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Featured, Green things, Shampoo Free, Thrifty

Ten Shampoo Alternatives for healthy, shiny and clean hair

27 September, 2017

Updated post: I have now been using 100% natural shampoo alternatives for six  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!

Why did I give up shampoo?
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- Amla powder

Amla is a brilliant hair ingredient- it is actually dried goosberry! It must be prepared the night before use in an iron vessel. A cast iron pan or pot would be ideal.

Mix with a little water until you have a ruunny paste. Ideally it feels like henna. Or, if you don’t use henna, like dipping your ginger nut in your tea for too long and then mashing it into a bowl!

The next morning take your amla into the shower with you. Once your hair is wet apply the paste and leave it for half an hour. (Squeeze all your black heads and all those other things you can do alone in the bathroom. Don’t entertain guests you’ve never met before, which is what I had to do when I realised i couldn’t wash it straight out! More in video…)

I used two table spoons which was enough for my long hair.

Wash out well!

Read all about Amla for hair here. 

Two- 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.

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 egg on 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- Water!
Oh groan, I know, I’m sorry.  What kind of a 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 and the brush. 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.

I also brush my hair each night with my trusty boar bristle brush. I use Kent Brushes who have an amazing ethical record. They’ve been making boar bristle brushes since 1777 and can HIGHLY recommend either the barrel brush, which I inherited from my Nana and LOVE. The Moroccan Oil and Christophe Robin brushes here are pure boar bristle too – they are pricey but consider it an investment in natural beauty that will last your lifetime! (Those are affiliate links, they ship globally for free!) More info here about what the best boar bristle brush for you might be.

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.

For more information see this guide on washing your hair with water only. 

Nine- homemade dry shampoo
Sometimes if you just need to get through an extra day or two, you just want to soak up an extra bit of shininess without doing a full wash, you might want to consider a quick dusting of homemade dry shampoo.

If you have dark hair try mixing a tea spoon of corn flower (or corn starch) with a teaspoon of cocoa.
For red hair, mix a teaspoon of cornflour (cornstarch) with a teaspoon of cinnamon.
For light, simply use cornflour or arrowroot.
Use an icing sugar shaker to give your hair the lightest dusting and keep the rest in a little jar.

Ten- 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 some of the other, more nourishing ingredients.

Extra helpful ingredients:

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.

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.

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

FREEDOM FACE BEAUTY GUIDE

Feminism

Why we changed our names

8 July, 2013

It was our first argument, sitting in my little yellow Toyota Starlett. I can remember it vividly. We were outside my university, we had happened upon the topic unexpectedly and I was already late for class. I always had to park on a hill facing down as the engine of my beloved piece-of-crap would only fire with a push-start and as I stared glumly out the window I imagined rolling it out of the space without Tim around to egg it on. The engine really responded to a bit of verbal encouragement. (It was a well rubbish car – once I left it parked in the middle of the city while I went out for dinner. I came back to find I’d left the door unlocked. And wide open. And with the keys in the ignition. It was so rubbish it couldn’t even get pinched.)

We’d only known each other for five months but we were already engaged and planning a shotgun wedding. We barely knew each other; it shouldn’t have been a shock that we didn’t know where each other stood on hugely important matters like whether I’d take his name.

I rushed off to class with firey words pinging around my head. There was no WAY I was giving up my name and taking another! But Tim had made it clear he could never marry someone who didn’t.

It was an agonising few days. We’d thrown everything to the wind, committing to spend our lives with each other forever. It was a wild and delirious kind of love but we were now stuck on this most mundane detail.

But for us, it was a big thing. I was new to ideas of feminism – that not only are women still not equal in all things and that must be fought for, but that there were some serious structural and systemic reasons for this inequality- and it was clear to me that women taking their husband’s name was not a liberated thing to do. Would the suffragettes change their name? Hell no. So I wasn’t going to let these historical heroes of mine down.

