Going Shampoo Free With Clay

When I first stopped using shampoo, I went with sodium bicarbonate as a cleanser, and vinegar as a conditioner.

I muddled along on this for three months, not very happily, and eventually decided I needed to find something else.

I had seen the odd comment about using clay to wash hair, but had only seen it for sale in the US until I stumbled upon a supplier by accident via this post about cutting down your grocery bill (gone!).

My rhassoul clay turned up in an unassuming white paper bag and I couldn’t imagine what it was going to be like to use.

I felt a little resistance at first, because I was worried about the mess, making up the right quantity, whether it would actually work, etc…

However, it was fine. And I much preferred it to the sodium bicarb. It left my hair feeling cleaner and I think it is a bit gentler on the hair as well.

However, I have since switched back to using organic bottled shampoo (Avalon Organics), as at the moment I am finding it too much hassle in the shower with two small boys waiting for me to get out.

Going Shampoo Free With Sodium Bicarbonate

no poo

On 29th April this year, I stopped using shop-bought shampoo and conditioner.

I wanted to reduce the amount of chemicals I put in and on my body and I’d read a lot about washing hair with sodium bicarbonate. For many people this seemed to be a kind of panacea for all sorts of hair problems.

If you are thinking of doing the same, I have found Alex Raye’s blog to be invaluable. She covers 100% natural everything from shampoo to make-up.

For almost three months I persevered with sodium bicarbonate and I have finally given up (but I haven’t gone back to shop-bought – more on that later).

I think the success of this method depends greatly on your hair type. My hair is straight, very fine, but I have a LOT of it.

The first week

It didn’t start well. For the actual shampoo (or no ‘poo as it is affectionately called), I used a solution of sodium bicarbonate – about a dessertspoon mixed with a cup of water. It made my hair feel instantly rough. Working (rubbing) the watery solution through my hair took a lot of physical effort. I also used a vinegar rinse afterwards, which I really liked once I got the amounts right. The vinegar rinse softened my hair nicely and as long as I rinsed a LOT, there was no trace of vinegar smell afterwards (essential oil really helps with the smell, and apple cider vinegar smells much worse than ordinary white distilled vinegar, in my opinion).

I knew there would be a period of transition where my hair adjusted to its new routine, so I was happy to leave it tied back and let it be greasy between washes. Long-term users report that they wash about once a week, which is what I was aiming for.

The initial problems I encountered were static, flat, heavy hair and grease like I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager. It was horrible.

By the end of the first week, I thought I was probably over the worst (hah!).

The first month

By the end of the second week, I was on the verge of giving up. My hair was constantly disgusting. It was rank. It was hair I didn’t want on my head. I contemplated chopping it all off into a pixie crop to see if that would make it easier to deal with.

It felt the same all the time – it was rank straight after I washed it and it was rank for all the days in between (I was washing about every 3 days).

At this point, I did some research online to see what I was doing wrong. I found this excellent troubleshooting guide here, and this sentence jumped out at me:

Your hair should feel great after your first no ‘poo day.

I was definitely doing something wrong. Even straight after washing it was still horrid. After reading that and searching around online some more, I decided to up the amount of sodium bicarbonate. Instead of a solution I made a paste (a lot of people say don’t use a paste, as it is too harsh, but in my case it was the only thing that worked).

Next time I showered and washed my hair, I rubbed in the paste, did the vinegar rinse and lo and behold – clean hair! I felt so much better. I thought I had cracked it, although I still had to wash my hair every three days (any longer and the grease was just too awful).

The second month

After a few more weeks, I reduced the washing interval to more like 5-6 days. Then I developed a sudden, terrible dandruff problem.

OMG if you have greasy no ‘poo hair and dandruff, it is AWFUL.

My boar bristle brush (which I had used happily for yonks), was constantly filthy. I had to wash the brush each week with soap to get the sticky, greasy hair out of it. It never really felt like it got through my hair and brushing my hair seemed more and more difficult.

