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Ten Alternatives to Shampoo

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At the start of this year I began an experiment with my hair.  The purist in me was tired of putting toxins into my body, the spendthrift in me was weary of pouring so much money away on these toxins and the optimist in me was persuaded by our bodies ability to cope without reliance on products! I was in a wash-every-other-day-routine and was a slave to dry-shampoo. I knew there had to be a better way.

In a typically extreme move  I totally gave up shampoo and have in the last 10 months put everything from a homemade nettle brew to mustard powder on my hair! It has gone quite wrong at times but ultimately my hair is a million times more healthy, voluminous, and grows much faster. Plus I can go away for weeks at a time and need nothing for my hair but a good bristle brush. This really appeals to my hopes of living more simply and with less impact on this beautiful earth (even though I am rubbish at this in lots of ways.)

Here are TEN options I have played with- and sometimes made a lot of mess with! Most are the BEE’S KNEE’s for me and the rest are the dog’s whatchya’s for others…

One- Water! Oh groan, I know, I’m sorry.  What kind of an alternative is this?! I hear you cry. The best, truly. It took me 9 months to realise it was all my hair needed – and now it has been one month since anything has been on my hair at all. The key is in the massage- as you soak your hair, get your fingers stuck in, pushing away at your scalp and any particularly grease-o bits. I do a five minute massage every five days. My hair is thick and voluminous and does whatever I want it to do. Whooppiiee for H20!!

Two- Bicarbonate of Soda/ Baking Soda. This gets your hair SQUEAKY clean. I make a little paste with a spoonful and a few drops of water and rub it into my scalp.  I leave it for a few minutes before rinsing.The only reason it isn’t number one is because it isn’t free and I’m a cheapskate – and also my hair gets a bit bicarb weary after too many times in a row, brittle and waxy and needs a bit of Number Three Action:

Three- Egg. I use the whole egg, whisked in a cup. I pour over my head and massage in. I leave for a few minutes and rinse well.  It leaves my hair SO clean and SO soft and shiny. However, the water must be cool! I have had a couple of scrambled disasters venturing into too warm territory….

Four- Soapnuts. These are a natural cleaner and work incredibly well. My hair is like silk after- certainly the closest to shampoo I have found. I heat them in water on the stove for 10 minutes, whiz them with my hand blender and use the liquid. I am too lazy to make this my Go To alternative, but use it if my hair has become filthy. Buy them here and use them for cleaning a million and one things!

FiveRhassoul Clay. This is LOVELY stuff. For skin and hair.  It not only cleans but also conditions. I make a paste with two spoonfuls and boiling water. Once cool I smooth it into hair, after a few minutes I brush it through hair and rinse off. It is truly divine but a little on the expensive side for my thrifty self. (But doesn’t come close to the expense of good shampoo.) Buy it here!

Six- Henna. This is my once-every-six-weeks deep treatment! I mix up about ten spoons of it with hot water to make a paste. Once cool I apply it all over and leave it for two hours. (Epic I know, I use a plastic bag and grips to keep it all in place.) It needs a SERIOUS rinse, and a good brush, but my hair after is brighter, cleaner, softer.

Seven- Tea. This relies very much on the massage bit too, and the result is the same as water except you get a nice smell! Some people swear that the different aspects of the tea change your hair – chamomile adding a special softness, for example.

Eight- Lemon. Lemon has some seriously potent anti-bacterial properties and can work as a lightener for people wanting to be blonder.  Squeeze the lemon straight on to your greasy roots, massage well and leave for a few moments. I found it to be slightly drying.

Nine- Tea Tree Oil. Full of incredible properties! You would probably need a little bit too much of this to work solely as an effective shampoo. However added to the bicarb paste, the lemon or the water only wash, this makes a lovely difference. Tea tree oil is perfect for people with scalp issues, dandruff etc. In fact, one person I am VERY close to but who shalt remain nameless has had a life-long scalp issue fixed with this method!

Ten- Mustard Powder. Nettles. Mayonaise. Ketchup! These were all possible contenders that simply didn’t cut it for me! In theory they should work- they have the right mix of either anti-bacterialness or emulsifier/ acid shizzle and the internet is jampacked with people on whom these work. It just ALL depends on your hair.

A note on conditioner- Nearly all of these, bar the clay and the egg need a rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. I use a splash in half a cup of water and throw it over the ends of my hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse out. It’s a WINNER.

The biggest lesson in all of this is to not give up  and be a brave old soul – trawl through this community until you find your hair type and give things a crack! Often different hair just needs different proportions of things. Would love to hear what your routine is and if there is some magical thing I haven’t tried!

PS ‘Scuse the well posey picture! It is seriously the only shot without a beehive from the last six months! It was when I was 5 months No Poo and taken by Jenny Harding when Pretty Nostalgic mag popped over.

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(mis)adventures in being shampoo free

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We had my Nana’s funeral yesterday. What a woman she was. Utterly fearless;  she left her home in South Wales age just 17, in the middle of the war, to go to London alone, doodlebugs dropping out of the sky, to train as a minister in the Salvation Army.

Nana and Grandad spent her their lives weaving hope and love amongst the neighbourhoods where they worked.  She was totally glam but loved charity shopping and was the ultimate in frugal. For many years she simply had to be – often the only pay they’d get was the pennies dropped in the brass instruments of the Sally Army band.

