Sometime in 2007, I starting using no shampoo after reading an article online about ladies who had quit using their ‘poo and were having wonderful results. Since then, I have had many people comment about my hair and asking, ” What do you use on your hair?” The astonished look on their faces when I tell them, “I don’t use shampoo” is priceless.
For the longest time, it was a mystery to me and my family about how people in the old days did such and such, especially washing their hair without modern shampoos. We had watched the PBS series the 1900 House which put a modern day British family into a 19th century setting. The family had to live according to the Victorian amenities of the day. The teenage daughter especially had great difficulty adjusting to the no shampoo rule. If I remember correctly, I believe there was a scene where she had someone smuggle her some modern day shampoo so she could cope!
This question always bothered me: How did the people in the olden days ever survive without shampoo? My prior internet searches found soapwort which had been used as shampoo in times past as well as yucca and castile . However, one thing that always seemed to make our family’s hair look so good was swimming in our natural swimming hole up in the mountains. After a day of swimming there, our hair was manageable and incredibly clean sans any ‘pooing.
Another thing I noticed is that, when traveling, one always took a risk with having one’s hair look good because of the need to adjust to the difference in the water in every location. And there were the lovely Mississippi girls whose skin and hair were always so beautiful. Yet, when, as an outsider, trying to achieve the same results with Mississippi’s amazingly naturally soft water which bubbled up so readily, it required a special touch when shampooing which one seldom mastered in a short stay.
So, I continually had to question: What was the age old secret of washing hair in the olden days? It is well known that people often collected rainwater as it was considered to be the best hair washing water, something our family learned while homesteading in New Zealand. Our water supply was collected from rainwater from our roof. It was great for hair and left it shiny and smooth.
I found out that the type of water you wash your hair in has a major effect on the end result. When I had started my no ‘poo experiment , I had immediate success but Jordanne did not. Why was this so? Some research lead me to see that, since I had thick curly hair, rinsing any shampoo residue off was not so easy but using just vinegar worked so well for cleaning my hair. The no ‘poo method did not work for Jordanne so well because she has finer hair than I and she is still not sure the complete no ‘poo method will work for her. So, she occasionally washes her hair with baking soda and vinegar but still uses a natural shampoo for the most part & salt (see post).
I found this link that I think would help explain why the no ‘poo method may work for some but not for others. The secret may be in the water you use.
Here is an excerpt:
Rainwater is soft and mineral free. But, when it falls to the ground it seeps through the soil and rocks and dissolves minerals which give it its character. If the rainwater water passes through hard rock, it remains soft. However, if the ground water seeps through softer rocks, like the limestone very common in the Great Lakes Basin, it dissolves lots of minerals, principally calcium and magnesium, along the way. The degree of hardness becomes greater as the calcium and magnesium content increases. The term “hard water” was originally coined to refer to water that was difficult or hard to work with. Hard water requires much more soap, shampoo, or detergent than soft water; and the minerals in hard water can decrease soap’s lathering capabilities.
What does this have to do with hair?
You need water to shampoo your hair and hard water makes it harder to wash your hair. Each hair shaft is made up of little scales, like shingles on a roof. Hard water tends to make the scales stand up, which makes your hair feel rough and tangly. Since your hair is tangled and rough, it is more difficult to rinse out all of the soap. Soap is less effective in very hard water because its reacts with the excess minerals to form calcium or magnesium salts. These are not easily soluble in water and can result in soap film. Washing hair in soft water will have a different result because it leaves fewer insoluble deposits on the hair.
In commercial shampoos, natural soap has been replaced by synthetic surfactants.
What’s the difference between a synthetic surfactant and natural soap?
Soaps are biodegradable products produced from natural, renewable resources like olive, palm, or coconut oils. Synthetic surfactants, like Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate (ALS), and others, are made from petrochemicals and created in a chemical factory. Although these synthetic surfactants do not react with hard water minerals as much, they do not produce the lather that consumers like. The lather comes from the addition of synthetic lather or foam boosters–like cocamide monoethanolamine. So, these detergent shampoos lather well in all types of water and rinse off easily and completely .
But why on earth would you put something on your head you can’t rightly pronounce? The article explains that most modern shampoos are detergents and very harsh on the hair, stripping the natural oils from the hair shaft. As a result, hair conditioners are needed – more stuff to buy!
Furthermore, by looking at the chart it would explain why our visits to New Orleans always left our hair a mess. The water was much harder than California’s water. And I believe Pasadena’s water would be naturally softer (not shown on the map) because our water supply is from the snows from the mountain that also fed our swimming hole. However, Pasadena city water is treated and, thus, made harder than our swimming hole water but remains softer than water in other parts of California. I think this would explain why some have success with no ‘poo and others don’t. Not only is your hair type an issue but whether your water is hard or soft is also a determining factor.
I think that, in the long run, one has to experiment with the agent of choice for cleansing the hair, the type of hair (fine or thick) that one has and the water, whether hard or soft, to be successful at the no ‘poo method.
If so, we are giving away a wonderful ebook No Shampoo Method by the gals at Feelin’ Feminine who graciously offered up a copy. Their collaborate book is an absolutely fabulous “How To” and resource guide, offering a wealth of information about caring for hair, naturally.
For me, my NO POO methods is quite simple. I just rinse my hair with water – that’s it! If I do need a good cleaning I’ll put a wee bit of apple cider vinegar and for conditioning nothing beats coconut oil (see post) or henna. I am sure the cosmetic industry hates me. LOL
Now, here’s how to enter.
Comment below about your natural hair care journey. Winner will be picked by Random.org.
Contest closes Tuesday February 6th Midnight PST
Don’t forget, if you are looking for natural products at a reasonable price check out iHerb.com (Enter this referral code JUL275) and get $5.00 off your first purchase!