Ditching the Shampoo

Life after formaldehyde poisoning has led me on a journey to a less toxic life style. One of the most detrimental ingredients in products is that of “fragrance.” Fragrance in products contains a slew of toxic ingredients. That one word contains a plethora of undisclosed toxins.  Some examples of other chemicals in shampoo to avoid include methylisothiazoline, sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, phthalates, and my all-time favorite, formaldehyde.

 As I remove various products from my life, I came to realize that every time I wash my hair, my body feels irritated and the smell, while by most standards is nice, starts to become noxious. As a hair stylist, the prospect of toxic shampoo was daunting. I have a brand I am obsessed with, and the idea of giving it up was challenging.

After much research, I decided to try some more natural methods.  Shampoo is really not a necessity. It strips the hair of natural oils while exposing one to unnecessary toxins. Hopefully, this will give you some ideas to work with if you are also interested in a less toxic approach to hair care.

For shampoo, I have been using baking soda. Depending on the consistency you desire, it is advised to start with one tablespoon to one cup of water and then add more from there if desired. I use a color applicator bottle and water from my purifier. I load about 3 tablespoons into my concoction, plus sometimes you may prefer to make more of a paste instead of a water solution.

1 TBS to 1 Cup Water
1 TBS to 1 Cup Water

Baking soda is great for removing buildup, but be forewarned it can strip your color if used too much. Prior to my giving up shampoo, I was only washing my hair every 3-4 days so I don’t use the baking soda more than a few times a week. Once you apply the mixture to your scalp, let it sit a moment then scrub vigorously as you would with regular shampoo. It’s important to note, you will not be getting any kind of lather here.

Instead of Shampoo
Instead of Shampoo

Shampoos contain agents to strip our scalp and hair of natural oils. The baking soda will remove buildup gently and help your scalp maintain its natural balance. Given this, it may take a transition period while your body adjusts to this method, and you are prone to the possibility of several weeks or months of greasiness until everything evens out. Every person is different. You can camouflage an oily scalp with high buns, braids, hats – get creative if you are struggling with this transition period!

Transition Period
Transition Period

Brace yourself – the mixture of the solution makes for a very cold application. Great for summer months, not as enticing in the winter! And please take care not to get any in your eyes or it will burn. Oh, and did I mention just how cost effective baking soda is compared to shampoo?

So now that you are armed with a non-toxic way to cleanse your hair, what about conditioning? Many people swear by apple cider vinegar to condition their hair. I have used it, but personally don’t prefer it for my own hair as it did not give me the moisture that I need. However, it can definitely work well and I encourage giving it a try. I use it occasionally, but not on a regular basis. General mixing ration would be 1 tablespoon to 1 cup of water.

Mix 1/2 cup ACV to 1 cup water
Mix 1/2 cup ACV to 1 cup water

Another conditioning option would be olive oil. On occasion I will use less than a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil on my hair as conditioner. Some people prefer to mix it with honey. And if the smell is not appealing to you, add a few drops of organic essential oil of your choice. A word of caution with the olive oil – a little bit goes a very long way. Also, if you are rinsing this out in the shower, your tub will become very slippery so be careful.

1 tsp to condition
1 tsp to condition

Lastly, I have gone way of the co-wash. Co-washing, or conditioner washing, consists of using conditioner as the primary means to cleanse your hair. Recommended for all hair types, as are all of these options, I especially enjoy this due to the natural texture of my curls. It is best to use a conditioner that doesn’t contain silicone due to buildup; however, I am presented with the dilemma of finding a non-toxic, natural conditioner. I have been experimenting with several different brands to find one that works best for me. Currently, I am working with natural and fragrance-free Simply Pure conditioner from Abe’s Market.  I have put a lot of research into which conditioner to choose, as many brands claiming to be “natural” or “organic” are anything but that!

Go Fragrance-Free
Go Fragrance-Free

Recommendations for co-washing include allowing the conditioner to sit on your scalp for a little prior to scrubbing, rinsing, then reapplying to the mid-shaft and ends before rinsing out completely.

My current regimen consists of using baking soda as shampoo when I need to clarify or a stronger cleanse, and co-washing the rest of the time with natural conditioners. Occasionally I will incorporate the apple cider vinegar or the olive oil. And if I absolutely need to, I will use regular shampoo but I have not needed to in months.

There are definitely a plenitude of natural hair cleansing and conditioning methods that exist. I encourage you to research and experiment to find one that is right for you. The feeling of eliminating shampoo is liberating and great, because it’s one less toxin that I am exposed to on a regular basis. Go ahead and try it for yourself!

Questions, comments & your own experiences welcome!

 

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