Guest post: ‘Poo-free hair care – no bubbles required

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s guest post is from Jenny who blogs at Babyfingers.

‘Poo-free hair care – no bubbles required

Do you already have a hair care army living in your kitchen?
I had never heard of ‘poo free hair care until some friends at our local babywearing group brought it up at a meeting. One lady mentioned how pleased she’d been with the condition of her hair since she quit using shampoo. Perplexed, several of us asked “what do you use?” The answer was simpler and cheaper than I expected: baking soda and apple cider vinegar!

Because I’d been told some people experience shampoo withdrawal I placed the commencement of my ‘poo free hair care on the back burner. Shampoo was working okay for me. Still, I often looked in the mirror to see a brown mop of unruly hair which was three times as voluminous as I desired. The frizz was worse on wash days (I only shampooed every other day) and was especially bad during times of high humidity in the summer or high static in the winter. I identified with Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and had my shampoo to thank for it. When it dawned on me that quitting shampoo could possibly remedy my lifelong hair troubles, I got started.

For about five dollars I purchased a half-gallon of apple cider vinegar and a box of baking soda. I looked around my kitchen for containers and found two sippy cups. Squirt bottles of some sort (recycled, if possible; you might use your old shampoo bottles) are best because they make it easier to coat the hair without wasting materials or accidentally pouring into your eyes. After a little trial-and-error, I now put about a tablespoon of baking soda in the first cup and fill the rest of it with water, then put the cap on and shake it. I fill the second cup with about 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and fill the rest of it with water. There are exact measurement suggestions here. I massage the baking soda solution into my wet hair. Next I add the ACV solution, leave it in for a few seconds, and rinse. It smoothes my hair out and makes it easy to brush. I end with a cold rinse. My friend Julie, who got me started on ‘poo free hair care, also recommends using lavender water in a spray bottle. I use locally made lavender linen spray (not just any lavender linen spray works; it must be made with real lavender oil and water). You can also buy your own lavender oil and mix it with water. Spraying this on freshens up ‘poo free hair between washes. For the first couple of weeks you may need to do more frequent washes or rinses. Alternatively, you could skip the extra washes and wear a hat, scarf, or ponytail.

Eventually my hair began to feel dry, probably because I was using too much baking soda. I tried a deep conditioning treatment of mayonnaise and avocado, which came highly recommended by several sources. To make this treatment you mix one mashed avocado with ½ cup of (real) mayonnaise. Squish it through your hair, put on a shower cap and leave it in for 30 minutes. Rinse well. After this treatment my hair was a little too moist! It became limp and stringy, and it didn’t smell like a rose either. If you try this one, I’d recommend applying it only to the ends of your hair on the first try. Also be careful not to leave it on too long! Another similar treatment I’ve read about and would like to try is half of an avocado mashed with an egg rather than the mayo. It’s similar, because mayo does have eggs in it, but using an egg instead eliminates a ton of oil, which is the first ingredient in mayo. Therefore, it may be better for all but the driest hair. I have used a beaten egg on my hair as a mask and have been pleased with the results even when I was still using shampoo. Besides, if you have extra, the vitamins in eggs (and possibly avocados) will also work wonders as a mask on your face!

My favorite occasional treatment is the sugar scrub, suggested by Julie. It’s useful if you have dandruff or hair that feels dirty or stiff near the roots. For this one you need honey and brown sugar (it doesn’t dissolve as easily as white). Get a small handful of sugar and squirt approximately the same amount of honey on top of it. Rub your hands together, lean over so the length of your hair is hanging down, and massage it into your scalp. It works best if your hair is wet but the shower is off; you don’t want the sugar to dissolve too quickly. It’s the perfect exfoliant because when you are finished the warm water melts the sugar and it rinses out in seconds! This scrub feels wonderful and restores bounce to hair. Follow it with your regular baking soda and vinegar routine.
There are many other inexpensive, natural treatments with which to supplement your baking soda and ACV. If your hair is dry you can condition it with sweet almond oil, coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil (see details here). Some people choose to continue using regular conditioner sparingly; I still have a bottle of conditioner I bought at Whole Foods but haven’t had to use it yet.

Of course, where there’s a need, there’s a product! Terressentials, an organic body care company, makes delicious-looking Pure Earth Hair Wash, which was honored in 2004 as a top product in the Green Guide. I’m hoping to try it soon; although baking soda and vinegar are easy on our budget, sometimes I long for a yummy scent such as lavender or mint. I’ve also read that this hair wash adds shine and makes hair softer. (If you’ve tried it, please tell us how you liked it!)
‘Poo-free hair care is individualized just like shampoo. How many people can say they’ve used the same kind of shampoo their whole life? I can’t; I’ve been through dozens of brands! In the end, though, I have been happier after a month’s experience with baking soda and ACV than I have in years and years of shampoo-sampling. The hardest part of the ‘poo free experience is getting over the idea that bubbles are required to clean hair. Not only are they unnecessary, but they wash out your hair’s natural oils! The ultimate goal is to gently clean dirt and impurities out of your hair while leaving the oils your hair needs. Once I stopped trying to shampoo and blow-dry my hair into submission, I was able to find a balance and embrace its natural body and texture.

For more information on ‘poo free hair care and other reasons giving up shampoo is a good idea, visit this informative post at Babyslime.
Are you ‘poo free? What techniques have worked for you?

Jenny lives in South Carolina with her one-year-old daughter Suzi and husband Jordan. She enjoys practicing attachment parenting and is especially interested in babywearing and breastfeeding. She blogs (and sometimes rants) at Babyfingers.