Sunday, 22 February 2015

Aspiring to hair nirvana

On the 24th December 2014, after a month of dithering I washed my hair with shampoo and conditioner for the last time. For the love of hair why????? I hear you say.... well I struggled with an irritable scalp for years and went through more brands of shampoo than you could shake a leg at, each brand getting progressively more expensive in my quest for scalp and hair nirvana. Finally I took to the t'internet and found that a hair revolution has been quietly taking place without me noticing it. 

People were throwing out their chemical shampoos and conditioners with wild and, dare I say it, joyful abandon. They were swishing their thick, manageable and shiny hair around in the manner of a proud arabian horse. 

Now I had heard what I thought was a myth about hair starting to spontaneously clean itself if it's left long enough and truth be told I was not convinced. Images of dreadlocks and greasy locks sprang to my (now apparently ignorant) mind and if I was really honest with myself I really liked that lovely clean smell after my hair was washed. But something had to change and perhaps desperate times called for desperate measures. 

So I started to read. It turns out that hair is quite capable of maintaining it's own micro ecosystem so to speak. While shampoo does clean your hair it does also shear away the good protective oils in your hair. This makes your scalp react by producing extra oil which in turn makes you feel like you have sufficient grease on your noggin for an all day breakfast. So you wash your hair and the cycle continues. There are also far loftier reasons for trying the no shampoo method which include less chemicals on your body and in the environment, less waste and less cost to mention a few.

I discovered that by allowing your hair to self regulate the amount of oil produced it does eventually reach a balance and although that waiting period does vary between people, you will eventually have hair that stays looking good for longer, with longer between washes which is always a bonus. 

My Nan as I was growing up used to tell me that Apple cider vinegar (ACV) essentially a cure-all and if you knew my Nan you'd understand this was completely standard. She also is a great believer in the power of bicarbonate of soda for.... well pretty much anything.  It seemed the majority of people who'd gone shampoo - free (or "no-poo") were using these things to 'wash' their hair. And we do wash our hair... you do realise that right? 

It took a month for me to work myself up to it and when I finally took the plunge this is what I did.
Mixed 1 heaped teaspoon bicarb of soda in with a cup of warm water. Wet my hair through then poured it over my hair and scrubbed it in for slightly longer than I would massage in shampoo. Rinsed it thoroughly. Then poured 2 tablespoons of ACV over the lengths of my  (very long, very thick) hair. Left for a minute or so and rinsed. Always balance your bicarb with an acidic rinse such as ACV, lemon or distilled white vinegar to avoid damage.

I won't lie, the smell in the shower initially was not great but it faded and when I came to dry my hair it went completely. I then used a little coconut oil on the ends and for a little shine over the lengths.  My scalp was still in a state of bliss 3 days later which was usually the time I want to shave it all off. 

I had heard worrying accounts of 'transition' but I think I got off fairly lightly with little grease however this might be because I regularly went 4 days without washing my hair (because the shampoo would irritate my poor head) so perhaps it had less to do. I did get a bit of a waxy residue and I'm reading that I need to adjust the amount of bicarb of soda so I'm in the midst of that currently. In the meantime to banish the waxy feel I've been doing an egg and lemon mask and honestly it's a miracle worker! Mix an egg yolk with the juice of a lemon, put it on your hair after you've wet it with as cold water as you can tolerate, leave it on for 10 mins then rinse throughly with cold water.

Don't use this mask warm or you'll end up with an omelette on your head. I'm not kidding.

I alternate ACV with a honey and lemon rinse which is lovely. Smells nice too. I've got some essential oils on order to make a spray to give my hair a nice smell because it doesn't smell of anything!

So I'm 60 days in and my hair looks healthy and strong, my scalp looks great (even allowing for the day I made an omelette on my head) and I find I look at food in a different way now. For example there is an avocado in the kitchen and I've heard it does wonders as a conditioner...