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A Year Without Shampoo

 

Today is a rather odd but important anniversary: I have lived a year without shampoo. It is odd because it isn’t exactly the kind of thing you celebrate with friends and family. Frankly, tell someone you aren’t using shampoo and you’re more likely to get odd looks than anything else. But it is still an important date–because the day I decided to try the no-shampoo experiment was the day that I began a crazy, wonderful journey into natural living. I sat down to think about this 31 day series and thought what better way to kick it off than with the experiment that started me on this crazy journey to begin with!

I’ve written about my experiment in ditching shampoo in the past, and you can check those posts for more information. I thought I’d share today what I’ve learned over the past year and how my routine has finally settled.

1. We don’t need shampoo. Our hair was not designed for it. We as a country didn’t start using shampoo until the 1940′s, and even then, daily shampooing only began in the 1970′s. Shampoo is full of nasty chemicals and harsh cleansers that do way more than just cleanse our hair–they strip it of all the natural protection and good things God built into our hair. Even many “natural” shampoos in the stores have the harsh cleansers. Our hair does need to be cleaned, but shampoo is not the answer.

2. The more we shampoo, the more we need to shampoo. It is a vicious cycle. I hear it all the time “I have oily hair. If I go even one day without washing, I’m a greasy mess.” I know. Me too. Or, I was until a year ago! What I’ve learned is that it is in fact my shampoo that was causing that problem. I’d tried dozens of them, all were healthy shampoos–but they still were bad for my hair. Here’s how this works: our body produces a natural protectant for our hair and skin called sebum. The shampoo we all use strips sebum off the hair. The more you wash, the more sebum you strip off. The more sebum stripped off, the more sebum the body produces, to protect the head and hair. This is the “oily” mess most of us are used to. By taking a month and detoxing from this nasty cycle, I’ve come to learn that even with regular exercise, I only need to wash my hair once every seven to ten days. That’s right, I wash my hair less than once a week, and it stays clean and shiny the whole time.

3. There’s a whole host of natural ways to cleanse your hair without damaging it. I’ve used everything from baking soda to beer to honey to eggs. All of them cleanse my hair really well. You can read my post from this summer to learn about the different options available to you for cleansing your hair quickly and naturally. My favorite method is the egg yolk, which puts a ton of protein into your hair while cleaning it.  A single egg yolk is enough even for my long hair (it’s now down past my shoulders), and it feels like shampoo in your hand (sans the lather.) It leaves my hair super silky and shiny, and well…fluffy. There’s no other way to describe it. My hair is fluffy. (in a good way!) I don’t always have egg yolks on hand, so when I don’t I use a bar of castille soap and rinse with lemon juice, which acts as a conditioner and seals the hair shaft.

4. Water is often enough to cleanse my hair on most days. After I went through the detox period, this was the biggest shock. I didn’t need products to cleanse my hair most days. A good scrub with my fingers on my scalp with really hot water was more than enough to get the previous day’s junk out of my hair. I’ve recently taken up jogging, and as I sweat work my way through the Couch to 5K program, I thought for sure I’d have some issues with my hair. Nope. Even though I’m dripping with sweat at the end of my workout, hot water has been all I needed to get my hair clean again.

5. My hair doesn’t need the help of big manufacturing companies to be beautiful. When I stopped messing with my hair and using all the chemicals, I was amazed at what I found: shiny, beautifully healthy hair. I have volume and style to my hair, as is. I always needed products–lots and lots of products. Turns out I was removing the stuff I did need with shampoo only to put back in the stuff I didn’t really need to make my hair look good. Conditioners, mousse, gel, pomade, hairspray, moroccan oil…I’ve used them all. Turns out I didn’t need a single one! When I stopped stripping my hair with shampoo, my hair did all of those things on its own. I even have a little natural wave to it now!

6. I was spending a lot more on hair products than I thought I was! Now my haircare consists of three products: egg yolks, castille soap ($4/bar) and lemon juice. The castille soap was bought a year ago and still has more than half the bar left. I’m spending literally pennies to have the best looking hair I’ve ever had in my life!

