Where the Shampoo Ends: Tame Your Mane with Pantry Supplies

Being unemployed is interesting. For one, you have a lot of time to think and thus develop (and research) new obsessions. You also have time to reevaluate where you’re throwing your money. This is what happened when I moved to Montreal and had to restock my bathroom with shampoo and styling products. Apparently my ‘poo of choice is hard to come by without shelling out a ton, so by the time I made it to my sixth pharmacy and fourth organics store all I could say was, “Fuckit!”

It’s been six latherless months, but I still smell great.

Among my friends, I am late to go shampoo-free. We are not (all) hippies. We do not stink. And some of us now have glamorous shiny locks worthy of Pantene commercials.

Everyone had a different reason for converting away from ‘poo. One dude wanted to stop sending sulfates down the drain. My other friend started her dreadlocks last summer and couldn’t really wash anymore. My roomie was frustrated with the frizz ball that is fine, curly hair and humidity. Another friend could only deal with so much indoor snow before he decided to take drastic measures.

I put off going shampoo-free for years because I relied on styling products to maintain my ‘do. It sounded so weird and I couldn’t fathom how mere baking soda and vinegar could cleanse my hair of wax and spray. When I looked at my account balance, spending a chunk of change on shampoos and styling products seemed equally odd, so ‘poo-free it was.

Since I was a latecomer, my friends had already established a routine through research, experimentation and failure. Although a lot of them have backgrounds in science-type studies, the conclusions are anecdotal. In fact, trying to find the science behind our techniques makes me cry over the lack of consensus. So if anyone is a trichologist or happens to have a degree in sebum science and wants to yay or nay this article, please do so in the comments.

The Change

You’ll have to forget certain definitions and routines you’re accustomed to. Shampoo no longer means that gel that lets you turn your hair into a foamy mohawk. Conditioner no longer means opaque hair lotion. Lather, rinse, repeat has been struck from your mantras.

Your main goal in going shampoo-less is learning to embrace the Grease Beast by letting your scalp find its own sebum (ie. hair oil) production balance. Most shampoos use foamy sulfates to remove grease and debris, which also strips the hair of its natural oils. This means you’ll need to use conditioners and styling products with silicones to mask the dried out state and make your hair manageable again. These silicones are sticky little jerks that will stay on your hair shaft until there’s something strong enough to remove it like, oh say, a sulfate.

Given that this is a neverending cycle, you may have to just cold turkey it. It will not be that bad, but it’s great to do this when you have a lot of alone time in case you do become a grease monster.

Shampooing

Shampoo is supposed to clean your hair of grease and grime. Unless you work in a coal mine or run a marathon through the desert, your hair doesn’t get that nasty. Your scalp secretes your hair oils, so you’ll want to focus your attention there. Baking soda works as an abrasive to exfoliate your scalp of sebum, dirt and dead skin cells.

Fill a resealable container with baking soda and enough water to form a paste. Don’t overthink the water — you just want to be able to get the baking soda from the container to your head without out dropping it all on the shower floor.

Wet your hair and scoop a small amount of baking soda paste onto your hair. Focus on the roots and use your fingertips to scrub your scalp in small circular motions to remove buildup. Rub some more baking soda throughout your strands and rinse thoroughly.

Conditioning

Conditioner is supposed to smooth your hair and make it more manageable. You want to create a conditioner that neutralizes any remaining baking soda and leaves your hair slightly acidic. A low pH rinse closes your hair cuticle which will make the shaft reflect more light and sit closer to one another.

Fill a bottle with a combination of apple cider vinegar and water. My roomie and I use a 1:3 ratio, but some suggest as strong as 1:1 to dilute as 1:6. Experiment to see what works best for you and your hair. Do NOT use it straight out of the bottle since you could burn your scalp if you have sensitive skin. I kinda sorta like you, so I don’t want you to get hurt!

Pour the rinse over your head and massage it through your hair. Make sure you coat all of your strands and let it sit for a minute as you do other shower things. Rinse your hair thoroughly. Be warned, your damp hair will smell faintly vinegary, but it will go away when it dries.  If this bothers you try adding an essential oil.

I promise this won’t happen unless you want it to. Jonathan Saunders Spring/Summer 2009 Via Juicy Mash Kulture

Waiting

It takes time for your scalp to rebalance its oil production. Everyone is different, there’s no way around it. Hold off on shampooing until your hair feels unbearably greasy. On non-wash days, you can choose to rinse your hair with plain water or leave it the fuck alone. Your scalp will slowly readjust so your greasy days won’t feel so gross and your in-between days will be fantastic. Currently I’m shampooing my hair every five days and no one has attacked me with Febreeze.

