The natural haircare experiment: Sorted. Sort of.

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Ok. This is my second time writing this post, as I had it written and scheduled to go live a few days ago….and then I discovered it had totally disappeared. Not sure why or how, but there we are. So here goes attempt number two!

I’ve been going ‘NoPoo’ for two months now, and my hair is much better for it. I’m still struggling with tangles which I think is down to my hair being damaged from the hair dye from the last couple of years. I’d never had as bad a problem with my hair going static and knotting as I did in the last two years. I did have to start straightening again while I was working in shops over Christmas because it was just too difficult to handle and that won’t be helping my hair in the long term.

However, it has been great not having to wash my hair as often. Now I only wash my hair every 3-4 days. I’ve heard many people say “I could never do that, my hair just gets too greasy”. Well, I can assure you I used have to wash my hair every day or at least every second day. Often using dry shampoo, hairspray and all sorts. Now that I don’t use that stuff…not an issue.

I’ve also worked out what works on my hair, and these are the only things I use on it…

Naked Rescue Intensive Care Conditioner.

This costs about £4.32 in my city centre Boots chemist. I have gone through a lot of it, because I use it to make scrubs and hair masks, and a leave in conditioner spray to keep in my handbag. It is totally vegan friendly.

I use a small drop and massage my whole head as shampoo, make sure it is well rinsed and then apply more to the middle section and ends to detangle my hair before getting out the shower.

Incidentally, a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while was telling me how she’d found these ‘great’ hair products that had made a noticeable difference to her hair with her hair not being as greasy, having more volume and better condition…and it turns out she’s been using the Naked shampoo and conditioner. I’m actually going to try the one she has been using as my ‘shampoo’.

Baking Soda Rinse

I have a small measuring jug and fill it up with a cup of warm water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda and stir it until it’s a solution and not just baking soda on the bottom. I then pour this on over my head in the shower, massage my head and rinse.

I will say if you don’t massage and rinse it out properly, you may find you get build up on your scalp. However, it’s great if you have found that you’ve got a build up of product on your hair since you last washed it, or if you’ve been using a mask with oils in it.

Quinoa Scrub

1 part quinoa to three parts conditioner. I usually mix it in a small plastic bowl and massage into my scalp from the neck up to the top of my head. I’m actually intrigued to use quinoa to make homemade body scrubs. This has been great and really helped with my previously itchy scalp, and I try to do this once a week. I got the bag of quinoa in the picture for about £1.30 in my local Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Lavender Spray

Rather than using dry shampoo, I recommend using lavender spray. Especially if you struggle with an itchy scalp. Those of you who studied French may recall that the verb ‘to wash’ is ‘laver‘ in French and that’s no coincidence! Lavender has disinfectant qualities and is known to be good for skin conditions.  Plus, it apparently helps protect against head lice (I’ve been lucky to stay nit free my life so far, but others – especially if they live in a house with multiple children aren’t so!). To make it you get four pints of water, boil it in a large saucepan and then add three drops of lavender essential oil. Once it is cool you can decant it into reusable spray bottles. I keep a big garden spray bottle in my bathroom, and small travel size ones for my handbag. It is important you use proper pure essential oil, and you’ll be able to get lavender oil in pretty much any health food shop, and possibly your local chemist too. A 10ml bottle of lavender essential oil will last you ages and cost you around £5.

Keracare Clear Protein Gel

I’m not convinced by this hairgel at all, and felt like it built up on my hair and actually made my hair less curly. I have found one of the ingredients: hydrolised wheat protein on a list of ingredients to avoid.

If anyone has any recommendations of a good hair gel with none of the rubbish, I’d love to know! I’ve not been able to find any edible aloe vera gel (only juice) which is what is recommended in the Curly Girl handbook.

