For the last 8 months, I've been off shampoo and conditioner. For years, I'd been using "organic" shampoos and conditioners, but they are so expensive and I had a hard time finding one that worked well for my hair (especially since I only wash my hair every other day). When I started seeing all the blogging craze about not using shampoo, I decided to give it a try. Now I use baking soda to wash my hair and apple cider vinegar to condition it, and I'll never go back to storebought products!
Why ditch shampoo and conditioner?
- Conventional shampoos and conditioners are loaded with chemicals. These chemicals can be absorbed through your skin, and thereby contribute to health problems.
- Organic shampoos are very expensive, and many of these still contain questionable ingredients.
- Washing your hair with shampoo can strip your skin of its own natural moisturizers.
- Baking soda and apple cider vinegar can make your hair look great, and even reduce the number of hair styling products that you need.
Make the baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixtures:
- Thoroughly clean out an old shampoo bottle and and an old conditioner bottle.
- In the shampoo bottle, add 1 Tb baking soda for each 8 oz (one cup) of water. In the conditioner bottle, add 1 Tb raw apple cider vinegar for each 8 oz (one cup) water. A funnel is very handy for preventing a mess if your bottles have small openings.
- Add water and fill to the top of each bottle. Put the lids on and shake well.
- Wet your hair. Apply the baking soda mixture to your scalp and roots. I like to just run the shampoo bottle all along the top of my head, which lets a trickle of the solution out. There is no need to apply it all the way to the ends of your hair. Use your fingertips to scrub your scalp.
- Thoroughly rinse the baking soda mixture from your hair.
- Apply the apple cider vinegar mixture to the scalp and roots of your hair. Once again, there is no need to apply the mixture all the way down your hair. Massage the mixture into your scalp and let it stay on for a few minutes.
- Thoroughly rinse your hair. Then rinse it some more. Sometimes, the vinegar solution will grow some tiny SCOBY strands (these are like what is used to make kombucha), so you need to rinse your hair very well to make sure no little bits get left behind.
I started out my no-shampoo experiment by trying to use nothing on my hair, just a nice hot rinse while scrubbing with my fingertips. I had heard that it can take 1-to-4 weeks for the scalp to normalize oil production (since the scalp wants to make more oil after using shampoo that has stripped the natural oils from your skin). I really wanted the no-product method to work, but my hair got so oily during the second week that I had to give up on it (I was embarrassed to leave the house with such a greasy head). I'm sure it didn't help that it was the middle of summer, when my hair tends to be more oily anyway.
Then I switched to using baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and the transition period was much more manageable. I did find it beneficial to wash my hair every day during the transition period. And now I'm back to my usual method of washing my hair every other day, and it works just fine. My hair is actually less oily on the second day than it used to be since my scalp isn't trying to compensate for having all the natural oils stripped from it.
Make sure you try this method for at least a month to give it a fair shot. And be prepared for the fact that your hair will probably feel different using this method than it did using shampoo. My hair feels more soft now, and it also never feels quite so squeaky clean as it did with shampoo. I also find that I don't need to use as many hair products to make my hair look nice (previously, I tended to have lots of fly-aways, but there are many less now). Using baking soda and apple cider vinegar also seems to emphasize the natural curl of my hair.
How to modify the method depending on your hair type
Depending on the time of year and how long my hair is, I modify the baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixtures to make them work better. For instance, in the winter, my hair tends to be more dry, and in the summer it tends to be more oily. It is very easy to tailor the baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixtures to meet the needs of your hair.
- If your hair seems overly dry, try one of the following:
- Decrease the amount of baking soda
- Increase the amount of apple cider vinegar
- Decrease the length of time you leave the baking soda mixture on your hair
- Increase the amount of time you leave the apple cider vinegar on your hair
- If your hair seems overly oily, try one of the following:
- Increase the amount of baking soda
- Decrease the amount of apple cider vinegar
- Increase the length of time you leave the baking soda mixture on your hair
- Decrease the amount of time you leave the apple cider vinegar on your hair