I never would have thought I could give up shampoo. I always had at least three or four different brands of shampoo-I went back and forth, trying to find the magical shampoo that would live up to the promises on the bottle. All the disappointment in the world couldn't convince me that there wasn't the perfect shampoo out there. I just had to find it. Oh, sure, I read about the no-poo method of washing the hair with baking soda and rinsing with vinegar, but there was no way I would ever try it.
No way until last summer when I noticed my hair was shedding. There was more hair in the brush, I even had more hair in the drain. Naturally I panicked. I'm fifty-one years old. I don't want to be bald on top of that. But I was already doing all the right things-eating right, getting enough sleep, using organic shampoo and hair styling products. I don't blow dry my hair, and I use henna to cover the grey. There just wasn't anything to try! Or was there? I decided it was time to take the plunge and try the baking soda and vinegar.
First thing I learned when going off shampoo-you have to listen to your hair. There is no more forcing your hair to be shiny, or pumped up, or anything it doesn't want to do. No more hiding behind gels and mousse and hairspray, although you still can use hair styling products if you wish. It's just you and your hair and I found that hair that's been washed every day for decades with commercial hair care products is pretty touchy when you finally let it be itself.
The holy grail of the baking-soda-and-vinegar method is to not wash your hair as often. I tried not washing my hair every day. I really did. I went through the transition period of greasy hair, which in my case was pretty mild since I had been using organic shampoo, and I so wanted the no-poo method to work and give me beautiful shiny hair that I only washed once a week, but it was not to be. I have a lot of hair, but it's fine and my skin is oily. Fine hair and oily skin does not work well with washing once a week. In my case, it didn't work skipping just one day. I tried DIY (Do It Yourself) dry shampoo to absorb the oil. Cornstarch worked very well, but I have red hair and the cornstarch gave it a ashy cast. I tried 100% cocoa power, which didn't look ashy but unfortunately didn't work nearly as well as cornstarch. I remembered to listen to my hair, and since my hair was telling me it was going to get greasy if I didn't wash it every day, I washed it every day with baking soda and rinsed it with vinegar.
The vinegar was also an adventure. I started out trying Bragg's. This is a completely natural unfiltered, unheated, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, which is what a number of people on the no-poo method recommend. My hair didn't really like it, though. It never seemed to rinse out completely and my hair didn't look as nice as when I tried Heinz vinegar. My hair liked the Heinz apple cider vinegar, but I didn't. It had a very strong smell and I could still smell it when it dried. It was very faint, but I could smell it and I didn't like it. I switched to Heinz white vinegar. Success! I washed every day with the baking soda-I just took a teaspoon of baking soda, mixed it with a little water to make a paste, rubbed it in my hair, and rinsed it out. I then used a vinegar rinse-half vinegar, half water. The baking soda was not pre-mixed, the vinegar rinse was. It worked beautifully.
Or, well, it worked beautifully for a while. Did I mention the henna? For some reason, the baking soda and the vinegar stripped the henna out of my hair. Maybe if I didn't wash it every day but I didn't think I should have to choose between grey hair and greasy hair. I didn't want to go back to shampoo, so I did a little more research on the Internet and decided to try Dr. Bronner's liquid soap. I like the rose scent and it doesn't strip the henna. Only problem is, washing your hair with soap leaves it dull and sticky and tangled. You have to use an acid rinse afterwards. Back to the vinegar-when I washed my hair with Dr. Bronner's liquid soap and rinsed with my usual vinegar rinse, my hair looked pretty good.
I did decide to try the Dr. Bronner's citrus hair rinse, and while that is a bit pricey, I must say that washing with the soap and rinsing with this stuff works best of all. I premix a bottle of it every night-one capful of the hair rinse added to eight ounces of water. Perhaps it's slightly time-consuming, but my hair looks really good, doesn't shed or tangle, the henna holds very well. It seems a bit thicker too and it's definitely growing faster. I used to go six or seven weeks between haircuts and now I have to cut it once a month. Even with the pricey citrus rinse, I spend less on my hair than I used to, and it takes much less time in the morning because I don't have to use styling products on it-I wash and go. I just wish I had given up shampoo years ago!