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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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Eggs are for life not just for Easter: weird alternatives to shampoo

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It’s been 3 months since I washed my hair (to the tune of Barenaked Ladies, obvs)- and I have finally decided my days of shampoo are gone forever.

Of course, I haven’t  given up washing it all together  – I have just let go of the shampoo element; my latest move in the name of eco-thrift.

My last update revealed me to be in a bit of a pickle about it – all that vinegar (geddit), all that bicarb, was stripping out my gingeryness. So I have been doing some eggsperimenting. (You’ll have to just excuse/ admire all these ace puns for a while I’m afraid.)

By way of introduction, can we just have a moment to focus on eggs on the whole? Fried eggs, poached eggs. Key ingredient in cakes and other baking. What about a quiche? Man alive, I love a quiche.  What a completely underrated thing an egg is.

But how about eggs and hair? For real. They are the cats whiskers for your locks. I know! Total disbelief eh? I, too, couldn’t believe it. Never one to rest in my skepticism I cracked on with it. I mixed one in a little bowl and applied to my wet hair whilst in the shower, working it into my scalp and ends. I left it on for a few minutes then rinsed it off with luke warm water. It felt lush! A bit wrong too, like I was having some kind of intimate food fight. But my hair felt like silk with all that egg dripping off it. (Bahaha, I just know this making some of you vomit a tiny bit.)

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This is after 4 days since the egg wash. CHeck out Ramona in the background, she has just learnt to blow her nose. Way too cute.

I dried my hair as I normally do, brushing it through as with my blow drier and I was instantly impressed with the results. Shiny, thick, soft. Since leaving behind my shampoo days my hair has never been so volumous, and it is growing at Rapunzel rates – things that suggest to me the natural way is the healthiest way.

I got 5 days of nice clean hair (including one water only wash a couple of days after) and then had to wear a scarf for the last two days, which were just a little too oily for me. This is the pattern for all my shampoo alternatives – 5 days of good, 2 days of bad. But I am really trying to get into a once a week habit, my hair WILL submit eventually I am sure. Having two days where you are motivated to wear a scarf is an excellent thing I reckon, I do love a nice scarf. And 5 days of clean hair is miles more then pre-experiment. I really only had 48 hours of nice hair, max.

At 35p a pop (yeah, we get the super happy, free range, organic as you can get variety) eggs as an alternative are a little eggspensive, but the sunny side (Up) is that you will likely have them in your kitchen so they’ll make a fab emergency shampoo.

This Easter, why not give it a crack? I’d love to hear about it. Even if you are in love with your shampoo, I do recommend giving this a go, just to help your esteem of eggs along a bit. And to give your hair a bit of a natural treatment. (Of course, all hair is different- it might totally fail on you. Don’t be ashamed, or take it too personally.)

PS I am also testing out a bit of clay as another alternative. I will update about that soon too. Sorry these updates aren’t more regular, I know you are fascinated, but when you only wash it once a week it is quite slow progress.

On not washing one’s hair

I am considering myself halfway through an experiment in not washing my hair. I am so committed to this experiment that at the weekend I even attended a wedding with my 7 week non-washed mane.  If the experiment goes well then it will become life but at the moment it isn’t looking likely.

Let me review the benefits I have experienced of not washing my hair:

1- it is really thick and volumous, the kind of hair I usually would get after blowdrying, hairspraying, dry shampooing and backcombing. It is nice having voluptuous locks after a lifetime of skinny ones.

2- I feel quite pleased with myself, all eco and green and smug.

Ummm.

That’s it. Yeah.

It isn’t going superbly.

You see if I could just do the bicarbonate of soda and cider vinegar wash then I would be SOLD. After washing with those my hair is brilliant; thick, glossy, clean.

But the thing is it also strips out my hair colour and I’m not having that. Last year I discovered I was a redhead in a mousy blonde body and have henna’d my hair every 2 months in order to embrace my ginger soul. If I do a bicarbonate of soda wash I will then have to henna as much as every couple of weeks too and, honestly? Who could be bothered with that?

