"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Friday, February 24, 2012

Food on Your Face; Food in Your Hair

I detest blog posts about what the author is "going to do", or "wants to do." Heck, I could make three posts a day based on everything I'm wanting and planning to do! So I've spared you these posts for over 6 months, while fine-tuning them and, hopefully, making them more than just interesting ideas.

If you've got any degree of crunch in your step, you've most likely heard of "No 'Poo." (As one of my friend's husbands said, reading over her shoulder, 'You know I tried that, but by day three I really had to go....') No, not that kind of poo. 'Poo as in short for shampoo. No shampoo.

Slightly more obscure is the OCM, Oil Cleansing Method, which is a way to wash your face without soap. I'll get to that tomorrow.

First, the No 'Poo. The basic concept is quite simple- use baking soda to 'wash' your hair, and apple cider vinegar to 'condition' it. Sounds really simple, but it's actually very tricky to get right. You could spend a week straight on the net reading about different ways to do it, how long to wait in between washes, how to troubleshoot hair that's too dry or too oily... you get the point.

Betcha can't tell which 2 heads are regualar Poo and which 2 are No 'Poo (sorry for the grainy pic...):

Baking soda is alkaline and vinegar is acidic, and finding the right balance of these 2 gives your hair the proper pH it needs to be beautiful. But there's no formula for getting it right.

I've decided that it works a bit differently for every head of hair and it takes quite a lot of experimenting before you find what's going to work on your own head. But it is so worth it to get rid of the expense and the chemical bath of regular shampoos and conditioners.

(I actually have No 'Poo'd my hair during the first trimester of each of my pregnancies. I get really paranoid about everything synthetic I put on my body and it's unknown effect on the baby's development. So shampoo is the first thing to go, yes, even the fancy and supposedly safe organic ones. But the first three times I never stuck it out past that.)

And it starts with the dreaded 'adjustment period.' This period can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months, but the general consensus is that the longer you can stick it out, the easier your transition will be. During this time, well, you don't wash your hair, at all, with anything. Period.(But you still shower as usual!)

Gross? Sort of, especially if you have naturally oily hair. Though, after a while, you notice that your head is less greasy, because you actually start to reabsorb your own oils.

Modern heads produce oil on overdrive, because every time you wash with a shampoo, you strip your head of its natural oils. Head freaks out and over-produces more oil to compensate for this. Hence, an evil cycle of overewashing and over-producing, courtesy of, and profitable for, all those rich shampoo companies.

One blogger, with way more time on her hands than I have, actually read through archives of ladies' magazines and papers from the 1700s and 1800s and discovered that up untill the 20th century, it was general practice for ladies to wash their hair about every 2 weeks. And you've seen those soft, glossy, thick up-do's all those ladies had! Apparently, shampooing every day is not a biological necessity!

So how do you do it? Well, after your adjustment period, during which pony tails, braids, and do rags are your friends, you start with a baking soda (bs hereafter) wash. I've read people doing everything from dumping the bs on their head and then rubbing it in under the shower head, rubbing a paste of bs and water into the scalp, dipping the whole head in a basin of bs and water. But the general consensus seems to be that the best way to do it is to dissolve 1-2 teaspoons of bs in 2-3 cups warm water and pour it through your hair. Massage your scalp with your fingers and a cool thing will happen. The bs will react with your scalp's natural oil and produce some small, delicate bubbles. You just made a natural soap reaction! After your massage, rinse the hair with warm water.

Rosie's No Poo'd head:

For the first couple of months, I skipped the vinegar altogether. My head was still producing extra oil. However, in the next few months, my head started getting drier and I added it in. Some people need the apple cider vinegar (acv) all over their head, and others only need it on the ends of their hair. You just have to try it out both ways. If your hair generally seems to oily, back off on the acv. If it generally seems dry, step it up.

