Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week 4!

One month later!
I'm eagerly awaiting my shower head softener/ filter to come in the mail.  I am happy to report however, despite the hard and heavy water, my hair seems to be behaving.  I "washed" last night with the usual honey rinse and ACV rinse, and styled it before going out with the hubby and a friend.  They both remarked that my hair looked shiny and healthy but not heavy or greasy.

This morning I've taken some photos for you to see.  In the past 3 weeks, I would be greasy within hours after a shower when I "washed" my hair, but I want you to see that this is getting better.  It has times of looking pretty normal, up to one day later!  My hope is that at 6 weeks I'll have more and more good days where I can leave my hair down rather than slicking it back into a ponytail.

Here's some photos for you to see the progress.  Forgive my sleepy face, I just woke up.

These photos are with my hair brushed smooth with a BBB.  It's simply shiny and dry, not stringy or greasy.  Yay, progress!

The following photos are after I muss it up a little post brushing, so you can see that yes, it is a little clumpier than perfectly dry shampooed hair, but honestly not bad.  Oh poor puffy eyes- we went to the pub last night and it shows.  Lol.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Alternative to No Poo: Week 3

End of Week 3: The change has begun!  Lucky me!

At the beginning of the week, I decided to experiment.  Upon further research into the pH of hair and what best to do, I stumbled across a coconut aloe recipe.  I gave it a go.  People who tried it with success said that it was greasy the first few times, and then was ok.  Well let me tell you.  Greasy doesn't even begin to describe the yuck, and by now I'm used to the stringy greasy state of my head.  I couldn't stand it.  It was absolutely horrible; I came out of the shower greasier than when I went in!

I spend the day with it tucked under a hat but was so horrified by the end that I showered again and did my usual routine- honey, ACV, and washcloth.  What a relief; I was just my usual sort of stringiness after it dried.

What you see here is the day of a wash.  It's greasy but doesn't look too, too bad- I won't be able to leave it down long.  The hair just kind of hangs out in clumps, more or less.  When I brush with a BBB (which I'm doing twice daily) it will totally flatten and slick down, all shiny like a wet seal.  Orf orf.

Here it is, later in the day, slicked into a ponytail.  Heavy grease bonus?  The ponytail looks pretty good.  I think it needed tidying in this photo, but not bad.

My hair feels good even despite the oiliness.  It doesn't feel yucky when I run my hands over it; it's clean, and doesn't smell like anything at all.  It's getting shinier and shinier, and the oil has worked down to the ends, so it feels healthy and isn't flyaway anymore.
 Here's where it gets interesting.  I'm visiting a friend right now, and showered this morning.  My hair was pretty slick when I showered.  I did my usual routine- honey, leave in and massage etc, rinse, quick dilute ACV rinse, that's it.  I air dried it (I am distressed by these photos, and the utter lack of style in them- I'm growing out my hair again and this is my least favorite length).

The amazing part?  There is NO greasiness.  It dried normal, felt normal, if a little heavier than I'd be used to a month ago; but no oil slick, no stringiness.
I'm not sure you can truly appreciate that in this photo, I realize it looks a little stringy but you'll have to take my word for it.  I mainly wanted to show you how light and airy my hair is against my scalp.  Unbelievable!

I've been suspecting hard water at my home for some time now.  We have an artisian well and live in the mountains; we definitely get mineral deposits and have confirmed iron in the water.  Awesome to drink, not awesome on the hair and skin.  I am perpetually dried out and my hair has been so heavy.  Could it be that I'm further in the transition than I thought, and just need a softener system?  I am looking into buying one THIS WEEK so I can see if these effects will last at home.

I would be elated if my transition was this short!  For now on my little visit I am going to relish in the sexy "dry" hair I have- dry as in not oil slicked but feeling incredible, soft, heavier than I'm used to and really shiny.  Yay!

Alternative to No Poo: Weeks 1 and 2

This time, I've done things differently.  No baking soda, it's not the right pH for hair.

What am I doing this time?  Honey washes, apple cider vinegar rinses.  I try not to "wash" my hair too often- every 3-4 days.  My hair is already pretty much used to this anyway.

