Everyone, this whole “no poo” journey has been a long one. Back in February 2013 (7 months now), I decided to ditch the conventional shampoos and conditioners that plagued my dear scalp and opt for all-natural, skin-friendly ones instead.
It’s been long, it’s been difficult, and there’s been lots of head scratching…literally.
But, I finally have my very own tried and true shampoo TRUTHS that work for me – at the very least.
Warning: There’s no easy fix. Just like internal health, this requires trial and error and listening to your body.
These are the 6 methods I used and my take on their usefulness. My very favorite? Scroll down to find out!
1. Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar
I used this technique for a couple of months before I realized that, holy crap, it’s destroying my hair.
At first, it was wonderful! My hair was soft, smooth, and tangle-free. I loved it, and was frolicking around, telling everyone of my no ‘poo ways.
Then, about a month in, my hair started to feel tangled all the time. It was dry and coarse, and no amount of dilution or extra ACV helped me out. Was this merely part of the process or was this a sign it was time to go?
I opted to save my sad little scalp and check out a few different options.
Pros: Super cheap, 100% natural, all the ingredients are in your pantry already
Cons: Dries your hair, does not resolve my itchy scalp problems
Next up was water. Many people who make it through the no ‘poo world end up swearing by water as their ultimate cleaning agent.
Granted, many of these individuals have fancy Berkey water filters, but still. At a certain point, that’s all that some people need for happy, healthy hair.
I tried this and although it works well sometimes, it doesn’t always, and often I end up with crunchy hair…in a bad way.
Pros: Couldn’t be less expensive, no chemicals or nasty products, no containers or packages to store
Cons: Little customization as a sole routine, no pretty smells, does not resolve my itchy scalp problems
Ah, soap. My old scalp-healin’ foe/friend. I’ve tried so many soaps, and so many times they fail me.
However, I did find one that really helped cleaned my hair, make it smooth, and resolve some of the itchiness (at least for a while). I even ended up making a castile soap shampoo for a bit, but I didn’t love it in the long-run.
Pros: Fun smells, can be very therapeutic, you get to buy cool soaps from neat people and places
Cons: Not all soaps are equal, some soaps are too drying – even castile soaps, you can get too much sudsing action, which makes hair tangle
Now this technique I learned from Empowered Sustenance, and it’s where I realized why the baking soda caused me so many troubles. Lauren heard from her readers that this was a recurring issue with lots of people, so she did some digging:
“Baking soda is very alkaline and, although it may make hair soft in the beginning, it will overtime damage hair.” – Lauren, Empowered Sustenance
Instead of baking soda, she recommends using a pH-balancing rinse from an all-natural, easily accessible source: raw honey. Personally, I love Lauren’s DIY honey shampoo recipe, and although I’ve only used it a few times, it was extremely soothing to my itchy scalp, made my hair soft and smooth, and smelled lovely.
Pros: Makes hair soft and smooth, most of us have honey in our pantries, it’s 100% natural, safe, and pH-balancing
Cons: Good raw honey can be pricey, it requires a little time to dissolve
5. Vinegar Rinse Alone
One of the best lessons I learned throughout this journey was to trust my body. What works for me doesn’t work for others and vice versa.
It turns out that the apple cider vinegar rinse really did good things for my scalp, even without a shampoo or other “cleaning” precursor. I simply dilute a few tablespoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar with water, add a few essential oils for kicks, and carefully pour it onto wet hair. Then, I massage it in, and either do a quick rinse or let it dry naturally.
Doesn’t that stink? I don’t think so, and honestly, a happy, itch-free scalp it worth more to me than a little stink.
Pros: Inexpensive and a great vehicle for customization with essential oils, takes barely any time to prepare – simply pour and pour, soothing for itchy scalps
Cons: Might leave a smell to some people, takes time for your hair and scalp to adjust, no luxurious suds for rom-com-style shower singing
6. SLS and Paraben-Free Shampoos and Conditioners
So, I might feel like a bit of a sell-out for admitting this, but yes…I do have bottles of shampoo and conditioner in my shower.
Fortunately, I’ve found a few lines that don’t bother my scalp too much while leaving soft, nourished hair in their wake.
For shampoo, I use this one with aloe. It smells a little baby-ish, but does a good job of cleaning. The herbal one is really nice, too.
My conditioner these days is this wonderful, citrusy one that’s so soft and soothing while smelling amazing.
Pros: They smell great, no preparation time
Cons: They cost more – significantly more, they still contain processed ingredients to an extent, they’re packaged in plastic containers and have to be shipped in to a store or your home.
My final verdict after 7 months of no poo testing
The only ingredient I would never use again was baking soda. My favorite, by far, was the honey recipe and the vinegar rinse (separately or in the same session). I still wash my hair infrequently, and enjoy my homemade beauty products.
But, I also know that there are some conventional-ish products that work well, too. Yes Virginia, you can have a happy scalp and scented locks!
Just remember to try things a couple of times, don’t be afraid to dig in your pantry, and when in doubt – go with your gut.
Where are you on your no poo journey? What do you use to wash your hair these days? Tell me below!
This post was featured on Unprocessed Fridays.