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Ditching shampoo and going ‘no poo’

The tools for going no poo - bicarb soda and apple cider vinegar. Little eco footprints

I ditched shampoo around six years ago. Motivated by promises of healthier hair and an opportunity to save money, avoid chemicals and reduce packaging, I went “no poo”. The unappealing, but commonly used term "no poo", simply means not washing your hair with commercial products.

The most common approach is to wash your hair instead with bicarb-soda and rinse in diluted apple cider vinegar.

No poo enthusiasts and many dermatologists claim that avoiding or minimising the use of shampoo is good for your hair. Shampoo strips the hair of the beneficial oil sebum, only encouraging the scalp to secrete more oil. Then begins a cycle of needing more frequent shampooing which in turn creates the need for conditioning treatments and styling products to repair and control the damage.

When switching from shampoo, your scalp may go through a transition period where it readjusts the amount of oil it produces. Fearing a few weeks of oily hair, I ditched shampoo while I was at home with a new baby and could easily get away without leaving the house. Others save the transition till holidays or winter when they can hide under a hat or beanie.

There are two main methods of washing with bicarb-soda, one involves applying it dry and the other involves applying it wet.

I trialled both, before settling on applying dry. I sprinkle a handful of bicarb-soda onto dry hair, massage it into the scalp and comb it through using my fingers. I then rinse thoroughly, massaging my scalp as I rinse.

To apply it wet, mix around one tablespoon of bicarb-soda with one cup of water, pour onto wet hair, massage it into your scalp, and rinse.

Rinsing with a solution of acidic apple cider vinegar detangles and balances the alkalinity of the bicarb-soda.

I pour around 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a jar and dilute with around two cups of water. I then pour this over my hair and leave for a few minutes before rinsing in cool water.

I now wash my hair only every week or so and no longer need styling products to control my previously frizzy hair. I brush between washes with a bristle brush and if needed tidy with a hair straightener add a little coconut oil to the ends to control frizz.

I’m pleased that, when it comes to shampoo, less is definitely more.

Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 2nd November 2013.