Tim is from a pretty traditional background, and already people who knew me had warned him about my, er, ah, robustness. He was worried that people would think I wore the trousers, that he was subject to my whims when many in his Christian circle were adamant it should be the other way round. (*counts to ten* Don’t even get me started on how wrong religious teaching on female subjugation can be!)

We talked for hours over several evenings and spent each day wondering how we’d reconcile our views.  It was with an enormous sense of relief that a few evenings after our initial barney Tim told me that he now understood my position and agreed that it was unfair that women give up their names and unjust that this was the general expectation. I was elated! WHAT A GUY!should i take husbands name

It still took hours to work out what to do. We worried about having two different names- what would we do with our kids? We worried about double barreling- when would it stop? (Would our GreatGreat Grandkids be called Aitken-Read-Smith-Jones-Langley?) Could Tim just take Read? (No.) Could we mesh them? (Hey, Readken doesn’t sound too crackerjacks!) Or maybe just take the name of someone we admire, like Thatcher? (HAHAHA JOKES!!!!)  In the end we felt that boshing them together and BOTH taking it was the only way to respond.: AitkenRead it was!

A few peculiar things happened that first year of marriage.  Tim’s school (he was a teacher) originally tried to tell him he couldn’t change his name and it took some serious persistence to make it happen, which really confirmed just how sexist the world of names can be. We also have different versions on our passport as the NZ one didn’t accept AitkenRead- they insisted on a dash in the middle.

7 years later and many a A-I-T-K-E-N-R-E-A-D conversation later and it just seems utterly natural.  I still get a strange sense of pride when I discuss our name. It is simplistic but I am stoked that people must know how strongly I stand for gender equality and I love that my husband shrugged off convention and opinion to embrace something that was right for us.Picture 125
I looked like quite a normal bride, but my mum did walk me down the aisle 🙂
A recent Facebook report suggests that a third of young women are keeping their name. Although I know that women who take their husband’s name can be feminist too, I reckon this is a BRILLIANT thing for equality.

I am surprised at how little the name-changing tradition is challenged in my generation. I literally know ONE person who has kept their name and NONE who went for a shared new name with their husband. It’s interesting as the majority of my friends and family are ALL strong women and feministy men.

Loads of people think the married name thing is trivial. Sure, equal pay, rape and the rights of women in developing countries probably should take precedence but I’m not one to think that issues need prioritising all the time.  It’s not like we can to tick them off before we move onto the next one – it’s all tangled up.

Names are important and symbolic. Most women have their father’s and will take another man’s name upon marriage. What is this apart from a nod to barbaric historical bonds where a women was the only ever the property of a man? Is it possible that by continuing the tradition we are honouring that oppressive practice?

A few months ago I asked Twitter why strong, feminist women change their name. About 30 women responded. Around a third said they were young at the time and would do differently now, a third said they couldn’t see a good enough reason not to and a third had deeply personal reasons for doing so.

I’m going gently here, because so many of the women I admire and love have taken their husband’s name, and it is clearly (as my Twitter survey, a most scientific measure backs up) an intimate decision that chiefly concerns the bewedded, loved up pair.

But I don’t think it ONLY concerns them. I wonder if there are wider implications. Might it be a leettle bit like walking into the office block of a chocolate company and the door being made out of licorice? (*croons* “Chocolate’s always on my mind… it is always on my mind”) The company SAY they love chocolate but, even though it might not matter that much, their facade gives another impression? Society says “Women are equal! We expect to be treated as such!” but a peep at our envelopes and online accounts show something different. When it requires breaking from tradition perhaps women feel less confident about their equal status?

I think the Facebook research (nearly as scientific as my Twitter study) shows that at least this is s a question being asked. People are discussing it, yeah, most still going with tradition, but that conversation is happening. People will have great and wise reasons for going with their husband’s name and so of course, that is PERFECT, but reasons ARE needed. Rather than just walking down the aisle with the status quo.

Finally, I reckon men could get more involved here. I want to see more of the progressive, liberal Kingdom of Bloke NOT expecting to bestow their name upon women. Imagine if men had to add in their reasoning (much like I do, sticking up for our name-crash upon questioning) for why they both have his name. “Well, I know it’s Old Skool but neither of us fancied being Scrumbledingers…”

What do you reckon? Does it matter? What did you do?

