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bicarbonate of soda

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 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.

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 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- 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

FREEDOM FACE BEAUTY GUIDE

Shampoo Free

Baking Soda for Hair (How, Why and When to use it- and when to step away)

29 March, 2016

Today I want to make the case for one of the cheapest, most effect alternative to shampoos that I know! (Imagine a cheesy 1950’s advert here with me holding a tub of baking soda.) “Use Baking Soda for hair that is healthy, clean and shiny!” Lots of people ask me if baking soda for hair is a winner or whether it will destroy your beautiful locks. This is a big deal as it shows me that the world has moved WAY past the “Does it smell?” stage, which lasted about seventeen million years. (The stage, not the smell! Pahaha.) Now people have accepted that No Poo is officially A Thing and are getting down to the nitty gritty about what to use. AWESOME, WORLD! Go us!

I am here to reassure you that baking soda for hair is a WINNER, people! It can really help make your hair healthy – if used in the right time and place. In fact, if you plan on giving up traditional shampoo baking soda has a crucial role. It strips your hair of nasty ‘cones (dimethicone coats your hair shaft and is present in almost every shop-bought shampoo bottle) – allowing it to become a good conduit for your glorious sebum.

Use bicarbonate of soda for healthy hair

Baking soda in hair? Really?!
Bicarbonate of Soda/ Baking Soda is the first alternative people who stop using shampoo turn to. This is because the mechanism between this ingredient and your hair is pure and simple. Baking soda effectively turns the glorious protective sebum of your hair (the bit that makes it looks greasey!) into soap. Sometimes when you use Baking Soda you can feel a slipperiness all over your hair- this is the saponification (soaping up!) in process. It is also the cheapest alternative (apart from water) you can use, costing about 2 cents per application.

How do I use baking soda for hair?
The internet is chockablock with the wrong information about this. Even my own blog has been there with the inaccurate info, when I was first starting out. This is because you use different amounts of baking soda at different times. To start off with you are really trying to strip out your hair of all the silicones piled upon each hair shaft- stuff inherent to most commercial shampoos. You will need a heaped table spoon of baking soda stirred into a cup of water and then poured onto it every section of your hair. You will leave it on for one minute, massaging it through. You will need to do this kind of wash at least 3-4 times at the start of your No Poo journey. Once you start heading through the transition stage you will gradually decrease the amount you use. Once you are through transition you will be using just 1/2 teaspoon in half a glass of water and it will be making your hair as clean as it was at the start. This is because your hair is clear of extras and the baking soda is working straight on your sebum.

What will baking soda do in my hair? 
A successful baking soda wash will firstly make your hair SQUEAK with cleanliness as you rinse it off. Your hair will then be shiny, bright, and light. And gradually, as your hair gets more and more used to it, it will become less greasy. You will soon be able to go a week, possibly two weeks, even three weeks without using anything on your hair apart from water.how to use baking soda for hair - healthy, shiny, clean hair

If it is dull, waxy, heavy, flywaway or brittle then read on….

Why might baking soda for hair make it feel unhealthy and broken?
There are a few blogposts out there where No Poo-ers have suggested that Bicarbonate of soda have destroyed their hair. This is a bit of a bummer as I think as an entry No Poo ingredient Bicarbonate of Soda is the absolute business. (I literally buy it in bulk and use it for EVERYTHING! From deodorant to cleaning.) It is very hard to get wrong (unlike the egg, with which even the most die hard No Pooer has had a catastrophe with) and really truly gives a good clean up to every head of hair, particularly dealing with the waxiness of transition.

Once you understand the science of No Poo (Gosh darn, I wish there was a simple and comprehensive guide to the chemistry of No Poo! Oh wait! What is THIS?! Oh hey there! There seems to be a best selling book that covers that… written by, erm, me!) it is easy to see that using too much baking soda will strip your hair of all of its sebum and the only place that will take your hair is to the Unstoppable Ferris Wheel of Grease Over Production – the very thing we are all trying to leave behind us. If you remove your sebum this effectively frequently your hair will keep producing too much sebum to replace it. Damaging the equilibrium of your hair this way will make it dry and brittle on the ends and heavy at the top.

