If you’re like me, you know that being healthy starts with paying attention to what you’re putting into your body. We think in terms of eating healthily, drinking enough water and getting enough rest. What we often miss is what gets into our bodies via our skin. Anything you put on your skin potentially penetrates into your bloodstream, completely bypassing the liver, the organ of detoxification. If we think about it carefully, it’s even more important to watch what we lather onto our bodies.
More and more people are starting to pay attention to self-care products, what they contain, and whether these things might be affecting our health.
As a long-time vegan, I’m a label-reader! Friends joke that I can read a label in less than a second and know whether or not something contains an animal product. I trained myself to do this with food and it led me towards trying to eat more whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible, rather than processed stuff that contains all sorts. I have a rule I try to stick with food. If I can’t pronounce it, I’m not going to eat it (with the exception of Quinoa of course). I set out to cultivate that same attitude with products that I put onto my skin.
This article is going to focus on shampoo but I encourage you to think about other self-care products that you use as well.
I began to look into all these different chemicals found in our every day shampoos and conditioners and began to find articles such as this one: Harmful Ingredients in Shampoos and Conditioners, and realised that continuing to use these products is anything but self-care! The chemicals contained in these products have been linked to all sorts of health conditions from mild scalp irritation to hormone problems and cancer.
A few years back, I started to wash my hair less. I was still using what I now call regular sham-crap, albeit one labelled “natural”. I started to notice that as I washed my hair less, it was improving in condition and texture and would not need washing so often. This made sense as I realised that washing hair with regular shampoo strips our hair of it’s natural oils, drying it out, causing our scalp glands to work overtime to replace the stripped oil, therefore leading to a greasy hair look, faster. Even the “natural” shampoos I was using still contained many of the harmful chemicals I was trying to avoid.
The more I learn about health, the more I turn to nature for answers and solutions.
About a year ago, I quit the sham-crap and switched to what is referred to as the “No-Poo” method. This method uses Bicarb (bicarbonate of soda/sodium bicarbonate) to cleanse, and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to condition.
So what is bicarb? This weird stuff that you make cakes with and is always in the cupboard? I did a little research and it’s actually a form of salt. As with any new product, natural or otherwise, there is always a risk that you may be allergic so if you’ve never used or consumed bicarb before, you can do a little patch test first.
Please note that not all bicarb is created equal. Some of the cheaper stuff contains aluminium which has no place in the human body. Be sure to purchase a decent, aluminium free source. I use one called ‘Nortem Bio’ that I buy in bulk as I also use it for other things and it lasts for ages.
So what do you need and how do we use this stuff to clean our hair?
You will need:
- An empty squeegee bottle
- Bicarb (aluminium free variety)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Optional essential oils
- Add 1tbsp of bicarb into the squeegee bottle
- Add 1 cup water and shake until bicarb has dissolved
- Wet hair and squeeze the mixture into the roots of your hair, massage into your scalp and leave for 1-2mins
You won’t get a lather like you do with shampoo but when you think it’s the added chemicals that causes this effect, you come to realise this is a good thing. We’ve been so conditioned to think that lathering equals cleansing and it’s simply not true!
For the conditioner:
- Add 1 tbsp ACV into the bottle (or do what I do and have 2 bottles, 1 for each)
- Add 1 cup water and shake
- Option to add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil for fragrance
Work the mixture into the ends of your hair and work your way up to the scalp, be careful not to get any in your eyes as the vinegar may sting (if this happens, rinsing with clean water makes it go away quickly).
- Comb through.
- Rinse out
(You may need to adjust the measurements for thicker/longer/coaser hair – my hair is long but quite fine).
I was amazed at how well the Apple Cider Vinegar conditioned my hair, the comb just went right through. I don’t know why I expected it to be kind of sticky, but it isn’t at all!
Once my hair is dry, it feels cleaner than using regular shampoo. It’s shinier (that’ll be the ACV), and maintains a great condition. I can go longer between washes. However if I’m going to the gym and sweating a lot, needing to wash my hair more often, I can do so comfortable with the knowledge that I’m not stripping my hair of its natural oils.
When I’ve discussed this with friends, the same questions and comments always arise;
“Doesn’t it take longer as you need to “make” the solution?”
Admittedly, this takes a small amount of preparation and therefore it is not as convenient as simply grabbing a bottle off the shelf and squeezing some into your hand. But what price are you prepared to pay for that convenience? If you keep a jar of bicarb, a small bottle of ACV and a spoon in your bathroom, it takes less than two minutes to prepare what you need.
“Is there an adjustment period?”
As far as I have read, yes, some people have reported that it can take a couple of weeks for their hair to get used to washing this way and they may suffer a few bad hair days while this is happening. For me personally, I didn’t notice any transition at all but then I had begun to wean myself off washing my hair so frequently to begin with. Surely this minor inconvenience is manageable knowing that you’re not putting toxic crap onto your scalp every time you wash your hair?
“But I go to the gym and often shower there, this seems like a real hassle?”
Not at all, simply pop the powder and AVC into their respective squeegee bottles and have them in your bag. You can then add the required water while in the shower.
A bonus to this method is the cost! It’s so cheap! Even when buying the decent bicarb and organic ACV, especially if you can buy in bigger qualities and store it – or use it for other things – then it’s even more of a bargain.
Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Have you tried this method? Did you get on with it? Do you know of any other natural methods for hair-washing?