Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why “No Poo”?

Why “No Poo”?

Penned by Brandi Schunk
September 12, 2013

Being the Crunchy Mama Hippie Chic, people often look at me strange or ask a lot of questions about the lifestyle choices I make.  One of those questions, often paired with a skewed look on the face, or followed by “Ewwww, gross!” is “Why do you no poo your hair?”  Let’s start with what “no poo” is and isn’t.  It is not a reference to my bowel behaviors for starters, no relation there! ; )  It is a choice to not use shampoo or conditioner.  Why?  Here’s how it happened for me…

My husband and I have strong commitments to our financial goals, which means I keep costs down wherever I can.  For years I have been buying the 99 cent Suave shampoo and conditioner from Wal-Mart.  A couple of years ago, I started getting strange growths on my scalp.  My mom was worried so sent me to the dermatologist to have the biggest one removed and tested.  Turns out it was nothing, but it started growing back after removal, and had some new friends with it as well as a twin on the other side of my head.  These “bumps” didn’t hurt too much, but were quite bothersome when wearing sunglasses, brushing my hair, or wearing a ponytail, all pretty normal occurrences for me.  Several months ago, in effort to heal my scalp, I bit the bullet and went on a quest for fully natural, gluten-free shampoo.  You would be amazed at how hard it is to find shampoo that does not contain wheat, barley, or rye, even in a health foods store.  After an exhaustive (and exhausting) search, I finally settled on a product I felt comfortable with, at $8 a bottle.  Buying both shampoo and conditioner, this quickly ate into my grocery bill!  I kept it up for a few months anyway and noticed that my scalp was healing and the bumps were going away- hallelujah!

A few of months ago, I started buying more organic foods, and so was looking for ways to cut back on the budget in other areas to make room for these purchases.  Of course, the $8 hair products were the first to come under scrutiny.  I posted a question to my “crunchy” friends asking what they would suggest, and the unanimous answer was “no poo!”  No what?  I had never heard of this and had no clue what they were talking about.  Was this a shampoo brand?  After further research I had my answer, and my next step down the crunchy path.  No poo is simply replacing your regular shampoo and conditioner with baking soda and apple cider vinegar.  Simple.  Easy.  Cheap.  I liked the sound of it!

Now, for the experiment… my research clued me in that I needed to commit to trying “no poo” for at least one month to know if it was right for me.  Okay, cool, no problem.  And so began June.  The first week my hair was, well, to be frank, nasty.  I wore a lot of scarves and ponytails to cover the yuck.  But I was committed so I kept going.  Week 2 things started to normalize, a bit, then not anymore.  After more research and trial and error, here are a few things I learned about no poo:

1. The general recommendation is 1 Tbsp baking soda to 1 C water as a “shampoo” and 1-2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar to 1 C water as a “conditioner”.  However, if you have REALLY hard water, like I do, then you need to adjust to find that perfect balance.  I switched things up and found perfection!  1 ½ Tbsp baking soda to 1 C water, and a 50/50 combo of ACV and water.  Now I got it!
2. It is recommended to put your mixtures in a squirt bottle to wet your hair.  I had been doing this with the BS, but for the ACV I was using a jar and just dipping the bottom half of my hair in the mixture.  I switched to squirting, getting the mixture closer to my scalp (but not on) and this helped get the yuck out.
3. Letting both the BS and the ACV sit on your hair for a few minutes seems to help.
4. After showering, I brush my hair and then wrap it in a towel for a few minutes.  I put my hairbrush away and don’t touch it again until after my next shower.  I let my hair air dry and the natural curl comes out.  When I do a partial ponytail, it actually looks like I have a perm.  Love it!
5. No poo naturally extends how long you can go without “washing” your hair.  When you are not constantly stripping your scalp of its natural oils, it doesn’t work overtime to catch up, and you can go days without your hair being oily.  I used to wash every other day, now it’s more like every 4-6 days, even with swimming and exercising.  I rinse with just water or rinse and do the ACV rinse if I feel I need an extra something between full “washes”.

