the “no poo” experiment

Let me just say that I have glorious hair. I say that not out of conceit, but because we live in a culture where women cannot say nice things about themselves. So, I break the cycle here. I have reddish hair, and I grew up being complimented on the color. My hair was stick-straight as a child, but became wavy in adulthood. It’s the kind of hair that doesn’t know if it wants to be curly or straight, and I’m sure that would drive a lot of people insane. Luckily, I’m relatively low maintenance.

Below is a tendril of my hair. The picture was taken a few years ago, and now my hair is much shorter and redder than it is in this picture. I currently wear it just past my shoulders, and I haven’t added as much blonde to it, so the red is more obvious than in this photo.

a tendril of my hair

a thin tendril of my hair circa a few years ago

The idea to “go wild” began when my stylist/friend mentioned that she hadn’t washed her hair in weeks, and it looked pretty good. She warned me that the first few weeks would be bad. When I first started going to my hair stylist, she mentioned the “no poo” option, and I was intrigued. I didn’t wash my hair for a few days, and then broke down and washing never felt so glorious. I believe that was last fall.

At my latest appointment, we had the conversation again. After returning from my summer travels, I have been working from home and not washing my hair. Here’s how the first three “phases” have been:

Phase One: The first few days were okay. My hair isn’t super greasy anyway, so going a few days was fine. When I showered, I just rinsed my hair really thoroughly with water.

Phase Two: I had some doula work coming up, and smell can be heightened during pregnancy. I didn’t want to disgust my full-term moms with my increasingly greasy hair. So, I washed my hair with a baking soda/water mixture. I’ll add that the grease-level of my hair was pretty high at this point, and I wanted to wash it with something besides water to try to cut the grease.

The idea of this phase is to get your hair to adjust the output of natural oils. We wash our hair with detergent that is basically a grease-cutting agent that sends hair into oil production overload. Even the good quality shampoo will do this, and trust me I never skimp on shampoo and conditioner. I always purchase high quality stuff from the salon.

The problem was that the baking soda left my hair feeling a little dry and stiff at the ends, but didn’t seem to cut the serious grease in my hair. So, I decided to wash my hair by blending a little baking soda with coconut oil (perfectly complimentary, right? Wrong.) In the following days, my hair developed a weird white film that coated my hair and my hairbrush. I think this happened because I was using too much baking soda, and also possibly because of my hard water. So, I made the difficult decision to wash my hair with regular shampoo. I felt strongly that I needed to get that white gunk out of my hair if I wanted to move forward with my “no poo” plan.

Note: during all of these phases, even though I was not using conditioner, my hair was incredibly easy to brush, even when wet. I think that’s because the natural oils really were working as a deep conditioner. Had I just washed my hair with shampoo, I would have had a rat’s nest of tangles on my head, guaranteed.

Phase Three: Of course the shampoo worked miraculously. I finished it off with a moroccan oil hair mask/conditioner thing that I’ve used in the past. My hair felt really good and clean, but here’s the thing, I don’t think I’m going to need to start over with my “no poo” experiment. I’m already on day three and my hair is not at all greasy. That means, even though I stripped it with shampoo a few days ago, my scalp isn’t overproducing oil like it did before.  I’m  sure shampooing it was a bit of a setback and that it will overproduce oil again, but this time it’s definitely not as bad. Right now it feels amazing.

To be continued… I know that the baking soda problems were probably my fault, but I’m a little wary to put it on my hair again. I already live in a really dry climate, and baking soda just seems too harsh. So, I think I’m going to try castile soap as needed to see if that will do the trick. I still need to do a little more research on castile soap. I’m worried it will also work to dry out my hair and strip the natural oils. At least I can understand the ingredients on the bottle! That’s a good place to start. More later.

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One thought on “the “no poo” experiment

  1. Pingback: follow up: no poo hair | SHEREWIN

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