 

I want to encourage you to take a step back from the never-ending cycle and try this today. If you’re not ready to go all the way and permanently ditch shampoo, give this a try: next time you’re due for a hair wash, try the simple baking soda wash. Take one tablespoon of baking soda in a cup and add about a cup of hot water to it in the shower. Wash your hair with this. It won’t lather, but when you rinse your hair it will be clean! Then do it again with a tablespoon of lemon juice in a cup of hot water, and rinse. This will act as a detangler and softener for your hair. Do this once a week until you feel you might be ready to ditch shampoo altogether!

My friends all thought I was nuts when I started this–that is, until they tried it themselves. Now I’ve got several friends who do this along with me. My kids haven’t used shampoo in over a year–you should see how beautiful LittleMissSunshine’s hair is! My mom started doing this not long after I did and has loved it.

Join me! Just try it! The worst that will happen? You will hate it and wash your hair a second time with shampoo. More than likely that won’t happen. You will be shocked and amazed at how soft and clean your hair gets without all the products and chemicals you think you “need.” Let me know in the comments if you’re trying this. I’d love to hear your questions and suggestions as well!

 

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Comments

  1. I’m incredibly intrigued by your posts! I wish I had found your blog sooner – everything sounds so interesting! Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  2. I love it Heather. Thank you for sharing about your experience with no shampoo. Your hair looks absolutely stunning. It is something that I will try for sure. With my hair I can now sometimes go 3-4 days before it needs to be shampoo’d. So this will be my next attempt going longer and using some of the wonderful tips you gave. Thank you. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing this awesome idea! Just wondering, what do you tell your hair stylist when you go in for a cut? Do you request that they don’t use shampoo?

    • I do. Thankfully I have an amazing hairstylist who is used to my whims and supports my drive to go natural. She simply washes my hair with their Aveda conditioner, which does a great job by itself.

  4. When only using hot water to wash your hair, do you use the lemon juice rinse after? How much lemon juice to water ratio in your rinse?

    My husband and I are doing the no-poo. He uses the baking soda and vinegar. I use the castile soap and lemon rinse (guessed on ratio), after reading your blog. I will be trying the egg yolk wash. I do color my hair every 2 months; so this has been kind of scary. I am trying to find the gentlest alternatives.
    Thanks for your blog, I have been using it as a reference.

    • Yes and no. I’ve gotten to a place where I can tell whether its needed or not. The lemon juice doesn’t actually clean your hair–it softens it and closes the hair shaft. So if my hair is still feeling smooth and nice, then no, it’s just hot water. But if it feels rough under the water or grabby–like it’s hard to run my fingers through it–then I’ll use a little.

      • What lemon juice to water ratio do you use in your rinse?
        I tried the egg-poo today, and I love it! I did not need a rinse. I actually received compliments on my hair today at work. One customer asked me what I did to my hair, because it was so much shinier. I let her feel how soft it was too. My hair has not been this soft and shiny since I started to color my hair!
        Thanks again for sharing your experience with the no-poo!

  5. Carolina Garofani says:

    Hi Heather, I’m fascinated by your experience and have been reading up on the no-poo thing… I’m willing to give it a try, I’ve always had really oily hair and it drives me totally crazy. Now that it’s longer I try to wash it only 2 times a week (doing it more often is wayyy too time-consuming), and it still looks and feels greasy after a couple days.
    My boyfriend owns an all-organic grocery store, uses only natural and organic products and is very excited about trying this too. Enough chemicals!

    I’ll be giving the lemon juice and egg yolk method a try (I’m a baker so there’s no shortage of those), but maybe you could update your post to say that people that color their hair (like myself) should NOT NEVER EVER put baking soda on their hair? That’s a sure recipe for disaster!

    Thank you for all the tips! Lots of love from Brazil!

