent stuff on Rules vs principles here.) The less arbitrary rules we have in our household, the more children trust us when we guide them with principles. They know we are not just pulling the wool over their eyes with a pointless NO or rule.

Don’t think of “say yes” as a rule. In fact, use the better phrasing of “Say yes more.” Ask yourself, “Why not? Who’s going to die?” If you’re unsure of yes say, “Let me think about it.” And then do think. (You can also get on line to ask for perspective.) Don’t use it as a delaying tactic, hoping they’ll forget. Be trustworthy.

See these as tools to move toward being your child’s partner. Rather than shutting down a child’s request that may be inconvenient, see them as requests to explore, to try out their ideas. Help them find safe, respectful of others, practical ways to do what has piqued their curiosity.

Who’s going to die? hahaha. Love the low standards! But for real, we do tend to build things up into big things when they need’t be, don’t you think? Read more on the excellent blog, Living Joyfully.

Positive parenting starts with a little yes here and there

The YES philosophy is one held dear to the unschooling community. One of the very wise things about these folk is that they/we always recommended starting a radical new way of parenting gradually. Don’t all of a sudden throw your rules out of the bath or your baby out the window. Your children will not know what is going on and you might go a little bit cuckoo.

Just say yes one time where you might have said no. Perhaps you might want to ease into it with these alternative phrases to No and other commands.

As you make space in your life for this yes, you will find more room there and you will be able to say yes one more time. (You are decluttering the nos! They don’t bring you joy!) Increasingly you will find yourself saying yes, and yes, and yes. And you will be able to cope and your life will have the perfect amount of room for all the yeses. Your lives may well become big, wild and free YES!

Will you give it a little try? Can you see if this one word, and the principle behind it, will make you a happier parent?

A little note on privilege: A comment on this blog often springs to mind, when I write about this positive parenting lark. It was “Yeah, but that’s all well and good when you live in a yurt!” And I just want to acknowledge my privilege, as a white, physically able, middle class woman with access to all the resources. Please read more about my thoughts on privilege and how I believe this kind of parenting – respectful/ gentle/ principle focused/ consensual/ unschooling / positive parenting (whatever you want to call it!!!) is available to everyone. Including lots of links to people doing it hard in many different situations.

yurt life

Inside our yurt house

7 April, 2016

This morning Ramona said “One day our yurt will be like a proper house, aye mum?” Weeeelllll… it will still be made of fabric, but we WILL have proper stairs one day. So yeah. A yurt house, if you like?!

Ramona hankers after bricks and mortar a little bit, but also those widescreen tv’s that are in the more “normal” houses she knows. Juno, and the rest of us, love living in the yurt. The slogan of the yurt company that built it is “Yurts: at home in nature” – and it is SO TRUE. You really feel like that. It is solid and house-like in many ways, but you still hear the rushing of the river and call of the tui birds and the ducks quacking their heads off at dawn.

In our last yurt we tended to get a few leggy friends inside. (I’m talking about bugs. See the inside of our last yurt house and all the insect life there.)

So far we’ve been happily pest free. Apart from our farty puppy whom we love but drives us up the wall! She chews everything – including the plug right off the cord of our MacBook and barbies. (They are her faves.)  The double glazing keeps the bugs at bay, but not our smelly puppy.

Inside our yurt house Our yurt house has a little loft inside that we sleep on, and over the next little while we are hoping to get some proper stairs up there and a nice banister. And we’ve got work to do to make the kitchen a little more organised, and a solid walls to go under the mezzanine. But if you are interested in our work so far please do check out my new video and try and ignore our filthy windows. Our dog likes to lick them.

We love living in our yurt so much and it felt like such a sensible decision (low impact, affordable, quick and simple to put up – see us building the yurt here) that we didn’t even think too hard about whether we wanted to do it. It is only when other people Laugh Out Loud (my mum’s hairdresser) that we remember it isn’t a very usual place to live. We have lots of friends who live in buses, yurts, tiny houses, earthships and more – so diverse home settings seem completely normal (often wise!) to us.


So just a little one from me, I wanted to give you the little tour inside.

