Browsing Tag

hair

Green things

No Poo, no toxins, no worries (Shampoo free for two years!)

20 February, 2014

“What’s that your cooking up now, Lu?” asks Tim. “Just sugar and lemon.” “For the pancakes?” “Nope, my hair.”

My husband nods his head, like, naturally.

It’s been over TWO YEARS since I gave up shampoo- I reckon that now makes my No Poo journey a long term one, yeah?

20140220-110056.jpg

My No Poo journey has been two years of mixing up concoctions, hair looking terrible, then amazing, terrible again, and then fine. Two years of people hearing about my No Poo experiment and then grabbing my ears, taking a big whiff of my scalp. (Not really, but a few people HAVE asked to smell it!)

I have had long, long hair and a very short crop. Just now it is a weird in between stage as I grow it long again. And I have tried just about every single thing out there as a natural alternative to shampoo, conditioner and styling products.

Here are a few reflections on giving up shampoo….

If you stick at it, it DOES work. But sticking at it is really hard. Realistically, you will go through a least a couple of months of unhappy hair. You need quite a lot of motivation to get through that first bit.

It works with long hair and short hair, although the short hair takes a lot less maintenance. I use to have to brush my long locks a lot but now I only use a brush to back comb my quiff…

Long hair takes a lot more STUFF too – coconut oil as a conditioner, more regular washing. I do this massage thing to distribute the oils away from my scalp and it is MUCH easier doing this with short hair.

In the past I have loved bicarbonate of soda, eggs, and soap nuts as my preferred natural shampoo alternatives. Now? Now I just use water.

There are people all over the world doing this- just quietly getting on with it. While we were in Spain, at the eco community, it was completely normal to be No Poo. Here I am, blogging all the ups and downs and there they were, just not washing their hair because of the chemical – free policy on site. No biggie.

If I want to style it I use a mixture of sugar and lemon as a nice crispy hairspray. For a wax I use beeswax and coconut oil, and for a gel I break off a bit of my Aloe Vera plant and use the gel inside. And if I want to use a hair clip I break off one of our Venus Fly Trap leaves and for a toothbrush I use a thistle. (Pahaha, totally just kiddingly about those last two… Although my life does increasingly resemble the Flinstones, just with less bones.)

When I first began this there were lots of baffled responses but the one that stuck with me the most was the person that said “Oh, I know lots of people who have done that. But they all eventually go back to shampoo.” I guess this filled me with the most doubt about my experiment – am I going to go through this whole thing, just to give up?

Two years later I can say, for sure, that there is NO going back to shampoo. Not in a million years. I can see no reason to. My hair cleans itself. I spend ZILCH on shampoo – not even on natural alternatives now I have short hair. I just use water. It is enormously thrifty and enormously green. My hair is strong, healthy and shiny. No Poo 4 EVA!

I need to write more on No Poo!l, eh? haven’t blogged nearly enough about it, considering I am such a devotee. What kind of stuff would you like to read about it?

20140220-194821.jpg

 

*UPDATE* I wrote a book on giving up shampoo! It is the ultimate guide to No Poo covering everything you need to know about No Poo. It covers the science of it as well as providing loads of practical advice for doing it. Buy a discounted version here or find it on Amazon in print.Happy Hair No Poo Book

Thrifty

(mis)adventures in being shampoo free

24 May, 2012

We had my Nana’s funeral yesterday. What a woman she was. Utterly fearless;  she left her home in South Wales age just 17, in the middle of the war, to go to London alone, doodlebugs dropping out of the sky, to train as a minister in the Salvation Army.

Nana and Grandad spent her their lives weaving hope and love amongst the neighbourhoods where they worked.  She was totally glam but loved charity shopping and was the ultimate in frugal. For many years she simply had to be – often the only pay they’d get was the pennies dropped in the brass instruments of the Sally Army band.

Nana was the perfect combination of thrifty and generous. Never wasteful with things or money but sharing her life and love and gifts and food with EVERYONE. She was full of faith and always peaceful, and yet was bursting with laughter and down-to-earth wit.  It is hard to imagine the world without her.

I bring Nana up in this post about my hair for a few reasons:

  • I can’t stop thinking about her.
  • My “save a penny no matter the cost” mentality is her fault. (Passed down from generation to generation.)
  • She would have thought my thrifty hair experiment a total riot.
  • My hair experiment went rather publicly and grossly wrong at her funeral….

I gave up shampoo 5 months ago, because it is expensive and full of toxins. I want to teach my hair to stop producing as much oil. So many people over the last few months have suggested my hair is a bizarre fluke, that they could never get away with it. But my hair USED to get greasy after 1 day (“chip pan” greasy was the expression used by one family member at the start of the experiment!)  Then I beat it into submission.

I cut out shampoo with one swift swipe. I moved onto bicarbonate of soda – mixing it into a paste and applying it to the roots mid shower- using it once a week for a month. I would rinse the ends with 1/4 apple cider vinegar to water as a conditioner (not washing it out.) It doesn’t smell once dry. In between the bicarb I used a lot of scarves and backcombing!

After a month my hair stopped producing so much grease. I can now go 5 days with totally clean looking hair.

I then started trying other options as I felt the bicarb was quite harsh.

Egg: Beat an egg, apply for 10 minutes to roots. Wash out, use cider vinegar on ends. (DON’T RINSE WITH HOT WATER UNLESS YOU WANT SCRAMBLED EGG MAYHEM!!) This leaves you hair so shiny and conditioned and clean.

