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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.

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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.