Tuesday, July 15, 2014

So, I stopped washing my hair.

(How's that for an introduction back to the blogosphere?)

Yes, I am now officially "that girl."

I promise it's not as crazy as it sounds. Or maybe it is. You can place me on your 'spectrum of internet insanity' of your own accord.

I suppose the more accurate statement would be that I stopped shampooing my hair (but that's a much less radical way to start off a post, right?). It does still get clean. In fact, maybe cleaner than I can remember it feeling? As going shampoo-free has been such a trend in the past year and it can seem so freaking crazy (to myself, too--I still kind of avoid telling people I stopped using shampoo, hah), I figured I'd give you the insight on my experience.

You know, another shout into the great wide internet void.

I stopped using shampoo back in October, primarily out of curiosity.
That's right: if you've seen me in the last ~9 months, I've secretly been almost shamefully unlathered.

But y'all. My hair looks good. I've always had pretty good hair (everything it does is pretty forgivable when you have a unique color, I've found), but this experience has been really different. I think I have liked my hair more in the time since I switched over than I have maybe ever.

About 5 years ago, I couldn't go more than a day without washing my hair before it looked like an oiled mess. After changing my diet, going 2 or 3 days without shampooing could be done, but the tail end of that was often a stretch.
Now? I can go up to about 9 days. 9 DAYS! And still feel like I'm presentable in public!

Ready for a row of awkward iPhone selfies to chronicle one wash cycle? 3...2...1...

[Two notes: 1) these were taken in 3 different places at different times of day...so, sorry for the horribly inconsistent lighting. I promise my hair doesn't change color that much from day to day. 2) days 6-8 were spent with my hair tied up because I was moving and got really, really annoyed with it, you know?]

I started out fully expecting to give this a month or two and then switch back. But for now, I'm quite satisfied with it. Because you're washing your hair with baking soda, it's really really cheap. I can buy a box of baking soda for about $0.80-$1 every month and be set. Making my own dry shampoo (which I surprisingly love more than ones I've bought) makes it cheap, too.  And though I was painfully awkward in explaining this to my hairdresser, she remarked that my scalp looked quite clean and healthy.

There is also the benefit of going "greener." Though this was initially a lesser motivating factor for me, I definitely find it to be a bonus. As I've changed my diet, I've tried to be slightly more cognizant of what I'm consuming not only in terms of food but in terms of overall usage. I'm not great at it by any means, but, when combined with my skin growing more sensitive in the past few years, I've tried to primarily switch to relatively natural personal care and beauty products. I never really saw the personal benefit to this (as opposed to food where it's so easy to comprehend that what you're consuming is directly interacting with and impacting your body's operation) until I read someone note that if things applied to your skin didn't affect your body's workings, then birth control and nicotine patches wouldn't work. That kind of clicked for me.

So, if you haven't decided I'm more or less inane yet, I'll go into a bit more detail of my routine and what I'm using below the jump, including some links I found helpful when starting. (Also, even if you think I am insane, you may want to stick around for the dry shampoo ingredients. Seriously. 2 to 4 ingredients, all of which you probably have on hand. SO CHEAP. SO EASY. You can tell what's important to me. Okay, let's do this.)

My current tools of choice (subject to change anytime I get finicky, you know):
  • Baking soda (stored in a mason jar to keep out moisture and after I knocked over an open box 3 too many times): this is my "shampoo." More on this in a bit!
  • Wide toothed comb: this helps me keep my hair's natural texture. I usually only use it the day I wash my hair and finger comb for the rest of the cycle, but occasionally I'll use it in-between if things are getting especially unruly or I'm going in for a braid.
  • Argan oil (mine is OGX, randomly selected at a Walgreen's): this stuff smells AMAZING. I use just a little bit of it (a few drops, since it is an oil) run through the ends of my hair as a leave-in conditioner or frizz tamer.
  • Burt's Bees Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment: I use this every few weeks as a deep conditioner, following its directions. I'll also occasionally use a very small amount as a leave-in conditioner.
  • Homemade dry shampoo (not pictured): if I ever switch back to a "normal" hair routine, I'd seriously consider using this stuff (unless there's some miracle product on the market I'm missing out on?). I like to dust it along and under my part and hairline at night, using my fingers to massage it in. (Flipping small sections of hair over your part in the opposite direction it usually falls and applying/rubbing it in there especially helps you to keep some volume.) This lets most of the white dust you get from dry shampooing disappear by the morning, and if it's still a bit too oily in the morning I can use just a little bit more.
    • Mix: 1 part baking soda to 1 part corn starch. Add a few drops of essential oil (I usually 10-15 drops) if desired--this will dry but leave a nice scent. Add cocoa powder to tint it closer to your hair color--this will make it easier to blend in (or, I use cinnamon for the red tone). That's it. I currently have mine stored in a MacGyver-ed travel size baby powder bottle, but I previously kept it in a small ring bowl and applied it with a cheap makeup brush or cotton ball, which also worked great. 
I started out by reading this post, and began washing with the baking soda paste (on my scalp) and apple cider vinegar dilution (on my ends--it doesn't smell once dry) the author suggests. My 'adjustment period' lasted 2-3 weeks, during which your scalp's oil production is adjusting to not having to compensate for the ways in which shampoo can strip it. I washed my hair every 2-3 days during this period to keep the oil down a little bit more and just primarily styled my hair in braids or buns. It was never terrible, and I don't feel like anyone other than myself would have noticed the difference.

After a month or two of this (with the washing spaced out more once the adjustment was over), I was ready to quit. I didn't really like the process of cleaning around my scalp with the paste and didn't feel like I was seeing a huge difference. Around this time, I found this post and tried the baking soda rinse (bi-carb = baking soda in the US) method detailed. Somewhere along the way I completely dropped the apple cider vinegar or honey moisturizing suggestions as I felt they mostly left my hair a bit too heavy...and also possibly out of laziness? It wasn't a super conscious decision.

While at my school apartment, the method of mixing approximately 2 T of baking soda with about 1 c of water and pouring this over my head, taking time to massage it into my scalp and rinse thoroughly, worked perfectly. Since moving back home, where the water is notable harder, I've found that I need to add in using the baking soda paste method just along my hairline and part, as this tends to be handled and thus build up oil more. I don't keep to a wash rotation very strictly; just generally washing when the natural oils or dry shampoo build up too much and I feel it's necessary, keeping my hair dry when I bathe otherwise.

Some small notes I should make if you're considering the switch: My hair is relatively long right now. When I chop it all off in a few weeks (or if...I'm convinced I'm going to look like the 17 year old version of myself), the details of my routine may have to be tweaked. I don't spend much time outside, so I don't have to wash more frequently to counter sweat (a good rinse might also suffice). I was also washing my hair with a natural, sulfate-free shampoo for about a month prior to ditching it completely, which I do think helped with my adjustment as I wasn't detoxing from quite as much at once.
(If you're interested but don't want to go all the way, I also found this sort-of-shampoo in my research, which I didn't tried but am intrigued by.)

So, what do you think? Have I become the crazy hippie my brother [jokingly] feared I would be (and this without mentioning washing my face with oil or dabbling with oil pulling)? Is it only a matter of time after all until I pile into a VW van with my baking soda for some permanent couch surfing? I'll keep you updated. ;)

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