Kiss Shampoo Goodbye

Posted: January 10, 2014

Rural Pen

It’s been four months since I shampooed my hair.

Notice, I did not say I have not washed my hair. I’ve gone no ’poo. And I love what it’s done for my golden locks.

For one thing, my hair feels healthy and strong. It’s not splitting or breaking nearly as much. It’s less frizzy and less oily. It’s shinier than it was.

No longer am I putting toxic chemicals on my scalp three times a week. I am tired of scanning shampoo labels for dangerous ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate, which has been linked to endocrine disruption, genetic mutations and cancer; parabens, linked to increased estrogen levels, which can lead to hormonal disorders and even cancer; quaternium-15, a preservative that releases formaldehyde and has been linked to cancer, specifically leukemia; and on and on.

As a former breast cancer patient, these chemicals — along with others in our food, water and air — may pose a real threat to me, especially the ones that screw around with my hormones. I had no risk factors, so something had to cause it.

Not buying shampoo or conditioner frees me from one more dependency on corporations. Back in the early 1900s, women washed their hair with soap about once a month, yet their hair was shiny and clean. There was no shampoo.

Shampoo, dear readers, is a product of consumerism. It was invented for people who have more money than they can spend.

But shampoo is bad for your hair. It strips off the natural oils produced by your scalp. This signals the scalp to produce more oils, which makes your hair oily, so you need to wash your hair more often.

With the oil stripped from my hair, it was frizzy and tangled, impossible to comb. So, I had to use conditioner to smooth it. It turns out that the natural oils — called sebum — are actually good for your hair.

It takes awhile for your scalp to adapt to no ’poo. The most popular method for making the switch is by using baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

In a baby food jar, I make a paste of baking soda and water for scrubbing the scalp, to get it clean. At first, the paste was quite thick; now, not so much. This gets rinsed out.

In a plastic spray bottle, I dilute (one tablespoon per cup) pear cider vinegar, which I spray on my hair, more on the ends. Vinegar conditions and balances the hair’s pH.

I use pear cider vinegar because I make pear cider — known as perry — from pears in our orchard. This year, a batch in primary fermentation turned to vinegar. Lucky me!

At first, I followed this regimen every other day, which is how often I’ve always shampooed my hair. But now, I can go for three days, and I don’t need the baking soda every time. I stand under the hot water and really scrub my scalp.

During the break-in period, my hair was heavy and oily. That’s because my scalp was in the habit of over-producing oil. Now, my hair is shiny and soft, like it was when I was a little kid.

I still get my hair colored every other month, so they shampoo it at the salon. Fortunately, my scalp does not get thrown off by this.

If you want to go no ’poo, my advice is to be patient with your body as it adapts to its natural state. Give it at least three to four weeks.

My next experiment is to try homemade deodorant. If you see me around, tell me how I smell.

Luanne Austin lives in Mount Sidney. Contact her at, on Facebook or care of the DN-R.

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