17 April 2010


The first time I heard about going shampoo free, I was revolted.

I imagined my own hair as it would have been at that time had I simply soaked it down with water but not washed it for weeks on end.


At the time, I was a shampoo addict -- I did the wash, rinse, repeat thing every day. Sometimes twice. I had to. My hair was an oil slick and a few hours after it dried, it started to look oily and revolting.

I was not happy about the chemicals in shampoo, but couldn't imagine "lowering my grooming standards" to do without them.

Rod and I discussed the shampoo free movement. He went "conditioner only" to great effect, but I found that it made my scalp itchier and my hair never felt acceptably clean, so I diluted my shampoo further and further, but didn't give it up entirely for a long time.

It's now been 18 months since I last used shampoo and my hair has never been as easy to care for. I won't say "it's never looked better" because I'm not a kid anymore and my hair no longer as the glassy shine of youth, but it looks vastly better than it did two years ago.

My experiments with going completely shampoo free started because my hair had gotten VERY hard to care for. I had been on a bad prescription for my thyroid and over the course of the year I was on the wrong medicine, I lost about 50% of my hair. Worse, what was left looked like straw. The hair nearest my scalp was still a grease sop, but the the length up to about my ears was brittle and dry and extremely fragile. My scalp was itchy and sore, too. I was not happy. When I finally got the medication problem sorted out my hair stopped falling out, but it remained straw-like and hard to manage.

I had long been diluting my shampoo, but now I was reaching into homeopathic proportions, adding so much water to each teaspoon of shampoo that I wondered whether it was necessary at all.

One day, I decided that since I had some time off work, I was going to experiment with shampoo free. For three days, I rinsed my hair well with water, and then with vinegar. At the end of three days, my hair didn't feel nice, but my scalp had stopped itching for the first time in many, many years. And it wasn't nearly as greasy as I'd expected! I washed with my very dilute shampoo and ten went to a once a week, very dilute wash, and my hair became reasonably happy.

Over time, I learned to add a baking soda rinse every day and eventually I started making a paste from the baking soda and massaging that into my scalp and into that place that most often feels greasy and heavy. That step has allowed me to eliminate the shampoo entirely!

These days, my hair is manageable rather than over-dry, my scalp has stopped itching, and I can't see ever going back to shampoo. My hair gets washed every other day or so and feels clean and full, even when it's time to wash it again. (I could probably cut back further, but by the third day, it doesn't feel nice anymore. I skip until the third day anyway, if wash day falls on a weekend.)

Perhaps one day I can get to the once a week wash that my mother has sworn by as long as I've known her.

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