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What? No Shampoo?

December 31, 2009
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Raleigh Briggs's "Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills"I’m always interested in reducing the amount of waste I produce and the chemicals I expose myself to.  When I came across Amber’s blog post about not using shampoo, I was skeptical.  But her hair looked so good, even after almost two weeks without using shampoo.  How could a few mere teaspoons of baking soda be enough to clean my hair with and be effective?

Thumbing through my copy of Raleigh Briggs’s Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills looking for an anti-bacterial bleach-like cleaner, I came across her recipe for baking soda “shampoo”.  Like Amber’s blog post, Raleigh suggests using a few teaspoons of baking soda – made into a paste with a little bit of water – and massaging it into your wet hair in the shower.

So being very curious, I tried it and holy moley – it works!  Ten days into no-shampoo, and my hair is shinier, bouncier, and more full.  It’s also softer and, surprisingly, it dries faster. And because my hair isn’t stripped dry by harsh chemicals, it’s not nearly as frizzy as I imagined it would be.  I have slightly wavy hair that likes to get a wee bit frizzy in places, and I always need to use a conditioner with shampoo.  Best of all, my hair doesn’t get tangled and I can easily brush it out while it’s still wet, which is amazing since with shampoo this is impossible.  I still have to wash my hair as often as I did before – every other day or so.  And because I have long, thick hair, I use 1 tbsp + 1 tsp of baking soda to cover my scalp and the rest of my hair.

No – you won’t end up with grungy, greasy hair if you stop using shampoo.  I’m super conscious of my personal hygiene, and I would never stick with this if it didn’t leave my hair looking anything but better than it does using conventional shampoo.  Baking soda has a soapy feel on the skin and hair when combined with water.  I am convinced baking soda is a wonderful alternative because:

  • you can save loads of money (max $1.99 for a big box of baking soda versus as much as $9.99 or more just for one bottle of vegan shampoo, never mind conditioner too)
  • you keep harmful chemicals from entering the water system, thus protecting you, wildlife, and the environment.  Baking soda is immediately biodegradable, whereas I believe many shampoos likely take several days to biodegrade with some not biodegrading at all (depending on the ingredients)
  • you significantly minimize the number of toxic chemicals your body is exposed to on a daily basis
  • your hair will still smell good; it’ll smell like your own good, clean hair.  If you like, you can even use essential oils mixed into your baking soda paste to give your hair a nice scent and your body and mood a natural, healthy boost
  • it takes no more effort to use this method of washing your hair than using shampoo, and it is perhaps even less fuss
  • baking soda doesn’t sting the eyes like shampoo can, making it a great alternative for babies and children

Give it a try over this long weekend or on another weekend and see what you think.  You have a whole lot more to gain than to lose.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2009 10:47 am

    Okay you make me want to try this. I’m all about less waste. Thanks for sharing.
    Happy New Year!

  2. December 31, 2009 12:28 pm

    Yay! I’m glad you liked my post. Let me know how it goes for you 🙂

  3. Addiopolis permalink
    December 31, 2009 1:46 pm

    Hi, I enjoy reading your blog, and this is particularly interesting to me. I too would like to consume less and leave less waste. But, I’ve heard a range of stories on what happens when you go without shampoo. I’ve read quite a bit saying that after a couple of weeks of no shampoo at all, it all works out. Which, when I think about it, makes sense. Most other healthy mammals don’t need a shampoo to have lovely healthy hair or fur. Yet, it usually seems as though we do. So I wonder if it’s due to having been using it for so long, or not being as healthy as we could. Or maybe we really don’t need to shampoo. In any case I’ve been curious about a clean way to clean out on having so many self-cleaning products. I may have to try the baking soda. You could use that on your teeth as well, right? Oh, also, some natural products stores that carry certain foods and seasonings in bulk also carry baking soda in bulk.

  4. January 1, 2010 3:59 pm

    Hi Addiopolis:

    Thanks for your comment 🙂 I’m not suggesting that people not wash their hair, although there is no shortage of no-wash advocates out there on the Net. Rather, I’m suggesting a way to wash one’s hair without using expensive and potentially harmful products and chemicals. Shampoo is one of many things we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking we need to use because it’s so commonplace. I mean, when was the last time you heard of someone eschewing shampoo in favour of something we all use as a leavening agent in our baking or a scouring agent in our sinks and bathtubs?

    Many of the products we use today for personal hygiene have been invented in and used for less than 75 years or so. Most of them have been created out of the idea that there’s something wrong with our bodies’ smells and appearances. A lot of products are now thought of as necessary because it’s just not socially acceptable for people to look or smell like anything less than what companies are trying to convince us we should look like and smell. I’m suspicious and critical of these so-called necessary products for my face, hair, legs, skin, etc. that I apparently must use if I want to be like everyone else. But as long as my hair is clean, looks good, and smells good, why should I bother spending dozens of dollars a year on some shampoo that claims to give my hair more body when I can easily achieve more body by using baking soda to wash my hair? I’ve noticed over the years that while my hair responds well to most shampoos, shampoo is harsh enough that my scalp is immediately flaky with dry skin even just after I’ve just stepped out of the shower and my hair is still very wet. Baking soda doesn’t do that to my skin.

    If you need something just a little stronger than baking soda to remove residue from their hair, use an apple cider vinegar wash. There are plenty of recipes for this kind of thing on the Net, and it’s a simple, easy, healthy and economical option that’s been used for years by many people.

    Baking soda and apple cider vinegar may seem like odd things to be putting on our bodies, especially since we normally associate these items with food. The last time I checked, though, apple cider vinegar can be good for many people as a dietary supplement, and baking soda is non-toxic. In this instance, what’s good for our insides is also good for our outsides. I can’t say the same for any shampoo or conditioner on the market, since ingesting those could be pretty harmful, not to mention quite gross.

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