If you really want to continue washing with store-bought shampoo and conditioner, try to limit it to once a week. Use silicone-free products so you don’t have to deal with build up. They’ll be more expensive than your normal shampoo, but you’ll be using them at a slower rate. Anecdotal evidence says continuous shampooing causes a prolonged grease phase, but some people like their suds.

Styling

Natural grease tends to be a great styling product. Brush your hair with a natural bristle brush to distribute the sebum from the roots to the tips. Your hair will tend to stick to itself giving you volume and oomf that you didn’t know existed. Plus you can use the money you saved on waxes, pomades and sprays to support sites that help you save money.

Add texture with a beach spray. Fill a spray bottle with a tsp of sea salt and a cup of lukewarm water. Spritz your locks to add texture, separation and definition. If you want to add a bit more crunch you can try adding coconut oil or gel to your bottle.

Use starch as a dry shampoo when you’re short on time or have a particularly gross day. Simply shake some (I recommend tapioca or rice starch instead of cornstarch) onto your roots and use your fingertips to rub it in. Let it sit for a few minutes, then brush it out.  The starch will absorb the excess oil and give your hair volume. If you have lighter hair straight starch is easy, but if you’re on the darker end of the spectrum you may want to try a tinted concoction.

You’ll find that the natural oils will give your hair weight, body and sheen. Like a fine wine, your hair will improve a bit more each day you go shampoo-free. People will comment on your hair and ask your secret. You can flip your mane directly into their face, wink and coyly say, “I secreted it myself!”

 

Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

Kristen has written 140 articles for us.

55 Comments

  1. Okay, here’s my problem: my hair always smells delicious when I’m done shampooing it, which is a great cue for the girlfriend to initiate “damn, you smell good” after-shower sex. And I feel like smelling faintly of salad dressing when I step out of the shower kind of kills that. Is there anything you could add to your hair afterwards that will make it smell good? (I know there’s that rosemary recipe but that still reminds me of salad dressing or marinade.)

    • If you do find there’s a bothersome linger, you could dilute your rinse or just rinse your hair longer. The scent really does disappear once it dries, so you have to just wait it out. The smell may pop up again if you get wet (sweating, rain), but I haven’t noticed anything significant.

      If the main concern is sex, I recommend skipping a step and taking the shower together. Jus’ sayin’

    • You can try massaging in essential oils to the ends of your hair. You want to avoid the roots (otherwise, it’d defeat the point of the whole no’poo thing), but it would help with the smell. HTH!

      But Kristen’s right – the smell dissipates almost immediately once your hair is dry.

    • One suggestion I’ve heard is to keep a cinnamon stick in the bottle that you use to mix your water and vinegar. Then you might smell slightly of muffins, rather than salad. And really, what queer lady doesn’t want to smell of muffins, AMIRITE?

    • Well for all you coal miners out there, this technique may very well work. It’s really an experimentation game. I find when it’s warm and I end up dirtying my hair more that I do need to wash it with BS/vinegar more.

      This means my hair’ll be a bit drier since it doesn’t build up as much grease. For me (short hair) this wasn’t a problem, but my roomie has long, fine hair which ends up with a lot of static. She smooths a teensy bit of jojoba or coconut oil to give it some weight.

  2. You can also use hot olive oil treatments for deep conditioning.

    And if you have dandruff problems, tea tree oil is your best friend. Just massage it into your scalp, leave it over night, and wash it out in the morning. Amazing.

    I love this shit.

    • So, I have pretty short hair (longest part ~3in, some buzzed) and I just brush it out with a soft brush really well before and after rinsing it real well in the shower (no baking soda or anything). I still use styling wax in it sometimes, but don’t really have any trouble with it staying. I wash with natural soap every few weeks.

      I started this for vain reasons as my short hair got really poufy after washing and it made me sad. After the oils balance you need products like wax a lot less.

    • I’m buzzed from 2-4 around and then longer on top. It worked for me! No lies, no foolin’. I guess it depends on how you wanted to style your hair. If I just want it smooth, it works out fine. If I want more height I’ll use dry shampoo and a bit of salt spray. I sometimes do pincurls with bobbypins and good ol’ fashioned Kristen-made grease. If you’re more of a mohawk type gal you probably need some extra help.. but then that just means an extra wash.

  3. I have wanted to ditch shampoo and go with baking soda/vinegar for years, but I haven’t yet because I am scared, and also because I don’t know how to get over the urge to build a childhood science fair volcano with the baking soda and vinegar instead.