Again 1-2 teaspoons of acv in 2-3 cups warm water is all you need. You can add an essential oil to the acv mix to match your hair type. Rosemary is great for dark or oily hair; chamomile for blonde or fine hair; tea tree for 'smelly' or oily hair or irritated scalp; lavender for all hair and if your pregnant (it's one of the few GRAS- generally regarded as safe- eo's for pregnancy).

Well, them's the basics. Here are some common issues you may experience:

*Flaky scalp- can be dryness, or too much bs in your wash, or bs build-up, or something else... for the first three problems, you can massage the acv rinse into your scalp which can help. I've seen some recommendations for using a hot oil treatment for the scalp if it is really bad, but since I have no experience in that area, Google is your friend. Clary sage e oil helps combat dandruff; add a couple drops to your acv rinse.

*Can't comb/ brush through hair while it's wet- this seems pretty normal. Don't force it or you risk a lot of split ends and damaged hair. Always brush wet hair as gently as possible and try a different type or style of hairbrush. Detangle hair well before washing. If dry hair is ok to comb through, then don't worry. If dry hair is still extremely difficult to comb through, your pH is off- keep experimenting with your bc to acv amounts.

*My hair is still too oily- go longer between washes. Rinse hair every 2-3 days in the shower, but don't do the bs/ acv more than 1x/ week. 1x/ 2 weeks is about ideal. Less washing will actually slow your scalp's oil production. Also, my beloved Rosemary Gladstar recommends combing a few drops of an oil-absorbing essential oil into the hair between washes. Try lemon, patchouli, rosemary, tea tree, or ylang-ylang.

*My hair is still too dry- see above. Same advice will give your scalp the extra time it needs to produce enough oil. Use eo's for dry hair instead of oily: myrrh or peppermint.

There are lots of variations on this basic technique. Some folks use the bs as the wash, but continue using a chemical-free commercial conditioner (you want something without glycerine or silicone). Others Use coconut oil rubbed through the hair as a conditioner. Some do the adjustment period and then try to figure out how long they can go between regular old shampoo washings- many say 1-2 weeks. Others mix regular shampoos with No 'Poo; that's the only variation that I think is a bad idea, as it will really 'confuse' your head.

Three heads of No 'Poo'd or Never 'Poo'd hair!

*Does your head stink? Um, no. Even during the 2 month adjustment period of only rinsing my head, even my husband (he has a vey sensitive nose...) thought my hair smelled quite normal. Some people might have smelly heads, but remember that BO comes from bacteria, so if you feel like your head smells unpleasant, use tea tree essential oil in your routine somewhere.

*Can kids do this? Of course. But some kids' heads don't need it- or anything excpet water, for that matter. My kids have, well, never or almost never had their hair shampoo'd. Occasionally we use some Dr. Bronner's castile soap on their hair, but usually it's just warm water. Think about it- if a head never gets messed up with commercial cleansers, it never has to be fixed. On youTube, you can find videos from this woman who explains HWW- hot water washing- where, yup, the only thing you ever put on your head is hot water. Which I wouldn't believe, except that my boys have never had their hair touched by anything, and their hair is thick, shiny, and quite pretty, if I do say so myself.

*Can you do this if you swim in chlorinated water? Probably not. It's important to strip that chlorine out of your hair, and bs and acv just don't have the umph to do that. I may be wrong, though, and would love to hear from a regular swimmer who No 'Poo's.

After 6 months, I still have good hair days and bad hair days, I have to admit. But I've tried so many shampoos, from cheapies to very expensive salon stuff, to too many 'organic' or 'all-natural' hair junk to even remember, and the No Poo works just as well or better than anything I've tried before. And it's so nice to know exactly what's going onto and therefore into my head! I also will admmit that the pH of my hair and scalp have changed since becoming pregnant and I'm still troubleshooting a few things, and I was even tempted to give up during the later first trimester, but things, errrr hairs, are in the process of settling down.

"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."
-Franz Kafka

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a great idea, and I appreciate the info. here, which I think would save me time figuring out these basics by myself! The only time I've personally done this was a summer I spent at Steubenville Univ. where the water was so polluted the ladies regularly washed with bs after shampooing.