Experiment: 30 days without using shampoo or conditioner in my hair.
I have always struggled with scalp sensitivity, dryness, and dandruff. Ever since I can remember my scalp was either too dry or too oily. There was never an in-between or a balance and both were extremely uncomfortable and took a toll on my confidence.
The variables: White vinegar, baking soda and Hillery’s scalp.
I have tried everything from prescribed steroid creams and foams, to oil treatments with no success. Even with the regular use of hypoallergenic and organic products, though luxurious, I still had problems. I even changed my diet and to no avail.
Hypothesis: Vinegar when used as an astringent, cleanses without stripping the hair of it’s natural oils and minerals and can be used as a shampoo replacement.
I can not remember exactly were I had heard it first, but back in 2010 when I was living and working at the Omega Holistic Learning Center in Rhinebeck, New York. I met a participant who swore by vinegar. She too struggled with with the same issues I did and had been going without shampoo for nearly 4 years. At that point in time I stored the information away into my mental notebook and forgot all about it. Living in the woods in a tent can amplify the need to use soap.
When January this year rolled around with New Years Resolutions and winter dryness in full swing, I had hit my limit. All of my winter clothes were lovely dark browns, grays, and blacks. Yet everyday was like a snow storm hit my shoulders and the dryness was terribly uncomfortable. That’s when it hit me: the conversation I had with that participant on the smoking bench at Omega came flooding back to me. I had vinegar, I had baking soda. This was going to be awesome. I started right away and made a 30 day commitment.
At first, I used baking soda every day and rinsed my hair with straight vinegar. The first day my hair looked great, but after a week it was incredibly frizzy and my scalp seemed really dry. So I thought: I must be doing things backwards. I simply switched over to just using vinegar, which worked like magic. Though after about two weeks, I did notice my hair seemed a little oily near the roots. That night I massaged baking soda into my scalp and roots and rinsed with warm water. It worked like a charm.
After 30 days I was amazed. My hair looked fantastic. It was the softest it has ever been, with little to no frizz, and I had no problems with extreme dryness or oiliness. The icing on the cake: no scalp irritation or dandruff.
With this method I didn’t even need to use other products to define my curls, they naturally got bouncier, more defined, and even…curlier! However, I did start keeping a spray bottle of plain water around for mornings after sleeping on my hair. A quick spritz and I was ready to go.
Conclusion: I haven’t looked back and I don’t think I ever will. It is now going on three full months since I stopped using shampoo. I am reformed.
It definitely took some time to get used to no suds, but after a while it became second nature and to me it is more luxurious than even the sudsiest of shampoos or the creamiest of conditioners because I know how awesome my hair is going to look and feel.
My tips for going no poo:
- Get yourself a refillable plastic bottle for your vinegar. An old shampoo bottle with a pop-top is great; you just need something you can squeeze.
- I dilute 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water and it’s still just as effective as straight vinegar; saves me money and cuts down on the smell.
- When using the baking soda, mix about 1 tablespoon into a plastic cup with warm water and swirl around with your finger to mix.
- For applying both the baking soda and vinegar rinses, I always lean over and start pouring from the base of my head towards the front of my scalp so’s not to waste any and ensure total coverage.
- Make sure you massage into your scalp and rinse really well; having baking soda residue in your hair can be really uncomfortable.
- If you have trouble with the smell, eat an orange and roll up the skin and add it to the vinegar. It will cut the initial smell with a refreshing, orange-y zestiness, making it much more bearable. I find the orange scent also makes the cold temperature of the vinegar seem more normal. I guess because orange juice is cold and I make that mental connection. You do get used to the coldness eventually and I really enjoy it now.
- Stick with it, and find your method. What works for me may not work for you as we all have different hair types and skin sensitivities. Try, try again, and if you are adamant you will find what works best for you!
Have a beautiful spring day,