  4. i too can vouch for the salt trick. if you are lucky to live near a body of saltwater, you should just go for a dip! i get the best hair every time i go in the ocean and then ride my bike down a couple of hills. perfect pomp-esque styling via wind power!! plus ocean smells super bomb

      • salt does dry it a bit, yes, but with the right amount of oil it can shape it well. and yes, my hair is of an italian/cuban/austrian breed and is thick and a bit wavy when longer…and like everyones hairs, produces its own oil that i use to style it.
        but i can relate to dryer hair… my sis got the dry ringlets of frizz curl via some of our cuban jeans. When she stopped with shampoo and “anti-frizz” products, her frizz dramatically reduced! she tried everything before, now she gets curly pride from so many compliments. have faith curly one 🙂

      • You can do a beeswax pomade. Grate the beeswax and mix with oils appropriate for your hair. Oh yeah heat in a double boiler. Pour in container properly sterilized and let cool. Or buy some MyGel if you don’t want to make stuff. When I need a stiff styling product I use MyGel because the flaxseed gel I use isn’t that stiff.

  5. I stopped using baking soda b/c of the ph. It melts the hair which makes it feel soft but ultimately damages the shaft. Better to use green tea and ACV. Then condition with mayo or egg/egg yolk and oil (or if your hair is oily then just the egg maybe whipped with a little lemon juice to balance the ph), or coconut milk and rose water. One of the things you really want to do is now lower or raise the ph of the hair too much. Hair has a ph of about 5.5 You want to stay in a range of 5-6. Yes that narrow. My hair is afro micro coily, course, thick, dence and dry.

    Here are some kitchen hair recipes I’ve tried. Some worked for me some didn’t but hair texture has a lot to do with that. If you don’t like the smell of the ACV use lemon juice BUT you have to dilute it a lot. It’s not about how much water you use it’s more about the ph you get.

    Hope this helps. There are some ladies on youtube that talk about this (or have talked about it) in more detail. From what I’ve learned, once you figure out the ph part and what oils/proteins your hair likes the most, everything else is easy to figure out including styling product recipes.

    Hope this helps!

  6. So I mentioned the recipes but didn’t post them… sorry… and I meant don’t disrupt the ph too much… I’m sleepy….

    Aloe Leave In Recipe

    4 oz spray bottle
    aloe vera
    10 drop rosemary eo
    10 drop lemongrass eo
    3-5 drop jojoba
    glycerin

    fill half way w aloe add remaining ingredients and water.

    Curl conditioning Serum

    3T aloe vera
    1t glycerin
    1/2t agave nectar
    1t coconut oil

    mix together. apply after wash and conditioner apply then add leave-in conditioner

    Deep Conditioner

    coconut milk-apply generously and cover for 30 min or longer. Wear a hat for heat retention. Can add oils and eo of choice

    Henna treatment (can subsitute or switch b/w cassia)

    Put on dry hair. Mix body art quality henna with coconut milk and oil of choice. Let henna and coconut sit overnight for min 8 hrs then add oil. leave in min 3 hrs+. Rinse and deep condition. Use gloves. freeze unused henna. After 2 months of weekly treatments can use 1x/mo for maintence. Can rinse w/green tea cleansing rinse

    Pre shampoo treatment

    coconut oil
    grapeseed oil
    olive oil
    honey

    Hibiscus

    make an oil infusion using dry herbs appropriate for hair type. Use as hot oil treatment or as leave-in for ends of hair. Can brew as a tea and use as a rinse

    Aryuvedic Suggestions

    Amla- conditions and softens and darkens hair and brightens skin. Can be mixed with a little water and used as a facial wash

    Oil Infusions

    Strengthening and Softening
    Almond or Olive oil
    Amla
    Hibiscus
    Cassia

    Growth
    Almond, jojoba, olive oil w/rosemary, lemongrass, horsetail

    Cellulite
    Almond oil w/juniper

    EO
    Lemongrass and rosemary
    Orange and camomile
    Lavender and vanilla
    patchouli and ginger
    honeysuckle and jasmine

    cermide oils-sunflower, hemp, wheat germ

    Leave in conditioner/detangler

    aloe 1/2 C
    Distilled water 1/2 C
    Silk Amino acids 1/2-1t
    Panthenol (vit B5) 1t
    glycerin 1 t
    guar gum 1t
    rosemary EO 7 drops
    Lemongrass EO 7 drops

    put in food processor 3-5 mins

    Green Tea Cleansing Hair Rinse
    Organic Green Tea 1 bag-
    Organic raw apple cider vinegar 2-4T
    raw honey 1T
    purified water 2-3c water
    spray bottle

    steep a green tea bad in 2-3C water 30-60 mins. Rinse hair w/clean water and spray tea rinse on scalp and hair and massage scalp. Once saturated let sit for 5 minutes. Use remaining tea to repeat before rinsing. Use aloe, shea butter, hemp oil, camellia oil and guar gum to detangle

