Saturday, May 23, 2009

Join the No-Poo Revolution?

I've never considered myself a revolutionary - well, not since the Vietnam War- but it turns out I am. About a month ago I joined the "No-Poo Revolution".

Some weeks ago over Mohitos a friend [nurse practitioner in a family practice] mentioned to the tennis team that she had attended a dermatology conference at which a doctor suggested that women "of a certain age" [over 50] need to stop using shampoo and let their hair return to a more natural state. According to her instructions one just stops using shampoo and rinses her hair as needed, using conditioner now and then. Since I have the least hair of the assembled group, I decided to give it a try for the good of the order.

My hair is fine, short and stick straight, so it would be hard to look noticably worse! Over the years I have tried perms and do-it-yourself color with no real improvement - well, I loved the auburn, but my husband did not. At the time I went no-poo I was using a national brand "for brunettes", but without a conditioner. With my fine hair, I had not been using conditioner because it seemed to weigh my hair down. I am also a daily hair washer. It's easy with short hair and I do a lot of sweaty yard work. I like to shower when I come out of the garden - sometimes up to three times a day. It never occurred to me not to wash my hair a lot.

So, I just quit using the shampoo. After five days I was not thrilled with the feel of my hair - it was plenty clean, but felt odd. So, I bought some conditioner - also for brunettes - and my hair immediately felt really good! I am no fool. I realize that any product "for brunettes" is putting a small amount of color on my hair, and I don't mind that a bit!

After three weeks it occured to me to google "no poo" and you would not believe the amount of information on the web. Apparently the "revolution" started three or four years ago in Australia and there are all sorts of blogs devoted to not washing your hair. I will try to summarize:

There are at least two groups actively trying no-poo - those who are trying to reduce the chemicals in their lives, and those who are trying to have better hair. I guess I fall in the latter group, but I certainly think that the shampoo was stripping the oil from my hair and making it dryer. For those with more hair than I have, it may also be causing them to produce extra oils to counteract the stripping.

There are several "plans" for going no-poo and several goals. The big two are:

WO = water only. By happenstance I fall into this group, but it seems to be the smaller cohort. I have not yet felt the need to use anything to "cleanse" my scalp, but that may be because my hair is so short. I am guessing that the longer the hair, the more this is an issue.

BS/ACV = Baking soda and apple cider vinegar. This is clearly the most popular recipe. You make a paste from BS and water, rub that into your scalp thoroughly and then rinse with a diluted ACV. The idea is that BS is alkaline and vinegar is acid, so the combination returns your head to "neutral". I actually want to try this combo sometime. I used vinegar in high school as an alternative to cream rinse - before conditioners became widely available.

Other: some folks add honey to the vinegar - I don't get that. The people who do it love the way it feels, but I have visions of ants and bees! And, how do you get it out completely? There are also several, perhaps many, "natural" soaps and other ingredients that people say work well for them.

From the blogs it appears that success with no-poo is largely a matter of your own hair, your own preferences, and your expectations. Many with curly hair said it curled better; many with fine hair said it felt fuller and had more body [I agree with that]; and many hated it. It apparently it takes from five days to five months to get thru the aclimation period. This is a highly personal experience.

No one else in my tennis group has tried it, but my friend Garland has. Like me, she has fine, straight, short hair and she says she likes it so far. So, if you want to give it a try, I would definitely google first and read what others have to say.

For me, it's too soon to say that I will remain poo-free forever. But, right now I see no reason to go back to soaping. I like the way my hair feels and it sure is easy! How about you? Want to join the revolution?


  1. I have often wondered if the shampoo industry puts stuff in there to make our hair worse so we will buy more of their products. Sounds much like a conspiracy theory but makes sense. I haven't really washed my face in anything but water for years and I look the youngestof my four sisters. (I'm the oldest)
    I think I'll join you in the NO POO trial too. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Thanks NPSL. Hope it works for you. I tried the BS/ACV this morning. My hair actually feels better than with conditioner - but I guess I am giving up the color! Let me know how it goes. webb