Before I shower, I brush with a boar bristle brush.  In the shower, I pour on a solution I've made with a little dollop of honey diluted in water, pour on and leave on.  I then scritch (gently!!), massage the scalp, finish whatever other showering things I'm doing, and rinse really well.  If things feel really slick (and whew, by the end of week 2 they were really feeling pretty heavy), I will gently wipe a washcloth down my hair from the scalp; I try to not just have the water on the top but block my ears and get the temples too.
Then I have a very dilute ACV rinse, which I rinse out right away.

In the two weeks since I started, the transition has been pretty interesting.  The first week I was getting oily, but I could still sort of get away with having my hair down if I blow dried and styled it (no product).  By the end of the day things would be pretty stringy.  Getting into week 2, I really felt like unless I was home alone I needed a ponytail.  Thankfully in my job right now I can wear a hat (it's winter and I'm outside) so I haven't needed to worry about the public too much.

Things look pretty interesting when I wake up!  Serious bedhead, heavy greasy hair, and my daily brushing with the BBB was more like slicking down than anything else.  I have been parting the hair into sections to get all of the hair brushed through.  It's seriously icky, and a true challenge.  Still, most accounts say 6 weeks so I'm all in.

These first two photos are week 1.   Although things are stringy, I notice that it's shinier (duh- sebum, right?)

 These next 2 photos are week 2, getting a little heavier in the oiliness.  Brushing is a little easier in the essence that the static flyaways are becoming less and less- oil to weigh it down.  It's winter right now and the house is very dry, as we heat with wood.

This was taken right after I showered, and blow dried the hair in hopes of leaving it down.  Too yucky- no such luck.

Why switch to all natural hair?

Listen- I'm a veterinarian.  My experience with animals shows that unless your dog is a total mud bucket, most of them do not require baths.  The ones that are bathed often need to be continuously bathed- because the natural oils on their coats are stripped off!  Sure, you have exceptions (who makes more grease than a Yorkie?) but mostly, I only bathed my dogs once or twice a year.  They were clean, healthy, and had lovely coats- and swam in the ocean on a regular basis.  I never stripped their coats.

Take cats, for example.  It's outright betrayal to them if you stick them in a tub, and soap them up.  I have never, ever bathed my cats.  I love the way their skin and fur smell.  I feed them good, grain free, high protein food to ensure they're in great health; they have the nicest coats I've come across.  What do cats to do keep clean?  They groom.  They never dunk in water, never need a bath.

What about people?  I believe we can do the same.  Do I mean never shower?  Of course not; we have sweat glands and all sorts of fun things located in our pits and crotches, and we lack the bendability to groom properly anywhere.  Honestly though, I use very little soap and my body is healthier for it.  What do I mean?

My face used to break out constantly.  I was a never ending pimple. I bought washes, creams, masks, and toners to try and "clean" up the problem.  Then I'd follow up with makeup- cover up, foundation, powder and so forth- to cover up the mess.  One day, I realized that I was making extra pimples near where I applied the cover up.  In a move of utter boldness (I was only 17 or 18) I thought, that's it.  I'm just not wearing this anymore.  I had a rough period of a couple of weeks as my face readjusted (oh the horror!) but I stuck with it, and lo and behold- a severe and notable reduction in pimples.   All this, after all that Retin-A and the works!  All it took was to stop touching my face!  These days, I rinse my face with water, exfoliate with a wash cloth, and I'm good to go.  I rarely wear makeup and my skin looks great.

Another lesson I learned was that I was developing yeasty beasties all the time, much to my embarrassment and discomfort.  I talked to my OB-GYN about that and she suggested to quit putting such harsh soaps in close contact with sensitive skin.  Viola- a dramatic reduction in problems.  These days, the soap does not touch my girl bits; just around it.  No more problems.

Well, that got me to thinking.  Are we stripping our bodies too much?  People who over bathe their dogs get dogs with skin problems.  I myself am healthier since I stick to using soap in just a few choice areas.  What have I been doing to my hair?