Clearspring Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

While straightening my hair, I’ve putting this on the ends of my hair by getting a teeny 1p sized scraping rubbing it on my palms then applying to the ends of my hair. It doesn’t make my hair greasy at all. I’ve also been using it to moisturise my skin which can get very dry. I got a 200g jar in my local Health Food shop which cost me about £4 with my student discount. 🙂

Have you found anything that really helps rather than hinders looking after your hair? Please share in the comments…

Natural Haircare Experiment: Weeks 3&4

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So weeks 2-3 were not good for the hair. My hair was unbelievably frizzy, and my scalp felt gross and my hair smelled yucky.

I really didn’t like the conditioner I was using, and I think it was the problem. I noticed when checking out this ‘WikiHow’ on how to determine if a product is ‘Curly Girl’ approved that my conditioner that I didn’t like had Mineral Oil in it. And I think that’s perhaps why the products felt like they were building in my hair between washes. Particularly as often after sleeping or being outside with scarves or a winter jacket on, my hair was so tangled I had to soak it, put conditioner in it, then gel spray to get the waves back.

So last week while hunting down black clothing for my work uniform I went to the big Boots chemist store equipped with my list of ‘no poo’ requirements for conditioner and finally found something that seems to meet the requirements. Botanical oils near the top of the ingredients list? Check. No silicones? Check. No drying alcohols? Check.

To try and deal with the frizz and the itchy scalp I decided to take a brave step for a wavy curly lass! No shampoo. Not even baking soda. I bought a bag of quinoa fairly cheaply at the supermarket and decided to use an exfoliating recipe from Lorraine Massey’s handbook which is basically 1 part quinoa to 3 parts conditioner.

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Not only does this conditioner smell soooo much nicer than the L’Oreal one, I even conditioned my ends after doing the exfoliating and rinsing all the quinoa and conditioner out of my hair. I worried that maybe my hair would be greasy.

It wasn’t.

I put gel in my hair while wet, partly dried my hair with a diffuser, partly left it to air dry…and for the first time it was not super frizzy. In fact it’s the least frizzy it had been since winter coat weather came on the scene!

I’ve also now invested in some scrunchies which are gentler on my hair for times when I’m tying it up in a bun to keep my hair out the way (like doing the dishes, studying, in the shower…)

I think my next challenge is going to be hairdressing…how to explain to a hairdresser that you don’t want them to use shampoo and trying to get a cut I’m happy with without them blow drying and straightening my hair into submission!

Any advice?

Natural Haircare Experiment: Week 2

So it’s been two weeks that I’ve been on the ‘NoPoo’ method. I found that after four days of no washing my hair went crazy frizzy one day, so ended up sticking a headband on and piling my hair into a bun before I headed to a Girlguiding unit meeting last week. On our way back from the Remembrance services one of our Young Leaders asked how the hair experiment was going…

Well…

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My hair is getting curlier. But in strange ways! This was yesterday (three days after a wash). My hair wasn’t greasy but I seem to be growing a short curl in the middle of my forehead, which likes to stick up like a horn (?!)  and random curls sticking out my head. There’s a layer of my hair that remains straight underneath, and often gets tangly if it has any contact with fabric of any kind.

The baking soda washes definitely work, and before I washed my hair last week I did a recipe from the Curly Girl Handbook which involved putting on oil mixed with a few drops of lavender on my hair for 30 minutes, then rinsing my hair with their “Lemon-Aid” recipe (basically lemon juice and conditioner).

I tend to find that the first day after a wash my hair is a bit mental, but about two or three days after it is calmer and curlier. In the mornings between hair wash days, I will wet my hair over the sink with my hands and scrunch it or spray my hair with the lavender spray. Then I’ll scrunch in a little bit of gel spray.

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This is the conditioner I’ve been using which you can get in chemists and supermarkets. I’m not a fan of this conditioner, but it’s the best I’ve been able to find so far. I’ve noticed some conditioners in the health food shop I often go to and I might try with that. This week I tried using Rainforest Moisture hair butter from the Body Shop (which has more natural ingredients) as I had some leftover but it did not help get the tangles out of my hair.  It’s a real shame, The Body Shop used to do a  hair mask which was amazing on my hair (like a friend noticed the difference the day after I first used it without may saying a word about it) and they discontinued it when they brought out the Rainforest haircare range.

