Getting Off the Junk: Beginning my journey into breaking up with the cosmetic industry

It’s been a while since my last post, but that’s because I’ve been busy. What have I been doing? Research. I don’t do anything drastic without researching the tar out of it and then making charts and the like, so I was quite consumed for a month. Or two. I’ve lost track. But never using synthetic cosmetic products (in which I include stuff like shampoo and other “necessary” products) takes a lot of research and a lot of courage. That’s right, I haven’t shampoo’d for two months.

I get two reactions at this point: “EW!” and “Oh?”. Some people rush over to grab at my hair, to smell it, whatever they need to assure themselves that this is gross and that I must be a grease ball. My sister (a hairdresser) had to run a fine-toothed comb through it when I told her to try and convince me that there would be a tonne of crap in my hair. The comb came out clean, by the way, and I hadn’t washed my hair in two days.

Regardless of the initial reaction, people always want to know why I would just stop using a product that we have all been told to use everyday, else our hair will be greasy and gross and nobody wants to be that kid. Short version, I understand the science behind the no poo method (which I’ll go over in a bit) and the shampoo method. I also know what the chemicals are in shampoo and their impact on our health and environment (went to school for environmental technician and one of our courses was toxicology. The fact that we covered a couple of chemicals in shampoo should be enough to make you go hmm) and so I didn’t want to keep that impact going. It just took a large amount of guts to actually do it.

The Prep

I didn’t just stop shampooing and not replace the cleaners. I couldn’t go cold-turkey, although there was a lot of suggestions for it. Instead, I slowly weaned myself off my last bottle of shampoo. I made that sucker last three months when normally it would be gone in just one. For the first week, I cut out one shampoo (I used to use it every day). The next week, two shampoos. You get the pattern. If my hair got too greasy, I would add a shampoo a week back in because I was worried my hair wasn’t ready to be weaned just yet. By the time I was down to one a week, my hair wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great but my shampoo was gone and I wasn’t about to go to the store and buy a new one. That would defeat the purpose. So I started putting my replacement cleaners together.

I used a couple of different methods with my basic one being the baking soda cleanse with the apple cider vinegar rinse. Twice a month I also did an egg wash for an extra boost of conditioning and shine. I’m tempted to get a tub of coconut oil as well for a super deep conditioning, maybe once I’ve been doing my normal routine for a while.

When making the mixes, I used 1tbsp of baking soda per 1cup of hot water and put it in an old Herbal Essences bottle. Make sure to shake well. Some people need 2tbsp per cup of hot water, it all depends on how thick your hair is as well as environmental factors. My thin hair didn’t like upping the baking soda, but don’t be afraid to play with the ratios. For my conditioner I used 1tbsp apple cider vinegar per cup of water and I mixed that in a spray bottle. I find it gets everywhere I need it better (I avoid focusing on the roots as my ends had the dry problem). Twice a month I scramble an egg and work it into my damp hair (shower with cold water, scrambled egg is not something you want in your hair) in place of the vinegar.

Out With the New, in With the Old

Shampoo hasn’t been around forever, it’s actually a fairly recent invention/cultural revolution. My great grandpa was actually a big inspiration for me going back to the old ways of not using shampoo and just using basic cleaners as he’s never used shampoo, just baking soda. At 93, my great grandpa is still getting his hair thinned. THINNED! And he never has greasy hair. That alone is enough to make any girl jealous. Before I dived into heavy research, my great grandpa was enough to convince me that going without shampoo can’t be a terrible thing. I just needed to find a method that worked for me.

And thus I found myself scouring Google for whatever I could find about going no-poo. There are quite a few methods with using baking soda paired with an acid as the most popular. I figured that I should start with what works for most people, so I rinsed my shampoo bottle and filled it with 1 cup of hot water and 1 tbsp of baking soda and I haven’t looked back.

In the Beginning

Now, if you’re interested in going no-poo I have but one word of caution: do not expect beautiful results right out of the gates. I had a false security when I started. I read stories about how people got waxy to dry hair for weeks to months before things balanced out and they had beautiful hair. One week in and I thought I would escape this fate. I was wrong. My hair had a mind of it’s own for 4 weeks. I wound up with waxy roots and dry, cracking ends. I have naturally fine, straight hair and having it break freaks me out. I can’t lose what little hair I have! But don’t quit while you’re going through this stage, beautiful hair is just around the corner, I promise!

I started out with baking soda wash and for a conditioner I used the conditioning balm that I had leftover when my shampoo ran out (it’s expensive, I wasn’t about to throw it out). Once I tried using diluted apple cider vinegar (acv from now on) the cracking ends stopped and the wax went away. I don’t know if this is because I was at the end of the natural transitioning phase or if the acv ended the phase, but I’m not questioning it. But before the levy broke, I felt gross. I work in a pretty nasty environment with a lot of dust so I was worried about stuff getting into my hair and not washing out. The wax did a wonderful job of collecting this dust, which probably didn’t help my hair drying out. I have my hair up almost every day and under a hardhat so it’s not like I had to worry about people at work looking at me and thinking I was some scuzz bucket. No, I just had my boyfriend look at me all puzzled on occasion and that was the hardest part. I didn’t want to be gross around my boyfriend, no one does. But I toughed it out anyway and I’m glad I did.

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

Before: my hair profile was light-medium blonde, soft, shiny, thin, fine, and limp (stick straight, even with styling). I’m told by many hairdressers that people pay good money for my hair from the colour to the behaviour, but I wanted body!

First week: oh my goodness what a difference already, and for the better too! Still the same colour, but softer +, a little less shine -, feels thicker +, has some bounce to it +, and I can actually style it (even has it’s own waviness) +. I’ll take bounce over shine any day, things are looking up!

Weeks 2-4: oh god what happened. This is the dreaded transitioning phase. Some people luck out and only get a couple of days, some people get it worse and get it up to 6 weeks. During this phase my hair became waxy, limp, dry at the ends, and darker. It was weird. My hair follicles went into overdrive to produce oils that were consistently being wiped away with shampoo, but it’s not just bad oils that gets taken away. I was getting my natural good oils back, just on an unnecessarily large scale, until my scalp learned that they weren’t being stripped anymore. Now, everything I described sounds horrible, but I didn’t get any comments about the gross-ness on my head, so I think it wasn’t as bad as what I thought it was. I doubt most people even noticed.

Weeks 5-now: ah blissful compliance. My hair as gotten over it’s rebellion phase and is now tame and manageable. The rundown: same blonde, softer than original, shinier than original, LOTS of body, natural gentle wave, feels thicker, requires fewer washings per week (down to 3 a week), and I find that it’s growing faster than before. I’m only 2 months in but already my hair has grown about 1 inch, twice what it normally does in 2 months.

Some people can’t do the no-poo due to their hair just not having it and you know what? That’s ok. Some people don’t use anything but hot water every day. That’s ok too but my hair isn’t at that point yet. And some people just look at the no-poo method and become disgusted and that’s ok too. But I definitely recommend giving it a try. I don’t recommend going out for a few weeks to a fancy dinner or anything while you’re transitioning, but after that flaunt those locks!

I still use commercial soaps, antiperspirants, and a little bit of makeup but I’m trying to figure out how to get off of those chemical-laden articles as well. If you have any suggestions, I’m open to them!


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