    Softening Treatment
    1t dried catnip leaf and flower
    1c distilled water steep up to 5 hrs

    Catnip tea. Saturate cover leave 30 min as deep conditioner. Can leave as a leave in to help detangle.

    Light cleanser
    Soapwort root 4-6T dried
    distilled water 2C
    EO (optional)

    Steep overnight. Last about a week. Will also remove makeup. Light cleanser

    Deep cleanser

    2T rhassoul clay
    3C distilled water or aloe vera

    Try a squeeze bottle w/applicator tip to apply. massage scalp then squeeze through hair and rinse w/an herbal rinse. Can mix w/conditioner for extra cleansing power. always use a plastic spoon

    Misc
    emu oil

  7. a) Shanel, you are a baller. That is the most informational comment EVER.
    b) I haven’t tried so many homemade hair things before, but changing to natural sulfate-free shampoos (and cutting out products with silicones) has made my curly hair INFINITELY more manageable – less frizzy, softer, all that jazz – and my scalp definitely produces less oil now that I wash less frequently. So even if DIY isn’t your thing, cutting out harsh sulfates and washing less frequently is definitely still a great idea.

    • LOVE YOUR CURLS!!!!

      Thanks Hannah! I wish you luck in your poo free journey. There are some wonderful people on youtube talking about this and making and sharing recipes. I really like naptural85. Kimmaytube is a bit harsh sometimes but she’s very informative. Depending on your hair texture you may want to check out Taren something (I forget the numbers after her name for her channel) and AfricanExport. My hair is curlier than all of them (I call it coily, the curls are really small and really tight and tend not to clump too much so you get frizz but since the nature of my curl pattern is to frizz because it doesn’t clump I work with that…think traditional afro but it does clump a little so a slightly chunky afro). It takes patience but understanding the following really helps:

      1) PH balance. Your frizzy hair will clump better if the ph is balanced. It will also be shiny. Naturally straight hair will turn silky and glossy. Naturally curly or coily hair will clump better and get a shine as opposed to the duller sheen effect, which is nice but usually not what we want…we want shinny hair too!

      2) Protein/Moisture balance. The PH helps regulate this.

      3) Protectant. For me this is oil. My hair is dry. I have to seal in the moisture. What I seal it with depends on how I style it but I try to use shea butter or if I want a lighter look coconut oil because both have good UV protection.

      4) Nutrition. You have to nourish your body and vital organs first. Your body will not send nutrition to your hair if your stomach or brain need it more. So you may need to add some directly to the scalp and hair. I do that with oils. So I’ll use vitamin E, jojoba oil (it’s the closest oil to hairs natural sebum), castor oil and essential oils depending on what my hair is doing and what I need my hair to do.

      5) Goals. What are you trying to do with your hair? Do you want to grow it super long? Do you want low maintaince? Do you want to protect it from the crazy color changes? I did my hair totally different when it was hot pink then when it’s dark brown. And remember. It’s hair. You have the right to change your mind. It will grow back unless you have a medical condition then that’s something else. So maybe your goal is healthy scalp. Also remember, the hair follicle is living. The hair it’s self is dead. Once it grows out of your head the cells are dead. If you damage them they will not self repair which is why you have to cut off split ends, not seal them and let them close themselves back up.

      AND I’M NOT AN EXPERT! I just self taught because I didn’t want to be a slave advertising which tries to tell me I’m ugly anyway selling products to try to get me to look like something other than what I do and doesn’t invest anything in my community. Those companies don’t love me or mine so I don’t want to support them. I’ll make my own and find suppliers for my ingredients that appeal to my desires…

      Again… I hope this helps 🙂

      • Agree with Hannah on point “b” and Shanel with point “2,” especially with all the reading I’ve been doing about sulfates’ interaction with hair. To that end, does anyone have any recommendations for pH-balanced, sulfate-free shampoos – especially for straight hair on the dryish side?

        • Green Tea Cleansing Hair Rinse
          Pennytron,

          Try this cleansing rinse for your straight dry hair.

