‘What’s all over the bathtub?’ asked my husband when he got home on Friday night. ‘Oh.’ I said ‘I was washing my hair with applesauce. I’ll go rinse it. Sorry’.
Now, I suspect that in many households, a comment like that would require a bit more explanation. Fortunately, Mr Techno is used to me being a bit
weird alternative, and didn’t even raise an eyebrow. See, since I stopped using shampoo a few months ago, all sorts of weird and wonderful things have turned up in our bathroom as substitutes. As Mr Techno said, washing my hair was about the only thing left I did normally, so it was only a matter of time before I decided to do something bizarre with it.
For once though, this decision had nothing to do with wanting to be green (or frugal, though it is arguably both). This was a decision based on pure vanity. You see, I have a lot of hair. It’s very long, very thick and (when I haven’t spent an hour straightening it) very curly. So washing it has always been a bit of a mission. I seem to have spent my entire life on a perpetual hunt for a shampoo and conditioner combo that doesn’t make it feel too dry, or too frizzy. And every time I found something that seemed to work, I could only use it for about a month before my hair stopped feeling properly clean after a wash and I had to switch again.
It was only because I saw it mentioned on this wonderful parenting/green living blog that I realised there was actually an alternative to commercial shampoos and conditioners…for some reason it had never occurred to me to try out homemade alternatives. But after some googling, I decided to give it a go. Because my hair is curly and doesn’t get greasy easily, I seem to be the perfect candidate for the ‘no-poo’ method (as it is so charmingly called).
The theory is this: your hair follicles naturally produce an oil called sebum, which keeps hair looking healthy and moisturised. But commercial shampoos are designed to remove oil, so they strip the sebum out of your hair. To compensate, your hair follicles produce more, making your hair feel greasier and making you wash it more. And so the cycle continues. If you stop using shampoo and switch to gentler alternatives, the balance should restore itself and you’ll need to wash your hair less often.
I stopped using shampoo at the beginning of October, which means almost every picture of me on this blog was taken after that time. I was already only washing my hair once a week, so it adapted quickly and I was lucky to skip the greasy transition phase a lot of people seem to go through.
I’ve now switched to washing only once every two weeks – though I do have to re-straighten my hair every four days or so because the natural frizz starts to reassert itself otherwise. Plus I go out in the rain a lot! Mostly, I’m using bicarb of soda instead of shampoo and diluted cider vinegar instead of conditioner. It works surprisingly well – my hair is soft, not greasy, and has no more split ends than it did previously. I also seem to be moulting less, which is odd, but nice.
I have found that my hair starts to feel a bit waxy though after about a month – it’s almost as though it is producing its own styling wax. That’s where the applesauce comes in – malic acid from the apples helps loosen and remove the waxy build up. I used it as a hair mask on Friday night and my hair has felt incredible ever since – really well conditioned. It even seems to have made the skin on my face a bit softer. Though I did have to do several rinses and brush my hair through a lot with increasingly fine toothed combs in order to get all of the applesauce out (I probably should have pureed it for a bit longer). Plus Tom saw me using it and then tried to copy me. At dinner time. With a handful of cheddar cheese. *Sigh*. Fortunately that mostly combed out too and he got his hair washed that night, so no longer smells like a dairy gone wrong!
All in all, I’m very glad to have accidentally stumbled across some alternatives to shampoo. It may not work for everyone, but suits my hair type down to the ground. Plus, who doesn’t love making homemade beauty potions and leaving them all over the bath to annoy their husband with?