Jun
30
2010

  Monthlong Experiment A Success

For the past month (June) I've been conducting a secret experiment, and I'm ready to declare it a success.

I stopped using shampoo, conditioner, and soap.

I came across the no-poo protocol online, and decided to give it a try. You stop using shampoo and conditioner, and instead use a baking soda solution to clean, and a vinegar solution to condition.

I was skeptical at first, but after reading other users' comments, decided to try it for a month before passing judgment. A month, since it can sometimes take time for the shampoo/conditioner residue and other effects to dissipate, and I wanted to be sure to be past that before I made up my mind.

For now, I'm going to stick with this method. I was having to "wash" my hair with the baking soda solution a little too often, so I experimented with periodically doing a more concentrated baking soda "scrub", and that really seems to be working for me.

My hair doesn't get frizzy anymore, despite the heat and humidity, so I'm really happy about that. Also, my hair seems softer than it used to be. The trade-off is that my hair doesn't get "fluffy" like when it's freshly shampooed and conditioned then blown-out. Instead, it looks like I already have product in it. To me, this is actually a positive, since I rarely left the house without using some sort of product in my hair. Since my hair in its "natural" fluffy post-shampoo state was terribly susceptible to frizziness, I would either use curl defining creme, or hairspray, or clumping gel, or some other coating, depending on what style I was going with that day. But I've discovered that just letting my hair go TRULY natural gives me the perfect non-product product effect. My hair cascades in well-defined natural waves, without a hint of frizziness. The only downside, if you could call it that, is that it takes a minute or two longer to comb out when I exit the shower. But since I don't even have to blow-dry my hair to get a good look anymore, I'm saving more time that way. Not that I couldn't blow-out my hair if I wanted to-- I've tried that over the course of the month, and the no-poo technique works fine with that, too.

The no-soap thing didn't take as long for me to experience positive results. And I have to put an asterisk by no-soap, since I continue to use soap to wash my hands when I've been in public, and my hands and feet (plus anything else that touched dirt or wildlife) when I work in the garden. I use soap then, since I specifically want to wash away bacteria. But for the rest of my body, I gave it up, with great results.

Instead of using soap, I just scrub vigorously. It gets the "dirt" off, including sweat and body oils. It does seem to take a little longer to get a "clean" feeling than when using soap, but to me it's worth it. Years ago I had to stop using antiperspirant deodorant since the chemicals in that starting turning my skin all weird. Since then, I use deodorant only, and Tom's of Maine (all-natural) is the only kind that I haven't noticed any ill-effects from using. But the deodorant effect never lasted quite as long as I would have liked. . .until I stopped using soap! Now, I put on the deodorant in the morning, and I can't smell a thing all day. Even when I'm sweating a lot like the past few weeks, spending all day outside in the heat. And the days I forget to use deodorant (with ADD, there's always something you forget to do in the morning), now I don't smell embarrassing before noon, in fact I can go all day and I suspect I'm the only one who notices. In the winter, I might be able to skip the deodorant entirely, but I'm not ready for that right now.

So that's my report, and I recommend these methods to anyone who is interested. It's not for everyone (the hair thing does take a bit of trial-and-error to find the exact amount of baking soda that will work for you), but it's very satisfying for me to thwart the marketers.

You know, the marketers. The ones who advertise to make us think we need soap, and then extra strong deodorant to reverse the effects of how our armpits react negatively to the soap. And the ones who tell us that our hair will be better and healthier when we use expensive shampoo and conditioner, and then who sell us drawers full of even more expensive hair products to counteract the effects of using shampoo and conditioner.

I'm here to tell you all, there is no truth to any of it. It's all marketing. If you let your hair and skin revert to their natural, balanced state, then they will be better than when you try to maintain them with lots of products.

Not that I expect anyone else to adopt this, any more than I expect anyone else to have their child at home, safely away from the dangerous medical invasions, or expect anyone to find a way to live within their means to stay home and raise their child themselves instead of plopping them in daycare for those workers to raise, or to question the public school system that turns out compliant sheep perfectly suited to be a cog in the machine of a large corporation (hey, it's free daycare!). But I will continue to be one voice, typing out into the blogosphere, just in case.