Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Going no poo: the initial report

I know some of you are curious as to how my no-poo experience is coming along and I figured it was time for an update since it's been a few days. Which is like dog years when it comes to the no-poo experiment.

Day One: Holy smokes, people. Whose idea was it to premix the baking soda and water and keep it in the shower? Rule #1 to making something more comfy: do not pour ice cold water on your head and expect the experience to be pleasant. After sitting overnight in my freezing your buns off bathroom, the cold water reception was less than tolerable.

I "washed" with BS and rinsed with vinegar and used a little coconut oil as my stylin' cream. I then dried and styled as usual since I wanted this to be a realistic survey of how this works. I didn't want to use my regular styling products since I doubt they will ever get washed out using this method and weeks of build-up just didn't sound like a good idea.

My hair didn't look dirty, but then again it didn't exactly look as clean. No oiliness, but my scalp was somewhat itchy. I could smell a whiff of vinegar emanating from my hair for several hours afterwards, but that ceased and I had to sniff hard to smell it by nighttime. Tomorrow I'll rinse better.

Day Two: Well, after the frigid experience on Day 1, I waited until right before I got in the shower before adding warm water to my BS. This allowed me to scrub my head a little better. I also rinsed out the vinegar a little bit better, but could still smell it throughout the morning. My head was still itchy all day long even though I rinsed everything out well.

This experiment may save me money in ingredients, but will cost more in water bills since it takes longer to wash thoroughly and rinse. My hair didn't look oily at all and it still felt soft at the roots, albeit stiff and quite tangly at the ends. I asked my husband to give me a sniff test and he declared that it smelled like I just went for a run. Wonderful - nothing like a heaping helping of wet dog salad to start the day!

Day Three: I got creative and added some essential oil (vanilla) to my baking soda mixture to counter-act the wet animal smell. I also added some orange oil to the vinegar mixture to hopefully reduce the salad smell. Then I went totally nuts and melted down some coconut oil and threw in a little coffee fragrance oil to mix things up. I tell you, I was excited to take a shower!

I don't know if it was the vanilla oil or just my dirty head that made my "shampoo" smell like someone was cooking rotten meat with a hint of vanilla in the shower. It was a most unpleasant odor and I suspected it was my hair that was the problem. After scrubbing and rinsing, I applied my orange vinegar concoction and was quite excited because it smelled fantastic. Even when I went to dry my hair it still smelled more like orange than vinegar so I was happy with that.

Unfortunately, while drying my hair it became readily apparent that all was not so happy in hairville. Things started out great. The hair by my scalp (which I generally dry first) was cleanish and fluffy, but when I got to the rest of my hair (everything from top of the ears down), it felt filmy and totally impossible to comb/brush through. Even after brushing all the way through, it was still a tangled mess of non-brushable, filmy hair.

For the rest of the day, my head itched like crazy. The worst part was that my hair smelled like rotten bacon. If I didn't have to go to work I would have dropped the kids off at school and gone back to wash my hair. Fortunately, the bacon smell went away after lunch, but the itchiness continued.

No Poo Status: While I'm extremely tempted to give up at this point, my hair doesn't look oily or greasy at all, even late at night when it normally starts getting oily. So, in spite of the itchy scalp action, and weird, filmy hair, I'm going to continue for a little while longer.

From what I've read, Seattle has extremely soft water so I don't think it's build-up from that. Anyway, I've got a few things I'm going to try differently to see if the situation improves. And, of course, I'll give you the full, stinky, report.

Anyone else following along at home having similar issues?


Laura said...

I use Lush's shampoo bar and conditioner bar. No plastic packaging - or any packaging for that matter - it comes as it is and is made with natural ingredients (or so they say). It doesn't take me longer to wash with those than with bottled shampoos and conditioners, and my hair smells wonderful!
On the other hand, I don't wash my hair everyday: I stopped when I figured out that that was the very reason my hair was greasy at the roots and dry at the ends all the time. But I don't work out or run, so my hair stays relativemly clean in between washes.
I would've taken part in the No Poo experiment, if I hadn't found the Lush of my life. ;)

Innisfree in Alaska said...

I tried the no poo experiment. I couldn't stand it. I just cut back on my washes from every other day to every three days and so forth it worked for me. But I hope the no-poo works for you. :)

Anonymous said...

I've heard from stoic individuals that the process to detox from shampoo takes WEEKS or MONTHS. Which is why I gave up after day 3. But this is really important research you're doing here Crunchy!!! Hoping your hair will pull through and I'll have good data to base my own work on. I really appreciate the effort you're putting in to this experiment, I promise it won't go to waste :)

knutty knitter said...

I've never done the vinegar thing. The bs works fine without. The itch goes after a week or so.

viv in nz

Anonymous said...

burts bees Rosemary & mint shampoo bar user here....
Its like $6 at the health food store but it works great for my shoulder length hair. I am having a fly away problem now but I get that every winter so I just use a little more burts hand cream on my hands and rub the excess on to tame them down or a little water on my hands

Shandy said...

