'If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?' ~Lily Tomlin
A couple of months ago (April 12 'Look Ma, No Poo!) I blogged about how I'd decided to go 'no-poo;' no shampoo- meaning 'washing' your hair with just baking soda/water and rinsing with vinegar/water. As is often the case with me, when I first try something new on my hair all goes splendidly at first. But then it eventually goes back to some version of the way it was to begin with. Which is why I was up for trying something new in the first place. I think this time failure was caused by a combination of two factors- one, hard water, and two, my naturally dry hair that's also been color treated.
When I first started the no-poo both my scalp and my hair loved it. My hair had been getting too heavy from the conditioning cleanser that I'd been using forever, and yet the ends still needed extra conditioning on a regular basis. When I'd first started the conditioning cleanser both my scalp and hair loved it. That was when I realized just how uncomfortable soap had always made my scalp. Then when I tried the no-poo my scalp was even happier- so, best to have nothing on it- no soap residue, and not the residue left by the much gentler cleansing conditioner. It liked the clean left by the baking soda, and the balanced ph left by the vinegar. (Not sure about the scientific veracity of that statement- so don't quote me on that.)
The downside was, well….the eventual effect on my hair. Not so good considering the whole purpose of this was to improve the quality of my hair.
The water here in L.A. is hard. Your hair reacts differently when washed in hard water vs. soft water- be it with soap, (natural shampoo) detergents, (conventional shampoo) or baking soda. Hard water contains minerals that can cause the scales on the hair shaft to not lie flat, making hair feel 'rough.' That's not good with already dry hair. It can also interact in a not-so-nice way with whatever you use to wash your hair, leaving a soapy residue. And that is the extent of my (rather sketchy) understanding of what happens when hair and shampoo meet hard water. What I clearly understand is that the last time I washed my hair with the 'no-poo' method it came out feeling both greasy and dry- which is really quite amazing if you think about it. And as soon as I washed my hair with a sulphate-free shampoo, (natural) it was happy again.
I was most disappointed that this didn't work out. I liked the idea of no scary chemicals, and also the price- nearly free. Even though it ultimately didn't work out, I got invaluable information from the experience which will hopefully set me on a more effective path. 1- my hair apparently likes change, and 2. my scalp doesn't like ANYTHING.
So. Back to the drawing board for a new plan. Since my hair doesn't like the same product used all the time, I'll switch it up- sometimes a natural (meaning sulphate-free) shampoo, sometimes a natural cleansing conditioner. And after washing my hair I'll use the the baking soda/vinegar thing- using squeeze bottles with a small tip so I can keep it on just my scalp, and out of my hair. From past experience I know that the ends of my hair are happiest if I drench them in my home-made hair oil for at least a half hour before washing, so I'll keep that up as needed. And every so often a very mild vinegar rinse for my hair to help counteract the hard water effect….it's all very complicated. But if it works, it's worth it.
Oh- the sulphate-free shampoo I used the last time is Whole Foods brand 365, fragrance-free shampoo. It's about $4 for a 16 oz bottle. That's close enough to 'nearly free,' even for me.
I'll continue to post about the success/failure of all this as I go along.
The things I'll do for a great head of hair…..