(reposted with permission from Valhalla Hills Icelandic Sheep )
In an effort to save money and the planet, I’ve been looking for ways to eliminate toxic chemicals from my home. Making your own soaps and cleaners doesn’t have to be difficult, and giving up shampoo is a great place to start.
Shampoo is expensive! The chemicals in shampoo are irritating, drying, and may be hazardous to your health. And shampoo strips the hair of the natural oils, which in turn causes your body to produce more oil, which makes it get dirtier faster… so stop the cycle, and save some money too!
(As an update to this post: a recent study of newborn cord blood has found 232 toxic chemicals! Once it was believed that the placenta protected the unborn child from most environmental contaminants, but now we know that is not true. The very shampoo that mom washes her own hair with, contains toxic chemicals that are absorbed into her skin and passed on to her unborn child, along with hundreds of other toxins she is exposed to on a daily basis.)
Two Methods to Wash Hair Without Shampoo
The most popular method is the baking soda and vinegar method, and the one I’ve used for several years now. The second method uses nothing but water and a good scrub.
Baking soda is a natural substance found in mineral deposits around the world. It cleans, scours, and deodorizes. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is made from fermented apples. It’s literally been around for centuries. Hippocrates is said to have used it as a health tonic, more than two thousand years ago. The vinegar adds highlights, restores the acid mantel, removes soap scum and sebum oil. It can also have a drying effect. so some folks only use the vinegar every second or third shampoo, or add honey to their vinegar.
How To Use the Baking Soda and Vinegar Method:
Next, pour one to two tablespoons of vinegar into a clean, plastic container and fill with warm water. Spritz this all over your scalp and massage again. Then rinse thoroughly. And you are done!
Natural baking soda and vinegar does not foam, but there is no scientific research that links foaming action with cleanliness. All soap is supposed to do is break the surface tension of the water so that it can clean. Water gets things clean – not the soap! And I feel so much better about flushing baking soda and vinegar down the drain, than all those hard-to-pronounce shampoo chemicals!
If your hair is too dry, you can add honey, lavender oil, or rosemary to the vinegar. I like to fill a small spray bottle with water, and float a tablespoons of olive oil on top. Then I shake the bottle well, and lightly spray my camp, towel-dried hair with this. Brush well, and the hair is shiny and manageable, with no frizzies. Olive oil has been used as a hair-care product in the Mediterranean for centuries.
How to Clean Hair with Plain Water
The other method of non-shampooing is to just wash your hair with water. Period. Stand under the shower spray and “brush” your hair thoroughly with a washcloth to remove all the sebum and dirt. I have heard from people who use this method that they like the results, and it is so much easier to travel with than a small box of a white powder substance.
Two final notes on the no-shampoo method. It may take a while to adjust to this. If you have been using shampoo religiously, then your body is probably over-producing sebum. You shampoo daily, or every other day, because your hair is oily, but the frequent shampoo is causing your body to produce more oil. Once you stop shampooing, your body will eventually slow down its oil production. And finally, just because you’re taking a shower, doesn’t mean you have to wash your hair. You can get it wet, and just let it dry again. Only wash your hair when it is dirty.
Sometimes hair will be very dry and fly-away, especially in the winter, when the air in our homes is dryer than a desert. You can float a tablespoon of olive oil in a spray bottle of water. Give it a good shake and lightly spray your fly-away hair before brushing. Olive oil used in moderation can make your hair shiny and manageable. Used too heavily, and it will be oily and sticky again.
Happy no-pooing! And welcome to the new generation of consumers who only consume what they need.
Top: photo by Molly Pop
Middle: photo by Squid Ink Kollective
Bottom: photo by author