The no-poo method
Last year, I stopped using conventional store bought shampoo, conditioner, volumisers, hair spray etc etc. Whilst my sisters were blessed with long flowing golden locks, I was not so fortunate. I would have to wash my hair everyday, or every two days (maximum!) and use a tonne of products. However, moving to Hawaii really forced me to reevaluate my beauty regime, and embrace a fully natural hair care routine (living in a tiny RV - you don't have a lot of room).
You may have heard this approach referred to as the "no-poo method" where you ditch the shampoo (no poo) for alternative natural and organic hair products. I have tried all of them, and definitely learnt a great deal about what order you should do things in and the most effective practices to follow. Diving straight into a shampoo bar or the baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse is a painful, greasy transition (trust me - I am speaking from experience). Transitioning using an all natural shampoo and then going more "no poo" is a much more manageable transition - and most importantly one you are more likely to stick to!
Why you should be embracing a truly natural hair care routine
Health and toxicity
Highstreet brands are guilty of some serious green washing (using branding and marketing to allude to being organic, natural and cruelty free). You may recall the brand Organix - well they were hit with a big lawsuit for deceiving consumers into thinking they were organic. After the rather embarrassing debacle, Organix changed its name to OGX. A search on the EWG Skin Deep database (a great tool to determine product toxicity based on ingredients) has prescribed the OGX products a rating of 3-8 (moderate to highly hazardous!).
Many brands (some OGX products included) contain harmful chemicals that interfere with our endocrine (hormone) system, irritate our eyes, skin and lungs and possess contaminant concerns - why would you want this anywhere near your body?
Looking back on all the products I used up until last year, I'm ashamed by how much plastic bottle pollution I have contributed to the planet - and every single one of those bottles is still in existence. This routine is not only good for you but good for the planet. Whilst it is not completely zero waste, it is sustainable and significantly better than what you were doing before.
This is actually cheaper - so you can take that pricey yoga class (or more cocktails). Win win.
step by step: my recommended green beauty regime
- Make your own dry shampoo
This is much easier than it sounds and it will really help you with your natural hair care journey.
My recommendation: 2 tbps arrowroot powder (+ 1 tbsp cocoa powder/cinnamon powder for darker hair). Mix all together and decant into an old spice jar. Distribute evenly onto your roots, massage through with fingers and then comb through. Or store in a jar and use an old make up brush to dab and massage into roots.
- Brush out your hair every morning and evening
Regularly brushing your hair stimulates the hair follicles and blood flow. This not only encourages growth but also the production of sebum, which is a good thing as we want your hair's self cleaning mechanism to wake up and start doing it's job. Brushing from root to tip distributes your hair's natural oils allowing each strand to be evenly coated creating vitality and shine.
If you search the no-poo method online they will all advocate for boar brushes (hair brushes that use boar hair for the bristles). No matter what they say there is no humane way to "harvest" boar hair. I use brushes that I already had lying around the house. In the shower, I use a wider tooth comb to detangle and then a wide flat paddle brush that used to be my mum's. There is no such thing as a magic boar hair brush.
My recommendation: use brushes you already have. Don't succumb to throwing away everything plastic to try and adhere to "plastic-free living". Throwing out plastic and replacing it with plastic-free alternatives exacerbates the problem, and puts more plastic into landfills and the ocean. If for whatever reason you need to purchase a new hairbrush, opt for a wooden one like this from Ecotools.
- Use a 100% natural shampoo for 4-6 weeks, washing your hair every 2 days to start with and then try and extend the interval between hair washes to allow your hair's natural oils to return, using the home made dry shampoo to manage extra grease.
Due to your traditional shampoo/conditioner regime, your hair will be coated with silicon and chemicals that give it that "silky smooth" feeling, but that's fake and they strip your hair of it's natural oils. Switching to a 100% natural shampoo will allow these natural oils (sebum - which is our hair's own self-cleaning mechanism) to return.
My recommendation: Odylique Gentle Herb Shampoo and Odylique Ultra Rich Balm if you need to condition the ends. I love this gentle herb shampoo and use it now as a treatment for my scalp as it is so nourishing. It is also packaged in a 100% recycled UK-made bottle so we are supporting the circular economy!
- Begin to alternate using a shampoo bar and the 100% natural shampoo.
I love shampoo bars as they are truly zero waste, all natural and organic. They are also great to travel with as you can cut them up and take pieces with you, using them on both your hair and body. This step allows you to extend the life of your bottled shampoo and begin to embrace a more zero waste lifestyle. Be prepared for not needing very much of the bar and it how it does not lather like a traditional shampoo.
Recommendation: I use the Living Naturally shampoo bars (pictured above). They have a great selection to choose from and I'm all for supporting small businesses. Alternatively you can pop into Lush and pick up a shampoo bar as well. Both operate a zero waste packaging policy.
- Switch to baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse
Now this is when you really embrace zero waste and the no-poo method. There is a lot of discussion online as to how effectively use BS+ACV. Having used all natural hair products for awhile, your transition should be much smoother than if you went straight into this regime from "normal" hair care brands. As recommended below, start with 1 tbsp baking soda and then reduce this amount to 1 teaspoon. Baking soda is a cleaning agent and is abrasive so using a lot (and often) has caused issues with people.
I do the BS and ACV routine twice a month. You should not be replacing this routine with your previous washing regime i.e. everyday or every other day, otherwise you could damage your hair.
Recommendation: Place 1 tbsp baking soda in a cup (c. 230ml) and add warm water and stir. Wet your hair in the shower and then slowly pour over your roots (flip your head to get underneath). Slowly massage into the roots for a minute and then rinse. It should literally squeak.
Add warm water to your cup and fill 3/4 way and then top up with the ACV (1/4) (optional - add a few drops of essential oil - such as lavender, ylang ylang). Do the same as with the baking soda mix and pour over your scalp - keep your eyes closed (it can sting if any gets in your eyes!). Again, massage into your hair and leave for 1-2 minutes.This is when I normally slowly comb through my hair in the shower to distribute the ACV and detangle - you will find your hair should feel soft with the ACV. Once you rinse your hair, the AVC scent will have gone.
In addition to making shampoo bars, Living Naturally also do an ACV conditioning herbal spray, which contains other really wonderful ingredients for your hair, like aloe and seabuckthorn oil. It comes in a really handy spray bottle, so you can give this a go and then re-use the bottle when you are done. It makes it a little easier to prepare your ACV rinse beforehand. I'll pour the ACV, water and essential oils into the spray bottle before I shower and simply spray on. I make a new mix every time as I'm not sure on the longevity.
where i am now
- Once a month I use the Odylique Gentle Herbal Shampoo as a hair/scalp treatment.
- 2-3 times a month I use the BS and ACV rinse in the shower.
- Every other day in the shower I'll rinse my hair and massage the roots (no products!)- this is the ultimate goal, to be able to use your hair's own natural oils to clean your hair...just as nature intended.
- I then follow with a floral water spray, such as lavender or rose, once my hair is dry.
- I bought these in bulk and top up my little spray bottles when necessary
- I use my dry shampoo and wear my hair up more often.
I hope these all natural no poo hair tips will help you on your journey to a zero waste and minimalistic beauty regime.
If you have any comments or questions please let me know, and share your hair journey on Instagram using #wilde4theworld.