Natural hair care without harsh chemicals can be complicated. Here’s what you need to know if you want to clean up your hair care routine.
This post has been a long time coming.
For over a year now, I’ve been experimenting in the world of all natural hair care. I’ve tried just about everything, and now I want to present the results of all this hard work!
No ‘Poo Method
It started out pretty hard core. I had been a committed Pantene user for a while, but I was trying to detoxify all my home products and I knew hair products were next on my list.
I had briefly tried a Burt’s Bees shampoo, but with my hair being used to the harshness of commercial shampoo, it didn’t seem to get my hair very clean.
So I went cold-turkey, no ‘poo method (yeah, that’s NO shampoo). It’s a thing – read all about it here.
There’s a pretty hefty transition period, but I had nothing to lose since my hubby had just lost his job and I had no one to impress (ha). It was the perfect time to transition through the greasy scalp woes.
Here’s a quick rundown on how the no ‘poo method works. Basically, it says that our scalps are naturally able to regulate their own oil levels, but that we’ve stripped all the oil out for so long with commercial shampoo and it’s caused our scalps to over-produce oil.
When making the switch to no ‘poo, there’s a transition period of a few weeks, where your scalp will basically look like a big grease-ball. Not fun.
In theory, after this transition period, your scalp will re-balance and stop producing so much oil. Most no ‘pooers use a baking soda solution and apple cider vinegar to clean their scalp every 4-7 days. From what I’ve heard, the longer you do no ‘poo, the less you will need to clean your scalp. There are other no ‘pooers who use only water to clean their hair.
What was my experience?
I gave this a really good shot – I used this method hard core for about five months. The transition period took about a month. During this time, I started off using castile soap instead of baking soda to clean my hair at first. The castile soap reacted strangely to my hair – it gave it a waxy appearance, possibly due to our hard water in Georgia.
The minute I started using a baking soda solution to clean my scalp and apple cider vinegar to rinse – wow. It was magical.
My hair looked so pretty. It was shiny, healthy, and best of all – it was super cheap to maintain! I was elated!
That is, until about day 3. You see, with the baking soda + apple cider vinegar (ACV) method, you are only allowed to wash your hair every 4 days maximum because doing it more often is too harsh on your hair and scalp.
So, I would experience 2 days of beautiful hair bliss and 2 days of greasy hair thrown up in a bun. This was fun for awhile, as I would experiment with fancy braids and such on greasy hair days. But over time, I got tired of this and I wanted my hair to look pretty and clean all the time, not just half the time (call me crazy).
Maybe I could have stuck it out and my scalp would have transitioned further, reducing the greasy hair days. I’m not sure. But I’m SO glad I gave up this method when I did. Let me explain why.
Looking back, I truly believe that using baking soda to clean my hair actually damaged it. A few months after beginning this method, I noticed my hair breaking off at all different lengths, along with TONS of split ends. This was extremely frustrating, because I was trying to grow my hair back out at the time. I couldn’t figure out why it was so damaged, since I rarely used any heat products (I stopped using heat about the same time I began no ‘poo).
A lightbulb went off in my head after I read this post from a girl who experienced a similar situation. She loved the no ‘poo method so much, only to find her hair breaking off some time later.
From this, I learned a valuable lesson: Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s fine and safe to use for any purpose.
For example, borax (boric acid) is a natural substance for cleaning. But I’d never eat it or put it on my body!
The bottom line:
Baking soda may work fine for some people, but it is not PH balanced for the scalp and hair – so it can cause damage over time. If you’re currently using this method to clean your hair, it’s something to consider.
However, if you’re doing the no ‘poo method with water only, that’s awesome! I kind of wish I had started out this way – although I know my transition period would have been longer. If you think about it, it makes sense. Shampoo is a fairly modern invention, and I’m sure in the Bible times people must have had a way of cleansing their hair without it being greasily plastered to the side of their face. Could it be that the scalp and hair could be kept clean without these modern detergents?
The water only method may not work for everyone. But I think it’s worth a shot, if you’re willing to endure the transition! If anyone has tried this, let me know in the comments.