It's worth thinking about.  I am hopeful to switch to just rinsing my hair with water, eventually.  Just like cats, though, grooming is the key.  Our ancestors weren't showering all the time, and didn't have gross hair; trust me.  The key is to use a firm brush or your nails to massage your scalp, loosening skin cells and stimulating the follicles and sebum glands.  Those are the oil glands.  They're your friend.  Then, you want to help the oil get all the way down the shaft of the hair.  A boar bristle brush works great, as well as clean hands; a combination of the two is even better.  That's where the 100 strokes every night comes from.  Groom yourself, rinse with water, keep yourself clean- that's all you need to do.  No need to strip yourself with harsh cleansers all the time. Most of us barely get dirty anyway.

I'll be posting a photographic journey so you can see what it takes to transition.

Here's some links to helpful websites that have inspired me (some do recommend baking soda which I most strongly urge you to avoid):
Water wash only
Great blog on hair history
Photographic journey
Honey "shampoo"
Conditioner only method
Herbal rinses
Coconut milk pH balanced "shampoo"
Why baking soda damages hair

There are plenty more out there, enjoy the research!

Coming back to No Poo

It's been some years since I've written in this blog.  In the interim, I hennaed for a while, and then quit.  I stuck with the shampoo bars until I started realizing it was stripping my hair too much- it was hard to comb and manage as it grew out.  I also hated how dark my hair was getting when I no longer wanted the red of the henna… little by little the commercial products crept in, until voila- I was back where I was.  First, I dyed my hair again because I hated how dark it was.  Then, because it got all dried out by living close to the ocean and having stripped it of color (I go for light blonde in a box), I went for the shampoo and conditioner again.  I was buying the "natural" stuff, no SLS or silicones or parabens; but still.  Wow, that stuff is expensive!  Expensive and honestly not doing a whole lot for me.

After a few years of running on the beach and sailing, swimming in the ocean and intermittently coloring my hair, it was dry as straw.  It was long, down to mid back, but honestly looked not so great. I went to a salon and was sold shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner- all costing me around $100! Seems ludicrous, right?  Right!  I remembered my days of "no poo" and wondered how I could get my hair back to health.

First, I stopped dying, about a year ago.  My own natural blonde has been something I've hated for a long time, but I've grown to love the deep honey color it is.  Then, I just had my hair cut to my shoulders to get rid of the bulk of the damaged stuff.  It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great; and it was much lighter than my natural color.  So off it went.  Right after, I thought- wouldn't this be a great time to try again?  I'm committed to no longer coloring my hair, and letting it just be vibrant and healthy whatever it looks like.  Why not ditch the shampoo?

When I started this experiment many years ago, I jumped on the BS and ACV bandwagon like everyone else.  Back then there wasn't as much info as there is now, the movement was much smaller.  I went on the 'net and saw that so many more people are giving it a try- including celebrities!- and saw that people are actually going towards completely natural hair, with no product or recipes at all (see: water washing).  There is some evidence now that baking soda is actually quite rough on the hair, causing dryness and breakage over time.  I absolutely believe that.

So last week, I gave my hair one final clarifying shampoo, and jumped.  I've been using honey to soften and clarify my hair, followed by a quick rinse with dilute cider vinegar.

I know the dreaded "transition period" is upon me.  I've been ok so far.  My hair is trained to only be washed every 3 days (yes, I shower more frequently than that) so I am not suffering from total greasies yet.  Plus, all the reading I did prepared me; I have a boar bristle brush, and brush each night to distribute my hair's natural oils.  So far so good!  I think that the people reporting the worst of the greasies are not using these brushes to bring the oils down the hair.  You have to groom every day!  It's a must.  It's helpful that my hair isn't so long, and no longer carrying damaged weight.  I'm looking forward to growing it out completely healthy and strong.

What will I do?  Well, I am going to transition for a while using honey and ACV.  My hope is that I will eventually be able to space that out to monthly, or as needed.  We shall see!

This photo is immediately post-haircut; I will shampoo once more to clarify, and that's that.