If you’ve missed our yurt house journey so far click through to see our journey of the last 6 months:

Keep tuned for the next installment! In the mean time, if you want to help your family fall in love with nature please check out my latest book, 30 Days of Rewilding. “A manifesto for a life lived in nature” – The Telegraph.

Attachment parenting, Babywearing, Breastfeeding, Cosleeping, Featured, Parenting

5 inspiring Breastfeeding Images that normalise nursing

1 April, 2016

I am always delighted when I stumble across breastfeeding images and attachment parenting in historical photos or art. It seems to affirm a strong belief of mine- that society’s discomfort at public breastfeeding and other intuitive forms of parenting is a modern phenomenon.

Allow these breastfeeding images to be a salve on the wound caused by the public shaming of breastfeeding mothers.

Some of history’s best artists and the world’s most sophisticated fine art deal with the beautiful act of nursing – try fitting the word “tramp” in to some of these situations.

Come and take a stroll through some of my absolute favourite natural parenting paintings by some of my favourite artists…Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

La Maternite
Auguste Renoir
1885

I love the everyday scenario of a mother perched on a wall to respond to her baby’s need. I feel like her eyes have the oxytocin glaze, that relaxed kind of high breastfeeding can sometimes produce.

Artist Stella Mertens says “Renoir – eternal continuity- this flesh remains bound to this flesh; monument to hope and love created by your genius.”

This image challenges those who say breastfeeding should be kept behind closed doors, that it is not to be done in public. Renoir’s breastfeeding image says “Anywhere the baby needs to be fed!”

The Three Ages of Life: Detail
Gustav Klimt
1905

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Oh, Klimt. A hero of mine depicting a passion of mine. Look at the connection between mother and child here! The vulnerability and the trust between them. There is a peace here in this deepest of sleeps; the contentedness of cosleeping.

The challenge here is for those who believe mother and child need to be separated at night. This is not “normal” for much of the world! Sleeping entwined, with ready access to breastfeeding is a beautiful thing for both mother and child, and has been for millennia.

Mother and Child
Jose Orozco
1919

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

One of the first things strangers often remark when they see my large baby on back is “Gosh, you must have a strong back!” As if it is a hardship. I love this picture as it perfectly shows that babywearing is no hardship, no maternal sacrifice. There is pleasure here. A woman able to work, to create, while nurturing a child. The child is intrigued – mother is opening doors to the world and the child is in the perfect place to discover it all.

This mother’s breasts here feel like the tools that they are! The instruments of motherhood, rather than anything to be objectified. This breastfeeding image normalises the presence of breasts in everyday life.

Utamao Breastfeeding - Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Young Mother Giving Milk to Her Son
Utamaro
1753 – 1806 (Woodcut undated)

This baby is guzzling like a champion and he has that look on his face that nursing babies often get – a sort of pride at nailing this breastfeeding business. I love the delight on the mother’s face and I love that these are expressions that have crossed the faces of millions of nursing mothers and babies over the course of history.

There is something of an older child’s knowing in this rascal’s face, perhaps an agelessness. It isn’t historically, or globally, normal to constantly ask mothers after 3 months of nursing “when are you weaning him?” When the child is done, that is when! My own photos of breastfeeding my two older children are here.

Utamaro, what a legend.

Stanisław Wyspiański
Motherhood
19055 images that normalise breastfeeding

It’s that artist, you know, Stanisław Wyspiański, whose name just rolls off the tongue. Hehe.

The thing I love about “Motherhood” is the expressions on all the faces. There isn’t really much romanticising of breastfeeding here! (Which I would hate to do.) Breastfeeding for me was surprisingly painful. In fact, despite knowing many breastfeeders, having huge support, having been breastfed and having read billions of books about the importance of breastfeeding there was a day early on where I thought “I CANNOT DO THIS” – it was too painful. I was shocked and even a bit hurt, emotionally. It seems a common part of the breastfeeding journey. A deep need to concentrate, to work at it, to push through until you arrive at the place where it really comes naturally. I feel like of all the breastfeeding images I have chosen, this one sums that up! There is a sort of desperate hope in the mother’s expression, and an intrigue from her friends (or La Leche league support team) that could almost make this painting be captioned “That’s it, good latch there mama!”

