Thursday, July 31, 2014

Clean Hair, Naturally

I've kept a pretty low-profile on this for a while, but I've been experimenting greatly with hair care. I use lots of natural products, and while I used a more natural shampoo, I really wanted to go completely natural. People haven't had shampoo forever, and their hair didn't always look like a grease ball, so there has to be a way, right?

An older picture of me (with Bobble!) to show my hair when it was cleaned using commercial shampoo

This started back in March. March 19th to be exact. Well, I guess technically it was March 20th, as the 19th of March was the last time I put purchased shampoo in my hair.

Since I'm currently out of work, I figured this is a great time to try this. Not only do I not have to worry about how to style my hair when I hit that peak of greasiness as your hair transitions, but nobody can complain that I don't "look professional" when it happens. In the off chance that I got scheduled for a job interview, I would simply wash my hair and start over (unless it looked okay by that point).

They say your hair goes through a transitional phase where your oils are trying to balance. Modern shampoos strip the oils out of your hair so your hair makes more. The more you wash the more your hair is making oil. When you start to back off with the shampoo (be it a "no 'poo" method or simply washing less often) your hair is still making all that oil. You're going to need a transitional period. I thought that would be around the 4 week mark, as that's what I've read.

For the record, I went from using a more natural (purchased) shampoo to only using hot water. I read that some people have luck with just hot water. I made sure to massage my scalp well while running the hot water, cleaning my hair as best I could. I tried doing this daily. I tried doing this every other day. Every few days. Once a week.

I'm going to skip ahead for you: It didn't work for me. It didn't matter how I did it, just hot water was not working. I have thick hair, and it's just past my shoulders. I also have very hard water. During week 5 (of just hot water), I washed my hair at my in-law's. They have average (if not soft) water there. My hair was much nicer and I even went with it down and without a bandana that day. That's when I realized using absolutely NOTHING in my hair just wasn't going to work. I need to do something different.

Below are some pictures of 10 weeks in. My hair was always thick and full. While these pictures aren't the greatest (yay, camera phone!) you can see my hair looks flatter (thanks to the oil) and almost like it's thin. That's just not right. 

I had heard conflicting things from (local) mothers saying that they heard using apple cider vinegar is bad, using baking soda might be bad, that using bronner's soap might be bad.... the list goes on. I decided that I was going to read up on stuff before I put anything in my hair. I'm glad I did.

Did you know that Baking Soda damages your hair? Your hair is happy and healthy at a natural pH of about 4.5.... and it takes 20 CUPS of water to make 1 TABLESPOON of baking soda a pH of 9. NINE! That's still double what your hair wants! I was very thankful for the post I stumbled upon over at The Hippy Homemaker's blog. It is well written and goes into the science about natural hair care.

Thanks to her hair care series, I was able to stop scouring the entire internet (as she links to other places that are helpful) and just read her natural hair care series. Finally, at week 16, I added something different to my hair. Yes, I went sixteen weeks without shampoo or conditioner in my hair. Nobody can say I didn't give that a fighting chance! At week 16, I made a honey shampoo that I read about in the second installment of the natural hair care series.

Up to that point, my hair had been consistently greasy. Namely the top back part of my scalp (where you'd put a high pony tail). I would try to wear it down and let it breathe, per se, but I always ended up putting a bandana on before heading out in public.

14 weeks, no shampoo + bandana
I was really surprised at how different my hair felt after the honey wash that I did. I did not use ACV, just the honey wash. After the wash it was not completely oil free, but I didn't expect it to be. After all, it had been 16 weeks. That's a long time. I knew I couldn't rush into this and go crazy, washing my hair 2x a day or something, so I figured I'd do the honey wash again in a few days.

The next time I washed my hair I made up twice the amount (my hair really could use it!), and, to ensure that I didn't dump it on my head and miss a bunch of spots, I actually leaned forward and dipped my hair into the cup that had the wash. I then did my best to slowly pour the mixture where it was the oiliest (back of head), as you really need to worry about the roots when you wash, not the rest of your hair. This helped significantly. I then did a quick ACV rinse and let it be.

The results were great! I had really soft, shiny hair again... and I didn't use a bandana to hide my hair only to keep it out of my face while I cooked. Oh, and that one time I had to run out the door without having time to brush my hair. That doesn't count, though. Right? I don't mind having my hair unbrushed, but it looks a mess if I haven't brushed it. See? And yes, that is how I have to type sometimes. Squiggle needs her mama's milk, especially when not feeling well!

17 weeks, after 2 separate honey washes (but not the same day this picture was taken), with unbrushed hair
So now we are at 19 weeks. My hair feels like what it used to feel like. It's soft. It's smooth. It's even shiny again. My natural waves are there again (as opposed to the straightness I had when I was using only hot water), and I don't hide under a bandana.

I am going to look into more natural hair options. I might even try the natural hair colour that I read about. I'm usually don't dye my hair, but I'm so curious about this I might just have to try it. Of course, I'll write about how it goes if/when I do.

Disclaimer: Thoughts Of Fluff was not reimbursed in any way for this post. All opinions are my own and may be different from those of your own.

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