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Green things, Thrifty

A year without shampoo – FAQ’s answered honestly!

17 January, 2013

*UPDATE* Since writing this post I have written an ebook that covers everything you might possibly want to know EVER about giving up shampoo. And it costs less than a bottle of the good stuff!*Amazon Price- $5.56 My Price- $3.56 (2)

My last shampoo wash was exactly one year ago. I massaged the bubbles into my scalp and murmured “Fare thee well, small vial of hygienic, slightly toxic, luxurious liquid that maketh me skint, I know not when I will see you again.” And thus began my journey into No Poo.

I was on an every other day habit- sometimes stretching to 3 days but not without liberal use of God’s gift to humankind, dry shampoo. I was beginning to question the number of unknown substances coming into contact with my skin each day and I was continuing on my mission to pinch any unnecessary pennies.

I had heard of this “self cleansing” hair shenanigans several times over the last few years, and I guess I believed it, but not nearly enough to entrust my own locks into it. Does hair actually wash itself? It seemed like no one would be able to answer the question except myself, actually TRYING it.

And then, this curious part of my personality kicked in. My Ferris Beuller cells; the joy-riding, authority-defying streak that (fortunately) only rears its maverick head when someone tells me I can’t do something! The queerer and more implausible something sounds, the more I want to give it a go.

Giving up shampoo was suitably extreme, and only a dash anti-social!

And now it has been a whole year. A year of having great looking hair- with the odd mix of some greaseball days with chocolate running into my eyebrows at funerals thrown in.

I have given my suggestions for alternatives and have spoken about the highs and lows and getting started.  My one year “no poo” anniversary seems like a good chance to answer some of the questions I am often asked…
nopoo hair

Does No Poo hair smell? No. I even asked my sister who has an altogether more glamorous, less unkempt vibe than me and she said it most certainly doesn’t. However, if you were to really press your nostrils into my scalp you would smell HUMAN. We are a bit scared of that human smell I think.

What do you do instead of using shampoo? Once a week I give my head a good soaking in water, really rubbing my scalp, massaging my natural oils throughout my hair.  Once a fortnight I use a natural wash either from an egg or bicarbonate of soda or soapnuts.  (Follow this link for how to use them.) I use a tiny bit of coconut oil as a detangler (and for everything else on my body too, from moisturiser to deoderant!) And once every six weeks I do my whole head in organic Henna, to both dye my original mousey blonde and as a kind of deep cleanse.  So at least once a week it gets something, be it water, a hippy like natural wash or some Henna.

How long does No Poo hair take to get greasy now? It takes one week to get to the stage it used to get to after 2 days. However, this is still, after one year, increasing. I suspect when I am 50 my tresses will never know grease again.

Do you use conditioner? No. Every 2 weeks I rub a teaspoon of coconut oil (er, yeah, I buy it in bulk!) through the ends, this keeps it nourished. When it is knotty I use a small amount of Apple Cider Vinegar, watered down 1/5, and brush it through in the shower. But some people, particularly those with curly hair use ONLY conditioner, which is interesting…

Does No Poo get knotty? Yes. Honestly, it does. If you were diligent and brushed it every day it would be FINE. But I am lazy and the hood of my duffle coat is causing HAVOC, and I have a constant winter wrestle with an unwelcome dreadlock at the back of my head. I MUST brush more. I could up my Apple Cider Vinegar rinse, but I am content just rubbing a little coconut oil on the ends ever so often to detangle.

How long did it take to get used to No Poo? It took 6 weeks to get to 3 days without grease, 12 weeks to break 4 days no grease. However, I went cold-turkey for the first 2 weeks, and then used alternatives sparingly so I think this was quite a fast process. If you wean your hair gently onto more natural options it will take longer to get used to its natural oils and balance out its production of them.