I would love to hear about your favourite breastfeeding images.

yurt life

Off the grid living – six months in, two yurts built, one broken dream

29 March, 2016

You know that little rhyme about the girl with a curl? When she is good she is really, really good, and when she is bad she is horrid? Off the grid living is a bit like that. When everything is going well it is completely and utterly dream like… but then, a few little things go wrong, and it’s like a horrible nightmare where you are on your knees in your favourite trousers digging a Vodafone technician’s car out of the mud with your bare hands, the very Vodafone technician who just told you that you’ll never be able to get the internet wired up at home.

Oh wait! That really happened!

Winter just arrived with such a big fat wallop over the head, it’s unreal. One minute we were camping out on the beach, foraging for shell fish and digging epic sandcastles while our backs crisped in the sun, the next minute we were at home on the farm, sinking in miry clay, staring at one broken washing machine, one broken generator and one broken dream of being able to Skype my family from our lounge.

WORST WEEK EVER.

We had an idea that by the end of March we would be all set up, ready to take off the grid living from the summer version (swimming in the river, barbecues, an abundance of solar electricity) to the winter version (wood burning stove heating water for hot baths and cooking our stews, hunkering down in blankets to watch the stars appear) in blissful comfort. But instead we are (once again) a bit behind in all of this, despite (once again) busting a gut.

We still don’t have hot water. Or a deck (this is kind of important when your yurt is surrounded by mud.) Or a fire. Or any hope of being able to use the internet properly from home. (At the moment we can get a few gbs on the mobile if we place it on a certain spot on the window sill.) I don’t mean to make a fuss about the internet thing but we had really hung a lot on the idea that I’d be able to work from home (my entire livelihood is based on the internet) and we’d be able to be in proper contact with my family. I’ve literally skyped them twice since September. I do feel mega bummed out about it.

We DO have: two children that love to cover themselves in paint and food and mud and an immensely hairy dog that burrows like a bunny into enormous mountains of soil and then bowls inside and bounces around the furniture like a clay covered, fur shedding honey badger.

Fortunately, we also do have: friends that take our emergency washing and give it back to us all clean and dry and folded, and friends that take the batteries for our tools and charge them for us when the sun hasn’t shone for eleven days and our solar power digital display is flashing “WHAT SORT OF PLACE IS THIS WHERE IT RAINS FOR ELEVEN DAYS STRAIGHT- PLEASE GOOGLE “HYDRO ELECTRICITY””

Well, this is the sort of place where, when you look at the weather map, the whole of New Zealand has little sunshines all over it and our little valley has a big fat rain cloud. And yeah, okay, solar panels, one day we WILL rig up a little system in our stream to generate power through the winter months, see how you like that with your little left out self!

Also. We do have a local library with a great internet connection, loads of electricity and a lot of good books, which makes the winter seem a little bit more do-able.

I guess that’s one thing about off the grid living, the early days at least, it does make you quite dependant on good friends and family and good local infrastructure. Which isn’t a bad thing. I bet there are tonnes of self sufficient people out there who have done this so long and have got everything so very sorted, that they don’t need to rely on the people around them. But I guess a little bit of me thinks it is a good thing to all be able to lean on each other a bit…

And more things we have: (I realise I am applying a gratitude philosophy as I write. That’s nice hey? I am counting my blessings. My blessings shall be the rungs with which I pull myself up from the mud beneath New Zealand’s terrible rural internet service.)

We have ducklings! Fluffy baby things make everything better and even when it is raining so hard you can barely see to the end of the paddock, your eye still snags on a whole line of white ducks waddling along having an absolute freaking blast and the corners of your mouth still lift into a (ever so slightly begrudging) smile.

And, as of about half an hour ago, sorry husband, we do have a robotic vacuum cleaner.  It’s not courtesy of Santa, who heard neither my plea for a robot nor a stop to my dog’s farts nor a repeat prescription for deworming pills. But from Ebay. From a guy called Roger who like only used it twice. Thanks Roger. And it may not have been a purchase discussed with all the budget holders in our family and yes, our solar panels may not get enough juice to make it work but symbolically it makes me feel better.  It makes me feel absolutely freaking awesome. I think its mere presence in my life will just stop our dog shedding her fur all over the place.