At this point I switched to a quality, hand-finished comb that I’d had for years and dropped back to down to washing every 3 days.

The dandruff cleared up and my hair looked better because it was being combed properly.

As I said at the start, I have a LOT of very fine hair. In my case, unless it is commercially squeaky clean, I can’t get a boar bristle brush through it, so the brush has been redundant for a while now.

The third month

I was hoping at this point that I would start to see a reduction in the grease, but no change. I managed on a kind of schedule of washing my hair twice a week and keeping it tied back a lot of the time. But I wasn’t really happy with it.

Then along comes the hottest UK summer weather we’ve had for ages.

Oh dear.

Wash days are fine, but the day after I wash it, although my hair still looks clean, it smells.

It smells kind of musty.

Eugh.

And not only that – it just never, ever really feels clean. Even on the day I wash it, I can still detect a slightly greasy feeling. And I have noticed that when I wash my hair, I lose almost no hair in the shower, but when I comb my hair afterwards, tons of it comes out. It is as though the hairs are all stuck together and it’s the comb that draws out the loose ones.

My comb is constantly full of grey, greasy fluff.

I must just have the world’s dirtiest hair.

Finally, I start researching again.

One thing I did find was that hard water can often make sodium bicarbonate less successful. We have very hard water here. The suggestions of fitting a water filter, or storing a large pot of boiled water in the bathroom (where?!) didn’t seem too practical for me.

And then I stumbled upon something completely different.

Clay.

By this point, after three long months of having crap hair, I was more than ready to try something new. So I did.

Now, to finish off, I know that for a lot of people sodium bicarbonate is a fantastic solution. Many people who have gone no ‘poo with it have never looked back.

I think it is fantastic if it works for you – it is better for your body and it shows a braveness in caring for yourself that I think sets a great example.

I’m really glad I tried it, and the whole thing has shown me that I can live quite happily without commercial shampoo, which is great.

Now I just need to find the perfect solution for my hair. 🙂

No Shampoo – The First 30 Days

My (ongoing) transition to no shampoo has been a challenge.

I’m not sure I could have managed this if I had still been working as I just wouldn’t have been able to go into the office with my hair feeling so disgusting!

However, I will say that now I am 5.5 weeks in, my hair seems to resemble something far more normal and isn’t bothering me too much with being greasy or smelling horrible. It’s even looking fine (and not greasy) for a couple of days following a wash now.

Before I started my hair was generally very dry after washing, even with liberal conditioner. It would gets greasy at the roots after a couple of days. My hair has always been fine, but I have lots of it. It’s fairly straight, flyaway and prone to static.

Here’s how the first month went:

Day 1

First wash.

I use about a dessert spoon of sodium bicarbonate (SB) diluted in a cup of water.

It’s like washing your hair with water. Cold water.

My hair feels very odd after the wash but lovely and smooth after the vinegar rinse.

I get out of the shower and despite lots of rinsing I can still smell vinegar. I hate the smell of vinegar. Once my hair is dry I can still detect the teeniest hint of vinegar. I used distilled malt, rather than apple cider vinegar, which is quite strong, so I’ll pick some apple cider vinegar up (ACV) and see if that is better.

On the plus side my hair feels so soft I can’t stop touching it.

Day 2

I washed my hair as it looks frizzy and flyaway when I get up. Maybe I should have damped it down with water? After my shower it really smells of vinegar to me (I left the rinse in longer this time). I must get some ACV.

There is no vinegar smell once dry, but I am not loving my hair. It must be greasy at the top, as feels heavier and lays flatter there, although when I touch it, it just feels very smooth. The bottom half is frizzier and more flyaway than ever. I’m guessing natural oils need to distribute all along the hair shaft or something. I tie it back to stop it annoying me.

My hair looks darker too, which highlights my dozen grey hairs nicely.