Avoid the damaging nature of baking soda for hair by:

  • Just as you are trying to INCREASE the amount of days in between washes you should try and DECREASE the amount of Baking Soda you use. If you are already through transition and are using anything more than one teaspoon in a cup of water once a week than I’d suggest you are using too much.
  • Use 1/4 teaspoon – 1 teaspoon for one wash and then use an alternative for your next wash. Ideally something with incredibly nourishing elements such as an egg.
  • Rinse the absolute HECK out of it. Left over BS in your hair will feel grim
  • Every month or so you should so a moisturising head mask – either with heated coconut oil, or a mashed up banana or a mashed up avocado.
  • If you have long hair you need to also use something acidic on your ends in order to smooth down the cuticle layer of your hair shaft. A spoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water sprinkled through the ends of your hair and rinsed off will do this. (This will solve flyaways too.)
  • Try to nail the water only wash. Use hot water to massage into your scalp, scrubbing out the sebum down through your hair shaft to the very ends of your hair. Then scoot your hair under a cold rinse. The colder the better. Hollering allowed. Towel dry – hefty rubbing also helps. Use a water wash instead of another baking soda wash.
  • If your hair is waxy be assured this is a natural part of transition. There comes a point when not even BS can shift the wax. For this you need the super sonic combo of egg, lemon and white vinegar – a mask that will hit reset for your hair, shifting all the wax. YESSSS!

If you want to experiment with alternatives to baking soda, I have done a bunch of hands on alternative shampoo research here and have also come up with three gorgeous homemade shampoos that bring together some of the most nourishing ingredients for healthy, shampoo free hair.

And if you are serious about cutting down on traditional shampoo, do consider buying a Boar Bristle Brush. The best boar bristle brush for you depends on your price range and hair type.   I use this Kent brush, they’ve been making them since 1777 and i inherited this one from my Nana, but 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!

I hope this has answered all the questions out there about using Baking Soda for hair. Now, if you want to know all there is about giving up shampoo successfuly, I reckon you could do with my  my ebook, Happy Hair: the definitive guide to giving up shampoo.  You know what? Read my ebook and you will be the President of No Poo University. Actually, can I be president? You can be the librarian.

All the recipes mentioned briefly here- the conditioning masks, hot oil treatments and Wax Tackling egg combo are in there. As well as suggestions for dry shampoos and loads of tips about getting through transition. It is designed to be a reference point for all the tricky stages of your No Poo journey. It is available here in every country and currency and it downloads on to all computers, Kindles and E-readers and is also ready to print, if you like something in your hands.  All for a few buckeroos.No Poo Guide Transitional period

*BREAKING* I have recently released a brand new Amazon bestseller, Freedom Face – a whole body beauty guide free from toxic ingredients. Discover how to clean, moisturize and care for your body naturally. Loaded with homemade recipes for mascara, deodorant, lipstick, body scrubs and many other products, often using secret ingredients hidden in your home!

 

FREEDOM FACE BEAUTY GUIDE

If you are interested in both books, can I offer you my Beauty Rebel Bundle One, it includes both my e-books, Freedom Face AND  Happy Hair AND access to my Hair Detox e-course which is packed with video tutorials and worksheets to really help you get to grips with your natural, shampoo free hair.

Beauty Rebel Bundle

Sending love and courage to you for this wonderful, self-loving, toxic-free journey!