  6. Katherine says:

    I did the egg yolk and I rinsed with really hot water because that’s just how I’ve always showered, but now I’m sitting here picking cooked egg out of my hair… any suggestions for getting it out?

  7. Liz Joseph says:

    Hi Heather! As you know, I haven’t used shampoo on Livie’s hair in over a year and I think I am ready to give up the shampoo for myself. But I have a question! I color my hair about once every 6-8 weeks. Will I throw off the natural balance of things by putting these chemicals on my head every other month? Will the egg or lemon juice cause problems with the hair color? Any experience with someone who wants to give up shampoo but still isn’t willing to give up hair color and go gray? I also have a friend who is thinking about starting to color her hair, is looking to do it herself rather than at the salon for cost reasons, but is looking for something more natural and gentle than the typical box kits that are sold at the store. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    • Egg and lemon juice didn’t hurt my hair when I colored it about a year ago, but I was lightening it, so that may not be a fair example. I do know to NOT use baking soda on colored hair. I can’t definitively answer that, but I will ask around to see if I find someone who has done it. On the more natural color, I recommend looking into henna for hair color. There’s several types, and it will color you hair anywhere from a nice red to a dark brown/black kind of color. It’s completely natural and safe, but there’s a few steps to it. LiveJournal and some of the long hair message boards have great info on henna.

  8. To make full use of your egg, you can take the egg white and add a little lemon juice and apply it to your face for a wonderful facial mask. Leave on for 20 minutes and then rinse it off with cool water. Now you’ll have soft skin too!

    • Heather says:

      Jana,good tip! I freeze my egg whites for cooking with later. They freeze well and whip up just fine after thawing. They make excellent meringues!

  9. Hey a guy. I have been on this nooo for 4 days and using eggs and baking soda with lemon rinse. There’s one problem!! Am breaking out on my face cuz more oil from no shampoo!! I’m using face wash but still breaking out and face is oil throughout day. What would you say???

    • You should just use the castile soap until the detox period is over. You can even wash your face with the castile soap. Apple cider vinegar rinse is really good for your skin and scalp, (my son in-law uses it to get rid of dandruff), and it kills bacteria which is usually the cause of pimples.
      My husband uses apple cider vinegar as an astringent on his face (which is oily).

  10. Hi heather, I recently started reading your blog as I was interested in the no ‘poo concept. I have oily hair but would absolutely love not having to wash my hair every single day. I’m a competitive swimmer and train 20+ hours a week and my hair is just about at my shoulder blades. How often to you wash with the egg yolks, and how long was your detox period? Any advice in this area would be great.

  11. Hi,
    I will definetly give a try to no-poo. I have oily hair and if I don’t wash it at least every two days, it gets a greasy mess, just as you said. And old colleague told she had the same problem and decided to wash it less often. I tried, but the detox was terrible. I use a terrific homemade shampoo receip most of the time, but anyway, the grease comes galloping.
    By the way, I see you have with your Shareaholic plugin the same problem I do. Instead of pictures, some of the thumbnails at the “You may also like” (recommendations) section have text. You need to send a form to Shareaholic support and ask them to recrawl your site: http://support.shareaholic.com/hc/en-us/articles/200786393

    I will try the no-poo with your methods and I will come back to let you know.

  12. Great post! I have a question though..how long does the detox period usually last?

  13. I’ve been in no poo method using baking soda and apple vinegar for 2 months. The result is not really what I expected. I loose so much hair even though I consume iron everyday. Also, I live in Jakarta, Indonesia, the weather doesn’t help; it’s really hot here and my head sweat easily. When I sweat I somehow smell the vinegar more. I also can’t use the baking soda + vinegar every 3 days because of too strong. Do you think the yolk egg will be better? Thank you

    • I waitress, so I sweat a lot. I just rinse my hair with water to get the sweat out and hairspray build up out. With doing this, I only wash my hair once every 2 weeks.