          Organic Green Tea 1 bag-
          Organic raw apple cider vinegar 2-4T
          raw honey 1T
          purified water 2-3c water
          spray bottle

          steep a green tea bad in 2-3 C barely boiling water 30-60 mins. Rinse hair w/clean water and spray tea rinse on scalp and hair and massage scalp. Once saturated let sit for 5 minutes. Use remaining tea to repeat before rinsing.

          Remember you only want to add enough ACV to get the correct PH. Use some coconut cream or coconut milk with some lavendar essential oil. lavender is really good at balancing. If your hair is too oily it will dry it, if too dry it will tell your scalp to produce more sebum. Let this sit in the hair for about 20-30 minutes. If your hair is really dry add a little coconut oil. Rinse out.

          If your hair is still dry you can add a small amount of jojoba or coconut oil directly to slightly damp hair. If scalp is dry add it directly to scalp but not too much, just the jojoba since it’s close to natural sebum. I’d research some more essential oils for dry hair. I don’t have my books with me or I’d look them up for you and I don’t always trust the internet for these kinds of things.

          If your hair is really dry you may want to consider not blow drying it. Maybe set it in big rollers and let it air dry instead. Let me know if that helps because I don’t do much with straight hair as all my family and most of my friends are somewhere on the wave/curly/coily spectrum. At least the ones I talk to about hair.

          • Shanel, thanks so much for your posts.

            Could you tell me how you make sure the pH balance is right? I mean, do I need to invest in litmus paper, or is there a simpler rule of thumb?

            I’m biracial with longish, very dry hair that tends to look dull and that is frizzy unless I weigh it down with a heavy conditioner. I’m sure it’s partly leaving the conditioner in that makes it look so dull, but if I rinse it out I just have a mass of frizz that tangles in a heartbeat. I can’t face curlers or blow-drying: honestly, I have just never had the patience to fuss with my hair that much, or even to sit still while somebody else does. Life is too short.

            I’m hoping your pH tip will help with the dryness, if I can figure out how to put it into practice. Also, is the leave-in conditioner recipe you gave above a heavy one that will weight my hair a bit and help it clump into curls instead of frizz?

            Thanks so much for all your input so far.

            Kristin, thank you for your post, and for opening this topic. My hair has been driving me mad recently; you must be a mind-reader!

          • Megaera,

            I would look at the youtube videos by Taren619
            She has a similar heritage and possibly a similar curl pattern. She does a lot of reviews and I think she makes at least the flaxseed gel.

            As far as ph I’d look for Kimmytube on youtube. But until you get the hang of it you would want to at least consider getting strips. Once you get your formula worked out you won’t need them as much but you’ll want to check it from time to time.

            Now is it your scalp or your actual hair that is dry. These have to be treated differently. If your hair is lacking moisture or protein it will behave dry and break. If you’re not sure which is going on with your hair you can do a strand test. I have to look up what the results of the strand test mean so I won’t go into it now and I’ll look it up again and post later.

            Point is it’s easier to treat lack of moisture than protein. So you can also test by trial and error. Does your hair feel good immediately after you wash it? Do you use some type of oil to seal said moisture in? If your hair is dry you want to use at least a light oil.

            Remember conditioner is lotion for your hair that you rinse out. It should have some oil in it hence egg yolk and oil (ie mayo). Try a gentle cleanser (I love the green tea recipe I posted. It’s gentle it’s balanced, it doesn’t strip.
            Then first try a conditioner without added protein of some sort. If your hair feels good (soft, curls clumping together etc) to see which one makes your hair happy. If I’m feeling I need a little protein because my hair wants protein, I add a little powdered milk or if I’m desperate a little protein powder you would put in a smoothie (don’t over do it with the protein! Your hair will be angry and crunchy and fall in your lap and yell at you for torturing it!)

            I didn’t get nice results with my hair till I discovered my hair like kertain, and silk protein specifically and glycerin. If you can tolerate glycerin (if you over use it your hair will feel like it has a slick coating or leave you feeling greesy).

            Also remember you can always wet set your hair. Your pic looks like you have long hair so if you braid it in a few large braids while still wet, which shouldn’t take long, then let it air dry and unbraid it in the morn, you’ll have nicely clumped curls or waves. Twist work for this as well. And braiding it as it drys also helps it retain moisture. All things we like. Naptural85 on youtube has a wonderful hair routine. She does awesome tutorials is sweet and cute to boot!

            Lavender essential oil! lavender lavender lavender
            You don’t need a lot but it’s so helpful for balancing everything. It’s a balancer.