Nana was the perfect combination of thrifty and generous. Never wasteful with things or money but sharing her life and love and gifts and food with EVERYONE. She was full of faith and always peaceful, and yet was bursting with laughter and down-to-earth wit.  It is hard to imagine the world without her.

I bring Nana up in this post about my hair for a few reasons:

  • I can’t stop thinking about her.
  • My “save a penny no matter the cost” mentality is her fault. (Passed down from generation to generation.)
  • She would have thought my thrifty hair experiment a total riot.
  • My hair experiment went rather publicly and grossly wrong at her funeral….

I gave up shampoo 5 months ago, because it is expensive and full of toxins. I want to teach my hair to stop producing as much oil. So many people over the last few months have suggested my hair is a bizarre fluke, that they could never get away with it. But my hair USED to get greasy after 1 day (“chip pan” greasy was the expression used by one family member at the start of the experiment!)  Then I beat it into submission.

I cut out shampoo with one swift swipe. I moved onto bicarbonate of soda – mixing it into a paste and applying it to the roots mid shower- using it once a week for a month. I would rinse the ends with 1/4 apple cider vinegar to water as a conditioner (not washing it out.) It doesn’t smell once dry. In between the bicarb I used a lot of scarves and backcombing!

After a month my hair stopped producing so much grease. I can now go 5 days with totally clean looking hair.

I then started trying other options as I felt the bicarb was quite harsh.

Egg: Beat an egg, apply for 10 minutes to roots. Wash out, use cider vinegar on ends. (DON’T RINSE WITH HOT WATER UNLESS YOU WANT SCRAMBLED EGG MAYHEM!!) This leaves you hair so shiny and conditioned and clean.

Clay: Rhassoul Clay to be exact, make a paste, apply for 10 minutes. This leaves your hair feeling WONDERFUL! No need for cider vinegar, just brush it through to the ends before washing out. However I needed rather a lot so it didn’t end up being very cheap.

Soapnuts: These are big seeds from a special tree. I boiled them then used the water – it is much more like shampoo than the others. It foams and stings the eyes and everything. My hair was SO SO SO Soft and shiny. It got greasier a little quickly (after 4 days) but this is my favourite so far.

I am thoroughly pleased with my hair. It is thicker and longer and wavier. I am no longer a slave to the hair wash. But I have often wondered if it is merely a case of moving the goal posts. Is my hair actually really minging compared to everyone elses, but I just care much less about grease?

Yesterday I was assured not when my sister- she of the most luscious locks, serious beauty and inclination to drive for 3 hours each way to visit her long standing hair stylist- told me my hair was looking beaut; “shiny and healthy and lovely” totally voluntarily, without me hankering after a compliment or anything.

Hurrah!

I can now go 5 days no wash and feel completely comfortable with my hair, but every month a day is added. I am sure my hair is still learning and that by the time I am 43 I won’t have to wash it ever.

I stretch my hair out to 10 days between washes by making my own dry shampoo.

Dry shampoo: I simply brush through bicarbonate of soda! It soaks up any extra oil but is also a natural cleaner so works dry too. The only problem was that it is a bit too white for my ginger hair so I had the genius idea of adding cocoa and powdered food colouring to it. (Just a 1/8th tsp to 1 tblsp bicarb)

Which, erm, kind of brings me back to the funeral. You see, in the cold this browny red homemade dry shampoo has been AMAZING and I was totally prepared to get on this blogdiggidy and big myself right up for being such a genius.

But then it got hot.

It was REALLY hot yesterday, wasn’t it? Gloriously hot.
Sweaty hot.
Sweaty scalp, cocoa and red food colouring don’t really mix.  But chasing a toddler, crying on shoulders, catching up with cousins doesn’t leave much room for  mirror gazing. So it wasn’t until the end of the day  that my mum, whilst in a group conversation with friends AND strangers, pointed out the brown, sticky mess oozing from my hairline. Licking her fingers she tried rubbing it off- “What IS this?!!” Her: *scrub,  scrub* Me: *blush, blush* “And this orange dribble- it goes right down to your eyebrows!”

Oh, how my Nana would have laughed her second hand  Jaegar socks off.

Chocolate head disasters aside, a few amigos have begun this experiment too and are beginning to find the same results. The main problem is that there is no magic formula. Because every head of hair is unique and every town has different water quality, what works for one person doesn’t work for another – you really have to keep cracking until you find what works for you.

If you want to give it a try you will need:

A good bristle brush – a few weeks ago I got GLOSS WALL PAINT in my hair. I thought I’d definitely need to get out the shampoo but then just tried brushing it and folks, I brushed it right out. Blinking awesome.

This community forum– chockablock with people’s questions and experiments

Some scarves and this video about how to wear ’em:

A slight shamelessness: Remember the point is to re-teach your hair to stop producing oil so you will have to try and stretch out the days between washes.

Gonna give it a crack? Got any questions? Perhaps I could do a Q and A one day… (oof, what a TREAT, I hear you cry!)

PS- If you like ze blog (or just feel sorry for me and my sticky scalp), ‘ow about voting for me in the Thrift and Craft catergories of the MAD blog awards? That would be so excellent of you.