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Craft Rage

...Making a mess of things since 1973


No 'Poo Alteration

As I wrote a few weeks ago, in early September, I tried jumping on the no 'poo bandwagon. I've had my ups and downs, and have decided to pause and take a new approach.

Let me be totally clear; I think this no 'poo thing is AWESOME. I'm not quitting altogether.

In the past month, I've saved about, well, only about $20.00 on shampoo and conditioner, since I'm such a cheapskate, but it's more than the money. I'm not exactly the greenest human being in the world, but I really, really liked to pretend that when I washed my hair without shampoo and conditioner, I was saving a fish. Or a dolphin. Yeah, who DOESN'T want to save a dolphin! I'm sure I saved no more than an amoeba or two, but still, it was kind of a nice feeling.

Unfortunately, until we get a water softener, I have to radically adapt my no 'poo methodology. My town has exceptionally hard water. I mean, it's so hard that I have to CLR the shower head once a month. The Hotness has to drain and clean the hot water tank completely every three months or so, or the hot water slows to a tiny trickle.

My water glasses, once a pretty crystal clear, are all covered in a chalky white substance that makes them all look like slightly dirty etched glass. When I boil tapwater, it turns white, and when left to sit, a scum forms and sits on top of the water, and a layer of sediment that sinks to the bottom.

The message boards all said that no 'poo was difficult if you have very hard water, and boy, were they right. Hard water makes rinsing very difficult, and also leaves gunk in your hair so that it never feels completely dry, like you washed it in wax or something. I rinsed a few times with distilled water from our drinking water jug, and had much better results, but honestly, I'm too cheap to buy water to wash my hair with. It just doesn't seem practical.

At this current time, here are the recipes and methods I'm using, and which I'll return to after the water softener installation.

no 'poo mix

This is my shampoo replacement.

1 heaping tablespoon of baking soda (also known as BS)
two cups of water

I mixed the BS and the water in an empty, well-rinsed shampoo bottle, and left it in my shower. When I'm ready to use it, I just give the bottle a good shake to make sure that the BS isn't all sitting on the bottom.

Okay, a few things a person should know before starting. BS is alkaline, which means it has a high Ph. From what I can discern (and I may be wrong) the Ph of BS is a bit over 8. It's a very, very mild caustic agent, but it IS a caustic agent. Even so, unless you're allergic to it, I can't see how baking soda might hurt a person. Still, one of it's properties appears to be that it encourages the removal of water from things. Since your hair is made up of all sorts of things that I'm not chemically advanced enough to tell you about, but also water, I assume that this means that if I'm going to use a BS mix, I'm not going to dilly-dally and fart around while I'm using it. Just because it isn't going to HURT me doesn't mean it's going to be kind to my hair.

Also, BS is meant to be used only on your scalp and roots, not on the rest of your hair. I don't know about you, but my roots are actually ATTACHED to the rest of my hair, and barring the erection of an armed barricade on each individual strand, it's kinda hard to keep the mix out of the rest of your hair. I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about this, since my goal was to keep the BS solution in my hair for the smallest amount of time possible. A lot of folks seems to think that leaving it on longer is a good idea, but given it's water removal properties, that just wasn't the way I personally decided to go.

Now that you know, here's my application method. All I do is put the bottle next to my scalp and tilt my head back, and squirt so that I can feel the room-temperature water run down my scalp. When I feel like I've saturated my scalp, I put the bottle down and use my fingers to really scrub and scritch the stuff through, all over, from the nape of my neck to the top of my head, and down the sides, working quickly but being thorough. It doesn't feel gritty or nasty, so it kind of feels like I'm not accomplishing anything, but like George Michaels says, ya gotta have faith. I'm not sure that quoting George Michaels will encourage any of you, but whatev.

As soon as I'm done, I rinse with the HOTTEST water I can stand - this seems to melt the excess oil at my roots, so while I'm rinsing out the BS, excess oil is going with it. While I'm rinsing, I really use my fingertips to scrub and massage my scalp, to try to speed up the process. This feels really good, and now I know why cats like to have their heads scratched.

