Aug 22, 2013

Going Semi-No-Poo (or, My Summer of Amazing Hair)

BTW, that's "No Shampoo", not a reference to some unfortunate digestive tract mallady

I've been playing with the idea of nixing my shampoo and conditioner routine for a while. My hair is pretty sturdy, but can get finicky with variations in care routine, and lately it had been blah. Also, I've been broke, and saving money on hair care products isn't something I'd turn my nose up to.

For the record, I have a bad record with my hair. In my teen years, I was determined to be blonde. Of course, I am half-Mexican and half-Asian, and while a blonde look can work on some people of those ancestries, I am definitely not among them. But determined I was... to the point of sneaking Sun In hair bleach into our shopping basket and squirreling it away in my room to douse my hair every chance I got. My hair was orange, and dry from over heat styling. 

In college, I committed myself to buying the best hair products I could afford, which can be quite good when you over budget on hair products and have just enough to buy a jar of peanut butter and top ramen to keep from starving every week. Those products were great, but unsustainable.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I accidentally chopped off a large section of my hair. How did this happen accidentally, you ask? Well, I had asked Caleb to help me trim some split ends after I had cut his hair. I thought it'd be simple: just a straight cut across. He got nervous and to show him how simple it was, I took a piece of my hair from the back and cut off a section... which ended up being a good 3 - 5 inches in reality. I humiliated myself to a local salonist and got it fixed. But now here's my trouble: my wedding is in 10 months and I really want long, shiny hair for it. It's not like a big problem, not like "oh no, the car is broken and we're stranded on a mountain" problem (I mean, that's a problem), but it is something I'd like to work on.

Also, again, I'm broke. So what's an inexpensive, natural, and gentle way to promote hair growth in time for the wedding? How about a...

Semi-No-Poo Routine

No-poo is a simple method of replacing regular shampoos and conditioners with homemade formulas of baking soda with water and vinegar with water. This routine is healthier for hair because it clarifies, but won't deposit any more oils and general gunk than your hair needs.

Your body, namely you scalp, actually does know how to take care of itself, how much oil it needs to keep your hair from drying up and falling out, and how to not over oil so you won't be uncomfortable. But when you continue to wash off your scalp's natural hair oils and replace them with synthetic conditioners, you create a physical dependency on those synthetics. But why? Dry or oily and unhealthy hair generally comes from using too many products or not cleansing properly.

How to No-Poo

It's the old switcheroo: you're going to switch out shampoo for a baking soda and water mixture, and switch out your conditioner for a vinegar and water spray.

You'll need:

  • 2 heaping tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 cup water
  • cleaned shampoo bottle
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (unfiltered is best)
  • 1 cup water
  • cleaned hairspray bottle
In the shampoo bottle, mix together the baking soda and 1 cup of water. Shake it to combine the baking soda. As it sits, the baking soda will come of out solution and rest at the bottom of the bottle. Just shake it up before every use to make sure you're getting the right amount.

In the spray bottle, mix the vinegar with 1 cup of water. Again, the vinegar and water will separate as they sit between uses, so just remember to shake shake shake it.

Before getting in the shower, be sure to brush your hair with a natural fiber or thick brush in order to distribute your hair's natural oils from your scalp to ends.

In the shower, when you would normally shampoo, squeeze the baking soda and water mixture directly onto your scalp. Use your fingers to massage your scalp and scrub away any oils or product build up there. My process is to section off my head mentally and work on each section at a time. I pretty much only focus the baking soda on my scalp, and not on the ends. The baking soda can really dry out ends, which are already prone to drying. The main objective is to remove any build up dirt and oils, and that would likely be concentrated on your scalp. All the baking soda to sit on your scalp for about 3 minutes, then rinse completely.

Next, condition with vinegar by spraying the vinegar-water mixture all over your hair strands. The vinegar will help seal the hair cuticles and make hair smoother and shiny. It will also help clear out any residual baking soda. Make sure to spray over every strand, and use fingers to run through your hair, if needed. Leave this on for another 3 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.

Out of the shower, style as normal, but see if you can get away with no extra styling products like gels or mousses. You might also notice your hair dries faster than usual, which could save you the time and damage from blow-drying.
Now, every scalp is different, so with this routine, you'll have to just pay attention to what your hair is doing and make adjustments as needed. For example, this is semi-no-poo because my first week using the no-poo routine, I noticed my hair was very dry and uncomfortable. I figured out that using the baking soda wash every morning was drying out my scalp and my hair cuticles. I decided to add in a deep conditioning wash to the routine and alternate days I would not wash at all (just rinse).

My rotation works this way:

  • Day 1: Baking Soda and Vinegar wash
  • Day 2: No wash
  • Day 3: Deep Condition
  • Day 4: No Wash
  • Day 5: Baking Soda and Vinegar wash
  • Day 6: No Wash
  • Day 7: Deep Condition
  • Day 8: No wash
  • and over and over and over...

For my deep conditioning routine, I either use a mayonnaise mask or coconut oil mask. The coconut oil mask is similar to the mayonnaise mask with some variations:

Use one to two tablespoons of good coconut oil. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it really is. Right now, my hair is just past shoulder length and that much oil seems like too much, because I always have some left over. Hair should be dried when the oil is applied, and the oil should cover every strand of hair (I run my fingers through my hair to make sure it is distributed well). Then, wrap the hair in a towel or shower cap and leave it in for at least 40 minutes. Some people apply heat like a blow dryer to help the oil penetrate the hair, but I haven't tried that yet.

After 40 minutes, wash hair. But, the baking soda and vinegar won't be able to get out all the oil. Instead, I use an organic baby shampoo. It is the most mild shampoo I could find, with the simplest ingredients. And I only use a small amount, just enough to work up a light lather to break up the oil and wash it out.

I also use Moroccan Argan oil in my hair after every backing soda wash and as needed when my hair feels dry. It's a lovely light oil, and when used sparingly, can add shine and softness to my hair.

Just some tips! It's working well for me so far. I'm really hoping these hair shenanigans will help make my hair longer, but it's definitely already healthier, shinier and even feels thicker! What do you guys think? Any variations on the no-poo routine?

<3 Jen

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