In the middle of last year I tried the ‘No ‘Poo’ method to wash and condition my hair, and I haven’t looked back. It works like this:
Take around 1/4 of a cup of bicarbonate of soda and, parting hair in a few places, pat onto scalp. Rinse through, combing hair gently with fingertips.
Then mix a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar with water and pour over hair, letting it run out to the ends. Rinse lightly.
The way it works is quite simple. The bicarb removes oiliness, the vinegar, which is mildly acidic, then neutralises the alkalinity of the bicarb. You need to adjust the amount of each to suit your scalp oiliness/dryness and length of hair, too. It takes a little while to wash away the waxiness of commercial conditioners, so you have to give it some time – maybe six weeks – to judge the results.
Why’d I try this? Well, 20 years ago I started to look into why my scalp was always itchy, sometimes even sore to the touch. I learned that commercial conditioners coat your hair with waxes, and the shampoo has to be strong enough to remove the coating or it builds up, which dries the hair, so you need a strong conditioner… and on it goes. Also, your scalp tends to produce more oil to counter the dryness or simply from all the stimulation from scrubbing at your hair.
Using gentler products made from coconut oil and not washing my hair every day made a huge difference, but I still occasionally had some irritation. Later, when I moved away from products containing sodium laureth sulphate/sodium lauryl sulphate, I stopped getting mouth ulcers from toothpaste and my scalp stopped itching completely.
But it’s hard to find such products, they go out of production and change their formula. Sometimes well-meaning but clueless manufacturers include essential oils in the belief that they won’t give anyone allergic reactions. By the time I heard about the “no ‘poo’ method” I was attracted by the knowledge that nobody was ever going to stop manufacturing bicarb and vinegar or add things to them.
My hair is now soft and shiny. The natural curl is stronger, which I love. I no longer have an itchy scalp or split ends. Once my scalp stopped overproducing oil I was able to cut hair washing down to once every four or five days.
The only problem I have is incorporating this with my carry-on only travelling philosophy. Customs and security might regard travelling with vinegar a little odd, and taking a jar of white powder on board a plane somewhat alarming.