I use regular shampoo, but have switched to the apple cider vinegar rinse (1 Tbsp per 1 cup of water) and couldn't be happier. My hair is thick, heavy and fairly long, so I had my doubts, but the results are pleasing. In fact, my hair stays cleaner longer. But no shampoo? Hmmm.

Where did I read that some people who wash their hair every day use the vinegar rinse as both shampoo and conditioner? Maybe you should try that and skip the baking soda step altogether.

Willo said...

Good for you sticking with it!!! I think the filmy-ness might be from the coconut oil. Mine gets that way if I use too much. Maybe less of that would be good? I totally feel you on the cold water, good idea adding water right before!

Anonymous said...

Huh. I haven't done it myself, but my toddler son, who has very fine hair only gets a hair wash every 1-2 weeks. His head never smells or looks greasy. In fact, he's got gorgeous hair that grows a mile a minute. I use a mixture of vegetable glycerine, apple cider vinegar infused with herbs, and water. It's also what I use to wash him. I have used it once or twice, but usually I just stick with shampoo. I have been using baking soda with a little salt for toothpaste tho, and like that (followed by a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash from edgar cayce).

*justjill* said...

I tried the No Poo experiment for a couple of days last year and felt like I couldn't leave the house with my hair. It was pretty bad. I have since made the switch to an all natural shampoo/soap bar. I make cold-process soap and just use that. I have shoulder length, heavy, wavey hair and the first two weeks were rough. My scalp felt oily but looked okay; the ends were a mass of tangles. After the first two weeks my hair is great. I have dry ends and the vinegar rinse seems to dry them out even more if I use it more than once a week or so. I'm finally to the point where I don't need to use any kind of conditioner and my hair isn't static-y or tangley. Best of luck with the baking soda!

QuarantinedKiddos said...

Maya - Kids don't have the sweat/oil glands going as we adults do. Once we hit puberty we aren't as lucky with our bathing needs.

Personally I shower daily but wash with shampoo every 2 days. I might be tempted to switch to a shampoo bar once I run out of my current product, but since I only use a tablespoon of shampoo it's taking forever to go through!

Anonymous said...

I had the dry, straw ends of my hair--ends being VERY long. I've played around with different amounts of vinegar and once or twice broken out some store bought conditioner cream stuff. Like the itchy scalp, it eventually worked out, I don't know if I anything I did helped or if time just worked things out. I feel your pain, though. Well, I remember it. I don't feel it anymore!

Anonymous said...

My 6yo has been taking swimming lessons and the chlorine has left her hair gummy and easily tangled. Last night, I decided to try the baking soda, especially to counteract the chlorine. I couldn't believe it! Her hair was so soft, shiny and no tangles! I will have to ask her about the itchy scalp today.

j.c. said...

I'm trying the no-poo thing too. I use a styling lotion and hairspray to style my short hair. I was skeptical that the residue from these would wash out of my hair without using shampoo. They do though! I started off using the baking soda concoction everyday, but it was too drying to my hair and it just felt like straw. So now I just rinse well with water, and put the vinegar/water solution on, let it sit for a bit, and then rinse that out.

This seems to be working fine. The styling products seem to be coming out of my hair this way. I agree that this method uses a lot more water than just washing with shampoo.

Cave-Woman said...

I use the no poo method periodically---interspersed with Aubrey Organics shampoos. The only bad thing about Aubrey's stuff is that it's packaged in plastic---but at least it it recyclable. And they are serious about the "organic" part of their name.

I have moderately curly, thick prone to frizz hair---and Aubrey does very right by me.

It was the most green I could go and still have nice hair.
I'd recommend it, since you seem to have a similar hair type.

(Oh, and one of their shampoos smells like honeysuckles!)

ChicChick said...

That is so funny! I am going to try today though I'm not looking forward to an itchy scalp of bacon smelling hair. Probably my husband will love the meat smell--hope I can fend off my cats and dog!

Lisa said...

Dang, Crunchy, you are living all my no 'poo fears. I have the concoctions mixed up and ready to go (today was going to be the day I begin), but I have been simultaneously wishful and dubious. I want my hair to respond as positively as, say, Melinda and Vanessa's did, but at the same time I fear it'll more turn out the way yours has thus far (hopefully without the wet dog smell, though). The extra water usage bums me out in a big way and I can't see how that is "better" than natural shampoo bars (or something...I haven't found a good one of those, yet, either)...

Anonymous said...

itching and funk indicate microbial action. adding a drop or two of essential oil of lavender, grapefruit (not gse but grapefruit essential oil) or lemongrass will both kill microbes to stop itch/funk and will have a lovely more-than-vinegar scent.

the purpose of the vinegar rinse is to emulsify the sebum so it will come down away from the scalp and coat the shaft evenly. mixing oil with it sounds unhelpful to me.

usually for someone who's been shampooing daily you'd wean from that slowly for a while before going to the bs & acv only; i was at shampooing once a week before i went no-poo. but more power to you and good luck!

Anonymous said...

What about skipping the salad bar, and just using straight bi-carb applied dry to wet hair. That what I do.

Good luck.

On, once I went to work and kept asking my co-workers if my hair smelled of cat piss, as I'd been sprayed that morning. It says someting about the people that I work with that no one thought that was an odd request.

Good luck,


Anonymous said...

What an adventure. Rather you than me! I do have a feeling that you need to aim for washing the hair less often. How you get there I've no clue.

I did try washing my hair with water only for a month or two, years back when I lived in CA. It felt kinda hippie like to do that. The results were OK, though I definitely had a "me" smell, not as bad as wet dog, but noticeable. My hair was long and it seemed fine on water only, but it never shined up and looked good like I had hoped it to so I went back to shampoo and conditioner.

I'm interested in the shampoo bar idea and might pursue trying that.

betsyohs said...

A couple of things for the itchiness - when my scalp itches, it's because I'm using too much baking soda.

(I've been no-poo for just over 18 months now, and I wash every 3-4 days, not every day like you are.)

So I'd say try skipping a day if possible. Or if not, try thinning out your baking soda solution. (I use ~1/2t in a cup or more of water.)

Oh, and on a maybe-related note, I sometimes get flakes with the itchiness, and if I either do a 1-part vinegar + 1-part water rinse in the shower right before the BS scrub (rinse out the vinegar well!), or if I put straight-up vinegar on my scalp at night and leave it there until the morning, the flakes and the itches are gone after my normal BS wash and vinegar rinse. I only have to do this once every couple of months - not every time I wash.

And on the dry ends - I dilute my vinegar in a plastic bowl, dip my ends into that, and then dump the rest on my head. Might help.

Good luck. I love being no-poo - it's one of my favorite green changes. So hang in there!

Anonymous said...

I tried this for a while and had to be careful not to get the baking soda on the ends of my hair, just the scalp and crown area. And then I concentrated the vinegar on the length from the ears back. It worked alright and I was washing every 3rd day with possibly a rinse with water only on the 2nd day.

When I used coconut oil I would either just barely run my fingers over the solid oil and let it melt with my body heat, then apply to just the length and ends, or I'd put a bunch on overnight before I'd wash it for a deep conditioner.

Eventually my ends got a bit crunchy and dry and I decided I'd go to a shampoo bar (I hear Chagrin Valley makes good ones) once I'd finished up my old bottle of shampoo. I wash every 3rd day still so it's taking a while.

Pamm said...

Don't give up :). YOu can do it. There is an adjustment period. Also, try apple cider vinegar--it's much better!


Anonymous said...

I also use Lush. It was weird the first time, but now I like it a lot. I have thin blond hair to approx. under my shoulder blades, which I wash every 2-4 days, depending on my activities. My 10-year old needs a wash about once every 1-1.5 weeks. My 13-year old needs to wash his shoulder length hair every day since it gets greasy very quickly. The hormones are kicking in. Unfortunately I'm the only one using Lush, though the rest uses Urtekram shampoo (natural and vegetable based, no parabens or other synthetic preservatives, no colourants, petrochemicals or alcohol)

Sara said...

I really appreciate this honest report of going no poo. I only wash my hair once a week, but I have dry and curly hair so going once a week is what is recommended anyway. I can't imagine no conditioner. But... I may just give it a try. I'm a little scared of the tangled mess I will have. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I started no 'poo when you did and after drying my hair after my shower this morning, I proceeded to grab the shampoo and conditioner and rewash my hair. I did skip washing it yesterday, and wasn't having any itchy scalp issues.

This is my third attempt at going no 'poo and every time I go back to shampoo at about the same point. My hair gets to where I can't hardly get a brush thru it -- and I have short, cropped hair!!

We do have hard water, and each time I've tried no 'poo I've adjusted my hair washing process to accommodate for that. But still, my hair ends up with a very undesirable feeling to it -- not greasy per se, perhaps filmy might be a better word, and it feels heavy (which is saying something since I don't have oodles of hair).

I'm going to look around for the Lush shampoo bar and conditioner bar to try out once my other shampoo and conditioner are gone. I do great using plain ole baking soda for deodorant, but I'm not feeling the love for using it on my hair!

Anonymous said...

i so needed an uproarious laugh this morning ...thank you

what we do in the spirit of astounds me

this no poo experiment being an example

i use a plant based poo -- scented with iced tomatoe - an astounding green apple smell and wash twice a week

Anonymous said...

it took me about two weeks for things to sort themselves out. I never had any bad smells though. some suggestions: don't wash every day, keep the baking soda mostly at the top and the apple cider vinegar mostly at the bottom, and try it without the essential oils.

Anonymous said...

Well I didn't think I wanted to go with baking soda and vinegar and I am fairly convinced now that I definitely didn't want to.

I am currently using a Lush bar. I started using it at the beginning of September and I am about 1/2 way through it. It is working but in reality... they still have perfumes, dyes and SLS in a lot of them so I will probably go with a natural bar next time. I have used Chagrin Valley soaps and lotions and am real pleased with them. I will be trying their natural soap bars next.

PS. Has anyone used just plain coconut oil as a skin lotion? Chagrin Valley has great lotions that work but they are a bit pricey. I was thinking of just using plain old coconut oil instead.

Segwyne said...

My hair is long (mid-back right now) and pin straight. I tried using baking soda for a few weeks a couple of years ago. I don't know if I was doing it wrong, but I ended up with extreme seborrhea (dandruff to the max). It was so bad that the roots of my hair were plastered down to my scalp. I quit the baking soda then. I have used ACV on myself and my kids. I can take it or leave it. What we do now is use castille soap. Vermont Soap is local to us, but Dr. Bronner's would be closer for you. A little bit goes a long way. I also only wash my hair 2-4 times a month. I once went 8 weeks or more without using anything other than water in my hair. I have never washed my hair every day. The most was 2-3 times a week. Now my hair gets a bit dull and drab after a few weeks without soap, but I have no more oily problems. Remember, the more you wash your hair (and therefore strip out the natural oils), the more oil your scalp will produce. The less you mess with it, the more manageable it will become. Good luck with your experiment.

Maeve said...

Well, I've only washed my hair once since starting no-poo experimentation...

I also pre-mixed the baking soda in a well-rinsed shampoo bottle; and the apple cider vinegar in a well-rinsed conditioner bottle. I didn't want to smell funny, so I added some essential oils to both containers (patchouli, sandalwood and ylang ylang. Um, except the plastic thing in the bottle got stuck and I ended up with way too many drops of the ylang ylang)

Rather than trying to do this while IN the shower, I just leaned over the tub and washed my hair separately. This also allows a person to switch the shower wand 'off' during the scrubbing action.

So, cold overly-scented baking soda wash. And ditto the rinse. And my hair STUNK like essential oils and felt, well, somewhat oily. So I leaned back over the tub, and scrubbed a couple small handfuls of dry baking soda on my wet hair (maybe 2 tablespoons?), and rinsed it well, and then did the same with some plain apple cider vinegar.

The vinegar smell wasn't unpleasant, given that the floral of the oil was more prominent. And by the evening, when I made my husband sniff test my hair, there was no vinegar smell at all (he hates vinegar, and can smell even little amounts, hence why I've put off trying no-poo for the last year+)

I towel dried my hair, and let it air dry. I did not attempt to comb or brush it until it was completely dry. I've never been able to comb my hair while it was wet, ever. So I wasn't even tempted.

This is day three, and I'm thinking I should probably give it another wash. I usually have itchy scalp (hard water, commercial shampoo, both bad for scalps), and I've not had much in the way of itch.

Maybe use less baking soda if you are having residue and itch?

I would say that so far I'm loving this, though my hair seems different to me. Spouse says it looks normal. o.O

I've also switched to a vegetable-based handmade soap, and that's done wonders for my usually itchy self.

Yay for no petrochemicals!

mudnessa said...

you might wanna skip a day or two of baking soda and just use a vinegar rinse or just water that day if your hair isnt too dirty.

i am going to try a new recipe that doesnt involve baking soda and if its good ill share it with you in a later post.

Theresa said...

This method works for me: Shake some baking soda directly on your scalp and rub it around as necessary. Rinse it out under the shower water. Pre-mix some water and vinegar in a 50/50 mix and put it in an empty squeeze bottle of some kind and squirt it on your hair after rinsing out the baking soda. That's all. I think all the vanilla and coconut oil and stuff is contaminating the no 'poo experiment.

Jodi A-B said...

Crunchy, I can't stand it anymore! This is not the "no poo" experiment (a too-extreme waste reduction program, and not at all healthy even in the short term), but the "no 'poo" experiment (which shows that this has to do with shampoo).

Really, when I first read your post headline I thought you had found some way to really go zero-waste.

But on the no 'poo topic: my husband, who has had super oily hair since his teens (really the pictures of him from then are so sad...), has done this for the last six months or so. He washes with a small amount of Dr. Brommer's every day. His hair is neither flyaway nor greasy. It's a great improvement!

Anonymous said...

I am intrigued. No poo didn't work for me the first time, but I'm feeling increasingly tempted to try again. I'll be reading along with interest for the duration of your experiment, for sure.

Jen said...

Tried as I might, I haven't had any luck with no 'poo. I only wash my hair once or twice a week as it is, and have problems with VERY dry scalp and hair, and something about the vinegar/baking soda just exacerbated that problem.

I'll be tracking your findings with great interest, though. And I didn't realize until today that you're a fellow Seattleite (you make me proud!)

Anna said...

Wow. Thanks for taking this one for the team.

nemo said...

