In my defence, your Honour, the packaging was just so beautiful!

I felt I needed a follow on post from the last one about my “no poo” method of hair washing.

For the last week or so my scalp had been writing me rather mean letters. I couldn’t understand why it had turned against me and was throwing an itching fit. My first worry was that my daughter had brought some unwanted critters home in her head from school and we were all infested – just the thought makes you itch and feel your skin crawl. But she seemed perfectly fine and her scalp was sending her love notes not hate mail so it must be something else. Off I went to my shower and had a peek at my newly bought and expensive purchase from Korres. It seems dear reader that I had fallen foul to everything I had been preaching to you all about. The beautiful packaging and snazzy words had made me believe this was an all natural product free from all the nasties I so hate – for some reason I had been taken over by the old Mollie and not looked at the ingredient list. There in black and white (actually I think it was a lovely taupe colour) was the dreaded Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, number 2 on the list. On further inspection there was fragrance and alcohol! How I held my head low in shame. Straight in the bin went the shampoo with its lovely smelling conditioner too. I sat down and spoke lovingly to my hair and scalp and apologised for not being more careful – promised it wouldn’t happen again and that I now understood its rebellion.

To get everything back to a happy situation I brought out the bicarbonate of soda and went to work. Immediately my scalp started singing my praises – bur unfortunately my hair wasn’t quite so easily placated. It has been a while since I had done the “no poo” method at my home in England. I had forgotten that bicarbonate of soda and hard water are not friends. There is a way around this though. Firstly use much less powder, no more than 2 teaspoons with water – rather than a heaped tablespoon that I usually use. Make sure it is thoroughly washed out. Then follow with conditioner on the ends and dry parts of your hair. Natural conditioner please – Neal’s Yard does some good ones.(I promise to cover natural shampoos and conditioners soon.) Wash or leave in the conditioner as the directions tell you.

Bicarbonate of soda and soft water though love each other dearly. When I was in Maine, for a month over the summer, I only used bicarbonate of soda to wash my hair and my apple cider vinegar spray – my hair was lovely, soft and healthy.

I do hope this got to you all before any of you had tried the method in a hard water place. If you did, please try again. Trust me it does work.

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No more itchy, flakey scalp – let’s cook up a storm.

Don’t worry I haven’t decided to give you my secret recipe for fruit cake – I am still talking about natural beauty. This is going to be a long one though so do hold in there – I promise it will be worth it.

It was my hair that started off my obsession for natural products so I thought it was only fitting to write a post about my method of shampooing – or as it is known the ‘no poo’ method. If I was being totally true to this method it would mean that I would be advising you to never wash your hair again. Apparently the natural oils in your skin and scalp will cleanse your hair. It will become beautiful and natural just as it would have been if we were cavewomen (or cavemen for you males reading this). Firstly I see a major flaw with this. We live in a society with pollution – not running around in the forest with no exhausts being pumped in to the atmosphere. We need to have someway of washing this out of our hair and scalp. Secondly who wants to look like a cavewoman! What I mean by ‘no poo’ is – there is rubbish in your hair washing product.

One of the major ingredients in all shampoos (even baby shampoos) is Sodium Laureth Sulfate or its cousin Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). These ingredients produce that lovely foam that we associate with cleanliness and especially with shampoo. These ingredients are used in many other skincare products – something I will mention another time. To explain why this is a horrible ingredient and why we don’t want it anywhere near us or our children let me quote from the natural health information centre website:

Unfortunately, both sodium laureth sulfate and its cousin are also very dangerous, highly irritating chemicals. Far from giving “healthy shining hair” and “beautiful skin”, soaps and shampoos containing sodium laureth sulfate can lead to direct damage to the hair follicle, skin damage, permanent eye damage in children and even liver toxicity.

When you are washing your hair not only is this poison getting into your hair and scalp it is also running down your face and body when you wash it out.  So coating and drying out your skin – eczema anyone!

Shampoos not only have this ingredient but many other irritating and poisonous chemicals – the list of which is too long and boring to go into now. Alcohol is also another ingredient found in nearly all hair products – this is extremely drying on the hair and skin.

I do realise that some new products are now available in our chemist (drug stores) and supermarkets (grocery stores) that claim to be low in SLS or free from parabens (another nasty) but if you look at the ingredients you will be forgiven for thinking you are reading a chemistry table. To be totally sure you are not harming yourself or your hair I would recommend my method below.

I say in the title ‘let’s cook up a storm’ because most of the ingredients you need can be found in your very own cupboards.

Firstly let start with one of my favorite products – this can be used for more than just your hair – more another time though. Bicarbonate of Soda or Baking Soda for the Americans. This is not to be confused with Baking Powder.

This is the brand I use only because it is what they sell in my local store but you can use any brand.

bicarbonate of soda

You will also need organic (yes, it must be organic) apple cider vinegar, witch hazel and a little spray bottle.

organic cider vinegar vinegar and witch hazel spray

Again you don’t have to use the same brands as I do. I would recommend Sainsbury’s witch hazel – it is the only place I can find that sells witch hazel sans alcohol. You must buy the witch hazel without alcohol as this alcohol will only irritate your scalp and skin and make your hair dry. I am sorry to say when I was in America I found it nearly impossible to find any without alcohol – so good luck, I am sure there is some out there.

If this is the first time you are doing this I would recommend washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo to get rid of any build up of plastics and nasties from your other products. You can buy natural clarifying ones. Right – now onto the good bit or should I say weird bit as we are all so used to using foaming shampoos:

  • Wet your hair as normal.
  • Tip a good sized lump of bicarbonate of soda into your palm and add a small bit of water to make a paste.
  • Use it as you would a shampoo – really getting it in to the scalp. It might feel drying and horrid but trust me it won’t when you have washed it out.
  • Squeeze any excess water from your hair.
  • After you are out of the shower or wherever you are washing your hair then you need to add the spray. The reason for this is your skin is a certain pH and you want it to be the correct one. Bicarbonate of soda is alkaline and apple cider vinegar is acidic so the two complement each other. You make up your spray by using the ratio 1 of vinegar to 5 of witch hazel. You don’t actually have to use witch hazel; you could use water – I just like that witch hazel is moisturizing and I use this on my face too (again more another time). Mix together in your spray bottle and liberally spray your hair.
  • Then comb through and dry as you want.

I will warn you here that your hair which is used to being coated in plastic and stripped of all goodness will probably freak out. It takes at least a week for you to see the benefits (hopefully sooner for some). My hair looked a little strange at first – then it was fuller and bouncer than it had ever been. It was no longer weighed down by the strands being coated in plastic – no longer stripped of any natural and healthy oils. But best of all for me – no more itchy scalp!

Okay, I wish I could say that I was a total zealot about this and never used another product again – but I love the feel and smell of shampoo and conditioner and I am not quite ready to give them up. I will never use “high street” or big brand products. I am not fooled anymore by brands pretending to be natural. (Yes, Aveda I am talking about you among many others). I have in my arsenal some gorgeous smelling, wonderful, natural shampoos and conditioners that I use – I promise to let you in on the secret of those soon. I do though have to frequently come back to the baking soda method. This is because no matter how natural and how small the ingredient list I will still get the itchiness back and this is the only thing that cures it without fail every time.

Wow that was long – I hope some of you managed to get through all that. Happy natural hair washing – until next time.

Disclaimer: If something works for me I am not saying that it will definitely work for you. ­I do hope it does but I cannot promise or give any guarantees. Your use of these products or suggestions is entirely at your own risk. Please use any product or idea with caution and of course do not use anything with an ingredient that you know, or think, you might be allergic to. Thank you and happy reading.