Do you notice that they are advertising the conditioner as ‘No Sulphates’? I’ve never actually had a conditioner that had sulfates in it. You want your conditioner to be silicone free.

You also want any styling products (like gels and sprays) to be free of alcohol, silicones, parabens and phthalates. The Keracare is the only hairgel product I was able to find that met these requirments. I would love to try Lorraine Massey’s suggestion of using aloe vera gel, but trying to get a hold of some that is ‘edible’ (as she recommends) is proving difficult!

If anyone has any natural products they’ve found that help with frizz, please share your recommendations in the comments! 🙂

 

Natural Haircare Experiment: Week 1

Does this count as eco-koala? I don’t know but I’ll stick this under the category anyway! So, anyone who follows me on Instagram or saw my old blog may know that I recently decided to try the “NoPoo’ Method of haircare and binned the sulfates, silicones, alcohol and parabens for more natural products.

Last week I went on a search for spray bottles, and some hair gel and conditioner that was free of the products that are apparently evil to hair and my shower drain has not been appreciative of.

However, can I just say that perhaps the day before a job interview is not the best time to experiment with a brand new haircare routine. I was very lucky that I had a little travel sized bottle of sulfate free shampoo from the body shop leftover from my trip to South Africa five years ago because I had decided to coat my exceptionally dry hair and scalp with almond oil. And then more almond oil. It was a greasy mess, but thankfully a shampoo and a baking soda cleanse and then conditioner my hair was actually calmer than it had been for while on afternoon of said interview.

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 Yes. That is ‘calm’ on the Brunette Koala crazy hair scale.

We are still in the early days, but I have been super impressed that my hair takes several days longer before it feels greasy and there is no longer any product build up on my scalp. My hair is still very frizzy, and lots of it still comes out when I comb my hair with my fingers but I’m hoping this will eventually change.

The products I’m using are:

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed with 1 cup of warm water (as shampoo)
  • L’Oreal Sulfate Free Conditioner (I’m not impressed with it, and on the hunt for something that is not L’Oreal, because I’m not a fan of the company anyway, but it was the only conditioner I could find in the shop that met requirements!)
  • I use a lavender spray, made with 4 pints of boiled water mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil if my hair is a bit flat between washing hair days.
  • I have made my own gel spray with Keracare clear protein styling gel and boiled water. However the spray bottle I got for this tends to shoot the gel at quite a force so at the moment I’m spraying it onto my palms and scrunching it onto wet hair. This is the first hair gel I’ve ever known not to feel super sticky.

At the weekend I also tried a conditioning hair mask. I mixed conditioner, almond oil and a drop of lavender oil together and left it on overnight with my hair wrapped in a microfibre towel so my pillow wouldn’t get oily! I’m not sure if it made any difference, but I did just use the baking soda to wash it out the next morning, conditioned my ends and my hair and scalp were not left at all greasy which I was half expecting to happen. However the smell of the conditioner and lavendar did give me a slight headache and I didn’t get a ton of sleep! I also applied the mask without my glasses on and it was a bit runnier than I expected and as I transferred from my plastic Bob the Builder bowl to hands to hair some of it projectiled across to the door, the wall, the toilet and all down my jeans…

IMG_2538It reminded me a lot of milky baby puke, and when I noticed some on the shoulder, I confess it did bring back some memories.

So that’s how it’s gone so far. I’m hoping to find some better conditioner to use with more botanical products near the beginning of their ingredients list, and the ultimate test will be to see if I can wear a scarf and my hair down (without straightening it) and not end up with my hair as one giant knot within a few hours.

Folks that have gone ‘noPoo’ have you got any fabulous tips or products you’ve found to be helpful for wavy curls?