So I thought it was about time that i did a no poo update since it is now around about 1 year since i started this journey and i’m certainly in very happy place with this right now. In case you don’t already know no poo is a natural form of haircare, yes you still wash it but not with regular shampoo. In particular sulphates in shampoo are avoided (so there some what are called ‘low poo’ sulphate free shampoos out there that are also a decent option) and silicones in conditioners. The idea being that sulphates are harmful for our health and the environment and silicones are bad for the environment (like plastic they never go away!) as well as well as coating your hair in a product that would then require you to use a sulphate containing shampoo to remove or you get nasty buildup.
There are a number of different methods of cleaning your hair that are considered ‘no poo’. The benefit of many are also that they are mostly quite compatible with a zero waste lifestyle and are usually very frugal too. The best resource i ever found on no poo was the r/nopoo on Reddit.
So to summarise my journey:
- Initially i tried the most common method of hair washing which is bicarb soda and then apple cider vinegar. I HATED this. My skin reacts badly to the high phd of bicarb soda in anything (including deodorant) and the vinegar really smelt badly to me. It ruined my enjoyment of having a shower completely. Also i then discovered the no poo community on reddit who are very against this method as many people who have used this long term (particularly with longer hair as buzz cuts on men cut for example cut off the damage before they ever see it) experienced terrible hair damage and the denaturation of the proteins in their hair causing it to break and fall out. I certainly won’t be trying this again.
- The next method i tried and used for a long was a soapnut shampoo i made myself. I’ve posted the recipe before, but basically it’s soapnuts that i’ve boiled in water then removed the soapnuts just keeping the liquid. Then i thickened it with some zanthanum gum, added a little citric acid for preservation and essential oils for fragrance. This worked excellent while i had soft water (desalinated water living in Central Australia). It stopped working for me however once I moved to a place with harder water.
- Egg yolk wash. These you can only do many once or twice a month because they can overload your hair with protein causing it to become too brittle but this is a method i used initially once i moved to my house with hard water to counteract the buildup the soapnut shampoo was still leaving in my hair. Definitely worked great, but as i couldn’t use it often enough for the amount of greasiness my hair was experienced i needed to find another method.Now what i’m finally doing and happy with:
- Shampoo bars. These are still considered no poo as they don’t contain sulphates – unless you buy lush brand which do so AVOID and get another brand. Mine come from a local health store and are locally made 100% free of packaging so i don’t even know what brand they are because there is nothing written on them! Initially when i started despite about 6 months of no poo under my belt, i did get dry hair and had to use some kind of oil or silicone free conditioner to make my hair feel good. After a couple of weeks of using it though the oil in my hair balanced out and now now it feels just fine using just the shampoo bar. I wash my hair maybe 1 to 2x a week with it.
A discussion on no poo is not complete without a talk on brushes as well. Most people practicing no poo use boar bristle brushes. I’m ashamed to say that i did try one of these initially. I felt terribly guilty as a vegetarian with a pig product on my brush and it also had a plastic handle so despite all information saying that nothing else was really suitable on the no poo lifestyle i ditched the boar bristle brush and got a bamboo pin brush (this was all before i considered going zero waste too so mainly i just didn’t like the ethics of my brush and probably throwing it away wasn’t exactly ‘zero waste’). In my opinion though the bamboo brush works just as well and not only is it more ethical it is more environmental being made of bamboo. It is a pain to clean though – harder than the boar brush was but i’m ok with that.
So the take home message i think from this experience is that you probably need to try multiple things to work out what works best for your type of hair and the hardness of your water. I do not recommend trying bicarb soda and vinegar for reasons listed above, but there are all number of sulphate free shampoos, castile soaps, shampoo bars, conditioner-only washes and aloevera rinses you can try – on top of the method that just says use water only and brush often. Check out the reddit page linked above and in particular read the FAQs and wikis on there.
These days i don’t think a lot about any of this – i just wash with my shampoo bar which takes me less time than a normal shampoo conditioner routine. So while i complained previously that doing the research and trying different things and making my own soapnut shampoo was meaning i was spending more time on my personal care than previously – now i can say i spend far less and will going forward so it was worth it. Travelling with just a shampoo bar in a soap container is also awesome compared with liquid products.
UPDATE (16.7.16) – On a trip to visit family in Brisbane for the first time ever i experienced dandruff. Something about the water here or tropical climate or something meant that my shampoo bar/ACV combo just wasn’t working and it was leaving a horrible residue on my scalp. After a few uses of a normal antidandruff shampoo which fixed that problem i decided i needed a better long term solution. To be honest i had felt that the shampoo bar i’d been using was leaving a bit more residue on my scalp area that i really wanted and my hair wasn’t quite the best it could be. I have decided that zero waste is my priority when it comes to my hair rather than necessarily being officially ‘no poo’ and avoiding SLSs. I agree SLSs are bad but right now i think i’ve spent quite enough time and energy trying to avoid them. Hence i have switched to using a LUSH brand shampoo bar and conditioner bar. These do contain quite a lot of chemicals including SLSs so are not accepted as a no poo method by the no poo community. They function exactly the same way as a standard commercial liquid shampoo – the difference being they come in zero packaging. So they are quite compatible wiht a zero waste lifestyle, and i’ve decided that is good enough for me for now. Hence officially this is the end of my no poo journey and probably the last post i’ll do on this topic. Everyone’s hair, water hardness etc is different. So if you are wanting to go no poo yourself i’d encourage you to give it a go, experiment with different methods and do not take my failure as any indication you might too. It is also ultimately about what priorities are most important to you as it does take time and experimentation. X