(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.


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:

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.

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  • Lakota [Faith hope and Charity Shopping] 24 May, 2012 at 10:55 am

    OBVIOUSLY not laughing at your being at your much loved Nana’s funeral – she sounds like she was brilliant – but I did chortle at the hair disaster! I would love to have to wash my hair less however…it’s unruly and takes an AGE to dry.

    • lulastic 24 May, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      You never know, you may have an unruly mane wanting to come out and play!

  • camille 24 May, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Loved reading this post, I have been trying to get rid of as many chemicals as I can from our lives too… shampoo is on the list to try soon. It makes me the most nervous to try as it is really a visible part of me 🙂

    • lulastic 24 May, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      Ah thanks. 🙂
      I think if you wean your hair slowly it can be a very subtle change.

  • Amanda 24 May, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Ive just stumbled over your blog and love this post about getting rid of shampoo, would love to give it a go if I was brave enough, lovely pic of you and your little one and your hair looks lovely and healthy

    • lulastic 24 May, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      Thank you, I reckon it’s worth a bash!

  • Kat 24 May, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Wow, awesome job!

    • lulastic 24 May, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      Hehehe, thanks! (This is funny cos of my last post)

  • Amanda 24 May, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    And out of all of this – i’m am mostly shocked to hear you say you have Ginger hair! 😉 x

    • lulastic 24 May, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Whhaatt? I am proud to be a (fake) ginger!

  • j 24 May, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    What a great post. I would LOVE to stop washing my hair. Yesterday I tried not washing my hair and only lasted an hour or two before giving it a quick rinse 🙁 Wonder if I could carry off a headscarf….

    • lulastic 24 May, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      Hahaha. Yeah you’ll need to break through the one hour mark!
      Scarves are the way. Funnily enough I throw on a scarf in a hair emergency, but always get lots of compliments.

  • eliminationcommunication 24 May, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    My condolences.

    Oh my that was a hilarious botch 🙂 I nevr do a dry wash, if i need a pick me up, i do plain water 🙂

    • lulastic 24 May, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      Thank you.

      Plain water makes mine worse, must be the hard water or something?

  • nico 24 May, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    So sorry i couldn’t make it yesterday, Your Nana was an amazing lady as you well know. The hair thing made me laugh though. Your Nana would def of found it funny.
    Nic x

    • lulastic 24 May, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks Nic.
      She was and she would eh?
      It was a lovely day 🙂

  • lifeloveandlivingwithboys 25 May, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I would soooo love to do this but I have ‘The Fear’ Maybe I could blog about it then I’d have to give it a good go at least. Perhaps I should wait until the winter then I can pop a hat on and thus avoid chocolate hair 😀 Your Nana will have been looking down laughing out loud at that

    • lulastic 26 May, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Hahahaha. Yeah, actually winter may be a better time to transition as your head gets a lot less hot!
      I weirdly chose the week I went back to work, possibly the worst timing in the world!

  • jenna 25 May, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Yay, yay! You did a post on not washing your hair. Very informative however, I needed more photos (especially of the chocolate goo incident!!!).

    I do think I might give this no hair washing lark a go. For many reasons :-

    • with a 4yr old and a 6 mth old time is precious.
    • being on maternity leave means money is tight and every little cut back helps.
    • chemicals.
    • i’ve always wanted to get one of thoses frilly shower caps and not washing my hair means could wear one whilst having shower (or am I not supposed to wash myself during the no hair washing period?)

    Going back to the chemical thing, I never really thought about chemicals/going green before. I suppose I was selfish and used to think that parents who insisted on questioning the ingredients in everything were (forgive me) a bit hippyish. Having kids changes things though and now I think not only about how something will directly affect them (skin etc) but how it will indirectly effect them (polution etc). I am also a bit of an all or nothing kinda gal so thought “if I can’t change everything I buy then what’s the point?”. Very narrow minded I know. I used to think organic food was for rich hippy people (I know but i’ve seen the error of my ways honestly) as i’d read articles about it being no better for you………but way better for the environment I hear you scream!!!!!!

    So I think I have led you onto my next request for a blog post………how to be more Eco friendly (but if you could include how you can still do this on s budget i’d be extremely grant

    • jenna 25 May, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Oh crap, i’m typing this on my mobile as too lazy to switch on computer and hit the reply button too soon!

      My comment was meant to end “grateful”

      Also I just wanted to send my condolences for the loss of your nan. She sounded like an amazing woman. X

      • lulastic 26 May, 2012 at 8:10 am

        Thanks Jenna

    • lulastic 26 May, 2012 at 8:11 am

      Nice one Jenna. It is hard getting it all right, and I am kinda like you in that I want to do it all at once and feel dinenchanted with myself if I am screwing up one area. But still, we can only do things bit by bit and according to the knowledge we have, you know? (A good reason to avoid reading anything hahaha)
      Okay, will bear a trhrifty-eco post in mind! x

  • 26 May, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Yowzers, well judging by the photo, your hair is looking totally beautiful. You are tempting me to give this a go, I do try and use organic hair products when I can, but then I go and slap on a load of serum and worry that it isn’t really the best thing I can be doing for the health of my hair or generally!

    • lulastic 27 May, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Thank you. I use oil as a serum sometimes, just a tiny dash x

      • 27 May, 2012 at 7:56 pm

        Great tip, shall try it, thank you!

  • Jenna Stobbs (@thriftymonster) 29 May, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    ok, so tried the no ‘poo thing. Went an entire 36 hours in between egg washes but just had to wash it again and figured…………at £1.90/12 eggs it would be cheaper to use shampoo! I gave in and poo’d. Thinking about it though, I figure picking the hottest few days of the year so far is not a good time to try and go without washing my already naturally greasy hair. So I gave in.

    I figured though that when my normal shampoo runs out I will replace it with an organic one to last me through this hot and sticky period and then I will give the egg thing another go. I also need to write down your tips so I have them to hand as I noticed you said to leave the egg on for 10 minutes and I put it on, worked it into my hair and then rinsed it off so maybe didn’t leave it on long enough to cling to all the grease?!?


  • Liz Burton 30 May, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Ahh your nana sounds amazing – sorry for your loss.

    I hadn’t read this post until today (slack I know) so wasn’t aware of your minger tendencies, but all credit I would never have known! Your hair is lush.

    Not sure I’d be brave enough. I’m using LUSH solid shampoo and loving it- even though it smells like a bonfire. Mind you, I smoke like a chimney anyway….

    I never, ever dry my hair, that must count for something?

  • Laura 1 June, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Sounds like an awesome success! I think I’ve reached my limit at five days. But I do use shampoo – I just only wash every 6-7 days and deal with the greasiness for a day or two!

    • lulastic 1 June, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      5 days is my limit with out extra, sticky measures! I can see that using shampoo is a bit easier than all these shenanigans!

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    When I got dreadlocks I was told not to wash my hair for 3 weeks. As my hair was always greasy and full of dandruff that was an ordeal. The itch was terrrible! But somewhere in week two the itch dissappeared…..
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