From early May until early October I did not shampoo my hair. Yeah, I can see you wrinkling your nose in disgust; bear with me.
The “No ‘Poo” regime has been circulating on the interwebs for quite some times. Many of my hippie and hippie-ish friends have at least tried it. Several of my non-hippie friends have tried it. The gist of “No ‘Poo” is that you clean your hair with baking soda and condition with apple cider vinegar. While the name implies no shampoo, I would argue it actually is shampooing, just shampooing without commercial products. It has a lot of advantages. Everyone I know who’s done it agrees it keeps their hair softer than commercial products, it cuts down on your chemical exposure, and (most appealingly for me) it’s cheaper than using commercial products.
I’ve thought about trying it several times, but I was concerned about what it would do to my hair color. One woman who had the whole regime posted online did acknowledge that baking soda can lighten your hair, especially if it’s color treated. I used to use ACV rinses to treat dry scalp, and I know that lightened my hair. I like having dark hair and the sun already lightens it more than I’d like, so this has always stopped me. Also, most of my friends who’ve tried “No ‘Poo” seem to have stopped eventually, though I haven’t heard a reason from any of them.
That’s not what I’m doing.
What I’m doing is called “conwashing” or “cowashing”. This consists of simply skipping the shampoo step from your normal routine, but continuing to condition your hair. You just rinse, condition, rinse. It’s pitched as being especially good for girls with curly hair (of which I am one) because the lack of chemicals to strip your hair cuts down on frizz.
I’ll admit I was skeptical, but my roommate tried it and seemed pleased. So when I knew I’d be out of town for a month and not seeing anyone I knew while my hair was down, I thought I’d give it a go. It appealed to me for three main reasons: saving money (buying one product instead of two), saving time (It normally takes me close to an hour to wash my hair. Anything that cuts down on that is appealing.), and having prettier hair (I’m super vain about my hair). I also thought it would probably help my color last longer.
Well, if you’re going to try it, be warned it will take several weeks for your hair to trust you again. It produces extra oils to combat the shampoo it expects you to bombard it with, and it will take a while to stop doing that. Before conwashing I typically washed my hair about every four days and it took 3-4 weeks for it to calm down. I imagine if you’re one of those people who insists on washing every day, it will take longer. Keep in mind though, I kept the same schedule of only conwashing every four days. I think if I had conwashed more often, my hair might have been less greasy.
You will never get that squeaky clean feeling at your scalp you get from shampooing. I think that’s a good thing, but it takes some getting used to.
On the other hand, my hair instantly became less frizzy and more manageable. I was right in my three suppositions of saving money, saving time, and having prettier hair. And I do think my color has lasted better.
I took a brief intermission a few weeks back. It started because I got a sample of shampoo from Birchbox and I wanted to use it so I could review and get points. Then I got a haircut and couldn’t bring myself to ask my hair dresser not to shampoo. Then I colored it, which is sort of like shampooing, even though it’s not. I enjoyed having a squeaky clean scalp again, but I did not enjoy the extra time involved (my hair was straightened by the hair dresser and after coloring it, so it’s hard to gauge whether frizz would have been a big issue. But as of Friday I’m back to conwashing. I’ll let you know how being a damn dirty hippie goes.