Thrifty

Thrifty Beauty – Twelve uses from two essential ingredients

18 March, 2013

Hot on the heels of The Guardian’s 50 best beauty products, I trot, bearing news of great frugal joy. You don’t need 50 products, and in fact, you needn’t spend more than £10 all up. For here are THE two essential ingredients, that individually and paired can be everything you need. It is a magical combination that will massively reduce your beauty/ health bill AND eliminate a whole load of toxins from your life. In the name of everything eco and thrifty let me introduce you to coconut oil and bicarbonate of soda.Thrifty beauty tricks

Now, I may well be the last person you should heed when it comes to beauty advice. When I first became aware of “beauty” as a “thing” age ten, I promptly shaved my eyebrows off to try and get involved. Then there was that time in my late teens when I had dreadlocks that I dyed so much that one day they just fell right out of my head. And then last week I spent a whole evening out with a bright red chilli tucked between my two front teeth (CHEERS for that, husband. Hehe.) However, when it comes to questioning those hoodwinky pharmaceuticals,  saving money and opting for natural alternatives – and getting away-  with it I am a WHIZZ.

Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal  as it contains lots of lush caprylic, lauric and myristic acids. Yet it is also deeply nourishing and moisturising. It is SO good that you can eat it by the spoonful, replacing other cooking oils with it.

Bicarbonate of soda is also antibacterial yet has a texture that means you can use it as an alternative to other exfoliating type products. Here are twelve ways I use the two, both solo and together.

Deodorant When I get out of the shower I just swipe a layer of coconut oil and then a dusting of bicarb under my armpits. If you want something less drying just swipe a little coconut oil under there instead. If you want to unleash the full power of both of them, mix them together and let it set in a bowl which you can then up turn to make a perfect deoderant like dome.

Exfoliater Once a week I dab my fingers into some bicarb and gently rub it over my face. It is a perfect scrub, not too harsh but leaves my skin looking fresh.

Moisturiser I don’t really use any products super regularly as I tend to think our bodies should be mostly left to do their thing, to regulate their own oils. But when my face feels a bit dry I simply rub coconut oil into my face at night time and by the morning it is rejuvenated!

Make Up Remover NOTHING swipes mascara from your eye bags like coconut oil! And it feels so nice!

Toothpaste  Mix equal parts of bicarb with coconut oil for a quick and super effective toothpaste. (Add a mint oil if you want it to taste nicer!)

Tooth Whitener And for a natural tooth whitener – I mean this GENUINELY works amazingly, getting rid of a tea stain I had taken for a keeper- simply rub bicarb on your teeth and hold an electric toothbrush onto the stain. I haven’t charged my electric toothbrush for yonks (even though it was my 2012 New Years Resolution) so i just used a flannel and it worked fairly well. Don’t do this regularly though. Just a big night out treat, okay?

Shampoo and Dry Shampoo You probably don’t know, as I really hardly EVER mention it (PAHAHAHA) but I have been shampoo free for about 15 months. Bicarb is my total go-to. Mixing a spoon of it in half a cup of water and pouring on my wet hair, leaving for 5 minutes and massaging out, makes my hair squeaky clean. In a running out the door- greasy head emergency (of which I don’t have too many anymore) a sprinkle on the scalp and a good brush through rivals spray on dry shampoo anyday.

Conditioner Every time I clean my hair with bicarb I run half a teaspoon of coconut oil through the ends as it dries. Since I have begun doing this my hair feels in brilliant condition. Ramona isn’t a big fan of hairbrushing so she often develops a dreadlock on the back of her head (what kind of mama allows this, eh?!)  I rub a bit of coconut oil through it, wait for an hour or so and brush it out easy peasy. It doesn’t even need to get wet.

Lip Care Coconut Oil makes a lush lip balm, and sometimes I use bicarb as a little lip scrub before putting the coconut oil on too. (I once tried to make a tinted lip balm with coconut oil and food colouring. It, er, doesn’t work, okay? It will just mess your face up.)

Thrush Buster Coconut oil is a great treatment for oral thrush, which is super common in breastfeeding babies – mum and nursee can pass it back and forth. We had it when Ramona was 10 months old and I just gave her a few small teaspoons of coconut oil a day, and used it on my nipples and it effectively killed of the bacteria. (You also need to do other things like cut out sugar and up the probiotics in your diet.)

