I've always prided myself on having nice hair. All through my school years, my hair was long, blonde, thick, and in my opinion, one of my best features. I could wear it up or down, straight or curled, and it never gave me problems. Of course, junior high was a bit awkward because of some hair-styling follies. But I'm so thankful my mom refused to give in to my pleas for bangs — because back then, that meant your bangs were daily fried by the curling iron and puffed up to be at least half the size of your entire face.
Babies, hormonal changes, and a slowing metabolism have made my hair quite a bit more difficult to deal with in recent years. So, I decided a couple of years ago that the answer to all my hair problems was obviously that I was using unnatural shampoo and conditioner, stripping all the natural oils from my scalp, and artificially caring for my hair. I convinced myself that going no ‘poo would fix my hair issues.
(No ‘Poo = getting rid of shampoo/conditioner and using baking soda + water to wash your scalp, then rinsing with diluted apple cider vinegar.)
My No ‘Poo Experience
The initial “adjustment period” of going no ‘poo was rough, classic of pretty much everyone who does it. When I got out of the shower with freshly-washed hair, it clumped together and felt like coarse straw. When it was dry, it looked like a grease pit — like I hadn’t washed it at all! It smelled really bad, too!
I wore my hair in a ponytail for weeks while I waited for this adjustment period to end, and thank goodness, it finally did. Little by little, the greasiness subsided, the yucky smell dissipated, and I was able to feel somewhat normal again. As promised, no ‘poo allowed me to go three to five days between washes. It saved me all kinds of time by not having to wash, dry, and style as often, and it saved me money because — let's face it — baking soda and ACV are basically free.
I stuck with my no ‘poo routine for over a year. During that time, however, my hair felt like it was getting drier and more brittle with each passing month. Every time I used a heated styling tool, I was afraid that I was damaging my hair. It was always tangled — so much so that I brushed it up to four times a day.
One day, my mom asked me what was wrong with my hair. She said it looked dull and lifeless and unhealthy. Then in November 2012, we had family pictures taken. Even though many of the photos were taken at sunset when the light didn’t shine directly on my hair, I was shocked at how truly thin and unhealthy it looked. I was actually really sad about it.
It didn't dawn on me for another six months that no ‘poo might have actually been damaging my hair.
Transitioning Out of No ‘Poo
When it finally occurred to me that no ‘poo might not be the best option for me, I honestly didn't know what to do. I had been living the no ‘poo “lifestyle” (or whatever you want to call it) for so long that I believed using store-bought shampoo and conditioner again was wrong! That sounds ludicrous, doesn't it? I guess I thought the imaginary No ‘Poo Police were going to arrest me or something.
My first attempt at transitioning out of no ‘poo was what I believed to be the next best thing: homemade shampoo. I tried recipe after recipe, and each time the result was the same. My hair remained dull, lifeless, thin, and unhealthy. The greasiness and the smell came back.
I tried washing it with bentonite clay. I made detoxing hair masks. I bought DIY beauty books. I tried washing with straight water. I used aloe vera gel, coconut oil, egg whites, coconut milk, castile soap, and more. I had it trimmed every six weeks.
None of it was working.
By this time in my health journey, I was having some real issues with my metabolism and thyroid. I couldn’t figure out how to style my hair to hide how dirty it looked and was so embarrassed by it that I wore a hat almost daily. I decided that, however unnatural it was, I had to regain some sense of normalcy.
So I went against my instincts, drove as fast as I could to the store, and read the ingredient lists of every shampoo on the shelf until I found one I felt somewhat okay about using. I promptly drove back home and got in the shower (for the fourth time that day) to try yet again to de-grease and de-odorize my hair.
Well, it worked. That one wash removed the gunk and the smell. My hair felt soft and smooth, didn't tangle, and actually had a bit of shine. I continued going as many days as possible between washes, and my hair continued to improve.
The shampoo and conditioner I bought at the store that day were not products I wanted to use on a long-term basis. I knew they had questionable ingredients. I knew they were stripping the natural oils from my scalp and artificially conditioning my hair. But at least I found something that would allow me to feel good about myself again and would buy me time while I searched for a more natural alternative.
After many more products, trial periods, and some good and not-so-good results, I finally found products that work for me and meet my high, natural standards. I use and love Shea Moisture's Sea Kelp & Argan Oil Shampoo and Restorative Conditioner. The ingredients aren't perfect, but they are all listed and explained on their site. These products have a very low EWG database rating, and I love that they are free of so many of the harmful ingredients used in most commercial products. No parabens, phthalates, paraffin, formaldehyde, propylene glycol, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance or color, petrolatum, or DEA, and no animal testing.
I've also tried 100% Pure's Burdock and Neem Shampoo. I use this every couple of weeks as a cleansing shampoo because I still feel like I get a bit of gunk build-up at times.
My hair-care routine definitely isn't perfect, and I still experiment at times with different products. In the future, I want to try Morrocco Method products. I've only heard about this company recently, but I like what I'm learning about them so far. (Note from Wardee: I *love* MM's Blood of the Dragon hair gel!)
I certainly don't think everyone should have two or more hair products in their showers, and as I experiment to figure out what works for me, I look forward to the day when I hone in on “the one” that works for me and my body.
Many people have great success when they ditch their bottled shampoo and conditioner and go no ‘poo (like Jenny did). I, unfortunately, was not one of those people.
I'm fairly certain that the metabolic issues I was experiencing at the time were causing all sorts of hormonal changes and imbalances in my body, which appeared outwardly as greasy, thinning, and brittle hair. Since beginning a nutritional balancing program over a year ago, my hair has steadily grown and thickened. I believe it is also an outward sign of the inward healing that's taking place, slowly but surely, in my body.
I've even noticed that my scalp changes depending on what time of the month it is. Closer to my cycle, my scalp is more oily and even a bit itchy. I have to wash my hair every 2 to 3 days during this time. Further into the month, my scalp normalizes and I can go 4 to 5 days between washes. Again, this is my theory that my hormones are still balancing out and will eventually settle down — and make my hair more predictable.
I'm also happy to report that I'm no longer having my hair professionally dyed or highlighted. That's right — as my hair has gotten healthier, I've been able to go back to my natural color! I always thought I had dingy, dishwater blonde hair, but I actually really like the shiny, dark blonde that God gave me, and I've even noticed that I have some natural highlights!
I doubt I'll ever try no ‘poo again. I just didn't like the way my hair looked, felt, or smelled. I've since read countless testimonies like mine — women who tried no ‘poo, who desperately wanted it to work, and who ended up going back to shampoo and conditioner. I don't think that makes us failures. I think it's one more example of how not everything works for everybody. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to ANYTHING.
Have you gone no ‘poo? How did it work for you?
By the way, I meant it when I said “not everything works for everybody” — because no ‘poo worked for Jenny and you can read about that here.
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