I quit shampoo.

[Leaf Parade. I quit shampoo.]

It’s about time that I shared with all of you another little secret of mine. Are you ready for it? The secret is this: I haven’t used shampoo since February. That’s right. The last time I shampooed my hair there was snow on the ground.

Until now, I’ve been reluctant to write about this. I wanted to be sure to carry out the proper degree of vetting before releasing this happy little secret of mine to all my invisible internet friends. Suffice it to say, though, that it’s been vetted. And now, for its release into the wild…

Shortly after I cut out processed foods, I also started using different beauty and body products. Since my gluten sensitivity manifests itself in various ways in and on my body, it occurred to me that adopting a gluten-free diet was not a cure all. For example, eating wheat causes my skin to break out — and badly! And yet, even a full year of gluten-free eating, I had absentmindedly continued using a facial moisturizer that contained wheat. When I finally read the label of that bottle, I realized that I had a lot to learn. Not only was the wheat a surprise, but so was the long list of unpronounceable chemicals and emulsifiers that accompanied it.

So I did some of research on organic and otherwise “natural” shampoos. Many of them were clearly safer for me than the products I had long been using, but several still contained sulfates, propylene glycol, GMOs, carcinogenic fragrances, and other creepy crawlies. The ones that were the safest were also the ones with the lowest customer review ratings. They were full of happy, all-natural botanicals, but they didn’t work. They did not clean hair. And, not for nothing, but all of them were expensive. I like clean hair, and I like money, so these products weren’t going to cut it for me.

I read on, traversing the very vastest corners of the internet, until I came across several blogs that championed what was being called a “no ‘poo” method. Instead of using shampoos or conditioners of any kind, these blogs suggested I wash my hair with good, old-fashioned baking soda. You know, the kind you can buy just about anywhere for $.99. Many also suggested following up that wash with an apple cider vinegar rinse. You can read up on some the variations of the no-shampoo method here, here, and here.

As there are many different approaches to the no-shampoo method, I’ll just tell you a little bit about what’s worked for me, which actually includes a third special ingredient — honey. A little background about my hair first, though…

[Leaf Parade. I quit shampoo.]

I’ve always had very straight, fine, and oily hair. And I’ve always been the type of girl to shampoo my hair everyday — and oftentimes, because I’m very active and shower often, more than once a day. When I was reading up about the no-shampoo method, I saw a lot of testimonials from baking soda converts who claimed to only be washing their hair once or twice a week. What did I think about that? Well, I’ll be honest. I assumed those people were liars. I assumed that these claims couldn’t possibly be true — and they especially couldn’t be true for me. Fortunately, though, I couldn’t have been more wrong. These days, I wash my hair only about once every four days — and please note that this was also my wash schedule pre-pixie cut, back when my hair was shoulder-length.

The thing is that shampoo is a super harsh detergent and your body reacts to your using it by protecting your scalp with — well — oil. So the more you “clean” your hair, the more of a need for cleaning you create. Enter my dysfunctional, long-term relationship with Infusium 23. And, that’s not all. Because shampoo is laced with all kinds of scary, unpronounceable chemicals, what results is even more build-up. It’s what my mother would call a “double whammy.” And it’s not good.

You should know that when you go shampoo-free, there can be a bit of an adjustment period. And, I’m not going to lie to you — things can get pretty funky. It gets worse before it gets better, and there can be quite a bit of static, especially if you begin in the winter, as I did. The good news is that, for most people, this transition period only lasts for a couple of weeks maximum. For me it was a bit longer — maybe five weeks before things really started to work. But I think it took me longer because I reacted to the funkiness by washing more frequently instead of less.

Let me explain: You may experience a sort of waxy buildup at your roots. This is normal — it’s most likely going to happen, and you won’t like it. I made the mistake of countering this waxy buildup by washing with baking soda more frequently (at least every day), until I realized that that my scalp was reacting to the super-cleanse of the baking soda in the same way it had previously reacted to my frequent shampoo washings — by creating oils. I then realized that the best way to get through this nasty stage is actually to cut back on washes. So I did — I cut back to every other day, then every third day. Within a week, the build-up went away completely.

If you’re like me, and have regularly washed your hair every single day for years and years, this may take some patience. But you will see huge results eventually — and your hair will be softer and healthier than you’ve ever known it to be. Cross my heart. If you stick with it, I promise that you’ll be de-lighted — not to mention that you’ll save a lot of time and money and be able to say “see you later” to the creepy crawlies once and for all.

Method:

In the shower, wet your hair completely. Take a few tablespoons of baking soda in your palm, and mix just a small amount of water with it, until it forms a paste. Put it in you hair and scrub well. Add more baking soda if necessary, depending on how much hair you have. Allow the baking soda to sit in your hair for a minute or two. Then rinse.

Next, take a spray bottle filled with a solution of half organic and unfiltered apple cider vinegar and half tap water and splash it on your hair. Then rinse. Note that I also put a few drops of tangerine oil in my spray bottle, which helps to diffuse the vinegar scent. The cider vinegar will help to soften your hair and, if it’s long, will also act as a detangler. By the way, your hair will not small like a salad. Just make sure you rinse the vinegar completely!

Next, take a couple of tablespoons of honey and massage it into your hair as you would a conditioner. Honey is water soluble, so no need to worry about it making things sticky! It really will rinse right out. The honey helps to condition and soften the hair further. Honey will also be your very best friend in managing the crazy and otherwise uncontrollable static that you may experience now that your hair isn’t being totally weighed down with chemicals and oils.

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