            I like to be low fuss with my hair too but I want to it healthy. ***ppsssttt**** I sometimes ignore my hair but if I do nothing else I sleep on a satin pillow case, never comb my hair dry, always condition even if I don’t “cleanse”, oil it wet and when long enough braid or twist while drying. If I want it to be speedy I french braid or flat twist.

            You’d have to tell me a bit more about what’s going on with your hair in order for me to point you in more specific directions but hopefully this is a start. First thing would be
            A figure out if you need moisture or protein
            B make sure at least your rinse is ph balanced. The ph being closer to the acidic side will minimize frizz and give you glossier curls.

            Take some of your shed hairs and dip them in a ACV+water solution and see how it curls. This kind of thing is a touch time consuming. So just know it does take a lot of patience but once your hair behaves like you want it’s totally worth it! Keep me posted about your hair journey. This is something I’m insanely interested in 🙂

          • Thank you so, so much for your reply: it must have taken you ages! I’ll watch the Youtube channels you recommend.

            I think my scalp is in pretty good condition – I haven’t used shampoo for years, just a mild natural soap occasionally – but I’m beginning to feel that having commercial conditioner in my hair for such long periods is just not doing it any good. For the last few days I’ve been trying to use oils instead of conditioner: just avocado oil scented with sandalwood essential oil applied to damp hair. It certainly doesn’t give the same results in terms of appearance, but my hair does seem a little less dry. I’ll try using lavender oil, as you suggest, instead of sandalwood.

            Part of the problem with the dryness is probably nutritional: I have a chronic condition that means I don’t absorb nutrients from my food properly. That’s bound to have an impact on my hair.

            I tend not to braid my hair when its wet just because it’s very thick, so it’s always still damp when I loose the braid 24 hours later, whether I do it as one or two braids, plain or french (I think it’s called cornrow in the States?), but multiple smaller braids, as you suggest, should dry faster. I will definitely try this!

            Thank you so much for all these tips!

          • Megaera,

            Have you heard of Metabolic Typing? I won’t even get started telling you about my food journey. I have OB/GYN health issues that have lead me on one hell of a ride. Revelant point is I found out about Metabolic Typing which ask you a few questions and then uses this information to tell how you metabolize the food you eat. I was sooooo lacking the proper sources of protein. Once I started eating the correct foods for my metabolism, my hair got shinnier, more elastic (but not in a water logged way), less single strand knotting, my skin cleared, I’m less bloated, get less gas, have more energy, can think more clearly and have less chronic pain. So if you know you have diet issues I would highly recommend it. If you want the name and number to the guy who did my consultation I’ll leave that for you as well. Nice guy. Canadian.

            You have a LOT of hair! Of course you squeeze it out throughly but also do smaller braids and maybe on a day when you can be around the house so they can breathe. The pillow may be preventing enough air flow. I have that problem when my hair gets longer. But the good news is that the fact that it takes your hair a decent amount of time to dry is that it holds onto it’s moisture, which is good. But if you’re not sealing it with oil before you braid it the water evaporates too fast and too throughly without any oil to keep it from being dry… 🙁 Not so good.

            Some are fancy with their terms. French braids are over handed braids and cornrows are under handed. So cornrows look like buns sitting on top of the hair and french braids look like the hair folds in on it’s self. But some like myself could mean either or… so it can be confusing… don’t mind me.

            Sandalwood is good for stimulating hair growth. So if you want to grow it longer mix the two oils together. But not in your conditioner, I mean you can, but you want it to stay on your hair and work it’s magic. Use it on your light hair oil. It’s so important to seal that moisture in. If it evaporates too fast (which it will inevitably do if you don’t use an oil and your hair is curly because the oil can’t travel down the curls very well) then it will actually dry the hair out. Which is why you’ll hear some people say water dries out your hair. They’re not completely wrong but water is the only thing that can moisturize so alone that statement makes no sense.

            But if the braids take too long do double strand twist. The hair isn’t as restricted so the air moves around it a little better and should increase your drying time.

            I too combat nutritional based dryness (the protein) but I figured out a recipe that works for my hair as it is now. I use Naptural85’s recipe as a base but my hair was sooo dry I had to add extra oil and glycerin. To keep the heavy pomade from being super greesy, which it was but my hair was so much happier, I use something called evenflow. I get it from brambleberry.com. It’s tapocia starch finely ground. It absorbs the greese and leaves my hair and skin feeling silky. It’s a dream!

