November 24, 2011

(Not) In A Lather

I'm running out of days in November, so if I'm going to get this done, I'd best get to it. And, really, what better day to post than Thanksgiving? Most of America has little better to do today than eat copious amounts of food, watch football on TV and surf the Internet!

In addition to being Thanksgiving in the US, today is also my 44th birthday. Yay me! Some days, I'm not entirely sure how I got to this point in my life and other times, it just seems so right. A dichotomy of life, I suppose.

On to the business at hand. I'd like to thank everyone who commented on my last post. It was gratifying to not only have people be interested in what I had to share, but offer to deal with anyone who gave me crap. No one did, so I think you scared them away. I expected some questions but got none, though I did get some other great ideas, including a bunch of natural beauty ideas from Mary; go check them out if you didn't see them! This time around it's a related item that was alluded to in the comments, so this one may not come as much of a surprise.

Potentially (Less-)Surprising Personal Revelation #2: I don't use shampoo on my hair.

This is a change I made almost three months ago. Once the no-soap thing worked so well, I started looking at the other products I used and that we're exhorted at every turn to spend money on. Shampoo quickly bubbled (ha) to the surface as something I needed to re-evaluate. Some bloggers refer to this as "No 'Poo" but, personally, I can't stand that particular phrase. I'm just shampoo-free.

The most common substitutes I found were apple cider vinegar and baking soda, as well as some herbal preparations. The more research I did, though, the clearer it became that baking soda was going to be the most effective for cleansing, which my generally oily hair would definitely need. At first, though, I went overboard and simply used too much, too often, and it dried the crap out of my hair. This was remedied by one deep-conditioning treatment and then I resumed with a more reasonable proportion of baking soda.

What works for me is one tablespoon of baking soda mixed into one cup of warm water. Before I get in the shower, I just put two tablespoons in a measuring cup (I have this great, flexible one-cup kind that I highly recommend for this, available at The Container Store) and place it somewhere that will stay dry. I use the first tablespoon for my face, as I mentioned last post, then I fill the cup up with the running water and mix it a little with my fingers. I pour it onto my hair in sections, letting it get down to my scalp and massaging it in. I don't do much with the length portion because my hair is still relatively short (above my shoulders) and it gets taken care of when I rinse out the baking soda. I fill the cup up again with water to get any residue, then pour it over my head and rinse it all out. That's it.

A few times last month, I tried castile soap on my hair and, when it's really in need of a little something more, I can use it. But the baking soda is my usual routine and it works for me. It takes almost no time and it's super cheap, as you can find a box of baking soda for under a dollar (though the price of it has gone up in recent years and I've seen the brand name stuff for up to three dollars!) and that lasts for a good while.

Why do this? If you are interested, there is a TON of information out there about why sulfates aren't good for our hair. Here is one article that I think captures it pretty well, but there's so much more. In short? It's kind of like fast food. It's inexpensive, it's convenient, it's marketed to us by brilliant minds and it tastes/smells delicious. But it's not good for us in the long run; it's too harsh and it's wasteful. We simply don't need cascades of bubbles for healthy hair, no matter what commercials have led us to believe.

Has it improved the health of my hair? I've always had pretty healthy hair and I'd say it's about the same. I didn't go through a period of feeling like my hair was dirty for the first week or so, like I've read some other people experienced when doing this. Apart from the short period where it felt really dry, it just feels normal and I feel better about saving money and not using so much detergent.

There are some other things related to this, like conditioning and coloring, but those will have to wait for another post. Let me know if you have any questions or advice about this part of my new regimen.