Friday, August 22, 2008

Frugal Friday: "No-Poo" Hair Care

Welcome to my first Frugal Friday! Thanks to everyone who's visiting for the first time; I hope you'll find something you enjoy.

Today I'd like to share with you one of the oddest frugal and eco-friendly things I've ever tried. I'm not talking Family Cloth, but for me this was radical. The cleverly dubbed "no-poo" alternative consists of using apple cider vinegar and baking soda to care for you hair instead of using drying, chemical-filled commercial products. The theory is that your hair overproduces oils to compensate for the drying effects of shampoo, which is why your hair will be greasy if you stop using these products for just a day or two. If you go off shampoo for a longer period, though, your hair will eventually adjust and find a natural balance, supposedly making it healthier and more attractive.

I took the plunge by accident. I had read about this alternative, but thought that the adjustment process (at least a week of oily hair, depending), sounded a little iffy. Some women reported weeks of icky hair until they found a good balance. But then came the first weekend in August, when Hubs and I were doing the headless-chicken dance thanks to too many social engagements and poor planning. I ended up not having time to wash my hair for three days.

Then I thought to myself, well, I've already gone through two days of yucky hair, so I might as well keep going and see what happens! I also keep my long hair pulled back in a bun almost every day during the summer, so the extra oiliness wasn't (I hope!) too noticeable. It's now been almost three weeks since the last time I washed my hair, and in the past few days, I've discovered this fabulous land of healthy, all-natural hair.

My hair is fine and straight and has always been prone to split ends, but now it's salon-treatment shiny and not splintering off the way it usually does. I was disappointed to acquire more waves, like some straight-haired women have, but my hair definitely has more body and is much silkier.

All you need to do in the shower is mix some baking soda with water (the proportions are up to you) and rub it into your scalp. Then follow by an apple cider rinse, diluted in water. The baking soda absorbs excess oil, while the vinegar conditions and adds shine. These are the proportions I use, although I'm using less baking soda now that my hair has finally evened out:

1/2 T baking soda dissolved in 1/2 cup of warm water
2 cup of vinegar in 2 cups of warm water

I mix up the baking soda from a bag I keep under the sink. I made a big container of the vinegar mix earlier this month, and because I have long hair, I just dip my hair in and gently squeeze out the excess. I also added a few drops of hair-friendly essential oils to the rinse, which makes my hair smell yummy to the point that Hubs makes me lie closer to him in bed so he can smell my hair as we're reading.

Here are some essential oils to try, from The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy:

Normal Hair:

Dry Hair:

Oily Hair:

Keep in mind that a mix of all or several of these essential oils might not necessarily smell very good! Try sniffing them in sequence to determine which scents complement each other well. I use rosemary and lemon with just a bit of lavender. It isn't necessary to add any EOs to the vinegar rinse at all, but I do enjoy the smell and they should improve your hair's condition. Keep in mind that the vinegar smell will fade from your hair in just a few minutes. For more about the chemicals in shampoos and the benefits of the no-poo alternative, try the excellent articles here and here.

Has anyone else tried this hair care option? What have your experiences been? I'd love to hear your ideas!


Michele said...

It's so funny how many of us are posting on this topic today! :) Thanks for stopping by my blog!
Michele :)

Audra Krell said...

Sounds great! When I was little my mom used to have to help me wash my long hair and she always used vinegar! I haven't done it since,,,but might have to now! Thanks for sharing your journey and welcome to Frugal Friday!

Laura said...

Hi, Michele and Audra! Thanks for coming by! This Frugal Friday has been a lot of fun.

Susan said...

Why are you disappointed in the wavies? I've used this method quite a bit over the last year. I have very curly hair so I have to use products to keep it under control...and this method is great. I heard about it at I've gotten great tips there for curly hair and wavy. Make sure you are cleansing your warned that baking soda can dry out your hair, so you might need to use a conditioner. Read labels!

Laura said...

It must be the "grass is always greener" phenomenon, Susan! :-) I permed my hair once and really enjoyed having the bit of curl, since mine is naturally stick straight. It felt so polished!

I have found that I'm using less baking soda than before because it did make it more flyaway. For me, extra brushing seems to keep the oils distributed and the flyaways down more than anything. Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I tried this about a month ago but wasn't patient enough. The looks I got from hubby about my hair was enough to stop me from being patient. Maybe I'll give it a whirl again, soon. Thanks.

Also, you had sent me an email months back. I completely misplaced it in a folder and found it today. Since then I have taken your advice and switched to using blogger for my blog. It is just new but free, which my .mac blog was not. So thank you for taking the time to send me an email. Love your blog!

Laura said...

Hi, Rapunzel's Mom! I'm so glad I could help, and I hope you'll be happy with Blogger! "No-poo" is definitely more trouble, but I've been so pleased with the results so far. Please let us know how it goes if you decide to give it another shot!

Carrie said...

Wow, that's really interesting. My husband this year for some reason stopped washing his hair but once every couple of weeks. It's been looking pretty nice, although I just gave it a good sniff and it does smell greasy.

Belovedgoddess said...

I've been using the baking soda and vinegar in my hair for months now, Don't do it each time I wash my hair, most of the time I just stick with plain water. My hair was oily for only a couple of days.

I simply take a small handful of bicarb soda - about a tablespoon and keeping my hand clenched under the shower enough water gets in to dampen the powder. I then massage it into my hair and scalp before rinsing it out.

Rinse my hair with a vinegar/water mix before rinsing off with water. I keep my eyes tightly shut until I am sure all the vinegar has gone.