            Naptural85 can use straight coconut oil to condition her hair. My hair was so dry and angry when I did that! lol Even the coconut cream wasn’t enough. I have to have protein AND oil to create a creamy base. But everyone’s locks are different. My best friend’s sister can use the coconut oil. And upon appearances it looks like her and I have the same texture of hair but what works on her hair doesn’t work on mine. Same with my mother and my sisters. They can use the same products but my hair is a completely different texture from theirs where theirs is while different is similar to each other’s. I have more of my dad’s hair.

            Now with all that said I’m going to say this. Why do we want to fight frizz? Who decided it looked bad? My hair even when soft and healthy will only frizz unless I set it. My hair is frizzy. That’s it’s texture and I don’t try to get it to do anything else. Your hair texture is obviously different and I could see why you would want to showcase the curls in that lucious mane. I mean your hair looks like it would be absolutely lovely in person, fluffy and downy just waiting to be cuddled up to and twirled around fingers. But if your hair frizzes, it frizzes. Work within the frizz.

            All hair is good hair. If it grows out your head keeping you warm and protecting you from the sun and it doesn’t give foul odors or poke out people’s eyes, it’s good. Oh yeah, and when you rinse out the conditioner be sure to rinse with the ACV+water or water with a pinch of lemon juice (LJ is super acidic so you just need a touch to get the proper ph). This will help the curls clump reducing frizz. Then when you seal in the moisture with the oil (I’d use jojoba with your sandalwood and lavender but pure essential oil only) this will reduce it further because frizz is usually a by product of dried out unbalanced ph curls.

            I’m happy to be of service. Keep me posted on how it works out 🙂

          • Shanel,

            The question was posed for a friend of mine (my own hair is pretty different), not sure she’s ready to take the leap from using shampoos to using her own recipes – sorry I wasn’t more specific about this earlier – but I’ll pass it along just in case. Thanks for the advice.

          • Pennytron,

            If she doesn’t want to make her own stuff she’ll want to start looking up the ingredients and see what they’re doing in the product to see if she’s having an adverse reaction to anything in there like the sulfates, or if there’s unnecessary silcone in the product. My hair isn’t straight and when it was it was a perm…so I’m no expert by any means on naturally straight hair. But I would have her try to figure out if it’s dry because of lack of moisture or lack of protein and work from there. Hope that helps 🙂

  8. Just a warning to anyone considering this: I (and many other people) have had a LOT of issues with using baking soda. I’m not sure why it’s so often listed as THE no ‘poo solution, because I’ve met a lot more people who had issues with it than people who had good results! There are other options out there, like eggs, beer, honey, etc. I think some were listed above, and there’s bunch of websites out there with more information.

    Also, I did everything the way I was supposed to and apparently ruined my hair/scalp. Both were pretty cooperative before, but they did not like going without shampoo. I endured seven months of hell, tried every single alternative/pantry ‘poo I read about, and my hair is still a mess three years later. The mere memory of trying to tough it out and “let my hair adjust” sends shivers up my spine. I think I must have acquired some kind of highly resistant super-fungal infection on my scalp. I just remember the agony of my head itching so bad and being so, so oily all the time, even after I would spend thirty minute rinsing it with warm water. I suddenly got horrible, horrible dandruff for the first time while doing this, and again it still hasn’t gone away years (and many prescription medicines) later. 🙁 That’s not to say everyone will have the same experience, but don’t feel like a failure if it’s not for you.

    I have the greatest respect for people who can stand it, but I’m just not that strong. I gave it my best for seven months, but clearly I was not meant to do the whole no ‘poo thing. I love my menstrual cup (when I actually have a period), I love my reusable grocery bags, and I love my all natural homemade dry shampoo. But I just couldn’t handle the no ‘poo lifestyle, for some reason. 🙁

    • So far I’ve been lucky. Like I said I was judging from a small sample set with anecdotal evidence. My friends that had dry scalp found that going shampoo-free made it better, so I’m sorry that it didn’t work out.

      What do you put in your dry shampoo? I’ve stuck to straight tapioca starch so far.

    • You had problems with the baking soda b/c of the ph level which is too high for hair. It melts the hair shaft. You have to have the ph near that of hair and hair’s natural sebum. That’s why I recommended not using that but green tea and apple cider vinegar instead. There are other natural routes. You may want to consult an aestician since your scalp is now damaged. You now have other needs for your scalp. The other question would be how extensive is the damage done and what can you use to heal it. Yes not using regular shampoo can leave your hair acting a little strange if you used silcone based products b/c of the way they coat the hair shaft but with my hair texture I didn’t have that problem. My hair got really soft using baking soda. But it also started damaging the natural texture and curl/coil pattern. If your hair was already straight and there was no curl pattern to break down then the damage done will probably be worst for your hair.