Day 3

AM
washed hair again (i think I’m doing this out of habit). switched to acv, but if anything it smells worse when it’s drying! I hate the smell – I think I might need to use less. I’m not loving this AT ALL. Bottom of hair still horribly flyaway and static. Decide to put a bit of jojoba oil on the ends to stop the static. Even the tiniest smidgeon of oil turns it into a greasy-locks nightmare that looks like it’s still wet. Eugh. I keep it tied back all day.

PM
My hair is rank. It looks such a dark brown too – I think because it is laying flat at the top and it’s usually pretty fluffy. In the evening I rinse and rinse it in the bath with lots of warm water, but still can’t quite shake the vinegar smell. I tie it back while it’s still wet. I want to ignore my hair.

I’m guessing this is the “transition” everyone talks about. Glad I don’t have any public appearances booked.

Day 4

Brush hair with water (which releases yukky vinegar smell) and tie it back. Later wash hair and tie it back. smells of vinegar.

Day 5

Brush hair through with water (smells horrid) and tie it back.

Day 6

Hair is so heavy (from grease??) I have to wash it. Use about a quarter the vinegar from last washes and it’s much better today. No stinky vinegar smell at last.

Day 7

Wash hair as going out in the evening. Smells much better now I’m using less vinegar. Clean even.

It looks so dark, and you can see all the tones and colours of my natural hair really clearly. You can also see my gray hair – they seem to have doubled. I think it’s still too ‘stiff’ to wear down, so I tie it back.

It lays perfectly flat and stays put – no need for anything other than a hair clip, and no frizz either. Quite pleased.

Day 8

Tie it back. Don’t even bother looking at it. Feel like a greaseball all day.

My hair gets hugely static whenever I brush it. Start looking at natural bristle brushes online. They are quite expensive!

Day 10

Haven’t washed hair for two days, just tied it back. Wash it today. No vinegar smell (think I’ve got the hang of it). Dries and for the first time doesn’t look totally disgusting. Doesn’t exactly look soft and fluffy, but I leave it down after drying and it’s OK. Go out in the evening, but tie it back as it’s looking a bit worse for wear by the end of the day. Friend says your hair looks different! but thankfully she seems unable to find the words to say it looks like it hasn’t been washed for a week and a half.

Day 11

Skip the hair wash as I think it looks OK on a water rinse. Then I brush it to go out and meet friends and find it is thick with dust and fluff. And so is my hairbrush. Hair and hairbrush need a wash.Where is this coming from? My hair seems to be attracting stuff rather like the DVD player gathers dust. I tie it back and hope no one notices how disgusting it looks.

Day 13

Am on verge of giving up. hair still greasy, doesn’t smell nice (too much vinegar again) and now I have dandruff too. It. Is. Horrible.

Day 14

Washed hair last night but by 10:30am today I am convinced it smells. It feels thick with grease when I brush it, and my hairbrush feels disgusting again, even though I washed it two days ago.

Contemplate cutting all my hair off as it seems preferably to returning to shampoo (and my short fringe generally looks ok).

Research method online to see what I’m doing wrong. Apparently transition to no shampoo might take six weeks or so and longer to cut down the amount of times a week you need to shampoo. But apparently your hair should be clean and fresh the day you clean it with BofS. Hmm. Mine definitely isn’t. Seems I might be using too little BofS for my hair (my hair is fine, but there’s tons of it).

Make a paste this time (which uses a ton of my BofS so not that economical…) and rub it all through my hair and over my scalp. I up the vinegar again as I really need the rinse to make it feel less “sticky”, but this time I water rinse for 3 times as long afterwards.

Come out of shower and hair does not smell of vinegar. Hurrah! Think I have cracked the vinegar smell, which is a relief as I hate it and switching to lemon juice seemed like a big hassle.

Let it dry and it is so much better. I wear it down without feeling self-conscious for the first time in 2 weeks.

Day 17

Tied up for two days, so wash hair, again using paste and plenty of vinegar for rinse. Hair stays down today, doesn’t feel greasy at all. It’s the best it has looked since I started 🙂

Day 18

Water rinse and wear hair down to meet mum friends for picnic in the park. It looks great! Feeling very pleased to have cracked it and so relieved to have decent hair back after two weeks of grease. Wonder how long I need to go between proper washes.