  14. Thank you Heather. You seem to be saying that conditionner is OK though, is that correct? My hair tangles so much, I don’t know what I would do without conditionner.

    • Some conditioners are. You want to stay away from silicones. But you don’t need conditioner–this has been one of the biggest surprises for me. This post is actually over a year old. I’ve been no-poo for two and a half years now, and my hair is stronger and healthier without it. A quick bit of science to explain why you don’t need conditioner: shampoo is an alkaline ph, which roughs up the shaft of the hair, so it can clean it well. (This helps remove oil.) Conditioner is an acidic ph, which smoothes the shaft of the hair and makes it easy to brush and style. You can achieve the same effect with either apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. I prefer lemon juice for my hair. It’s a couple of tablespoons in a cup of water, poured over your head as conditioner, they rinsed out. You’ll feel the texture of your hair changing, getting smooth and slippery, even. Or if you use an egg yolk to wash, you won’t need anything. It leaves hair very smooth and strong.

  15. Hi,today’s my first time to wash my hair with olive soap &baking soda,would like to know how u use the three things u wash ur hair with as u said: lemon & egg yolk & Castile soap?

  16. Hi
    I have been washing by hair without shampoo for nearly 7 months now, its definitely healthier shiner & softer. I use chickpea flour or fullers earth or shikakai powder or soapnuts to wash my hair.

  17. Hi!
    I am retired age. My hair is super fine, curly, colored and highlighted, and shoulder length. For the past year, I have tried to eliminate silicone from any hair products and wash my hair with conditioners on the approved list for curly girls. In addition, the book says not ever to brush the hair, and only to comb when co-washing. My curls are looking better, but I still have bad hair days on which my hair looks frizzy and dry, and the best remedy is to start over and co-wash again. But after a while, my scalp itches, and the only remedy seems to be shampoo. My daughter suggested I use apple cider vinegar to clean my scalp. She is also a curly girl and colors her hair. I put a cap full into a cup of water, but what a disaster. It instantly turned my hair stiff and into a mass of impenetrable tangles. Conditioner softened it again, but I have stopped using the vinegar.

    I also have my hair professionally colored once a month and my hair dresser thinks I am crazy. She has to wash my hair after coloring. Nothing in their line of Redkin or Aveda is without some sort of silicone. Same with the conditioners. She really doesn’t want to use my products.

    I need some suggestions. Thanks.

    • I am in my 50′s and I have been no-pooing for about 1 1/2 years. I also dye my hair every three months.

      I use the whole egg scrambled in some water and scrub it into my scalp and hair. It leaves my hair shiny and my scalp really clean!

      Then I condition the ends and half way up my hair with this product I found online: https://www.etsy.com/listing/150210146/lady-pamelas-natural-all-in-one-citrus?ref=shop_home_active_6

      I do not use it on my roots because, my scalp creates enough oil so I don’t need the conditioner on my roots. This makes my hair shiny and soft.

      When I dye my hair, I use this conditioner instead of the packaged conditioner. Then my hair does not smell like hair dye, is really shiny and soft!

      I use a nickel size when just conditioning the ends; I use a quarter size when I dye my hair. My hair is shoulder length. I put it on, leave on for a few minutes then rinse.

      I used to use coconut oil to condition my hair until I found this conditioner on Etsy.

      I also have used diluted lemon juice to wash and it worked well, but was a little drying. I am thinking of diluting it more next time.

      I hope this helps!

    • I highly recommend trying an egg yolk wash. Just the yolk, not the white. With your hair I’d try two yolks. They clean well but they also put protein into the hair, strengthening it. Using that once a month should really help your hair, especially the frizz effect you are getting. I love egg yolk washes! The egg yolk should help clean your scalp too. It is a super clean without stripping your head fully.

      As for your stylist, I totally understand the look you are getting from her! I have been lucky enough to find a salon locally who sells curly girl products in their aveda salon. They are very no-poo friendly. I don’t know what to suggest specifically, just that I am sending you hugs and hope you find a way to make it work!

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