Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hygienic Hippies: Giving up Shampoo and Conditioner - The Verdict

The day I wrote this post I gave up shampoo and conditioner and tried out the no 'poo method that very morning. I'm just going to cut to the chase and say that I love washing my hair with a mixture of baking soda and water, and then rinsing it with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. There. If you want, you don't even have to read the rest of this post. You can pop over to this site to see what directions I followed (ish).

If you want more info + pictures, follow along...

So, Thursday June 2nd I washed my hair with BS/ACV for the first time. Like a true nerd, I took notes**. I used about a tbsp and a half of BS and poured  water into it until it was a silty mixture. Not a sludge, per the instructions, but definitely not a runny liquid. I then mixed up about 1/3 a cup of ACV to 1/3 a cup of water. These are the containers I used:

Ketchup/mustard squirt bottles, .97 cents each (I took this last night, that's how much of the original ACV mix I still have left after using it for 12 days

I chose this type of bottle because it has a long pointy top which would allow me to squirt the BS mixture directly onto my scalp, which is exactly where it needs to go. It also allows me to control the amount of ACV rinse I put on the ends. Basically I started as my left temple and squirted all the way back, following my scalp with the point of the bottle, until I hit the nape of my neck. I worked my way across my head in this manner, and then massaged my scalp for probably about 2 minutes. I rinsed it out well, and it immediately felt squeaky clean. I then squirted a bit of the ACV mix just on the bottom half of my hair. I didn't use too much, as apparently that can make things greasy. I worked my fingers through any tangles, and surprisingly, ACV is an incredible detangler. I rinsed it out well. If you're familiar with vinegar, you'll know it smells strongly for a bit and then fades away to smelling like nothing. I put a tiny bit of coconut oil on the very ends of my hair, and then I let it air dry per my usual routine. It smelled neutral, just clean, with a hint of the coconut oil. Here's a picture of the first afternoon:

I wanted to really test this method out, and see just how long I could go without washing. I woke up on Friday, and noted that "Hair still feels and looks great. Not greasy at all, feels just washed and fresh". On Saturday night, I had gone 3 full days since washing Thursday morning, and per my notes (and Bobby's observation) "still not greasy, soft and shiny, no frizz. Love it." Here are some pictures:

I like how 3 days later I had washed the shirt I wore on Day 1, but I still hadn't washed my hair. Niiiiiiiice.

 Day 4, Sunday, I biked 10 miles round trip to an hour of sweaty vinyasa yoga and home. Then, we biked to Whole Foods, about 6 miles round trip. Once I took my helmet off and aired my head out a bit, miraculously it looked great. Pictures for proof I'm not delusional:

I took this inside right after yoga + bike ride, before we headed to Whole Foods on our bikes

After a little under 20 miles of bike riding in a helmet
Bobby got this in mid flip, which is awkward, but it's a good indicator of how thick my hair is- if BS can clean this pile of hair, it can clean anything.
I would have washed it on the night of Day 4 just on principle since I usually never go more than 3 days without a wash, but I was going running on Monday morning and doing yoga Monday night, so I decided to wait. Day 5, Monday I woke up and noted "it still looked fine this morning, not greasy at all" I washed it Monday night and experimented with a bit more ACV. Day 6, Tuesday morning, I woke up, it looked fine, but the bottom half felt kind of grimy/greasy and a bit weighed down. This was proof to me that somehow ACV will truly make your hair greasy if you use too much. Crazy. Tuesday during the day I did yoga and biked 20 miles doing errands, and Tuesday night it still looked great, even though it felt kind of weird to the touch. I was having one of my super curly days and it was soft, not frizzy, as you can see here:

Wednesday night, Day 7, I noted this - "I went the whole day on the wash from Monday night and my hair looked fine, it just felt weird. I washed it tonight and it already feels much cleaner and lighter. This method is so simple and honestly takes maybe 5 minutes total longer to do, including mixing the baking soda. I haven't had to refill the ACV bottle yet at all, and I mix the BS every time I wash it and use the whole mixture. My hair feels squeaky clean and I never have to buy shampoo/conditioner again- awesome". I didn't wash day 8 or 9, and then I washed it on Saturday, Day 10. I didn't use the coconut oil, and still had no frizz or tangles. I went Day 11 and all day Monday without washing, and then washed it Monday night, the end of day 12.

After 12 days of not using shampoo and conditioner and no 'pooing 5 times, this is what my hair looks like-

From the back (a bit of a crappy pic, it was on my phone)

From the front
I'm totally sold. It's incredibly cheap and it doesn't have any crazy ingredients to worry about. I thought it would be a hassle, but it isn't at all. My hair looks great and feels awesome, and I can go longer between washings because I'm not stripping the natural oils out of my scalp and forcing it to freak out and produce more. I have thick wavy/curly hair almost down to my waist, so if it works for me I imagine it will work for most anyone. If you try it and hate it, I apologize in advance, but I don't think you'll hate it.

**No, really, I realize it was nerdy to take notes, but I wanted to get a real picture of how this all went down. When I read a blog post and people just say "it's awesome, I loved it, you should do it, too!"  I have no idea what that even means, how long they did it, or what snafus came up. So, I'll gladly be that nerd :)


  1. Tha Cote! I've totally been experimenting with my hair lately. I have been considering switching to something like this. I read a couple articles on "water only" hair upkeep. One guy did it for 30 days and said that by the end of it, his hair quit freaking out and was totally normal. I've been going as long as I can between washing (5 days I think has been my limit) and it's made my hair way healthier. I'm still using 'poo and 'ner (hehe), but thanks for the info. Good experiment!

  2. I've heard of water only, too! Let me know if you end up going totally water only. I'm interested :)

  3. Cortney so cool! Do you think this would work on chemically altered hair (aka I have salon color). Your hair looks so natural and healthy. I'd love to try this experiment too - but not if it will ruin my color. Anything you've read or heard about that?

  4. Your hair is incredible! Did the ACV make your hair smell funny?

  5. Thanks, Jessica! It only smelled when I was first putting it on, but then it faded out to nothing. I didn't tell Bobby I was doing it the first time, and I asked him to smell my hair and tell me what it smelled like. He said it just smelled neutral, clean, a lack of smell. It will be pretty strong smelling in the shower, but by the time I'm out, it's gone. I do rinse it out though, for sure, after it sits for a bit. I'm amazed at what an excellent detangler it is- to the point where if you use to much, it feels heavy and greasy, just like if you use too much conditioner.

  6. MMW- I'm sorry! For some reason your comment just showed up yesterday on my notifications. As to the hair treated with color- I'm not sure if it would work, just because the ACV may strip the color from your hair because it is so acidic. The baking soda paste for shampoo may be okay, though, because it isn't acidic or anything. Would your hair stylist happen to know? I Googled around a bit, and I read conflicting info on yes/no. Let me know what you find out because that would be good info to add as a caveat to this post :)