Day 20

Wash hair as going out for a kids party in the morning and after 3 days it might scare people. Feels great afterwards.

Day 23

Wash hair – it’s really greasy again after 3 days and it smells awful. This time I use some lavender essential oil in the vinegar rinse. The vinegar smell is almost entirely absent – even in the shower! After I get out, my hair smells divine! It’s the cleanest and freshest it’s felt since I started.

Day 24

Wore hair down even though washed yesterday. Looks fine!

Day 25

Tie hair up – not brave enough to wear it down, although it doesn’t seem to greasy.

Day 26

Hair finally feels dirty and smells a bit funny.

Do a water rinse in the shower. My hair smells clean and fresh afterwards – maybe even the tiniest hint of lavender. And it looks great down – even though I haven’t washed it for THREE DAYS!! No static either (that problem seemed to gradually resolve itself). Wow – I am astonished. Never in my life have I gone out in public after not washing my hair for 3 days. In fact I think the only time I’ve ever done that is when I’ve been ill. Walk DS1 to preschool with my new hair swinging around in the wind and love it. I think the grease production may finally be slowing down.

Cancel tomorrows wet cut hair appointment…

My grey seems very noticeable though. Not sure if I have actually acquired more grey hair in the last 3.5 weeks or if it’s just because i have been examining my hair in the mirror a lot more.

Really need to do something about it.

Day 27

Wash hair, although not sure it needs it. Isn’t greasy and smells fine, just looks a bit unkempt and psychilogically not having washes it for 5 days is making me think it needs it. Might have got away with water rinse.

Switch to comb as old friend boar bristle brush just isn’t getting through my hair. Lots of hair is falling out at the moment. Including some grey ones :-).

Have got the vinegar rinse down lovely. Labender oil makes it much better and now i instantly feel the softness as i pour it over my hair. I always rinse thoroughly so NO vinegar smell at all even when wet afterwards. v good as hate vinegar. Actually starting to enjoy it.

Bicarb wash still a bit of a faff and I still prepare both before getting in shower so spontaneous washing is tricky.

Wondering about just pouring powder over wet hair? Might try that next wash (in about 5 days, heh heh).

Haven’t chucked away old shampoo and conditioner yet… but I think I might at the end of my 30 days 🙂

Day 30

Didn’t chuck old shampoo and conditioner away. The faffing around in the shower is probably the worst part of this whole routine. Not sure I am in it for the long run!

Homemade Sodium Bicarbonate Shampoo

no poo

This really is the easiest thing ever.

You need:

  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Water

Pour all your bicarb into a pot.

Then add just enough water to make a paste (it will be less than you think).

Store in shower.

I’m so pleased I’ve finally cracked this – I faffed around with different amounts and methods for ages, but this works for me.

I just scoop out some paste and rub it well into my scalp (not so much the hair – it’s your head that gets dirty).

Rinse away and Bob’s your uncle!

Homemade Vinegar Hair Conditioner

hair conditioner

It’s taken me several weeks to get the measurements right for me, but finally, here it is.

I use:

  • 20ml vinegar (either apple cider vinegar, or distilled white vinegar. I prefer white because I think it smells slightly less offensive 😉 )
  • 220ml water
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil

This makes enough for one cup of rinse, which I pour over my hair after washing. I leave it in for a couple of minutes and rinse away.

I rinse quite a lot to get the vinegar smell out – you know you’ve done it right when you can’t really smell vinegar after you get out of the shower, just a faint hint of lavender.

Much nicer.

I’ve really grown to love how this makes my hair feel soft as soon as I pour it on.

Until today I was making it up each time I showered, but today I made up bottles for the shower (courtesy of Ikea).

To fill each bottle I used:

  • 32ml vinegar
  • 350ml water
  • 3 drops lavendar essential oil

Now I can shower and just pour half a bottle into a cup I keep in the shower, without any faffing around beforehand 🙂

%d bloggers like this: