By Larraine Roulston:
If my memory serves me correctly, while she was performing “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” 8 times a week in the musical stage production of South Pacific, Mary Martin purportedly began to suffer hair loss. As a result, shampoo had to be replaced by a similar looking substance.
Before the first formula shampoo was developed (around 1800), people washed their hair about once a month on average. Years of marketing and hair commercials designed to sell a product have since convinced us to do otherwise.
Frequent shampoo use upsets our hair’s natural balance. The reality is that by over shampooing, we are washing away our natural conditioning. The body’s glands produce oil to replace what is lost though soaping and they may overcompensate, resulting in hair that looks and feels more greasy. Now requiring further shampooing, the vicious cycle repeats. Thankfully, a grassroots environmental movement began, promoting healthier hair. The results of the movement “No Shampoo” — or the “No Poo Method” — have been amazing. New recruits claim to have softer, healthier and more manageable hair.
When I first heard about the No Shampoo mixture, I was eager to give it a try. For me it was about purchasing fewer plastic bottles and reducing the amount of chemicals being absorbed into my pores (as well as being washed down the drain). The first challenge was to determine how long I could last before I needed to shampoo again. A week later, when I was ready to feel human, I began the alternative.
The method is simple. First, add a tablespoon of baking soda to a cup of water. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved. (For long hair, you should double the solution.) Wet your hair in the shower, and pour the mixture onto the roots and work it into your scalp, allowing it to spread gradually over the rest of your hair. It does feel rather odd not to have suds, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working. Baking soda helps remove dead skin while not stripping away natural oils. When you are ready to rinse, you can use the same container with a cup of water from the shower and add a capful of apple cider vinegar. Include a little lemon juice if you wish. Mix and use as you did the baking soda. When you give your hair a good rinse, that distinctive apple cider vinegar aroma thankfully disappears.
I was pleased with the initial outcome: my hair has become thicker with its natural curl. Everyone’s transitional period will vary. For some, it may take just a few days; with others, it may take much longer for their scalp to readjust its oil production.
In 2014 Lucy Aitken Read published her book Happy Hair: The Definitive Guide to Giving Up Shampoo. She demonstrated her flowing auburn hair that had not been subjected to commercial shampoo for the previous two years.
Some people may be skeptical; but after several weeks, while not lathering with shampoo and simply using shower water, your hair will still look presentable, which is very liberating while traveling. This method is considerably easier on your budget. There is less waste in manufacturing and energy used for recycling plastic bottles, as well as fewer emissions for shipping. In addition, chemicals are not washed into the sewer system to be treated at a wastewater plant. Without shampoo that tends to dry the scalp and that may be hazardous to health, a woman’s hair can become once again her natural crowning glory.
Larraine authors the children’s book series Pee Wee at Castle Compost,www.castlecompost.com