(And there’s always the library, for a sneaky little charge, hey? I’m sure this kind of stealth is what good healthy communities are founded upon.)

Apart from picking our way through mud and sweeping up dog hairs (no longer!!!) our days are made up of a lot of the sort of things I always hoped they would, which is nice. The girls and I pack a picnic most days we are home and slip and slide our way along the river and up the mountain. Every morning they wake up and say “Let’s climb the mountain today!” and although we’ve never made it to the top (five hour return journey) we always give it a good bash. There is a nikau palm a third of the way up, I don’t know who started it, but it’s called the Love Palm and it gets a cuddle from all of us when we pass it. Hugging a tree starts off a little awkward folks, but then its beautiful. 

 Ramona cutting kindling with her ax.

The garden is growing and we even have a bunch of wild flowers brightly blooming after chucking some seed bombs about the place. I am fermenting a lot of food (on purpose) – it seems to be the only way I can deal with the millions of marrows that keep spawning in the veggie patch. They don’t care about eleven days of rain, marrows. They don’t care. I chuck them in a jar with a bunch of other veggies and some salt and three days later = more probiotic goodness than you can shake a yoghurt at.

I realised I may have been spending too much time on this fermenting thing when I had a dream that Juno and I were sauerkraut and the duvet was the brine and I had to keep us covered so we didn’t go mouldy.

Or perhaps it is a symptom. The bottom line of this sort of life. When it’s good it is sublime and when it’s bad you dream that you are a fermenting cabbage. 

 PS- I kid you not, the sun has come out today! We can only conclude that my new robot is amazing.

Featured, Green things, Shampoo Free, Thrifty

Ten Shampoo Alternatives for healthy, shiny and clean hair

29 March, 2016

Updated post: I have now been using 100% natural shampoo alternatives for over four years. My hair is stronger, shinier and healthier than it has ever been! I hope you enjoy this post featuring (still) my favourite No Poo shampoo substitutes. I am pretty surprised that the ingredients I fell in love with at the very beginning of my shampoo free journey have remained my favourites. For the last couple of years I have been working as a columnist for Cosmopolitan, writing up beauty experiments, and I also published a bestselling book all about how to give up shampoo which you can grab here.
Amazon Price- $5.56 My Price- $3.56 (2)

At a mere $5.20 or £3.40 (purchase in your own currency) it is a SNIP – less than a bottle of swanky shampoo. But unlike your shampoo it comes with a full refund if you don’t like it!

At the start of this year I began an experiment with my hair.  The purist in me was tired of putting toxins into my body, the spendthrift in me was weary of pouring so much money away on these toxins and the optimist in me was persuaded by our bodies ability to cope without reliance on products! I was in a wash-every-other-day-routine and was a slave to dry-shampoo. I knew there had to be a better way.

Enter the No Poo way of life!

In a typically extreme move  I totally gave up shampoo and have in the last 10 months put everything from a homemade nettle brew to mustard powder on my hair! It has gone quite wrong at times but ultimately my hair is a million times more healthy, voluminous, and grows much faster. Plus I can go away for weeks at a time and need nothing for my hair but a good bristle brush. This really appeals to my hopes of living more simply and with less impact on this beautiful earth (even though I am rubbish at this in lots of ways.)

Here are TEN options for shampoo alternatives I have played with- and sometimes made a lot of mess with! Most are the BEE’S KNEE’s for me and the rest are the dog’s whatchya’s for others…

One- Water! Oh groan, I know, I’m sorry.  What kind of an shampoo alternative is this?! I hear you cry. The best, truly. It took me 9 months to realise it was all my hair needed – and now it has been one month since anything has been on my hair at all. The key is in the massage- as you soak your hair, get your fingers stuck in, pushing away at your scalp and any particularly grease-o bits. I do a five minute massage every five days. My hair is thick and voluminous and does whatever I want it to do. Whooppiiee for H20!! I have to say that some water is kinder to hair than others! Sometimes the chemicals or the limescale in the water of city residents can be a little unkind. Make sure you use lots of lovely natural homemade conditioners every so often, and if after a little while it becomes clear that your water isn’t nice enough consider getting a shower filter or just committing to one of these other shampoo alternatives below.

