Have you ever tried to go shampoo free? I tried once a few years ago and it didn’t go well but this time it went much better! I think I found the best way to go shampoo free!
When I wrote an article recently about the dangers of automatic air fresheners, I found out that just one fragrance can be made up of over one hundred chemicals and that many of them are known to create health risks. Chemicals in personal care products and cleaning products are not regulated in the same way as the ingredients found in food or drugs.
Personal Care Products – Scented and Dangerous
For years, I have struggled with the scents in personal care products and the one that bothers me the most is shampoo. I had found one that worked well in my hair and did not have a troublesome scent and I used it for two years before they stopped making it. Since then, I have tried many brands and cannot find anything suitable.
When I apply shampoo to my hair, I feel “fuzzy” in my chest. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. The sensation happens almost immediately and is accompanied by slightly watery eyes and burning in my nose. This reaction happens even if I only use a pea-sized amount of shampoo.
After the research, I started feeling really uncomfortable knowing that my reaction is not
something that should be taken lightly. Many chemicals are known to trigger asthma attacks, contribute to respiratory illnesses and even cause cancer. I knew firsthand about sinus and respiratory issues which is why I was researching the air fresheners.
What to Avoid
Here is a list of some dangerous chemicals in shampoos. There is an abundance of information about these available online and no point in me repeating it here. If you want more details about the chemicals, look HERE.
1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
3. Diethanolamine (DEA)
4. Triethanolamine (TEA)
7. Polyethylene Glycols (PEG)
8. Retinyl Palmitate
9. Synthetic Fragrances
10. Synthetic Colors
13. Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
14. Sodium Chloride
15. Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Another of My Why’s
My Discovery: The Best Way to Over the years, I have had three different hairdressers, all personal friends, tell me that I wash my hair too much. As a result, I have on more than one occasion, experimented with washing my hair less often. Sometimes I managed to get to a place where I could skip a day but I hated the way it felt and sometimes ended up washing my hair mid-day because I couldn’t stand it any longer. When I tried to give up washing my hair altogether, it was a disaster! I don’t think I made it through the third day.
Go Shampoo Free
One day, a couple of weeks ago, as I was pondering my dilemma, I remembered that as a child my brother spent some time in the hospital with his broken leg in traction and they used dry shampoo in his hair. My mother said that it worked “surprisingly well”.
Maybe that was the key to getting through the itchy, oily “yuck” of unwashed hair. I didn’t run out and buy any because I assume it also has scented chemicals in it and would probably bother me as much as the baby powder does. Instead, I got the brilliant idea to try baking soda. Not surprising considering I’m a “green” cleaning lady, right? Baking soda absorbs stains and odors, why not try it on oil? Besides, I have an abundance of it.
I decided to quit using shampoo.
Here’s What I Did:
For the first three days, I shook baking soda into my dry hair and massaged it into my scalp before brushing it out. That seemed to work amazingly well. I didn’t have any itching and my hair didn’t look oily. (It seemed to highlight the gray, but gray hair doesn’t bother me.) Later, in the shower, instead of washing my hair with the shampoo I rinsed it thoroughly with hot water while massaging my scalp with my fingertips and then dried it with a blow dryer.
I suspect that cornstarch would work as well as baking soda but that’s not something I use very often in cooking and didn’t feel like searching through the cabinets to see if I could find any, especially since the baking soda was working so well.
After the first few days with baking soda, I stopped using it and instead just rinse my hair daily in hot water while massaging my scalp with my fingertips. That’s all there is to it!
As of this writing, I have been shampoo-free for two weeks! My hair is healthier than it has ever been and it is much more cooperative. My scalp does not itch and my hair is not greasy. Best of all, my lungs are happy and I am not constantly worried about harming my body or frustrated that I keep purchasing more products that aren’t any better.
The “No Poo” Movement
In preparation for writing this article, I decided to do a little research on the dangers of shampoo and what others are doing to avoid using it. That’s how I found out that there’s a whole world of people living life without shampoo! Some of them have been doing without for several years and they are very pleased with the results.
