You guys, I’m doing it. I’ve been shampoo-free for about a month now. Inspired by stuff all over the internet like this and this and this, as well as a boyfriend who hasn’t used shampoo in years, I made the jump. The shocker: it was a relatively painless transition. Yes, there were some gross greasy days, but I feel like my hair is really adjusting now. I have a lot of very fine, slightly wavy, easily tangled hair, and the oil levels are evening out nicely now. Obviously, everyone has a different experience with this, but if it’s helpful to anyone, here’s what worked for me…
CONSIDER WHY YOUR DOING IT
There are a lot of reasons to try going off shampoo. For me, it was mostly curiosity, but among the more valid are: ridding your regimen of harmful chemicals, being more earth-friendly, improving your hair’s health, and saving money. Keep your motives in mind as you adjust your routine to A) stay strong through the icky days and B) see if it’s working out.
If you go off shampoo completely cold-turkey, your scalp will probably freak out. Try stretching out the time between washings as much as you can bear for a week or so, and switch to a natural shampoo (if you aren’t already using one). A natural shampoo won’t strip oils the same way conventional shampoos do, and will help wean you off of “detergents.” I think part of the reason my adjustment period has been so quick is because I was using Eufora shampoo, which, ironically for this post, I couldn’t recommend more. It’s aloe-based instead of water-based, and smells amazing. It’s just pretty expensive.
[SIDEBAR: This is an old article, but because it's still one of the first that pops up when you google "Eufora natural?", I think it's worth clarifying the author's confusion over the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfoacetate. Turns out, it's just a palm and coconut oil-derived foaming agent.]
You can also switch to (plant-based) soap washing, which cleans dirt without totally stripping oils. One danger of soap-based shampooing is that soap leaves behind soap scum, but if you’re skipping days between washes and rinsing well, you shouldn’t have too much build up.
Eventually, try the baking soda wash. Some people like to put a spoonful in their hand and add water until they form a paste to massage into very wet hair, but I’ve had better luck mixing the baking soda with water in a bottle, shaking it up, and pouring directly over my head in the shower. It doesn’t lather, so make sure you get all the sides and back spot, and not just the top. Rinse thoroughly. In the earlier days, I would sometimes rinse my hair really with just water on days in between baking soda washes, but I no longer need to.
BEYOND THE WASH
All over the internet, you’ll find an apple cider vinegar rinse as the complement to the baking soda wash. I never tried it, mostly because my hair was pretty oily in the beginning, and any extra conditioning would have been overkill. I did continue using natural hair products like this shine mist. Make sure you use products without silicone, because baking soda can’t wash that out.
A boar bristle brush is a great way to evenly distribute oils from roots to ends. And my savior for the ultimate icky days: dry shampoo. I’ve tried about 6 different kinds of dry shampoo in my life from the fancy to cheap-o, and Lulu’s Organics is by far, my favorite. It rubs in nicely without leaving the hair grey or stiff or sticky, and smells pretty good. Its ingredients are just as harmless as any homemade remedy I’ve found from the hardcore no-pooers. Plus, I’m a sucker for the pretty lady label. Baby powder will also do the trick on a budget, but with a bit more static–and the smell of baby powder.
I’ve also been growing out my bangs during this phase, because nothing bugs me more than a greasy straight-down fringe. I plan on chopping them again soon, but in the meantime, having them long enough to pull back or sweep aside has been helpful. Deep parts are your friend, because they allow you to literally mask the slippery little wispys with longer hair on top to control it.
There are a ton of forums and other resources for going shampoo free, with advice for all hair types and problems. The common thread is to experiment and see what works for you. Good luck to anyone trying it too!
[top photo by Andrea Hubner]