Does No Poo make your hair grow faster? Actually yes. Genuinely. I think massaging the scalp, which is imperative for getting the oils to do their thing, really helps with growth.

What about styling products? I find my hair is a lot more pliable now, so I don’t use any. Except for when I am rocking a gigantic beehive– but the natural alternatives I use tackle hairspray perfectly well too. I am sure you could find natural styling products that could work with this way of life.

Can you use hair dye when you give up shampoo? I guess using toxic filled hair dye kind of defeats the object! But once a month I use an organic copper henna. I use it as a deep cleanse actually, as well as to get my hair this colour. I love it.

Has your hair changed doing No Poo? Yes, it is MUCH thicker. It used to be limp and thin and flat and now it has much more volume and is buoyant and even sometimes has a wave. *Waves hair around gleefully* “It’s the hair I’ve always wanted!” 

Will you do No Poo forever? Yes! I think so. I don’t see why not. I just see shampoo and conditioner as utterly superfluous now.

Is giving up shampoo cheaper? If you wean from shampoo on to some of the natural alternatives out there such as eggs and soapnuts, and continue to use them daily, or every other day, or even every three days, it is probably NOT cheaper at all! However, I use these sparingly, with water being my main Go To, so for me it is cheap as chips and as thrifty as you can get!

Is No Poo hard work? At the start, as you are finding the routine that works for you, it feels like too much bother. I almost gave up as I was thinking about my hair WAY more than I wanted to. But once you discover what works for you it becomes easy, and gives you a freedom from the tyranny of shampooing! Also, you have to massage your scalp, which can weary your fingers.

Did you have to look smart though, while you weaned off it? I actually began one week before I started my new job! What a nutter! At the beginning I wore lovely vintage scarves to disguise my damp-looking head and upped the smartness of my clothing as a distraction. But now you would honestly not think me a raving non hair-washing hippy in the boardroom.

Can anyone with any kind of hair do No Poo? Sure can.  I think it is easier for some folk.  People with thick curly hair will find this a BREEZE, I suspect. However, my lank, limp, thin hair has also been teachable. Sadly, there is no magic alternative that works for all hair. Every individual will have find the routine and the alternative that makes their happy, which is a pain, eh.

Do you know anyone else who does No Poo? At the start, no. However, over the last few months a few friends have begun and are reporting the same miracles! (After obligatory 1 month of panicked texts to me about hair that WILL NOT LEARN!)

Does No Poo make your skin break out? There is potential, if you have a fringe and you go cold turkey, so have a few weeks of grease, that it could impact your skin in a spotty kind of a way. I DEFINITELY suggest pinning your hair back off your face while you are working it out.

What other toxins have you given up? I try really hard to use vinegar and bicarb around the home, although we have a sneaky Mr Muscle for attacking stubborn stuff when we are in a hurry and someone has done a whopper in the shopper. (Lulastic: creating euphemisms since 2010)  I am still using soap as a body wash as I am working my way through a GIANT bucket I bought wholesale from the organics shop.  However, I am slowly but surely DETOXING my home. Goodbyyyyye, evil chemicals. I really buy into that phrase “If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t rub it into your skin, or sniff it, or fling it around your house.” (You know, that really catchy phrase.)

What does your mother think? For a while, when I was in my late teens, I used to have thick black dreadlocks, made up of my own hair and also a bit of a wig I had found and my mum always used to say “You’ll never get married if you don’t wash your hair, Lu.” Fortunately, she was only ever joking and despite being a beauty herself has always impressed on us the importance of our inners rather than outers. What a legend.  However, I think she sometimes does wonder about me….

I still have one question left – you can take it if you want – have a question? Go on, ask anything…

If you REALLY want to give this No Poo thing a good crack, but are a bit nervous, please consider taking my online course where I can hold your hand and give you heaps of support. Students are finding the videos, interactive worksheets and forum incredibly helpful! And there is a 30 day money back guarantee if you don’t get anything out of it! Get started right away.

PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… do pop over and like Lulastic on Facebook.
And did I mention the book? The Ultimate No Poo book?
No Poo Book