Intrigued by the idea of being free from one more product, I did an internet search to find out exactly how this works. I have naturally oily hair and really don't like it feeling or looking dirty, so I was a bit skeptical that this would work for me. However, I read stories from so many people who had successfully ditched shampoo that I had to try it.
|Baking soda cleans gently, but cleans well. Everyone seems to be skeptical at first, but baking soda will not leave your hair feeling greasy or overly dry.|
I found that there are two ways of scrapping shampoo: switching to just water washing, or using a dilute baking soda solution in the shower. With the plain water method, you have to deal with the consequences for a while as your hair & scalp adjust to the sudden lack of chemicals. It may be very oily and disgusting for a few weeks, but in the end you will be product-free. While this is an admirable goal, I could not deal with nasty hair for weeks during the transition off shampoo.
What I actually did:
To spare myself weeks of uncomfortable, oily hair, I went with the other option. I started out, to be safe, using two tablespoons of baking soda each time I washed my hair. I simply put it in a shatterproof plastic cup, bring it with me into the shower and fill halfway with warm water when I'm ready to wash my scalp. I mix it together until dissolved, pour it on my scalp, and massage it in. It's different than shampoo, since it's not goopy and won't produce any suds--but you are not dirty laundry, you don't need detergent on your skin. The amazing thing is how clean the baking soda gets my hair and scalp. It rinses away easily, leaving my hair fresh and clear. I was worried baking soda would be too harsh and leave my hair feeling scrubby and brittle, but I haven't had that experience at all.
I gradually reduced the amount of baking soda I used, and am now down to one teaspoon in a half cup of warm water. Really, that's enough to get clean hair. Nik went cold-turkey right away, because he is a million times braver than I am, and for two months he washed his hair with water alone. He did develop dandruff though, which we were hoping was a temporary condition as his scalp adjusted, but eventually he decided to give the baking soda a try. When he did, his dandruff completely and immediately disappeared. His thick curly hair is amazingly clean and shiny.
To condition your hair:
Everyone in my family has long hair, and I had serious doubts about our ability to go without conditioner, without suffering some serious snarls. I was pleasantly surprised here as well. The replacement I discovered for conditioner is very diluted apple cider vinegar. I don't like the smell of vinegar, and certainly didn't want to reek of it, so I was a bit skeptical. Also, I have always relied on special conditioners in order to get tangle-free hair. In fact, while I only buy the most natural products for everything else, I have often made an exception for conditioner because I've found that the natural ones just don't work as well.
My concern that vinegar couldn't possibly work as a detangler kept me from trying this method for a while. However, there is something magical about vinegar. It's like duct tape: you can use it for anything. Pouring a diluted solution down my hair in the shower and working it in a bit is all it takes for amazingly tangle-free shiny hair. Also, the vinegar smell completely rinses away.
A conditioning alternative:
After using apple cider vinegar for a little while, I got experimental and decided to give my homemade kombucha a try in its place. It works just as well, and the advantage is that I can make it myself at a fraction of the cost of buying vinegar... which is already extremely inexpensive compared to even cheap conditioners. It's definitely a win. (Update: please read here my more recent post on kombucha vs. ACV for hair.)
|We wash our kids' hair with water alone and it works beautifully|
I also figured out how easily to make this system portable, for showering away from home. Read about it in this update.
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How My Family Went Shampoo-Free
4/ 5Oleh Mellow De Tray