The experiment has made me think differently about “clean hair”, after a water wash I know my hair isn’t dirty but just filled with natural oils. To me now normal hair does look a bit dry and dusty. A bit of slick seems pretty standard. One day last week I was basking in my natural oils and eco smugness when my mum turned to me and said “It looks like you’ve dipped your hair in a chip pan”. Turns out natural oils look a lot like grease, eh?

So. I have had lots of scarf days while I trial different methods;  hot water, brushing like mad, a henna rinse. I haven’t nailed it yet but have a couple more ideas under my belt.

Cor, mum, your hair smells filthy

I have never thought so much about my hair and it is DOING MY HEAD IN. Part of my motivation in weaning off shampoo was to simplify my life and the things I am dependent on. Ridiculously, this experiment is consuming me!

However, I still have this motivation and hope that over the next few weeks I will somehow nail it. Watch this space!

Update: HOLD THE PHONE! Don’t worry everyone, WET LOOK IS IN!!!!!!!

This post really is about Bicarbonate of Soda

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Just a warning, this could be the most boring blog post you read for a while. Feel free to stop.

It is about Bicarbonate of Soda and not washing my hair.

It is an ode to Bicarbonate of Soda, to be specific. And a bit of info about how I have stopped washing my hair.

I know:  Worst. Post. Evs.

So, Bicarbonate of Soda. It is just so GREAT, this wizardly white powder that costs tiny pennies. I can’t get over it. It has slashed our cleaning budget and removed a host of toxins from the prying hands of our little tot.

For a few years now I have used it as deodorant – yup, dip your fingers in and dust it over your just showered pits and it keeps you dry and stink-free all day. And I am totally not a naturally, smells like roses kind of a girl. I have been trying out more natural deodorants for sometime, like the mineral crystal shizzle, but with no luck.

I have also begun using it for cleaning – sprinkle it’s antibacterial self around the mucky bits of your bathroom, mix with water and spray onto the surfaces of your kitchen.

I use it as a gentle face scrub.

I also, as of last week, use it instead of shampoo.

You see, I am weaning off shampoo. I am 10 days in and so far I only look like I have missed one shampoo wash. It is a little oily, but not stay-in-isolation- oily.

I read recently that women on average put over 500 chemicals into their bodies everyday just through their skin and healthcare regimes.  What the? This is madness! I am sure no one would do this knowingly. This is a rubbish fact for both women and the environment.

I also have a (maybe naive) conviction that, for the most part, our bodies were created to cope sufficiently on their own, and that too much interfering can mess with the body’s natural ability to do it’s thing.

Shampoo is a good example – we strip it of it’s natural oils every time we wash, so it goes on overdrive creating more oils, but then we have to wash it more, until we are on a once a day hair wash rhythm. Meanwhile we are also drying it out, putting random
chemicals on our scalp, and rinsing this chemical cocktail down the plug into the system again. Ramona shows this to be true- 15 months old and we’ve only shampooed her hair a handful of times. So although I use an organic shampoo I have still decided to try “no poo” out on my own locks. I did it once before, mostly out of curiosity, but my hair was cropped, it was summer and I didn’t have a job – it was okay to look a little, um, au natural. It lasted a couple of months and didn’t really revolutionise my hair care.

This time I have just begun back at work (first week back has been excellent, although I do miss Ramona  still) so need a certain hair standard and my hair is long, but I do have a few more tricks up my sleeve to do this effectively:

  • Bicarbonate of Soda – whenever it starts looking a bit needy just make a little paste up and put it on scalp, rinse and Ta-daaa!
  • Lots of “No-Poo” forum and websites for support and tips
  • A bristle brush – I am currently looking for one of these, do you have one? It helps distribute the oils. It means I have to start brushing my hair though, rather than back combing it. I am yet unclear as to how this will effect my quiff, long term. 🙂

Soooo.

There it is.

I will let you know how I get on, as I know you are particularly riveted by this most riveting of subjects!