Thursday, December 13, 2012

The "No 'Poo Challenge." isn't what it sounds like ;)

My husband and I are always looking for ways to be greener, and lessen the toxins we and our children are exposed to. We eat organic where we can and try to use products with as few chemicals as possible.
I'd read about the "No 'Poo Challenge" a few months ago and thought I'd give it a go.

What exactly IS the "No 'Poo Challenge" I hear you ask?  It has nothing to do with the toilet, in case you're wondering!

Going "No 'Poo" is basically cutting shampoo and conditioner out of your life.  It's not as gross as some of you may think.

Modern shampoo as it is known today was first introduced in the 1930s with Drene, the first synthetic (non-soap) shampoo.  Before this, people would wash their hair maybe a couple of times a month with soap, or just water.

Brilliantine was introduced at the turn of the century, when well-known perfumer Ed Pinaud presented a product he called brilliantine at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. His product was intended to soften men's hair, including beards and moustaches. Conditioner as it is known today came much later, and gained popularity in the 70's and 80's with ads featuring celebrities like Farrah Fawcett.

Farrah Fawcett in a Wella Balsam ad for conditioner in the 1970's.
The problem with modern-day shampoos and conditioners are a.) The concoction of hazardous chemicals that are used in them and b.) the vicious cycle they set up for your hair.

Shampoos contain, amongst other things, SLS (sodium lauryl sulphates) and SLES (sodium laureth sulphates). These act as a foaming agent. We are taught from a young age that you need a really good lather for things to be clean. This isn't so! I can't pronounce half of the chemicals that are used in haircare products. I believe that if you can't eat it, it's probably not the best to be putting on your skin or hair either. Most shampoos recommend not getting the product in your eyes because of the harmful effects! I don't want to be putting that on my childrens delicate skin and hair, or my own! Your body absorbs these chemicals and they can have a range of ill-effects.  Some of these chemicals cause hormone disruption and even cancer...nasty stuff!

The other problem is that shampoo strips your hair and scalp of it's natural oils. This, in turn, causes your scalp to overcompensate, producing more oil and making your hair greasy, and attracting more dirt. You then have to wash your hair more frequently. See the pattern? (Brilliant bit of marketing, eh?)
 It also causes problems like dandruff and itchy, flaky scalp. It doesn't need to be this way!

So, what have I been using on my hair?

Good old bi-carb and apple cider vinegar! It's that simple! You use the bicarb solution as your shampoo and the vinegar as your conditioner.  I have taken two small water bottles and labelled them to make it easier. At the moment I am using one tablespoon of bicarb per cup (250mL) of filtered water. DON'T use hot water when mixing it up. I put this solution in one bottle.  In the other I put 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (Bragg's Organic is the best, I think) per cup of water.

To wash my hair I pour the bicarb solution in my roots a bit at a time and make sure I massage it in well, then rinse. If you're addicted to wanting a good lather in your hair, this will feel odd. My hair is quite thick, so I do it twice. Your hair will probably feel dry and you may think it isn't getting clean. Don't worry, it is! The beauty of bicarb is that it cleans away dirt and grease without stripping the oils from your hair! Anyone who uses bicarb and vinegar for household cleaning will know how fantastic it is :)

Now, for the apple cider vinegar rinse. Don't worry about the smell-it dissipates very quickly! You won't be walking around smelling like a pickle, I can assure you! If you would like your hair to smell nicer, you could add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. I've added a little bit of coconut oil (the smelly one, not the one you eat!), but you could add lavender or a citus-y oil if you wish. It is up to you whether you pour the vinegar solution on your roots or only through the ends of your hair. It does restore the pH balance to your scalp, but if your hair is oily, you may wish to skip your roots and just do the ends.

What works for me may not work for you!  You may wish to use more or less bicarb depending on how dry or oily your hair is. If your hair is quite oily, you may like to use more, or wash your hair twice. Conversely, if your hair is quite dry you may wish to use less bicarb.  If your hair is really dry, you may like to give your hair an olive oil or coconut-oil mask once a week.

Don't expect miracles straight away. This is a detox process of sorts.  Your hair will be trying to rid itself of the silicones, the SLS and other chemicals that have built up in the hair and scalp over years of use. For the first couple of weeks, your hair may be quite oily. Don't worry-this is normal.  Your hair has been use to overproducing oil for years of overcompensating for oils being stripped regularly.  This will slow down. For some it may only take two weeks, for others it may be up to a month. Keep at it. This is my 3rd week and my hair is feeling much better. It still feels a bit greasy but keep in mind we have had over 30 C deg days this week and its been humid, sweaty gross weather lol! My hair always had a tendency to be a bit frizzy and flyaway at times but now it is quite curly and much healthier looking! I let it air-dry for the most part unless my hair is wet before bed. You be the judge!