Two- Bicarbonate of Soda/ Baking Soda. This gets your hair SQUEAKY clean. Every ten days or so I put one teaspoon in a cup of water and dissolve it, chuck it on my hair mid shower and wash it straight out. The only reason it isn’t number one is because it isn’t free and I’m a cheapskate. Using bicarbonate of soda regularly and often, and using too much of it will damage your hair more than shampoo. (Please read this ultimate guide to using bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda on your hair! It is a much needed step but you can have too much of a good thing.) My hair gets a bit bicarb weary after too many times in a row, brittle and waxy and needs a bit of Number Three Action:

Three- Egg. I use the whole egg, whisked in a cup. I pour over my head and massage in. I leave for a few minutes and rinse well.  It leaves my hair SO clean and SO soft and shiny. However, the water must be cool! I have had a couple of scrambled disasters venturing into too warm territory…. Here is some info about how an egg works and how to apply it to your hair effectively.

Four- Soapnuts. These are a natural cleaner and work incredibly well. My hair is like silk after- certainly the closest to shampoo I have found. I heat them in water on the stove for 10 minutes, whiz them with my hand blender and use the liquid. I am too lazy to make this my Go To alternative, but use it if my hair has become filthy. Buy them here and use them for cleaning a million and one things! Buy them from my affiliate chums, Ethical Superstore. They come in a 1 kilo pack and are a real bargain – over 300 washes in there!

Five– Rhassoul Clay. This is LOVELY stuff. For skin and hair.  It is one of the better shampoo alternatives out there as it not only cleans but also conditions. I make a paste with two spoonfuls and boiling water. Once cool I smooth it into hair, after a few minutes I brush it through hair and rinse off. It is truly divine but a little on the expensive side for my thrifty self. (But doesn’t come close to the expense of good shampoo.)Shampoo alternatives for healthy hair

Six- Henna. This is one of the more colourful shampoo alternatives, something to suit those who like to play around with their hair. This is my once-every-six-weeks deep treatment! I mix up about ten spoons of it with hot water to make a paste. Once cool I apply it all over and leave it for two hours. (Epic I know, I use a plastic bag and grips to keep it all in place.) It needs a SERIOUS rinse, and a good brush, but my hair after is brighter, cleaner, softer.

Seven- Tea. This relies very much on the massage bit too, and the result is the same as water except you get a nice smell! Some people swear that the different aspects of the tea change your hair – chamomile adding a special softness and lightness to blonde hair, for example. My favourite is to take some lemonbalm leaves and make a tea out of it. A little video here of that happening and an explanation of my motto “If you can’t eat it, don’t wash your hair with it!” ….

Eight- Lemon. Lemon has some seriously potent anti-bacterial properties and can work as a lightener for people wanting to be blonder.  Squeeze a whole lemon into a cup of water and pour over your head mid shower. Rinse well, unless you have hard water in which case you might want to leave on. Not recommended for greasy hair.

Nine- Tea Tree Oil. Full of incredible properties! Add tea tree oil to the bicarb paste, the lemon or the water only wash to turn them into very effective anti dandruff shampoos. Tea tree oil is perfect for people with scalp issues. In fact, one person I am VERY close to but who shalt remain nameless has had a life-long scalp issue fixed by dabbing on a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the problem areas.

Ten- Rye Flour. Rye flour is fast becoming the star of the No Poo movement, the Bieber of all the shampoo alternatives! it has just the right mixture of saponins and exfoliating properties to make it super kind and cleaning on your hair. I wish i could say “Stick it on” but once again it is a little more complicated – mainly, you need to sieve it first! This video will give you the big HOW TO for rye flour.

A note on conditioner- Half of these, everyone apart from the rye flour, the clay and the egg and the lemon need a rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. I use a splash in half a cup of water and throw it over the ends of my hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse out. It’s a WINNER.

The biggest lesson in all of this is to not give up  and be a brave old soul – often different hair just needs different proportions of things.

For the ultimate guide to giving up shampoo check out my bestselling book –  a shed load of advice and recipes for alternatives to shampoo and conditioners and styling products can be found here.
Happy Hair No Poo Book

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