Monthly Archives: August 2014

No ‘Poo for You

How to wash your hair with bicarb soda

Way back in the day, Sparky and I backpacked around the world. We were fairly typical young travellers – straight out of Uni, broke, staying in questionable hostels with questionable company and putting beer above food in our own personal hierarchy of needs. (Side note: we absolutely loved Prague, not only because it was a beautiful, fascinating city but also because beer was cheaper than soft drink! Na zdraví!)

It was during this trip that I first started experimenting with unwashing my hair. I had heard somewhere that if you left your hair unwashed for 30 days, it would “dirty itself clean”. So, like the keen youngster I was, I thought I’d try it out. After all, I hated washing my hair every day or two. That 10 minutes in the shower was eating into beer exploration time.

I lasted 12 lank, greasy days and quickly lost my enthusiasm for going ‘poo free. That was, until Isla was born and I began to research just what was in the toiletries we used every day. Turns out, a lot of it is nasty stuff.

So I tried using castille soap instead of shampoo. No dice. (Stringytown. Population: me)

I tried buying expensive bars of handmade, natural shampoo that never really made my hair clean.

I even tried the old unwashing again. I didn’t even last a week.

I finally settled on an organic supermarket brand of shampoo, which did the job. It wasn’t ideal and my eyes were constantly itching, but I stuck with it for quite a while.

Eventually (and I have no idea why it took me so long to cotton on to this method) I tried using bicarb soda in place of shampoo, and I haven’t looked back.

That was over 2 months ago, and aside from a trip to the hairdresser for a cut and colour, my hair has been completely shampoo free.

I can’t be too sure, but I think my hair looks acceptable and I’m fairly certain I don’t stink.

No 'poo for 2 months.

I know this is hardly ground-breaking anymore, but I know a lot of people are interested in trying the no-shampoo method and simply don’t know where to start. So here are my tips:

Start dirty.

I left my hair unwashed for 4 days before I began using bicarb. It was well and truly in need of a wash by then, so the feeling of the bicarb lifting the oil off the roots of my hair was such a relief. Anything was going to feel good after 4 days of not washing, the fact that it was not my usual shampoo didn’t matter!

It takes time. 

You need time to work out the right ratio of bicarb/water for your hair, as well as how often your hair will need to be washed. My hair has taken over a month to settle in to the no shampoo phase, so be sure to give it at least 30 days before you decide whether it’s right for you or not.

Use a little, or use a lot. 

Some people only need a very small amount of bicarb to wash their hair, while others (like me) need a much higher concentration. I also find I have to wash it twice most times, as I have quite thick hair.

Condition your hair – sometimes.

I use a rinse of apple cider vinegar on the lengths of my hair once every week or two. I also use conditioner on the tips of my hair once a week. This is enough to keep it moisturised and manageable.

Get to love your brush.

The night before I am going to wash my hair, I will spend 10 minutes brushing it. This helps to distribute the oils down the length of my hair, and ensures I stay tangle-free.

How to wash hair using bicarb soda:

  1. Take a clean, empty squeeze bottle, a large cup or a clean old jar and fill it with 1/2 cup bicarb.
  2. Add water to it as needed, give it a little mix (depending on how much bicarb you need in your mixture, this might be a little swirl or a vigorous shake) and squirt onto your scalp.
  3. Focus on one area of your scalp at a time, squirting the water and bicarb onto your head and gently rubbing it in. Move on to the next area of the scalp until you have washed all areas.
  4. Rinse well and repeat if needed. Make sure to rinse the hair and scalp thoroughly.
  5. Pour a small amount (maybe 1/3 cup) of apple cider vinegar through the lengths of your hair and rinse out. This helps to remove residue and leave your hair shiny. And the vinegar smell? It goes away once the hair is dry.

People also ask if I use this with the kids, but to be honest, I can’t tell you the last time I even shampooed my kids’ hair. I condition it once a fortnight and it gets washed with plain water every few days, but they just don’t need the shampoo.

Have you tried to go ‘poo free? Are you curious to try? Let me know if you do and how it goes.

If you’d like to explore other recipes and methods for homemade, natural haircare, there is a great ebook available in this week’s Bundle of the Week. The bundle also includes books on the basics of foraging and herbal remedies.

{Top image via grandmaitre on Flickr}