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: http://www.pistachioproject.com/2010/01/going-no-poo.html and http://www.crunchybetty.com/no-poo-to-you-too. A simple web search will give you plenty of research material!
Crunchy Mama Hippie Chic
AKA Brandi Schunk