Within the “No Poo” movement, many people are using baking soda and vinegar in their hair. Everyone seems to have their own method and it makes sense to experiment and find out what works for you. Based on my research, this is what I would suggest:
Baking Soda Wash:
- Start with a tablespoon of baking soda in a spray or squeeze bottle.
- Add about a cup of warm/hot water and shake it well.
- Spray this onto your roots and let it sit for about a minute.
- Massage scalp thoroughly with your fingertips.
- Rinse well.
- Start with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a spray or squeeze bottle.
- Add about a cup of warm/hot water and shake it well.
- Spray this into your wet hair.
- Massage and rinse.
Adjust the amounts of baking soda and vinegar until you come up with the formula that works for you. Some people do half baking soda or vinegar to half water.
There’s a good bit of chemistry involved in baking soda and vinegar and I am not a chemist. I also really don’t like the scent of vinegar. What I do know is this: Combining baking soda and vinegar causes a chemical reaction that makes a great, overflowing, fizzy mess. The combined ingredients do not make the ultimate green cleaning solution as you may have read. Separately, they can be effective and many cleaning tasks but together they are about as effective as saltwater.
Also, there’s some science about the PH balance of hair care and the baking soda and vinegar sort of balance each other out. You can Google that if it matters to you. I suspect that some people just feel the need to do something and due to the popularity of baking soda or vinegar as miraculous “solve anything” products, that is what they have chosen to do. My hair is doing just fine without either.
A Note About Hair Brushes
One of my hair-dresser friends recommended that I use a boar bristle hairbrush. Beware: If you go online searching for a boar bristle hairbrush you will come up with dozens of brushes that use the words “boar bristle” just to draw attention to themselves. Although they may be fine brushes in many ways, a genuine boar bristle hairbrush is made with hog hair, not metal pins. A brush with a wooden handle should last a long time.
Here are some benefits of using a boar bristle hairbrush:
- The brush distributes the oils in your hair from the roots to the ends which means less frizz, more volume.
- It massages your scalp and stimulates blood flow, which feels really good.
- It adds a natural shine as it distributes the oils.
I’m quite happy with my hair, although it has only been two weeks. I feel like I have made it through the difficult “trial period” and my hair is responding nicely. So far, no one has given me dirty looks or backed away like I’m some sort of freak. Hopefully, I will be able to come back in a few months with an update and pictures.
My next goal is to give up deodorant. Stand back, people! This could be bad!
Some Items That May Help:
I am very happy with my hair! It has become very soft and manageable. I am not having any itching or discomfort. When it becomes oily, I use baking soda. I have not tried vinegar and don’t see a need to.
I am still happy with my hair but I have made the following adjustments:
- I did not like using a spray bottle for the baking soda because, after the first use, my concoction was cold which made it very unpleasant to use and it clogged the spray nozzle. Instead, I found a small plastic canister with a lid and filled it with dry baking soda. About every other day, I pour some into my hand and add enough water to create a paste which I use like I would any shampoo.
- I am not a fan of vinegar but because it comes highly recommended, I gave it a fair try. Yuck! I just don’t like vinegar and my hair was limp by midday.
- I purchased a boar hairbrush. The bristles are very close together, so they do not penetrate my thick hair and massage my scalp at all but it is probably effective as far as distributing the oils.
P.S. I tried several “natural” deodorants without success.
Are you looking for a safer alternative to personal and skincare products? Read this guest post to find out which ingredients are hazardous and where to find safer products.
I did a bit of traveling over the summer and one place I stayed had a natural shampoo that did not make me sick and I tried it because I had been missing the lathering aspect of washing my hair. It was okay and led me to experiment with other natural products. I found a shampoo bar that I used for a couple of weeks and later purchased another natural shampoo.
My hair started to feel synthetic, like a doll’s hair.
I am back on baking soda with one minor adjustment: I bought a shaker bottle like those used for parmesan cheese or red pepper in pizza shops. Before my shower, I hold my head over the sink, shake baking soda on any oily areas, work it in just a little and let it sit while I am choosing my clothes for the day. I rinse it out in the shower.
My hair is healthy, not too dry or too oily, and feels soft to the touch.
P.S. I found a deodorant! Effie has already shared my story and you can read it here.