Here we are, 3 ½ months after my initial no poo, and I am hooked!  I don’t see any reason to ever buy or use shampoo or conditioner again!  I get compliments on my hair all the time.  No one has told me my hair stinks.  I save time and money by not buying shampoo or conditioner, not washing as often, not buying styling products, and not blow drying my hair.  If this sounds intriguing to you, I encourage you to give it a try.  I would love to hear about your “no poo” experiment!  There are a lot of great resources out there to learn more and read of other successes.  Two of my favorites are: and  A simple web search will give you plenty of research material!

As always,
Happy Crunching!

Crunchy Mama Hippie Chic
AKA Brandi Schunk

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Oh How I’m Crunchy…

 I am a massage therapist who was raised by a couple of hippies in Austin, TX, so being considered “crunchy” was bound to happen eventually.  The funny thing is, it took moving to Plano, TX and joining a local “crunchy moms” group to really take me further down the natural path.  “What do you mean by crunchy?” people ask.  I think the term goes along with granola, you know, crunchy granola.  Because that is what we natural, earthy, hippie people eat, right?  Call it what you like, I live my life a little different from the mainstream.  I go my own way.  I don’t do it just to buck tradition, I do it to take care of my family.  I do it because so many of the “normal” choices people make are just plain hazardous to our health, and I am not willing to knowingly poison my family on a continual and ongoing basis and as a way of life.  I do it because it feels like the right thing to do.  

I do a lot of researching before changing to more natural ways, from nutrition to cleaning products, I want to make sure that the changes we make are going to benefit my family and not cause harm, to our health or our pocket book (especially since my hubby and I are financial advisors)!  Listed below are some of the ways that our lifestyle would be considered “crunchy”, off the beaten path, or even a little bit weird.  I’m ok with that.  Any of these terms can be explored more in depth with a simple internet search, or you can email me for more information.  Perhaps knowing more will inspire you to lean a little more on the crunchy side… after all, as one of my great mentors John F. Barnes always says, “Without awareness, there is no choice!”
Happy Crunching!