      I don’t think this experience has to do with strength. You should consider yourself strong to realize that something was not for you even though the latest fad said hey this is the thing to do. AND to boot you figured out a solution that didn’t have harsh chemicals, was from your pantry and works for your hair. KUDOS for you! Most people don’t even try so don’t beat yourself up. That’s uneccessary.

      I don’t poo I co-wash. But sometimes I do a homemade cleanser. But then my thing was I don’t want crazy unpronouncable chemicals getting absorbed by my skin. The city is toxic enough on it’s own.

    • I had a similar experience – I gave it up after 3 months because the itchy scalp and awful-looking hair were too much for me. (I already had dandruff, which was one reason I was trying the whole no-poo thing out.)

      For me, Head and Shoulders is what works. Everyone’s scalp is different. I don’t think there’s any shame in using what works best for your head!

  9. I use the apple cider vinegar sometimes as part of my conditioning routine, but as far as shampoo, I gotta have real shampoo. I know the point is to save money, but shampooing my hair is a stress reliever for me. The suds make me happy. 🙂 I do use organic sulfate-free shampoos though (only the ones that still lather up). I also use a lot of the natural oils that Shanel mentioned since my hair is coarse. Occasionally, I’ll break down & get a regular shampoo if it’s new, because I’m a sucker for trying new products.

  10. I am very tempted to do this. Maybe it will sort out the mess that my hair is currently in. With all the rain we’ve had this summer (Britain, obviously)my hair just springs back to ridiculuously curly with a drop of moisture, but now, it’s sunny (for one week only ladies and gentlemen) the hair still doesnt like that and protests against the heat by springing up even more. I like the idea of the olive oil treatement 🙂

    • Why you hating on your curls?!! You hair wants to curl. I really think if you’re going to go natural (be it natural products to get away from chemicals or not being a product junkie or wearing your natural texture) you have to be a bit of a hair whisperer…

      Everyday I have to get up and listen to what my hair wants, moisture, conditioning, co wash, oil, protein, just for me to leave it the heck alone… I get it wrong a lot but I also don’t mind shaving my head bald and starting over. Get some big earrings and lipstick and keep it moving. I love my hair but I’m not attached to it looking any particular way (be it styled or matted). If it’s awful one day b/c I didn’t wear a scarf to bed or was dumb enough to try a wash and go I sport a wig and keep pushing.

      Remember… it’s just hair… it’ll grow back
      But I digress…

      LOVE YOUR CURLS!!!!! lol

  11. Thanks Kristen! I’m giving this a shot.

    Quick question though. If my hair gets super oily and I use baby powder (learned that trick from all my friends in touring bands), does that mess with the oil-balance-ratio-stuff? Just wondering if that is basically doing the same thing as shampooing all the time.

    • Lauren,

      It won’t mess up your ratio. You can use cornmeal as well. It doesn’t have to be powdery, just absorbent. You can mix it with a little lavender essential oil. It’s important that it’s the essential oil and not a fragrance oil.

  12. i started using BS/ACV too, but quickly dropped the baking soda. my boo didn’t like the salad smell so i would fill a cloth teabag with dried lavender, rosemary, chamomile, and whatever else i wanted and pour a cup or so of extra hot ACV over and leave it overnight, and then mix it with water and use that in the shower. i never smelled like a salad of any kind again! plus those herbs are really nice for your skin and hair.

    i’m obsessed with not using shampoo. at this point, i don’t even wash it with anything, i just comb it out in the shower and call it a day. and it fixed EVERY SINGLE HAIR PROBLEM i had. my mane is perfectly unruly and never greasy ever and i haven’t used shampoo now for almost exactly 4 years!

    • Em-Power-Me

      The salt in your sweat can be drying to if you don’t wash it per say you at least want to rinse it (ideally with something ph balanced like rose water or an ACV and water solution) or just condition it. The “slip” as they call it in the conditioner is enough to wash your sweat out of your hair without over stripping it. You don’t have to give up all products if that’s not your thing. What you use to condition it or rinse it is going to depend largely with what’s going on with your hair. Is it oily, lank, chemically treated (relaxer, perm, color, bleach), flaky scalp, hair loss issues…you get my drift?

      So to actually give you some thoughts I’d need more info about your hair.

  13. I have been using this method since reading this article…and I have to express my love of it. Thank you so much, my hair is great, and I’m saving so much money, and earning environmental brownie points. LOVE.

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