About a month ago, I switched to organic skincare and mentioned that I was looking for alternative hair care options as well. After reading several articles about how traditional shampoo damages hair and strips away the natural oils it needs, I boldly declared that I was ready for the challenge. I committed to using baking soda and apple cider vinegar to clean my hair (an all natural alternative). And I did it publicly.
I have never regretted a statement quite so much.
The idea is that instead of using a traditional shampoo, baking soda and apple cider vinegar can be an acceptable substitute. First, wash with baking soda, then rinse very well and follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse – 1-2 tablespoons mixed with about a cup of water. I used an organic baking soda as well as Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.
I would use about 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda. I just took a tiny bowl of it into the shower with me and added a small amount of water to make it into a paste. Be warned, this will not make nice frothy bubbles in your hair. It will feel like you are dragging a bunch of gritty sand through it. It will not smell good. It will not make your hair feel clean. It is hard to spread through your hair and when it is rinsed out, your hair still feels dirty.
After you have rinsed out the baking soda, follow with the vinegar rinse. The theory is, when mixed with water, the vinegar has a ph that is very similar to what your hair should be, so it’s a great natural way to keep your hair soft and shiny. I used an empty cup to mix the ACV and water, and I would soak the ends of my hair in the water for a bit first before rinsing the rest of my hair. I let it sit on my hair for a couple of minutes, and then rinse. Try not to let it get on your face or in your mouth. It’s not a fun taste during your shower.
For me, the ACV rinse was the only thing that somewhat saved me. I have been traveling quite a bit during the last month and so I brought baking soda with me but I didn’t typically take the vinegar. You don’t want to try this without the vinegar. It made a huge difference in the softness and cleanliness of my hair.
I have been shampoo free for a month now. During the first week, it wasn’t too bad. The first time I showered, I did nothing to my hair, just rinsed with water. Halfway through the week, I washed with baking soda and did the apple cider vinegar rise, and then again on Saturday. My goal was to wash my hair only twice a week (since all the article I read said that I washed much too frequently, and the less you wash your hair, the less you need to…) So I washed my hair following this method on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the rest of the time, I just let it be.
During the second week, I almost quit. I made a trip to Lush, one of my favorite mostly natural stores, trying to find an alternate solution.
To my dismay, they only claim to be 67% preservative free and working on the rest…
So after reading every. single. shampoo bottle in the place, I left with just a dry shampoo that I thought might be a worthy addition to my routine and a hair mask that was all natural and claimed would brighten my hair color.
On Wednesday of the second week, I tried the dry shampoo (No Drought). I was disappointed. I went ahead and washed with the baking soda routine after all. I can see that it would be great in a pinch, like if you just finished a workout and needed something to use until you could find a shower. But it definitely wasn’t a shampoo substitute.
Here is a pic of my hair around the two week mark – it doesn’t look bad, but it felt stiff and greasy. Not pleasant at all.
The next day, I tried the hair mask (Marilyn), and honestly that’s just because at this point, I was so discouraged by how my hair felt. It felt greasy, dirty, stiff, and I was very frustrated with it. And when I finished it that evening, my wet hair felt wonderful, silky and smooth, like you would expect. But the next day when I got up, it was greasier than ever. So I washed it again with the baking soda but stuck to my guns that was all I would use. I haven’t used either of those products again. I think they both serve a great purpose, but they don’t really help if the goal is to go all natural.
During the third and fourth weeks, I think it got better. I stuck to the Wednesday/Saturday washing routine. My hair feels less greasy, or maybe I’m just getting used to it. I actually did have a compliment on my hair this past Sunday, but they also knew I haven’t been using shampoo, so maybe they were just trying to make me feel better.
Since I started this, my hair has been in a ponytail almost every single day. I just can’t stand the way it feels. I can’t forsee myself doing this long term in the future… because honestly, I don’t want to. It might look okay in some pictures, but it feels gross. And while my philosophy hasn’t changed – I am still working really hard to go organic and all natural in every area of my life following my cancer experience – I just can’t give up shampoo. I am giving this two more weeks because I have heard that sometimes it takes up to six weeks for your hair to adjust to the change, but unless there is a big improvement, I will be starting the search for an all organic or mostly organic option that foams up, smells good, and makes my hair soft. Because honestly, life is too short to be miserable about my hair everyday.