Every hero becomes a bore at last.~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I don’t like admitting defeat….ever…. but I have to admit baking soda has beaten me. I had planned, initially, on issuing a “no ‘poo” challenge to you, my readers, but something, in the back of my mind, made me think I should try it and see the efficacy and sheer workability of it all.
Most of you remember that I am a huge fan of the Oil Cleansing Method or OCM and that I even mix my own oils much of the time (unless I am travelling and then I take along my One Love Organics Skin Savior Balm and May Lindstrom The Clean Dirt which keeps my skin glowing no matter where in the world I am). I really love being “crunchy”. I have such fun coming up with new recipes for household cleaners, hair oils, and pretty much anything that would, under normal circumstances, come in a package with a million, often unpronounceable, ingredients.
I really wanted to love the “no ‘poo” method. I felt like I was in good company with many awesome bloggers such as Crunchy Betty and Nature Moms who extolled the virtues of baking soda and water and ACV. I tried to love it. I really did try hard.
The Baking Soda Fiasco
I should probably start by saying, when I embarked upon this experiment I was already only washing my hair about once every 4 to 5 days. I oil my hair to nourish it and help it grow long and strong before I shampoo it. Many that start the “no ‘poo” method go cold turkey after washing their hair every day. I was already using natural SLS/SLE- free natural shampoos and silicone free conditioners. I didn’t have the major shock to my system that most people that try to go cold turkey from conventional shampoos straight to baking soda normally do because I already am used to coating my hair in oils and using natural shampoos that don’t suds as much as conventional ones do. It was a natural progression…. or so I thought.
I started with the baking soda paste and water. That was a miserable fail from the get go, though I stuck with this for about a week. I used this twice (once and then 5 days later once again). I made a paste using about 2 tbsp. of baking soda and a little water. First, the baking soda paste does not get the oil out of my hair which is a negative to me because oiling my hair is an integral part of my slow beauty routine that I just don’t plan on abandoning because it really does nurture my tresses and make them shine. Oddly enough, it also managed to dry my hair out at the same time as not removing the oil. How that happened I will never understand but happen it did. I even did an ACV rinse after with 3 teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar combined in about 1 1/2 pints of water, run through the ends of my hair. I still had oily and dry hair.
The only troubleshooting guides I could find really involved people freaking out from going from conventional shampoos to no ‘poo so their major issues involved the “funky” feeling your hair will go through even when you switch to a natural SLS and other chemical-free shampoo. My hair already had a beautiful distribution of natural sebum from roots to tip because I had long since abandoned toxic conventional shampoos. I was a completely different animal.
I started playing around with quantities of baking soda and water, making more of a rinse with a few tablespoons down to a few teaspoons of baking soda and varying amounts of water. No dice. I literally could no longer oil my hair if I wanted to use this method and that was a deal breaker. I tried adding lemon juice. Nothing. If I did not oil my hair no amount of ACV would moisturize it. Even adding honey to the ACV (like a teaspoon with the ACV and up to a quart of water) just gave me hair that was either really dry or, when trying to remove the oil, I would end up looking and smelling a little like cake batter.
If you go cold turkey and you don’t oil your hair it will take between 6-8 weeks of hating your hair but you will eventually love your hair with this method but only if you don’t oil your tresses like me. It is fantastic for curly girls! I have fine long hair that I highlight so for me….not so much.
Herbal Powders to the rescue
I gave up about 3 weeks into the experiment with baking soda. I got to where I could only wear my hair in a pony tail or bun and that was just not acceptable. I had brought back some shikakai powder from India with me and mixed it with Aritha powder, placed it in about two cups of boiling water and let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes. I used this in two ways. The first was a paste. Incredibly drippy and even harder to rinse the bits out. I don’t know if I did it right but it did take the oil out of my hair so that was a plus. Aritha powder really is ground soap nuts so all of you who use this as your laundry detergent, it also works wonders for your hair.
The second way I used it is as a tea. I liked this method so much better, mixing it the same way but then straining it and putting the “tea” in my hair. It even creates suds in the shower a little. I could oil my hair and get my hair clean without stripping it. I liked it but it is a little bit of a pain to mix it and a mess to strain it.
I did also still use the ACV to give my hair a conditioning kick.
This all went well until I wanted a short cut and bought Hesh herbal powder shampoo. It has both aritha powder and shikakai powder but also a blend of I don’t know how many other herbs. It was a disaster and a half. I am not convinced it doesn’t have questionable ingredients in it as many “beautifying oils” in India are now (sadly) full of petrochemicals and other chemicals. The good stuff is still made by Ayurvedic doctors and by grandmothers who still use traditional wisdom but don’t get me started on Darbur or any other mass manufactured product there. Anyway, in my bid to take a shortcut with this ready made powder my hair ended up very dry and seemingly coated with some sort of film that it took 2 weeks of oiling it, leaving the oil in for 24 hours at a time, every other day and then using a good natural shampoo and conditioner to get my hair back to its shiny bouncy norm.
What I kept from the experiment
I still use the ACV rinse. Sometimes I substitute lemon juice for the ACV but mostly it’s the ACV. I, every now and again, use the herbal powder mix of shikakai and aritha as a tea but only when I have a LOT of time on my hands. I still oil my hair every four or five days and I only use natural shampoos and conditioners. Though I have a review coming up, I have to tell you, my new love is Body Deli Living Shampoo. More on why in a little while.
As a protein pack I will, every few weeks, use about 2 cups of coconut milk mixed with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and about 2 tablespoons of aloe (or sometimes just the coconut milk) on my dry hair and let it soak in for about an hour before I shampoo. Alas, I still buy my shampoo. I am a girly girl and I do love my indulgences.
I hope, if you do want to try the no ‘poo method you let me know as I do know how to make it work for most types of hair but for me, it was such a failure I couldn’t even issue the challenge but I know many more people that do it and love it.
They say you can’t win ’em all. I think I will stick to my non-toxic and luxurious natural, organic shampoo!