Nipple relief and wound healer Remember those early, painful breastfeeding days? Coconut oil on the nipples is a complete winner. Because of all of its germ fighting and soothing properties it is great on cuts and scratches too.

Nappy cream Coconut Oil is the only thing we use when Ramona has a sore bum nowadays and we will rely on it with the newborn too. An IMMENSELY thrifty option for nappy rash cream. These are the ways that coconut oil and bicarb have become pretty much the only two essentials I have in my beauty box. But if you liked the sound of these than do check out the million other uses out there – this post by the awesome Hybrid Rasta Mama is epic! So yeah, dudes! Head over to Ethical Superstore and buy them both in bulk right away!

What are your thrifty beauty tips and tricks?

Green things, Thrifty

This post really is about Bicarbonate of Soda

19 January, 2012

Just a warning, this could be the most boring blog post you read for a while. Feel free to stop.

It is about Bicarbonate of Soda and not washing my hair.

It is an ode to Bicarbonate of Soda, to be specific. And a bit of info about how I have stopped washing my hair.

I know:  Worst. Post. Evs.

So, Bicarbonate of Soda. It is just so GREAT, this wizardly white powder that costs tiny pennies. I can’t get over it. It has slashed our cleaning budget and removed a host of toxins from the prying hands of our little tot. I buy it in bulk from Ethical Superstore (along with my coconut oil and apple cider vinegar) and use it for EVERYTHING!!!

For a few years now I have used it as deodorant – yup, dip your fingers in and dust it over your just showered pits and it keeps you dry and stink-free all day. And I am totally not a naturally, smells like roses kind of a girl. I have been trying out more natural deodorants for sometime, like the mineral crystal shizzle, but with no luck.

I have also begun using it for cleaning – sprinkle it’s antibacterial self around the mucky bits of your bathroom, mix with water and spray onto the surfaces of your kitchen.

I use it as a gentle face scrub.

I also, as of last week, use it instead of shampoo.

You see, I am weaning off shampoo. I am 10 days in and so far I only look like I have missed one shampoo wash. It is a little oily, but not stay-in-isolation- oily.

I read recently that women on average put over 500 chemicals into their bodies everyday just through their skin and healthcare regimes.  What the? This is madness! I am sure no one would do this knowingly. This is a rubbish fact for both women and the environment.

I also have a (maybe naive) conviction that, for the most part, our bodies were created to cope sufficiently on their own, and that too much interfering can mess with the body’s natural ability to do it’s thing.

Shampoo is a good example – we strip it of it’s natural oils every time we wash, so it goes on overdrive creating more oils, but then we have to wash it more, until we are on a once a day hair wash rhythm. Meanwhile we are also drying it out, putting random
chemicals on our scalp, and rinsing this chemical cocktail down the plug into the system again. Ramona shows this to be true- 15 months old and we’ve only shampooed her hair a handful of times. So although I use an organic shampoo I have still decided to try “no poo” out on my own locks. I did it once before, mostly out of curiosity, but my hair was cropped, it was summer and I didn’t have a job – it was okay to look a little, um, au natural. It lasted a couple of months and didn’t really revolutionise my hair care.

This time I have just begun back at work (first week back has been excellent, although I do miss Ramona  still) so need a certain hair standard and my hair is long, but I do have a few more tricks up my sleeve to do this effectively:

  • Bicarbonate of Soda – whenever it starts looking a bit needy just make a little paste up and put it on scalp, rinse and Ta-daaa!
  • Lots of “No-Poo” forum and websites for support and tips
  • A bristle brush – I am currently looking for one of these, do you have one? It helps distribute the oils. It means I have to start brushing my hair though, rather than back combing it. I am yet unclear as to how this will effect my quiff, long term. 🙂

Soooo.

There it is.

I will let you know how I get on, as I know you are particularly riveted by this most riveting of subjects!