Human hair does not need to be shampoo-ed every day. I would say, it is definitely a bad idea to do away with the natural oils that protect hair. Only to replace them with artificial animal fats (as in conditioner).
Who ever came up with such a hair-brained idea?

Of course, if you apply detergent to your hair everyday, your sebaceous glands will work overtime to keep up and your hair will be oily if you stop. That is what we call adaptation.

Seriously folks, you don't need shampoo every day. Once a week is probably too much to begin with. And you do need those natural oils to protect your keratinous strands known as hair.

This is all part of the big social scare that soap makers unleashed upon unsuspecting Americans. That we need to apply their products frequently and copiously so as not to smell offensively or have shiny healthy looking hair.

PG is laughing all the way to the bank. No you don't need to stand in your cold shower applying vinegar. You need to let you hair hang down. In its natural state. From what I can tell it looks quite good too !

MamaWestWind said...

I used the no-poo method for awhile and only stopped because of laziness and moving. I want to go back to it. I think the filminess is from the coconut oil. That makes my hair filmy too and is hard to wash out. The itchiness goes away. My hair was nice and thick looking, but a bit dry. I never found a good solution for conditioner other than conditioner. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

try my method: mix one egg with a fork, pour in a bit of vinegar - maybe one or two spoons - (apple cider, or the proper one), mix well, put on your hair, mostly towards your roots, let it drip a bit, then rinse. before blowdry apply some ale (or other beer) on your hair, again, mostly on the roots, but not too much... let's say two spoonfuls... careful, it holds very strong. then blowdry your hair as usual. smell disapperars in 10 mins, till then it smells a bit beery, but I actually like it, so does my husband :)
no dirty feeling, no ithching.
don't forget to warm up the egg in warm water, or take it out of the fridge earlier.

Anonymous said...

oh, forgotten: egg is the conditioner part, vinegar is the part that washes away grease. if you use vinegar at the end, it makes your hair dry and weak. use it only mixed with an egg (for long hair maybe two), and wash out immediately. try not wash every day, just maybe once or twice a week. actually, with this method you'll need less and less washing per week.

Maeve said...

I've heard of people using French clay somehow, rather than baking soda / vinegar, in place of shampoo. I don't remember where I read about it though.

Anonymous said...

Crunch. Do the Dr. Bonners. Do it.

Although I'm loving the (unintended) hilarity of this experiment I hate to watch this undue suffering!

I use the Dr. Bonners and love it. It is a bit drying, which was why I was so fascinated with the coconut oil conditioner. (Which has changed my life, that coconut oil. Use it for everything now.)

Don't make us start a petition to make you stop the no poo.

rebecca leigh said...

I'm going to reiterate the Dr. B's... bar or liquid, either way.

I tried baking soda for a little while (no vinegar), and it worked really well, but then I got to traveling and switched to a bar of Dr. Bronner's (lavender at night, peppermint in the morning, but I only shower every two or three days). It's just been so easy... until I shaved my head a few weeks ago, and now it's like heaven. But my mid-back length semi-wavy, semi-frizzy, super-thick hair took to it really well. It brought out the waviness that before I had to use mousse to achieve.
Good luck, and persevere through the transition period!


The Hipster Homegirl said...

Most of these posts advise you to only wash your hair every two or three days, which I think is great advice, and I do when I can,but what about after working out for 2 hours? I know you go to the gym most days and I can't reconcile in my head that washing the your hair the day after the gym will work. Has anyone tried this? I would love to know what you do? Another hint...if your hair looks a little greasy in the morning a little burt's bees baby powder brushed through it will take care of that. I wash my hair after every practice or workout session, but on days that I am not exerting myself I almost always try to let it go, and if it looks a little oily, a little powder will absorb that easily. I have dark hair and as long as I brush it through it takes care of the problem and you can't see the powder.

Billie, I use sweet almond oil as moisturizer and it works great. My skin feels great. I even use it on my face at night. It makes it a little shiny so I stick with Burt's Bees during the day, but my skin looks incredible and younger, and contrary to what you might think, actually helps prevent breakouts.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure whether or not my comments will apply, since I'm sure an individual's experience with "poo free" is affected by their hair texture. But here's mine:

I'm African-American, and have very dry, thick, curly hair. I've also suffered from really bad dandruff since I was a child, something no dandruff shampoo seemed to help with. I've been poo-free for more than a year and a half.

For a long time I loved it. I did the 1 t. baking soda in 8 oz. of water wash (I use a squirt bottle, available at most beauty supply shops), and 2 t. apple cider vinegar in 8 oz. of water rinse. My experiences were much different from yours: I found it much easier to rinse these out of my hair than shampoo, and never had any smell afterward. Best of all, my dandruff went away for the first time in my life!