Please leave me your comment or questions-I'd love to hear from you!  :)

Til next time!


  1. homemade teatree soap with a palm oil base does wonders, you dont need a conditioner either, my elderly mum makes it for me and i swear by it

  2. I'm all for simple, natural, cheap (what have you) remedies, but tell me how did the baking soda and vinegar score in the eye test? I just don't think that because you can't get something in your eye, means you can't get it on your skin. And in fact, vinegar has been known to BURN skin, especially on young children & babies. It should never be used on babies because of it's harshness. I also think just because shampoo wasn't invented until the last century doesn't mean it's inherently bad... should we also stop washing our bodies too? On a personal note, I stopped washing my hair every day, and can now easily go 3, even 4 days without a shampoo. My hair is softer & healthier by far, so I would also encourage people to train your hair to go longer between washes. It does take a few weeks to months to be consistently clean-looking, and not greasy, but it's worth it. I also find that if I have a sweaty work-out or something, I can just rinse it really well in the shower, but still skip the shampoo (I do add a light leave-in after a rinse). I have also done this with my face wash too. I noticed that after a long stint where I was unable to wash my face, my acne went away. It was the opposite of what I expected. I now only wash my face with cleanser if I wore foundation that day, or heavy greasy sunscreen. Otherwise, I wash once a week, and just use water & sometimes a light scrub in the shower in between cleansings. My face is clear & hydrated, and feels so much better than when I used to wash it once a day with cleanser.

    1. Anonymous - your comment was not only pointless but reveals you to be a supremely stupid individual. Firstly, commercial shampoos ARE inherently bad, WHY? because they contain a cocktail of artificial chemicals which penetrate into the deepest layers of your skin and cause free radical damage, poisoning your cells and causing cancer. Numerous chemicals are in all commercial shampoos, soaps, shaving creams and deodorants are all carcinogenic - FACT. So actually, it does mean they are inherently bad not only because they are designed to damage your health but because decades of media propaganda and advertising have brainwashed morons like you to think that they are a household necessity and to keep on buying them.

      You're seemingly more worried about your eyes stinging a bit by natural vinegar than a chemical shampoo which makes no sense whatsoever. Most people who try the baking soda and vinegar method carefully tilt the head back whilst washing so they do not to get any in their eyes, you I imagine probably wash your hair like a manic gimp on steroids getting it everywhere. And "should we stop washing our bodies too?" - did she actually fucking say that in her article? no!

      Oh and by the way 'on a personal note' - nobody gives a shit about the fact that YOU don't wash at all after your "sweaty workouts" or that your acne has cleared up.

      Laterz :)

  3. Hi Anon, I didn't say if you couldn't get it in your eyes you shouldn't put it on your skin. I said as a general rule *I* think if you can't ingest it then it's probably not the best to use as your body absorbs it one way or the other. There are plenty natural substances that are otherwise good for you that wouldn't be that great if it got in your eye, or at the very least would sting like hell! You're absolutely right, vinegar can burn your skin if it's neat, but here I'm talking about using a very diluted solution, that you leave in your hair for a min then rinse out. I wouldn't use conditioner on a small child or babies hair, so I wouldn't bother using a vinegar rinse on them either. Speaking generally, I'm saying I would much rather use natural products on myself and my children instead of a host of chemicals that have known carcinogenic effects. Before the No Poo challenge, I probably only washed my hair once or twice a week too, and I have found that my hair is so much healthier now. Just because it works for me doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you. Different strokes for different folks. I also only wash my face with water-same thing applies. The more you strip the oils with harsh foaming products, the more your skin will try to produce. That said, apple cider vinegar or witch hazel makes a great astringent, and coconut oil is a fantastic moisturiser :) Thanks for your comment!

  4. I have to say what you write makes sense. Unfortunately I 'need' those chemical shampoos to keep my hair bright red after washing, but I think this also might be a good idea for dog shampoo! I don't like the fact that there's 'mink oil' used in them. Something to research! Thank you (:.

  5. Hey Rockabilly! My hair is naturally blonde and I dye it dark brown (herbal dyes). The bicarb and vinegar haven't faded my colour or anything...don't know if it would be the same with bright red hair though haha! Thanks for your comment! xx

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