Six months ago I finished up my last bottle of shampoo, and began a new rhythm of daily hair-brushing and occasional delving into the kitchen for something to clean my mane. My hope was that my hair would adjust, eventually needing to be cleaned just once every couple of weeks. And, I’m basically there. These days I can wait more than two weeks before washing it with an egg, or bicarbonate of soda followed by apple cider vinegar. And it’s not three days of fringe and hair down, eleven crammed in a bun under a headscarf. It’s normal looking hair, just infrequently cleaned.
And, what’s more, it feels like I’ve returned to my true hair. Rustic curls that a friend years ago described as “the kind of hair that you wouldn’t be surprised to find a bird’s nest in”. Yep, that’s the hair I love. Those curls had slipped away a bit over the last few years. I’m delighted that they’re back.
So I’ve no plans to return to the shampoo bottle. This no-shampoo journey has been easier than expected, but not entirely without effort or compromise. A few things I’ve learned or experienced along the way:
Brushing is key. In the early days of trying to eke out the number of days between washes, I’d find myself increasingly irritated at my scalp, but I don’t really experience that any more. A sign that my hair is producing the right amount of sebum, and that the brushing to redistribute it throughout my mane is working.
A hair stylist couldn’t tell the difference. Which made my need to confess to her that “I’m the bridesmaid who washes my hair with an egg” a bit redundant.
An occasional rinse in water can make a big difference. Not really with the goal of cleaning it, but to return its volume and shape, as even my dragon locks can be a little flat by the end of two weeks.
It makes going on holiday much easier. I just wash my hair the day we go, and I’m good for the whole time, I was feeling particularly smug about this when we went away camping for five days. No cramped, muddy port-a-loo showers for this woman. My victory was slightly overshadowed by the food poisoning that swept our camp and sent us scurrying to a nearby hotel. Well, you can’t have everything.
Summer was less problematic than I expected. Even before the heatwave settled in, I was a little wary of how infrequent washing would go in the hot weather. Thankfully it didn’t make my hair feel in need of washing more often. It did, however, on one occasion, cook one small piece of egg on my head. Thankfully, it was neatly fried. Not scrambled. Which would have been worse.
Going no-shampoo is not the excuse you want to go no-exercise. Sadly. After a few months of procrastinating, I have reluctantly returned to running, and found a rinse in water is all my hair needs. Which probably suggests I’m not running hard enough. And I’m ok with that. We’ve enjoyed a few trips to the swimming pool which has meant contending with chlorine. I followed most of Lucy’s advice in her no-shampoo book – wetting your hair before getting in the pool so it’s full of unchlorinater water, washing with an egg afterwards – but have yet to get out the swimming cap. I should do that.
Dying your hair with henna is a faff, and a bit of a compromise. I’ve been using henna from Lush (useful how to here) which involves a bit of prep and a fair amount of mess when I’m dying my whole mane. Clearing everything from the vicinity of the bathroom mirror is advisable. Most of the time though, I’m just touching up my grey roots – because I’m content to share with the world that I’ve got a couple of grey patches but it’s not a look I want to wear yet – which I can usually do in about 20 minutes, plus rinsing out after a couple of hours. I now wash my hair with an egg after dying, as I found just rinsing out the henna left it with quite a wet look. So the process is pretty much in hand.
But the results are, being honest, less good than when I had it done professionally. The colour washes out more quickly, and I really need to do several layers of it to get a similar colour on the greys to the rest of my hair. Which I don’t seem to care quite enough to do at the moment. So the henna is fine, but a bit of a compromise.
My husband has gone no-shampoo. With a lot less fanfare than me. I read a whole book about it. I recorded what I did and how it felt every single day for months. I told a lot of people. I bought a headscarf. And I write 1000-word blog posts about the experience. He just… stopped using shampoo one day. It’s been over three weeks now. He hasn’t used any alternatives yet. Just the occasional water rinse, and daily brushing (which he reckons has made all the difference, so at least I feel like reading that book has helped him too). When I eagerly ask “How’s your hair?”, he seems bemused that I feel the need to make this a topic of conversation. Because it’s such a non-event for him. Which I think I should be pleased about. But I somehow feel a little cheated.
Perhaps I sought some solidarity in the transition, a stage that he seems to have slipped through with his cold turkey approach. But either way, we’re a no-shampoo home now, with no desire to go back.
Today’s soundtrack: Jake Isaac // Our Lives