Then, about two months ago, the dandruff returned. I wasn't sure why. It wasn't as bad as it had been in my pre-no poo days (I can scratch my head without being showered by flakes, something that was never the case before I went poo-free) but it did itch. So I switched my routine a little: I gave up the baking soda and now wash with 4 oz of white vinegar mixed in with 4 oz of water, and rinse with the same 2 t. ACV in 8 z of water. It's been two weeks and it's getting better.

A thought about conditioning: I'd suggest giving up the coconut oil. It's very high in saturated fat, which probably makes it difficult for your hair to absorb. I know that when I used it for a brief time, I had the same problems you had: gunky hair that tangled and often broke when I combed it.

Now I use Trader Joe's TeaTree Oil conditioner, which is made from all natural ingredients and smells very nice. Because my hair is so dry, I mix it with equal parts extra virgin olive oil. The latter step might not be necessary for someone whose hair is oily or normal.

BTW, I moved from Massachusetts to the Puget Sound area about 6 months ago. If you ever have a meet-up of your readers, I'd love to join it.

Anonymous said...

From a quick study - okay, I have a friend who works in a medical library, so we looked at print sources and didn't do any 'studies', we just studied (I THINK that makes sense...) - excess oil is produced mostly (but not exclusively) due to just a few reasons.

First one is hormones. Higher androgen levels, or in the case of menopausal women like me, wildly fluctuating rations of estrogen playing tricks on the androgen/estrogen ratios. The second one is as a response to irritation.

So, just maybe, Crunchy has higher levels of androgens, thus already tends to produce more sebum, in both hair and armpits.

In her pits, it is combined with various pheromones that might otherwise make her the most appealing sex partner in the world, except that there are just too many of them and, worse, there are bacteria breaking all that down in funky directions. She used traditional deodorants/antiperspirants, and they helped SHORT term, but irritated the area and so longer term kicked up pit sweat production, causing a problem feed back loop. Changing to the rock solved that, in part by just not being irritating.

And mayb the same thing is happening in her scalp. Maybe washing daily is irritating her scalp, so while it washing the oil away for a day, it keeps irritating the glands making them produce more oils. If that's the case, switching to any 'poo or 'poo substitute that doesn't irritate HER scalp might over time solve the problem.

Crunchy, I'm assuming that you've tried dry shampoo/cornstarch already to try to space out the need to shampoo (and I guess I'm also assuming that they wouldn't be irritating to your scalp, too, aren't I).


Anonymous said...

Ooops! Everywhere in my earlier post that I wrote: t. (for teaspoon) should have been T. (for tablespoon). Sorry.

Anonymous said...

It took me a month to detox from traditional shampoo. Hang in there.

I get an itchy scalp when I use BS too much - make sure you dilute it enough. And I wouldn't use it everyday. Here is a recipe I LOVE for no-poo:

1 c. Dr. Bronner’s organic castile liquid soap (The almond scented version is GREAT for this - best smelling shampoo ever!)
2 Tbs. apple cider vine­gar
3/4 Tbs. tea tree & Vit. E oil (or just one oil only)
1 c. distilled water
1 (16 oz) spray bottle or other con­tainer for application

This is an alteration I made from the recipe offered by Lindsay Edmunds at Passionate Homemaking:

I find it works GREAT. It leaves the hair a little heavy, but it is very soothing to the scalp. I alternate between this and BS, otherwise the itchiness drives me nuts.

Make sure you also dilute the vinegar enough. I add basil and rosemary essential oils (just a few drops per quart of the vinegar/water mixture) to cut back on oil and for the smell. I never smell the vinegar after my hair is dry, unless I've used too much.

Hope this helps!

Scott Wells said...

I was inspired to chronicle my shampoo alternative here -- -- which came as much out of a need to control mild eczema as reduce plastic.

Sharlene said...

Crunchy- than you so much for all the laughs today. I truly feel we have similar and oil producing bodies so having you as my test subject is fantastic.I tried no poo for a few gross days and gave up because I can't stand the oil. I wash my hair every other day (I don't care what you all say, anything longer and I am dripping oil) and need my hair to feel clean. I am using an organic shampoo right now and its so so. I remember watching Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and they made some shampoo out of clay. I need to look that up. Maybe that could work. I do hope no poo work out for you but just in case it doesn't, its nice to have a backup plan.

Allie said...

I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one who had a bumpy time of it with no poo. I gave up quickly, but I have really difficult hair to begin with. But in every other review I've read, it seems like no poo just instantly yielding amazing results with no vinegar odor issues. I was beginning to develop a no poo complex.

Ilyeana said...

I echo what other commenters have said about tweaking the amount/timing of the vinegar--I have gotten itchy scalp issues with no-poo, and I started using more vinegar, and occasionally using vinegar before and after the baking soda as well, and my scalp doesn't itch now. I use apple cider vinegar.

Good luck!

Riana Lagarde said...

it can take months for your scalp to stop making excessive oils to fight the store bought shampoos. i've been doing no poo for 6 months now. (it took a month for my hair to get better). one key is to brush your hair a lot like daily with a natural bristle brush to distribute your hairs natural oils. and i only wash my hair once a week with the baking soda.

