My hair and I have never exactly gotten along. I have very fine, very straight hair which has always looked thin even when it wasn’t. I learned at a young age how to compensate for this, but let’s just say that it requires a curling iron and a fair amount of work.
This has always been the case, but a little over a year ago my hair and I had a major falling out (pun intended). After years of being on and off of immunosuppressant medication and steroids, suffering from nutritional deficiencies and low iron, having a sluggish thyroid, and fighting off multiple intestinal infections, my hair got the memo and started a mass evacuation from my scalp. It seemed as though all of the sudden I was pulling huge chunks of hair from my head for no apparent reason so, as any woman would do, I kind of freaked out.
Over the course of the last year I have done a lot to address the underlying causes of my hair loss. My nutritional deficiencies have been primarily reversed, my iron level is coming back up, my hormones are balanced, my thyroid is now functioning optimally, and those pesky little infections are being resolved. However, all of that has taken a great deal of time and has really only recently been accomplished.
In all honesty, the first thing that I did to address my hair loss was change my shampoo. However, instead of switching from one comparable brand of grocery store shampoo to another I decided to get a little radical and give up traditional shampoo entirely. I read a lot of testimonials about how traditional shampoo contains detergents that strip your hair of its natural oils, which can cause the scalp to overproduce sebum, harming the health or your hair and scalp over time. At this point I was willing to try just about anything, so I started my no ‘poo journey. I did go through a transition period that lasted about 4 weeks. This is the period of time in which your scalp adjusts from a lifetime of overproducing oils and sebum to only producing as much as your hair actually needs naturally. This is not a fun process and my hair did look like a totally greasy matted mess. My top tips for getting through it are to resist the urge to wash more, this will only make it last longer, wear your hair up or wear a hat or scarf. Use a natural bristle brush to help evenly distribute the oil through the hair, and when you really need to not look like a total mess use a DIY dry shampoo that is made of corn starch and, if you have dark hair, cocoa powder.
Since getting through the transition period I have tried 3 different methods of no ‘poo hair washing, so I thought it was time to share my experiences with you all.
- Morrocco Method: This is a line of natural hair products that is extremely popular in the paleo and natural health sphere. I have a number of friends who have had great experiences with it. This was the first product that I tried. I bought their sample pack of shampoo since they recommend trying them all to see which one works best. I tried using them straight from the bottle, I also tried diluting them. I rotated which shampoo I used with each wash. I used their detox product, as well as one of their conditioners and the honest truth is that it just didn’t work for my hair. I used it throughout my 4 week transition period and then for months off and on after that, but it always left my hair with a greasy buildup that made it hard to manage and unattractive.
- Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar: Following my transition period, I decided to try this original no ‘poo method. I would dilute baking soda in one bottle and ACV in another and use them to wash my hair about every 3 days. For the first 3 months of using this method it worked pretty well. I only had to wash my hair every 3 days, it left my hair feeling clean and soft, and I started to notice a lot of new hair growth. However, after about three months I started to notice that my scalp would go through periods of being very dry and then periods of being very oily. I had a harder time getting my hair clean, and I started to get dandruff. I later learned that the pH of baking soda is around 9, whereas the natural pH of the scalp is around 4. Because of this, baking soda can be extremely damaging to the scalp when used long term. In total, I used this method for about 6 months and by the end I was almost ready to go back to regular shampoo just so my hair would feel clean and manageable again.
- JR Liggett’s Old Fashioned Shampoo Bar: I started using this product about 2 months ago and so far it is my favorite. I love using shampoo bars because they last a really long time and save you a ton of money. I stumbled across this product in my local health food store right when I was about to give up on this whole no ‘poo thing for good. The ingredients in the original formula, which is the one I am currently using, are saponified olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, sunflower oil and palm kernal oil as well as rose essential oil for scent. I love that is has so few ingredients and that they are all natural oils. There are no detergents that strip the hair of its natural oils and there is nothing overly harsh. It lathers really well, which was a huge relief to me because you can actually make sure that the soap is spreading throughout your hair, which I could never really do with either of the methods listed above. I still only have to wash my hair every 2-3 days most of the time (although with the current summer heat I have found that I need to wash about every other day to keep it clean) and my hair is completely clean, soft and manageable after each wash. My dandruff has gone away and my scalp seems really healthy. I do not lose large amounts of hair any more and I am continuing to see plenty of new hair growth. This is truly old-fashioned soap and I feel like it is the perfect happy medium between using mud and water and using something that is entirely synthetic and petroleum based. I highly recommend it.
Everyone’s hair and scalp is a little it different so I highly encourage you to find the method that works best for you and don’t give up. I have seen wonderful improvement in my hair and scalp since giving up modern shampoo methods and I doubt that I will ever go back!