beauty

"Why I decided to stop shampooing my hair"

Images via How-To Hair Girl

When I was a kid, I had a DIY hair ruining experience that traumatised me.

My hair melted off, and it was my own fault for not reading the warning on the perm bottle. Over-processing happens to many of us at some point, but at only nine years old it left me feeling very self-conscious about the way I looked.

Roxie when she was 9

For the same reason a junkie might turn to Jesus, I turned to the enticing promises of beauty products to fix my down-and-out hair. I entered the Big Beauty marketplace as an up-and-coming insecure teenager with bad skin and hair and a will to be beautiful. It took me 20 years to look back and understand the origin of my unwavering belief in the words printed on plastic bottles.

By my late 20s I had two daughters and had slowly emerged from the fog of my younger years. I began questioning my own beliefs and reasoning, and I started to understand myself better. I saw my own “don’t tell me what to do” attitude morph from a child’s defiance to teenage stupidity and, finally, into a grown woman’s will to find her own identity, despite mainstream standards set by multi-billion dollar industries. This is the will my children will inherit.

As a hairdresser, I had been hearing about the 'no-poo' (i.e. no shampoo) method for years. No-poo-ing means using baking soda and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to cleanse and condition the hair. I had two thoughts: 1. Gross, for not shampooing your hair, and 2. Double gross, for using the word ‘poo’ associated with hair.

But there was something about it that I found intriguing. Everyone I encountered who used this method generally liked their hair, while the rest of us (myself included) complained and bitched about our hair, desperate for that hair product system that would magically turn us into supermodels.

 I was controlled by my restless and constantly unsatisfied hair ... Over my 30 years, I have spent more money than I would like to admit on hair products.

My hair has gone through many changes. Cuts, colours, styles, fringes, not to mention texture changes due to hormones. After I had my first child, my curly, thick, dry hair straightened out, thinned out, and got oily. It was nature’s way of being an asshole while I nursed my colicky baby. Nice.

Still I remained a notorious hair product whore. I was controlled by my restless and constantly unsatisfied hair. I would find a product or product line that I liked, use it until it ceased to please me, and then move on to another. A new one would work for a while but at some point my hair would inevitably stop liking it, meaning it was time for a switch. I would be happy with my hair for a couple weeks, and then all of a sudden it would be lank, lifeless, and oily all over again. Over my 30 years, I have spent more money than I would like to admit on hair products.

One day, while watching Mad Men, I had one of those ‘duh!’ moments when I realised that a good ad makes you think that you need something. A necessity. Without even wanting it, it becomes absolutely necessary to have it. I had been naive enough to let myself get tricked into thinking that I needed to empty my pockets to buy my own beauty.

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This ‘duh’ moment was the origin of my no-poo journey. I got tired of searching all over for something to fix me and make me beautiful. I was being fed BS by companies who wanted my money in return for my promise to never feel beautiful enough and keep on buying.

I must add that I am not anti-hair product. There are some great hair product companies out there. I respect the companies that are breaking the mould instead of defining what is “beautiful”, and are encouraging people to work with what they have naturally instead of fighting against it. I love that there is more of a focus on sustainability, natural hair, and social awareness emerging .

But it isn’t changing fast enough for me. All I wanted was to like my hair and not pay dearly for it. So I switched to the no-poo method.

My hair looked and felt great after my first ShamPHree. Two weeks in, my hair was better than it had ever been.

The first thing I did was rename it the 'ShamPHree method'. It sounded prettier and made it easier to talk about. 'Sham' for shampoo, PH because it balances the PH of the hair and scalp, and ShamPHree because it is about freeing your hair of shams.

It took a bit of experimenting with different ways of applying the baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I went and purchased paint mixing bottles from my local art supply store to use as my applicator bottles. I also purchased some yummy smelling essential oils to add to my vinegar so I would still get the yummy clean and fresh scented hair that I missed from my shampoo days.

My hair looked and felt great after my first ShamPHree. Two weeks in, my hair was better than it had ever been. After two months, I had my ShamPHree system down. My hair was shiny, soft, smooth, and balanced - I could go for 4-5 days in between ShamPhreeing and it never looked or felt oily and limp like it did before. I honestly didn’t expect it to be such a drastic change.

I have no intention of ever going back. I have spent a total of $26 on my ShamPHree journey experiment. My hair is as happy and healthy as I could ever have imagined, and I have successfully detoxed my hair and mind from the grips of mainstream beauty. I only wish I would have started sooner.

Would you consider trying the no shampoo method?

This post originally appeared on How-To Hair Girl and has been republished with permission

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