Anonymous said...

I've been "no poo" for awhile, and also added essential oil to the vinegar. Two things about the sticky/crunchy issue - first, I have found that if I run a comb through my hair in the shower while the water is running, my hair ends up soft and very curly. Second, I brush my hair every morning with a natural bristle brush to distribute the oils. This not only makes it easier to keep clean, but eliminated the itching. Just my $0.02.

The Simpleton said...

Different strokes for different folks, but I too think you should drop the coconut oil. At the very most, use grapeseed oil, which is much lighter, and I would do it only weekly or so. As far as the workout blues, have you tried rinsing out the salt right after exercise? I'm wondering if that's part of the filmy problem--it certainly was for me back in my shampooing days.

I have two very different textures to my hair, a "topcoat" that is dry, porous, and wavy and an undercoat that is oily and clings to my scalp. A conditioner's nightmare. I'm on Day 5 of no 'poo (just by chance) and think I'm going to love it, although there have been some setbacks. My hair is less greasy underneath and less dry on top. Apparently unlike every other person on the planet, my hairline has stopped breaking out since I started. I did try to go without the daily bicarb yesterday, and it was a mistake, but I think I see the possibility in the near future. And by the way, Dr. Bronner's is awful for my hair, although I use it for all kinds of other things.

betsyohs said...

I agree with the Simpleton on how to deal with working out: just rinse! I think that most of what happens to your hair during a workout is just sweat, not grease. And sweat rinses out with water, since it's just salt water itself.

I work out 4 or 5 days a week, and earned the nickname Sweat Queen back in high school. But since I've been no 'poo (~1.5 years), I wash with BS and vinegar every 3rd or 4th day, and just rinse and dry on any other day that my hair gets sweaty enough to need it.

Anonymous said...

I thought I had to wash my hair every day, too. Now I do 3 times a week, and it is great. It always looks better on the 2nd day! I tried the no 'poo experiment last year, but with honey and baking soda. The honey tore out my fine hair! Maybe I will try some baking soda by itself this weekend. I've recently stopped conditioner all together and use a rosemary oil as-needed on the ends.

As for working out, I now only go running on the days that I wash, and I do yoga or go bike-riding on the non-wash days because I don't sweat much doing those kinds of activities.

Anonymous said...

I haven't used shampoo for over a year. I didn't like baking soda at all, but using vinegar once in a while makes my hair very soft.

I just use plain water most times. It seems to work fine.

Anonymous said...

I was so excited to try the no-shampoo thing a few months back. I did it for well over a month and eventually switched back to shampoo. I have long, thick hair, too, and although it never looked totally terrible, it never looked very good, either. The filminess never got any better. The filmy residue started building up on my comb and I couldn't stand it. I really wish it would have worked. And I might have stuck with it if it seemed like the troubles were improving, but nay, they were only getting worse. I hope you have better success!

Jenny R said...

Hi Crunchy--So I'm a no 'poo-er but a different method. I actually follow the curly girl method because, well, my hair's really curly. Basically it involved washing your hair with conditioner (trust me, it works even though it sounds kinda gross). Anyhow, I heard it mentioned from other cg'ers that you can add a little lemon juice to your conditioner (or in this case vinegar rinse) as a light astringent to help get rid of the filmy build up.

I don't know why the earlier poster mentioned the vinegar rinse as a distributor for the oils. Everything I've read has said something different. See, your hair is naturally acidic. Washing it with the very basic baking soda (in water, which is also basic) will fluff up the cuticle layer on your hair, leaving it vulnerable to damage, moisture loss and potential frizz. The vinegar rinse, being slightly more acidic than your hair will help the cuticle layer lie flat again.

I hope this isn't too much information. I just thought it might help. You can also use a low poo (basically a natural shampoo) every once in awhile to clarify, and it won't set you back in your transition. Just make sure it doesn't have any SLS or other damaging sulfates. Cocobetaine, olefin sulfonate and cocomidopropyl betaine are acceptable surfactants.

Alright, enough of my book. I hope everything goes better for you. :)

Ecodea said...

I've been using strained, diluted lemon juice for a few months now, every 2-3 days or so. It works well with me and smells much better than when I used vinegar or baking soda. The only problem is when I go to the beach or swimming pool - my hair gets a little tangly for a little while. I'll have to try the baking soda then, like someone mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

Wow. How did I miss this? Must have been when I was sick as a dog and not reading many blogs. Sheesh. I didn't know you finally tried no 'poo.

Well, I gather you gave up on it. One thing I will say is that you're not supposed to wash your hair with the baking soda, just your scalp. I have a feeling it took so long to rinse out the baking soda because you were working it all through your long hair. Which is also why your hair turned out stiff on the ends.

Oh, well. At least you tried it. Still working great for me.

cristele said...