Goat Milk Soap
After giving up no ‘poo, I started using this all-natural goat milk soap to wash my hair. The results were incredible. My hair was soft, moisturized, and shiny. The ingredient list is stellar too: Fresh raw goat’s milk, Saponified Coconut, Olive, and Palm Oils, & essential oil. Couldn’t ask for anything better! I still used the apple cider vinegar rinse as a conditioner most of the time.
This worked beautifully as a shampoo for me until our move to Ohio. After the move, I noticed my hair wasn’t getting clean and had developed a waxy buildup. Sigh.
All I could figure out was that this soap did not react well to our extremely hard water in Ohio. I mean, it’s so bad that you can actually see white powdery mineral buildup in our tea kettle after one use!
The bottom line:
I still love this soap for face and body – it’s perfect! And I would still recommend anyone trying this as a shampoo. It may work wonderfully with the water where you live. I’m really sad it doesn’t work for me anymore. Who knew that having ultra hard water could make such a big difference?
Semi-Natural Shampoo + Conditioner
Finally, I had to cave and go back to shampoo and conditioner. But this time, I decided to use (mostly) natural brands instead of commercial ones.
I was so tempted to try the Morocco Method shampoos and conditioners. These formulas are crafted by a hair expert using the purest, all-natural ingredients which are perfectly Ph balanced for hair and scalp. But the price was astronomical, and I just couldn’t go there. Maybe one day.
So, I began my quest for a shampoo and conditioner that’s pretty natural (maybe not perfect). The most important thing for me was that it had to be healthy AND affordable. When it comes to finding less harsh hair care products, look at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database. The lower the score, the less toxic it is (a 0-2 rating is ideal, very low hazard). Here’s what I recommend.
For Dry Hair:
Shampoo & Conditioner: Acure Organics Shampoo, Moroccan Argan Oil & Argan Stem Cell
These products work great. The shampoo has an EWG rating of 1, and the conditioner has a rating of 2. I really like using this when my hair feels dry and needs a little extra TLC.
For Extra Volume:
Shampoo: Acure Organics Lemongrass & Argan Stem Cell (EWG rating: 2)
I really like using this combo when my hair feels extra greasy or lifeless. It really gives it a boost!
Also, each of these products cost around $7-10 each – which I feel is a pretty good bargain considering they are much safer than typical shampoo and conditioner. You can find them in most health food stores, but Amazon is easy and has really good prices.
Do you use a natural shampoo or conditioner? If so, let me know in the comments what kind you use and how it works for you.
One more thing!
Let me add one more important component to my natural hair care journey, which has been pretty important to know…
Hair brushing is sooooo important.
I heard somewhere that you should touch your hair as little as possible if you want it to grow healthy and minimize damage. WRONG!
I tried not touching my hair, only brushing occasionally, and keeping it in a bun. I thought if I left it alone, all the damage I had inflicted on it would heal. But I kept losing hair. Every time I washed, I had a huge clump of my hair fall out!
…hair brushing with a boar bristle brush stimulates the capillaries, increasing blood circulation in the scalp and transporting oxygen and nutrients to the hair stem, root and bulb. It also helps to balance the sebaceous glands by stimulating them and allowing them to breath while retaining natural oils. Sebaceous gland imbalance is often to blame for hair loss, as overproduction and underproduction of sebum cause weakening and undernourishment of the scalp.
Ever since I started brushing my hair more regularly, I’ve had less hair fall. And on days when I forget to brush, I notice that I lose more hair in the shower.
Obviously, it’s important to brush gently and massage the scalp as you brush, which will help distribute the natural oils. I recommend using a natural wooden brush like this one – it’s my favorite!
When it comes to natural hair care, things can get pretty complicated. My best advice is to experiment and find what works for you. You have to take into consideration your scalp and hair type, plus the type of water in the place you live.
I’m still continuing on this journey, and I’m sure I’ll be updating this as I learn more!
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What’s your current hair care routine? I’d love to hear in the comments below!