Tuesday 22 May 2012

a green (no) shampoo fling

If you've read my book, you'll know there is one eco-change I've been reluctant to make - giving up shampoo.

I've read the articles that tell me after a few weeks my scalp's natural oils will balance out and I'll be rewarded with a head full of luscious locks, and it would be great to be packaging-free in terms of my hair care, but I just can't bring myself to do it.  I think maybe I'm too vain to risk those few weeks of nasty hair.  (And I hate that it's referred to as the No 'Poo Method. C'mon, I'd already be in a fragile state if I was greasy-topped for a few weeks, you'd think they could come up with a pretty name, like the Healthy Gorgeous Hair Method.)

Luckily for my readers I have a great friend who has made the change, so I interviewed her for the blog. You can keep up with Briana on Twitter @Eco_Opps

Why did you decide to give up shampoo?
I've always had to be careful with my selection of beauty products as I have heightened sensitivity to synthetic products, especially fragrances, but the shampoo-free concept was only introduced to me whilst preparing for the birth of my daughter, Eadith. I participated in a natural parenting workshop at The Watershed where I learnt that if you never use shampoo/conditioner, you never need it! 

My daughter, now 2.5 years old has stunning hair with natural highlights and ringlets. There's only been two occasions where I've needed more than water to wash her hair and that was because she gave herself a yoghurt hair treatment (which ends up smelling like off milk). Instead of shampoo I used liquid castle soap. Her hair and scalp are clean and she smells and looks delightful!
The beautiful Eadie and her naturally gorgeous locks!
Briana also discovered that a popular 'no tears' brand of baby shampoo includes an
antihistamine to prevent teary eyes instead of being actually gentle enough not to cause
tears in the first place - shame on them, that's horrible.
What finally convinced me to try the same treatment was running out of shampoo whilst participating in Buy Nothing New Month in October 2011. 

What steps did you take to wean off shampoo?
I googled! After about 10 minutes of googling I stumbled across an article Not Ready For No 'Poo? Try Sorta 'Poo With Coconut Milk and Castille on a  fabulous blog called Crunchy Betty. After using this for a couple of weeks I switched to the following:

1 teaspoon of bicarb soda dissolved in a small jar of warm water (aka shampoo)
1/2 teaspoon  of apple cider vinegar diluted in a 600ml bottle of water (aka conditioner) 

Did you go through a 'nasty hair' phase?
Even though I had been using a very light, fragrance-free, sodium laurel sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, I definitely experienced an unpleasant funky hair stage between week 2 – 3. The key to success is to persist, persist, persist! As soon as I pushed through this stage I started to see an improvement in my hair and scalp condition. 

How long have you been shampoo free?
It's been 7 months since I gave up full-time, conventional shampoo and conditioner. I'm still having the occasional shampoo at the hairdresser (every 6-8 weeks) but I've found that I'm washing my hair less frequently (typically only every 4 days), my scalp isn't itchy and irritated and I've discovered that my hair has a lovely natural wave.

My final words of advice are to experiment with different shampoo/conditioner alternatives to find out works best for you and be aware that you may need to vary your routine depending on the season  (e.g. I loved the occasional coconut oil conditioning treatment in summer!).

Thanks so much Bri! I love that you were brave enough to tackle this confronting eco-change before I did so I can learn from your experience.  

Am I brave enough to give up my shampoo yet? 

I'll keep you posted...


  1. Hi Lisa!

    Your friend's right. It's well worth it in the long run to take the plunge and give up the poo!

    She's also definitely correct that it's worth experimenting to find what works best for your hair. As with most things everyone's different and what works for one person can be a disaster for another.

    I've been 'no poo' for about 2 years and love it. I've recently been scouring the internet for more outlandish tips and tricks to make my hair even stronger and healthier. Some of my experiments have been disastrous... but luckily I've also learnt some useful stuff.

    Good luck and I hope you go for it! It's got to be worth at least a month's trial surely?




    1. Thanks for the encouragement Rob! Glad to hear you've been enjoying it for a couple years now.

  2. Hi Lisa ~ I stumbled upon your blog searching "no shampoo". I really enjoy reading about people's experiences. I ditched conventional shampoos towards the end of March; my last shampoo was, I think, the 27th, and I switched to baking soda/vinegar the 29th. I started out washing every 48h (like I did with shampoo) and really didn't have a "transition" period so much as a "how much of which step do I really need" as I figured out how hard my water was, how dry my hair was, how best to apply the mixtures. Here's what I do, and I love it:

    WASH: 2-3tsp of BS in 8oz pre-boiled water (I keep a pitcher in the bathroom) with 2-3 drops each of lavender and peppermint essential oil, 1 drop of honey, and 1-2 drops of Rose Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner's) (mostly for the awesome smell). I shake it in an 8oz Nalgene travel bottle before use. I then wet my head thoroughly and flip it over, and pour 1/2 the mixture from my nape to my crown. I then right my head and pour most of the rest from my bangs to my crown on top, then save a little for each temple. When the bottle is empty, I use my finger pads (NOT fingernails) to scrub-scrub-scrub my scalp for about 30 seconds until I've massaged my entire scalp. I then let it sit while I wash off the rest of me with some diluted Dr. Bronner's, then rinse very, very well.

    RINSE/DETANGLER: I combine about 4T (2oz) of distilled white vinegar, about 10 drops of each essential oil, and 6 oz of water in an 8 oz spray bottle. I spray liberally on my hair (mostly ears down with a very light misting ears up) and use a wide-tooth comb to carefully wet-comb through to find spots that need a little more spray solution. When my hair is detangled, I rinse with warm water and then rinse *my hair only* with cold water before exiting the shower. I then let my hair air dry or blow dry it. If my hair seems at all crunchy when dry, I will spray it with the vinegar solution as a leave-in conditioner and re-scrunch (if curly) or hit it again with the blow-dryer (if styled straight).

    My hair is shiny and so soft that I can't keep my hands off of it. It also smells fabulous.

    I highly recommend this! I found it took me about a month (about 10 washes) to get my "formula" down; everyone's is a little different.

    1. Thank you so much for your detailed info - definitely gives me food for thought and some encouragement :)

    2. Lisa thanks for here.
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