About 2 months ago, I decided to go no poo and switched from my regular shampoo and conditioner to washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar (for simple instructions, read this). I was skeptical, but willing to give it an honest shot. I played around with different quantities and procedures and have finally settled into a pattern I like. Here's a synopsis of how the switch has gone for me so far:
I started out by using about 1/2 cup baking soda in 2 or 3 cups water. I went for this option because I have full, long hair. I poured the solution on to my scalp, scrubbed as I would regular shampoo, then rinsed it clean. I followed it up by spraying on a 50% distilled vinegar-water solution, then rinsing it out well.
The first few washings like this were fabulous. Then my hair went through a serious funk phase where it felt coarse and not really clean. I still had to wash it every other day, contrary to what I expected. This lasted about 2 weeks, after which my hair seemed to get progressively worse. Icky. I almost gave up and went back to regular shampoo, but I remembered that it takes a minimum of two weeks for hair to change pH and adapt to the no poo regime.
So I tinkered around with the ingredients. I thought maybe my hair was greasier than I believed, so I increased the baking soda concentration by making a paste instead of a liquid solution. I tried eliminating the vinegar step. Super ick!! My hair felt crunchy and I could hardly comb through it. Gross.
I also tried spraying my hair with vinegar first and then washing it with the baking soda. That was only nominally better so I went back to my original plan but I cut back the baking soda and used more vinegar since my hair felt so dry.
After about 6 weeks (!!!) of using baking soda and vinegar, my hair magically transformed. The change from icky to beautiful hair happened quite suddenly. I was relieved because, like I said, I almost gave up a few times. Maybe my hair took that long to adjust or maybe I finally hit the right concoction. Or both.
This is how I currently wash my hair:
I now use about 1/4 cup baking soda dissolved in ~1.5-2 cups water. I put the baking soda in an empty 16 oz bottle of Dr. Bronner's (a funnel is very useful for this part) and take it in the shower with me. I get my hair soaked through, then massage the scalp thoroughly to loosen dirt and oil. I rinse again with plain water. Then I add warm shower water to my Dr. Bronner's bottle of baking soda, maybe 3/4 full of water. I shake it up good then squirt it on my head, starting at the crown. My hair is long and there's a lot of it so I like that I can squirt the baking soda solution directly where I want it. I massage and scrub my scalp really well and do a quick rinse. I repeat the wash with what's left in the bottle (maybe half?), then finish by gently rubbing the length and ends of my hair between my hands. I rinse well, then squeeze out extra water from my hair. Next comes the vinegar. I still use a 50% solution of just plain white distilled vinegar that I keep in a spray bottle for all my other cleaning. Since my hair is somewhat dry and pretty long, I spray quite a lot on, concentrating on the ends. I comb through it with a pick (I know I've used enough vinegar if this is easy to do), then let the vinegar sit in there a minute while I wash my face. Finally, I rinse out the vinegar. Yes, the smell comes out! At this point, I only have to wash my hair about twice per week. I save money and time! Fabulous!
I'm glad I stuck with the baking soda and vinegar because it really is so much better than any shampoo/conditioner I've used. My hair is always clean. It's shiny and full of body. It's soft and easy to get my fingers, a comb or brush through. The natural waves are bouncy and beautiful (if I do say so myself!). When my hair is dirty, the natural oils just seem to nurture it rather than make it grimy. I can easily adjust the baking soda and vinegar proportions when conditions change so my hair maintains its health through rain, low humidity, heat or cold (we've had weird fall weather so I've had to do this).
So if you're in doubt, still experimenting, or just curious, I really encourage you to give baking soda and vinegar a try. Just be prepared to spend a few weeks waiting for your hair to adapt to not having the natural oils stripped. And don't be afraid to experiment and play around with your own concoction. It is so worth it!
Any questions or concerns? Want to share your experiments with no 'poo? Please leave a note, I'd love to hear from you!