Hi there,
thanks for the blog and all the commands.
I want to try going no-poo and was going to go like my mum used to do: when she was a kid until being a young girl, she would use vingar first and then rinse with chamomile flowers in hot water, because it shines the blonde hair (blonde hair only, so she told me). I recently bought a bunch of dry chamomile in the Chinese market I cannot use for tea (not good quality). I might use it for my hair; Have you heard about other plants specific to one color or one type of hair? I definitely dont believe in "one solution fits all". Who said one way of cleaning would work great for all types of hair combined with all types of water? I think we all need to try and adapt? I'm kinda scared to begin though becasue my hubby is so sensitive to smell....bacon smell would be a no-no...

laura said...

I tried the no poo experiment for approximately 10 months. I have extremely fine, straight hair. My hair is now ruined. I have split ends that pretty much go all the way up to my scalp. It's terrible and I know the only way to fix it is to literally shave my head, which, what woman wouldn't be reluctant to do? While doing "no poo" I discovered that baking soda does seem to "clean" one's scalp, but the rest of the hair just gets a very nasty buildup. I didn't use vinegar afterwards but for perhaps a week because I didn't like it. I did one tbspn baking soda to one cup of water about once a week, then after a while upped it to twice a week because my scalp seemed to get dirty faster. After ten months of horrible hair days and damaged self esteem I decided to use Regis Pure Results shampoo. My head felt so good afterwards. I mean it was a huge difference. My hair was bouncy again. And clean. I guess I'm just wanting people to know that it may seem to work for the short term, but isn't worth ruining your hair. Is there anyone out there that has been doing it for a long time (like I had) without gaining a lot of damaged hair?

Crunchy Chicken said...

Laura - I'm so sorry you had such a horrible outcome. I would imagine the baking soda was too drying for your hair hence the split ends?

About what to do, I would deep condition the bejeezus out of it every time you wash your hair (get a real thick conditioning balm) and hope it grows out before shredding on you. Hopefully, you won't have to resort to shaving your head :(

Unknown said...

I looked into the Lush shampoo bars that a lot of people seem to be using and found that they contain sodium laurel sulfate, so those are a no go for me. I have a bad reaction to SLS. I think I'll stick with the BS/ACV while my hair is normalizing. Another thing I've found is important when ditching shampoo is to brush regularly with a boar bristle brush to distribute the natural oils in your hair.

Anonymous said...

I tried no poo condition only method. I only rinsed my hair and then used condition. It felt good. Little oily but not bad. I did this for 4 days. Then I bought some brenners liquid soapand washed my hair with that. It felt greasier after using it like product buildup. So then I washed it with the bs/acv. Still felt like product buildup. It felt like I had a lot of wax in my hair but my hair had a lot of body. But felt terrible when I ran my hands thru it. I thought that it needed better cleansing from all of the products I have used in the past. I have been using a boar briste brush during this time as well. I have mostly straight fine thick hair with some wave in it. So I routinely flat iron my hair. I really want to get to the point where I can. Wash it just once or twice a week and rinse and condition it the other days. Anyone have any advice for me? I am dying to go back to an old shampoo to have my soft moving hair back again.

tamara said...

i am doing the no poo experiment right now, this is my second week.
i have a rosemary bush in my back yard so i get some leaves an soak them in water for a few days, add the water with the B/S and use that twice a week. every other day i use natural organic goat milk soap. my hair has never felt better! a lot used to fall out when i would wash, but not anymore, and it feels softer and shinnier, and i think its growing faster.

Arianna said...

About the smell... what's your ratio of ACV-water? I use 1 tbs ACV to 1 c water, and when you rinse there is not a hint of vinegar. My sister said my hair smelled like shampoo... that may be because (apparently) a naturally clean scalp just smells good.

Anonymous said...

I just started the no 'poo experiment last night. I was a bit worried about my ends so before I showered I put some olive oil in my hands and ran them through the ends of my hair then I did the baking soda/vinegar hair treatment. In the vinegar I put two drops of sandalwood essential oil and one drop of jasmine essential oil (my favorite scents) and my hair smells fantastic! The ends are a little crunchy but I do need to get the dead ends trimmed so I am crediting the crunchiness to that. Other than that, my hair smells great, looks natural and feels rather silky. So far so good. :)

Anonymous said...

I started going no-'poo a couple weeks ago and the EXACT same thing happened to me! (Which is weird becuase I have relatively thick, wavy hair... O.o) I took a shot in the dark and stopped using Baking Soda, and it worked! I just use a vinegar rinse whenever my hair starts to get greasy and when it's not a water rinse or no wash at all works fine. (I have a really itchy scalp and this worked wonders!) My indicator of when I'm washing to much is when my Scalp gets irritated from being dried out. Then I just go a few days without washing and space it out some more. My hair looks awesome, it's super soft and my frizzies are going away! So my advice is to ditch baking soda and just go with Vinegar and water ;) once in a while when I want a nice scent I use white-rain coconut conditioner, but besides that I hardly use anything on my hair!