Oh how I’m crunchy, let me count the ways…

1. We “no poo” our hair.
2. I only use soap on my full body about once a week.
3. We use “family cloth”.
4. I use “mama cloth”.
5. I line dry my family cloth and mama cloth, and some of our clothes.
6. We used cloth diapers and wipes.
7. We breastfed.
8. We co-sleep.
9. We practiced baby wearing.
10. We practiced Elimination Communication (EC for short).
11. We had a home birth with a midwife and doula.
12. I had a post-partum doula.
13. I make sun tea.
14. We choose to not vaccinate our family.
15. Our son is intact (not circumcised).
16. We compost.
17. I don’t wear makeup much at all.
18. I don’t use styling products in my hair.
19. I don’t blow dry my hair.
20. We use reusable cloth zippy bags for snacks.
21. We reuse food containers as food storage containers. 
22. I buy organic and non-GMO as much as I can.
23. I make most of our meals from scratch.
24. We rarely eat out.
25. We rarely buy sugary treats and snacks.
26. I read the labels on everything before purchasing.
27. I use a homemade cleaner for kitchen and bathrooms.
28. We use a Rainbow vacuum cleaner to both clean our carpets and filter our air and put essential oils in the water to make the house smell good.
29. I open windows and turn the air off when it’s nice outside, or at least bearable.
30. We rarely go to the doctor, opting for home remedies, homeopathics, and letting things run their natural course.
31. We take probiotics.
32. We do a nutritional cleanse/detox several times a year.
33. I use the jogging stroller as transportation and exercise for nearby trips with our son.
34. Most of our son’s clothes are hand-me-downs.
35. We shop at Goodwill for our clothes, or inherit them from friends.
36. We want to raise chickens and goats and live in a house on a big plot of land with gardens and a fishing pond.
37. We grow our own basil.
38. We don’t have cable television, or any television channels for that matter.
39. I use a hankie instead of Kleenex on days when my nose won’t stop dripping.
40. We use a neti-pot.
41. We use cloth napkins.
42. We use cloth towels instead of paper towels for most jobs in the kitchen.
43. I use baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and/or lemon juice for almost all cleaning, scrubbing, stain removal, etc.
44. We use “Angel Baby Bottom Balm” on most bug bites, scrapes, scratches, and boo-boos.
45. We brush our teeth with straight baking soda every other time we brush.
46. We use straight baking soda and water as a facial scrub about once a week.
47. I use brown sugar, olive oil and lavender essential oil for a fabulous hand and foot scrub.
48. We use Aloe Vera as our facial moisturizer.
49. We have an Aloe Vera plant and use it for burns.
50. We treat sunburns with vinegar and Aloe Vera.
51. I only use my hair brush a few times a week.
52. I use crystal deodorant.
53. I shop at the Farmer’s Market or through local co-ops sometimes.
54. I buy local when I can for anything and everything.
55. I use “environmentally friendly” dish and laundry detergent.
56. I have made my own laundry detergent.
57. We use castile soap to wash our hands.
58. Our son eats plain whole milk yogurt, hummus, carrots, frozen peas, seaweed and many other healthy things that most kids won’t touch.
59. I made 90% of our son’s baby food from scratch.
60. I believe chiropractic and massage can relieve most physical discomforts and many dysfunctions.
61. I love raw milk.
62. We make smoothies with kale, flax seed, coconut milk and other nutrient packed goodies, and then turn them into popsicles.
63. I consume apple cider vinegar daily for its health benefits.
64. I consume blackstrap molasses for its health benefits.
65. We take cod liver oil daily.
66. We fight off colds with olive leaf extract.
67. I make bone broth from scratch and put it in almost everything.
68. I wear a scarf on my hair if it’s dirty and I don’t want to shower yet.
69. I apply castor oil and wet heat to ease menstrual cramps.
70. I take a hot Epsom salt bath to relieve body aches and pains, and to assist in cleansing/detoxing my body.
71. We practice Attachment Parenting.
72. I use lavender essential oil on my temples to help with motion sickness.
73. We use diluted tea tree oil on our skin to repel insects.
74. We don’t use sunscreen, except in extreme, prolonged sun exposure.
75. We recycle whatever we can.
76. We re-use and re-purpose things whenever we can.
77. Our son wears an amber teething necklace.
78. My husband wears an amber necklace.
79. We eat gluten-free.
80. We don’t flush the toilet every time.
81. I buy from the “bulk” bins at the grocery store.
82. We get movies from the library.
83. We don’t practice “cry it out.”
84. We used baby sign language.
85. We make our own ice cream with half the sugar.
86. We make 3 ingredient cookies: bananas, almond meal, coconut flour- bam!
87. My son’s birthday cake has been sugar-free, gluten-free banana bread every year.
88. We rarely drink soda.
89. We don’t use fluoride on our son.
90. We don’t believe in “keeping up with the Joneses.”
91. We drive an old car that is totally paid for.
92. We are a one-car family.
93. Our son helps with food prep in the kitchen and with cleaning house.
94. Our son has never had a crib or bed rails.  He got a twin mattress on the floor at 6 months old.
95. We limit “screen time” with our son and encourage “playing by yourself time.”
96. I get a lot of “new to me” things by participating in swaps with other moms.
97. Our son began learning to swim the natural way at 4 months old, never used any floaties, and was a strong swimmer by 18 months old.
98. Our favorite family pastime is going for walks in nature together.
99. I cut our son’s hair.
       100.  I use fabric reusable bags at the grocery store and for other outings.
101.  I am always seeking new ways to live a more natural, sustainable, healthy, happy life.