If you know me well at all, you recognize how comical that would be. Especially since this post is about hair care, and for the most part, I walk around either with pigtails or looking like I styled my hair with a fork.
Disclaimer: this is not beauty advice. This is just a little more discord sown into your shopping list by the self-styled shopping list whittler.
The upshot is that commercially-produced shampoo and conditioner are unnecessary, and there is more than ample evidence that sulfates and silicone-derivatives are harmful. One Green Generation is, I believe, where I first read (in recent, less-hippie years, that is) about the baking soda and vinegar hair care revolution, and from there I followed links all over the internet, more than a little surprised at how mainstream the concept had become.
I was skeptical about trying it myself. Vanity is a construct of letters fairly well ingrained in my vocabulary, and besides, I have long hair. Years ago, when my hair was short and platinum blonde, I went a year without using shampoo, and no one even noticed. With long hair though, and a lifestyle that is a little more socially-acceptable than it once was, along with family members who wrinkled their nose at me when I first suggested my interest in going no-poo, I went back and forth on this subject for months before trying it.
And I continued to buy crazy-cheap, relatively safe shampoos and conditioners from big box stores. If, after all, I had so little money invested in this anyway, and it wasn't that difficult to find sulfate-free shampoo even in mainstream stores, well, there just wasn't much impetus to change my ways.
But here's the rub for me: after way too many years in journalism- and business-school, where I concentrated heavily in classes in economics, marketing, advertising, public relations, management case studies, and the like, I recognize all too well that much of what we do in this current climate is a direct result of what we are told to do by Those In Charge. Essentially, advertising dictates what we buy, and our shopping lists are abysmally cumbersome.
To wit: we buy educations for three-, four-, and five-year-olds, because it has been ingrained that others will do a better job than we will at raising and teaching our own children. We buy clothes dryers because subdivision covenants disallow clotheslines, we buy cake/brownie/pancake mixes because we think it's too much trouble to measure and mix ingredients, we buy paper napkins/towels/tissues in order to avoid having to wash something, and the list goes on. And on. And on. From the simplest item, see baking powder, to much more culturally complex decisions, like how many vehicles a small family really needs to own, we have ceded personal decision-making to large businesses whose sole purpose is to make money.
Let me be clear that I have nothing against profit-generation, and I do not subscribe to the belief that Big Corporations are inherently evil. In the same vein though, I also do not subscribe to the theory that these Companies In Charge have my best interests at heart.
Johnson & Johnson is not selling shampoo and conditioner as a matter of public health. Bisquick was not invented to provide superior nutrition. Ford does not manufacture vehicles the size of small living rooms because safety is their first priority.
I am unplugging myself from the matrix.
I am Keanu Reeves.
What I am really doing is continuing to shorten my shopping list. And, well, let's be honest, it just so happened that I have never been happier with my hair since I gave up shampoo and conditioner, and that's really what this is all about. If I had hated the baking soda and vinegar routine, I would have kept on keeping on (read: buying shampoo and conditioner from the store).
A short time back, Jessi wrote about going no-poo, and that was what it finally took for me to take the leap. Jessi is someone I like a lot, someone I actually know, and someone who is (oh, she's gonna LOVE this) fairly normal. "See," I said to my mother who had looked at me rather askance the first time I mentioned wanting to give up commercial shampoo, "Even Jessi has given up shampoo."
So I did, too, and though it took a week or so to adapt to the new routine, I found almost immediately that my hair texture improved, my ends ceased looking so frazzly, my hair was shinier overall, and my hair was just as clean and went just as long between cleanings as when I used commercial products. And in a completely unexpected twist, styling products became unnecessary.
Here's the routine: Every couple of weeks, I mix up a solution (see below) of baking soda and water, and another solution (again, see below) of vinegar and water and a few drops of essential oil, and keep them in the shower in plastic bottles. Some people make only as much as they need for a single use, but I find that insensible. These solutions keep just fine, so I like to keep enough in the shower to last a few weeks at a time. Easy peasy.
Following the advice I got 10 years or so ago from a hairstylist friend, I cleanse only my scalp (not the ends), and condition only from the nape of the neck down through the ends (not the scalp). I wash no more often than every other day, and when I get out of the shower, I use the tiniest amount of coconut oil, smaller than a pea-sized amount, as a styling product.
Have you looked at the ingredient list on bottles of commercial shampoo and conditioner? Mind-boggling, it is. The shampoo strips your hair of natural oils, the conditioner adds synthetic products back in, which then build up and make the hair dirty, which requires the use of shampoo to remove. 'Tis a silly cycle.
Two months in, and I have now eliminated the following products from our household shopping list: shampoo, conditioner, shine spray, and styling cream. And though I have added coconut oil to the list, I have found that it, in turn, also replaces eye cream, lip balm, The Carnivore's pomade, and first aid ointment, thus removing those four items from the shopping list as well.
'Consumer anarchy' sounds so much more palatable than 'Going the way of the hippie,' yes?
- 1 part baking soda
- 3 parts water
- Shake well before each use.
- Massage mixture onto dry scalp, concentrating on hairline and part.
- Leave in for one minute.
HAIR DETANGLER AND MAKE-SHINIER
- 1 part white or apple cider vinegar
- 4 parts water
- 5 to 10 drops essential oil (vanilla, peppermint, lavender, whatever) per cup of solution
- Shake well before each use.
- Massage into hair from nape of neck down to ends.
- Leave in for a minute or so.