Clay: Rhassoul Clay to be exact, make a paste, apply for 10 minutes. This leaves your hair feeling WONDERFUL! No need for cider vinegar, just brush it through to the ends before washing out. However I needed rather a lot so it didn’t end up being very cheap.

Soapnuts: These are big seeds from a special tree. I boiled them then used the water – it is much more like shampoo than the others. It foams and stings the eyes and everything. My hair was SO SO SO Soft and shiny. It got greasier a little quickly (after 4 days) but this is my favourite so far.

I am thoroughly pleased with my hair. It is thicker and longer and wavier. I am no longer a slave to the hair wash. But I have often wondered if it is merely a case of moving the goal posts. Is my hair actually really minging compared to everyone elses, but I just care much less about grease?

Yesterday I was assured not when my sister- she of the most luscious locks, serious beauty and inclination to drive for 3 hours each way to visit her long standing hair stylist- told me my hair was looking beaut; “shiny and healthy and lovely” totally voluntarily, without me hankering after a compliment or anything.

Hurrah!

I can now go 5 days no wash and feel completely comfortable with my hair, but every month a day is added. I am sure my hair is still learning and that by the time I am 43 I won’t have to wash it ever.

I stretch my hair out to 10 days between washes by making my own dry shampoo.

Dry shampoo: I simply brush through bicarbonate of soda! It soaks up any extra oil but is also a natural cleaner so works dry too. The only problem was that it is a bit too white for my ginger hair so I had the genius idea of adding cocoa and powdered food colouring to it. (Just a 1/8th tsp to 1 tblsp bicarb)

Which, erm, kind of brings me back to the funeral. You see, in the cold this browny red homemade dry shampoo has been AMAZING and I was totally prepared to get on this blogdiggidy and big myself right up for being such a genius.

But then it got hot.

It was REALLY hot yesterday, wasn’t it? Gloriously hot.
Sweaty hot.
Sweaty scalp, cocoa and red food colouring don’t really mix.  But chasing a toddler, crying on shoulders, catching up with cousins doesn’t leave much room for  mirror gazing. So it wasn’t until the end of the day  that my mum, whilst in a group conversation with friends AND strangers, pointed out the brown, sticky mess oozing from my hairline. Licking her fingers she tried rubbing it off- “What IS this?!!” Her: *scrub,  scrub* Me: *blush, blush* “And this orange dribble- it goes right down to your eyebrows!”

Oh, how my Nana would have laughed her second hand  Jaegar socks off.

Chocolate head disasters aside, a few amigos have begun this experiment too and are beginning to find the same results. The main problem is that there is no magic formula. Because every head of hair is unique and every town has different water quality, what works for one person doesn’t work for another – you really have to keep cracking until you find what works for you.

If you want to give it a try you will need:

A good bristle brush – a few weeks ago I got GLOSS WALL PAINT in my hair. I thought I’d definitely need to get out the shampoo but then just tried brushing it and folks, I brushed it right out. Blinking awesome.

This community forum– chockablock with people’s questions and experiments

Some scarves and this video about how to wear ’em:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOEbzvFlFW0]

A slight shamelessness: Remember the point is to re-teach your hair to stop producing oil so you will have to try and stretch out the days between washes.

Gonna give it a crack? Got any questions? Perhaps I could do a Q and A one day… (oof, what a TREAT, I hear you cry!)

PS- If you like ze blog (or just feel sorry for me and my sticky scalp), ‘ow about voting for me in the Thrift and Craft catergories of the MAD blog awards? That would be so excellent of you.

Green things, Thrifty

On not washing one’s hair

21 February, 2012

I am considering myself halfway through an experiment in not washing my hair. I am so committed to this experiment that at the weekend I even attended a wedding with my 7 week non-washed mane.  If the experiment goes well then it will become life but at the moment it isn’t looking likely.

Let me review the benefits I have experienced of not washing my hair:

1- it is really thick and volumous, the kind of hair I usually would get after blowdrying, hairspraying, dry shampooing and backcombing. It is nice having voluptuous locks after a lifetime of skinny ones.

2- I feel quite pleased with myself, all eco and green and smug.

Ummm.

That’s it. Yeah.

It isn’t going superbly.

You see if I could just do the bicarbonate of soda and cider vinegar wash then I would be SOLD. After washing with those my hair is brilliant; thick, glossy, clean.

But the thing is it also strips out my hair colour and I’m not having that. Last year I discovered I was a redhead in a mousy blonde body and have henna’d my hair every 2 months in order to embrace my ginger soul. If I do a bicarbonate of soda wash I will then have to henna as much as every couple of weeks too and, honestly? Who could be bothered with that?

The experiment has made me think differently about “clean hair”, after a water wash I know my hair isn’t dirty but just filled with natural oils. To me now normal hair does look a bit dry and dusty. A bit of slick seems pretty standard. One day last week I was basking in my natural oils and eco smugness when my mum turned to me and said “It looks like you’ve dipped your hair in a chip pan”. Turns out natural oils look a lot like grease, eh?

So. I have had lots of scarf days while I trial different methods;  hot water, brushing like mad, a henna rinse. I haven’t nailed it yet but have a couple more ideas under my belt.

Cor, mum, your hair smells filthy

I have never thought so much about my hair and it is DOING MY HEAD IN. Part of my motivation in weaning off shampoo was to simplify my life and the things I am dependent on. Ridiculously, this experiment is consuming me!

However, I still have this motivation and hope that over the next few weeks I will somehow nail it. Watch this space!

Update: HOLD THE PHONE! Don’t worry everyone, WET LOOK IS IN!!!!!!!

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!