Shifting towards no-poo
A lockdown and time of physical distancing is a great opportunity for experimenting with hair washing (or not). We asked you, our readers, for your experiences of living without commercial shampoo products and your top tips for going no poo and using natural alternatives.
We received over 100 responses, 77% of which had tried going without commercial shampoo products with varying levels of success. Some of your stories, along with top tips are shared below.
Nicola Bray: My husband and my two boys (8 and 11) don't use any products on their hair, they just rinse with water and have done so for the last 4 or so
years. I thought their hair would look greasy and horrid, that I'd feel like a slummy mummy with smelly boys!! but I've been really surprised by how lovely their hair is, and the barber always says how healthy their hair is and is surprised when I say they don't use shampoo. Despite all this I haven't quite had the confidence to do this for myself and I still use Faith in Nature refillable shampoo! My top tip is: Start with your kids as they don't care so much what happens!
I have tried soapnuts with great results. Simmer 4-5 soapnuts in 500ml water for 15-20 minutes. While still hot, add a tablespoon for bicarbonate soda (this will dissolve in the water only when it is hot).
Use about half a glass of water to wash hair. Spread evenly through scalp and scrub with hands – it will foam! Then leave in the scalp for a couple of minutes.
Rinse out with water. Then rinse the hair with a glass of warm water mixed with a 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar and a couple of drops of essential oil (I use rosemary or lavender). The hair will then feel so smooth!
Leave the vinegar solution in the hair (the smell will evaporate very quickly, although your bathroom may smell a bit like a chip shop).
My top tips: Wash your hair less. Try and wash your hair every five days or once a week only. After a couple of weeks your hair will adapt and produce less grease.
Some years ago, when living in the countryside, I started to wash my (long) hair only with water, I think for about six months or so. After a couple of weeks, my hair seemed to find a balance and I never thought about using any soap ever again.
However, I moved to the city and my hair began to look and feel dirty and after a few comments and an itchy head, I used shampoo again and the rinsing water was a grey dirty colour. I assume then that if you live in a city where there is more pollution and particulates, you're going to need some soap.
My top tip: live where the air is cleaner!
About eight years ago I dropped out of a long career in fashion and beauty media.
Once the blinkers came off, thanks to a romantic relationship with an environmental activist, I began to see the beauty industry for what it is – parasitic, feeding off fear, low self-esteem and competitiveness among women.
I began to realise that it sells us a problem (‘dirty’/frizzy/limp/greasy hair) and a solution – a product full of toxic chemicals that dries the scalp and hair, stripping away the natural oils and then offering the solution of a conditioner to replace them.
If you’re concerned about greasy hair (which is often a reaction of the scalp to over washing by producing more oil) wait until the weekend or you have some holiday time before trying a new hair cleansing method.
Be patient. As your scalp becomes accustomed to the new routine you will find that you wash your hair much less often. I do mine once every 10 days to two weeks. I have used bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar for over five years. I use two tablespoons of bicarb to one litre of warm water and pour it over my head a quarter litre at a time whilst massaging the scalp and squeezing it through the length.
I then add two tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar to one litre of warm water and do the same, leaving it in for a couple of minutes whilst I shower.
What nobody tells you is that there is an 'adjustment period'. I swapped to shampoo bars. It never occurred to me that my hair and scalp would have to adjust from the chemical stripping that had been going on