Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Does Your Hair Care? Part 2

In Part 1 of Does Your Hair Care?, I explored what possibly harmful ingredients are in my current shampoo. I tried out some other brands and did a little research and came to the conclusion that I am concerned about the safety and costs of conventional shampoo.

Homemade and Natural Options:
I started looking into homemade options, and found there are many very inexpensive and easy options, and I have most of them in my house already!

I posed the question to my Homesteading group and got tons of great information!
By far the most popular answer, and the one that inspired the most people to try it was, Baking soda: mixed with water, followed by a vinegar rinse. It can leave a residue if you have hard water, soft water or rainwater is best. For dry hair, they recommended using baking soda no more than once a week. It may feel like your hair is dry, so you may need conditioner.

After some more research on the subject I found:

Most cleansers you buy in the store are not actually 'soap', they are synthetic detergents with additives, with possibly real soap as an ingredient. Real soap is made from fat, lye and liquid. If you read the labels of baby shampoos they often list lye, added to make it more neutral in pH, making it less likely to burn the baby's eyes.

Your hair (and skin) prefers to be slightly acidic. Most shampoos and cleansers are alkaline, which does not leave your body happy (think of shampoos claiming they are pH balanced).

Baking soda is slightly alkaline, but following it with a vinegar rinse will bring your hair back to balance. Baking soda is also recommended by hairdressers for leaching a bad color job out of your hair. It also removes buildup and cleans gently without the harsh cleansers found in shampoos.

The 'No Poo' Experiment
Baking soda scrub/vinegar rinse users and 'real soap' users inspired many of us to try to give up our addiction to shampoo. Shampoos clean all right, but they clean too well, stripping away our natural oils. Our bodies compensate by making more oil until you can't go more than a day or two without turning into a greasy mess. Remember, it is only fairly recently, and mostly in this country that people feel the need to shower and wash their hair every day. If you can wean yourself off the shampoo and let your body get back in balance, you won't need to wash your hair as often.

So, I'm ready to jump on board, I have my baking soda ready and my vinegar/herbal rinse in a spray bottle. But wait, they say you will go through a couple weeks of withdrawal where your hair will seem really greasy. I'm not sure I can go to work like that, so I did a little more searching and found this advice from The Herbwife's Kitchen:

"If you want to stop using shampoo but you don’t want to end up with icky hair, here’s what to do: Every day, use a little less shampoo. After a while, switch to a soap-based (rather than detergent-based) shampoo. Then use less and less of that soap-based shampoo. Try washing every other day, then every third day. Now switch from your soap-based shampoo to baking soda water (1/2 tsp in a pint of water) and a vinegar rinse (1 tablespoon in a pint of water). If you brush thoroughly, you can probably stop using the baking soda eventually.

The whole process needs to be done carefully, paying attention to how your scalp is adjusting. I’d say it should take 3-6 months for most people. If you go cold turkey on hardcore industrial detergent-based shampoo, well, don’t blame me if your hair gets greasy and icky!"

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Does Your Hair Care? where I will have the results of the baking soda experiment. Will I be a walking greaseball? Will my hair fall out? Will I find the good for you but not expensive solution I have always dreamed of?

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