January 28, 2013 by Kriscinda Lee Everitt
So, around December of 2011—a little over a year ago—we decided to experiment with ditching our shampoo and conditioner. I remember being a little worried that terrible things would happen that would prevent me from leaving the house for weeks. You know, if I was going to stick to it.
My hair was as such that it needed to be washed every day, or else solve our nation’s “foreign oil dependency” problem. As such, I expected to become a walking oil slick within three days. Surprisingly, that did not happen. And, in fact, a year later seems like a good length of time to assess the results.
Obviously, we stuck to it. We had shampoo/conditioner lapses, but those weren’t because we wanted to, or were somehow craving the flowery-stinky-foaminess of consumer hair products, like an ex-smoker and a Camel menthol light. Our shampoo/conditioner use occurred on our honeymoon, when we’d planned for just about everything—except how to wash our hair. I’m sure traveling with the new set up is easy; we’d just forgotten about it. So, we had a few weeks with a couple of bottle from Tescos. And even that was useful, actually, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We use baking soda and apple cider vinegar, a perfectly good and workable recipe/instruction can be found here. At this point, we don’t measure anything—we just sort of eyeball it and it works. Granted, we smell like a salad when we first exit the shower, but as the hair dries, the vinegar smell disappears completely, so no worries there.
My hair did not become unmanageably greasy, as I’d feared. They say it can take a few weeks or so for your scalp and hair to acclimate themselves to the new, chemical-free treatment, but I don’t know that I even noticed a screwy adjustment period. All I know is this:
- before I stopped using shampoo/conditioner, I had to wash my hair every day or it would be gross; after I stopped using shampoo/conditioner, I can now go two or three days without having to wash it.
- before I stopped using shampoo/conditioner, even with the conditioner, my hair would be tangled and knot up pretty easily; after I stopped using shampoo/conditioner, I rarely have to fight with knots in my hair.
- before I stopped using shampoo/conditioner, my ends would split within a month of having them trimmed; after I stopped using shampoo/conditioner, I haven’t had split ends in almost a year (I think that’s the last time I had a trim).
- before I stopped using shampoo/conditioner, no matter how much I rinsed, my hair never quite felt free of the cleaning agents; after I stopped using shampoo/conditioner, my hair feels clean and not coated with crap with a fair minimum of rinsing.
I’m actually surprised at how successful the whole endeavor has been, considering my hair has been doing weird things in the last year or so. Having been on and off certain medications, the most obvious side effect has been what it’s done to my hair. My hair used to be relatively straight, with just a bit of a wave (probably like most peoples’ hair), but now, it’s got curl. If I wanted it straight-ish again, I only need to brush it out while it’s wet, or maybe use the hair dryer (which I never do), but if I just towel it dry and shake it out, it just curls right up and I don’t have to do anything to it—which is exactly how I like it. That is the plus side. The downside is that the ends can get pretty dry. In fact, that’s the only reason I’m considering a trim, not for split ends.
I’m assuming these things are the result of the meds and not the new washing strategy because, 1) I just don’t think baking soda and apple cider vinegar is going to make your hair curl like this, and 2) Big A’s been doing the same for as long and his hair isn’t any more curly than it was, and his ends aren’t all dry. His hair is lovely.
So, all in all, I’d call the experiment a success, and frankly, I don’t ever see myself going back to consumer shampoo and conditioner. I mean, really, the only thing you’re paying for with that is the fruity-flowery smell, which, considering the better performance of the all-natural option, just isn’t worth it. And I’m not even talking about the health benefits of subtracting one more conditioned toxic practice from your life, or the benefits for the environment, but those are certainly something to consider. If you’re thinking about trying this out, I highly recommend it.