From what I've read, tons of folks just stop right here, finish their shower, and continue on with their day and then complain that their scalp is irritated or their tips are dry. Remembering my high school chemistry, (I loved my teacher, he was the ultimate absent-minded professor, and prone to inappropriate tangents) I recall that BS is alkali, and I personally can't see how leaving even trace amounts of an alkali mixture on my scalp will do me any good. The best way to tone down a mild alkali is by neutralizing it with a mild acid. So I continue on with an acid rinse because I don't want to have an irritated scalp or dry tips - I'm just sayin'!

acid rinse

The acid rinse is pretty flexible. Most folks suggest apple cider vinegar (also known as ACV), but I had really bad results with it, probably because the hard water didn't rinse it out well. The texture and shine of my hair was excellent, and it worked shockingly well as a detangler, but the smell was very, very strong.

If I were a superhero, my name would have been SaladHead.

Some other alternatives are lemon juice, lime juice, white vinegar, etc. Some folks use apple or orange juice, and while I can see myself trying apple juice in the future, I personally think that using orange juice would leave you with really sticky hair, because of all the sugar. Have you ever wiped a partially-dried orange juice spill off the counter? Blech.

My current recipe is as follows;

2 tablespoons of lime juice
2 cups of very strongly brewed green tea
1/2 a shooter of vodka. I drank the other half in a Ceasar. It was good.

The lime juice is my acid, the green tea is for fun - you could easily use plain water, and the vodka is for preservation. I probably don't need it, but when I made my mix, I meant to put in some honey, but decided not to.

I have this in an old contact lens solution bottle, which is perfect; the tip is a tiny little pinhole, which makes it easy to direct the flow. When I start using BS again, I'll totally use one of these bottles for both the BS mix AND the acid mix.

My method for applying the acid mix is simple.
I apply this stuff starting at the scalp. Once my scalp is saturated, I kind of squish it down the rest of my hair, and squirt more wherever it's needed. Then I put my bottle down and use both hands to kind of squish my hair around so that the acid mix is everywhere. I strongly advise you NOT to get too jiggy with this rinsing step. Any tangles you put in at this point will just make you want to pull a Britney in an hour, when you try to comb your hair. The acid mix works as a very effective detangler, but don't make extra work for yourself by getting all enthusiastic. Just squeeze it through. To finish, I rinse again, once more with the HOTTEST water I can stand.

My Magic Secret (which actually isn't really a secret, but DOES work like magic) is that when I finish rinsing, I turn down the hot water, and rinse with the COLDEST water I can stand. It doesn't have to be 100% cold, but the colder, the better. This apparently closes the cuticles or punishes you for past sins or something, but whatever the science behind it, rinsing with cold water at the end made my hair shinier.

My Revised No 'Poo Plan until we get the softener is to go with very watered down shampoo and my regular acid mix, less one tablespoon of acid, for a rinse. Since I've been no 'poo for a few days short of a month, my roots aren't greasy at all, though the rest of my hair feels waxy from the hard water. So rather than go back to regular amounts of shampoo and conditioner, I'll use very watered down conditioner about once a week, and use very watered down baby shampoo.

Actually, I'll be using up my no-tears cat shampoo, but don't judge - it's not like it's made OF cats. After that, we'll see.



for this post

Blogger Sara Says:

I think its great what you are doing and would love to see before and after pictures!

And I won't judge you for using cat shampoo, when I lived with my parents they have VERY hard water also and I used horse shampoo. It was the only thing that would keep my hair blond and not turn it orange!!!

Blogger Kelly Says:

AHH... no wonder... I have really hard water too. Duh! Sticky, gross waxy hair mess.. Gee I thought I was doing it wrong.

I started with that Curly Girls book by Lorraine Massey and it tells you to forget the 'poo and only use a good conditioner with no silicone. I was a failure at that and now I know why. It is not me it is my water. Thanks for all your info.

The green tea is a great idea too I don't smell like salad anymore.

No judging over here... if cat baby shampoo works for you use it up.. :) I have used stranger things in my hair to make my curly crazy hair behave.

Blogger camillaknits Says:

Any post with the words "erection" and "scritch" in it, coupled with the abundance of "BS", was bound to be highly entertaining.
We have a super (commercial twin-tank) softening system. One of my fav things to do to houseguests is not warn them and giggle outside the door as they mutter curses while trying to get bubble-free. To really screw with them, I'll insinuate they were doing something naughty in there, for so long.
(Going to hell much?) Yep. C

Blogger Swistle Says:

I read this whole thing with GREAT INTEREST. I had never heard of it, and I am intrigued!

Anonymous Anonymous Says:

I have searched and searched on the internet trying to find a solution to my hard water no-poo problem! Thank you so much for this blog! It was exactly what I wanted and it was fun to read too!


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