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What To Do When No Poo Isn't Working

What to Do When 'No Poo' Isn't Working For You

What To Do When No Poo Isn't Working It's the ultimate in natural hair care for non-toxic, green living - doing away with shampoo completely, and going 'no poo'. Wouldn't it be a dream come true if all your hair needed was a wash in bi-carb soda and a rinse in apple cider vinegar? And that using these simple pantry ingredients would give you luscious, silky hair that was full of volume and bounce! You'd be the envy of all your friends and the bane of hairdressers worldwide. Search the internet for 'no poo' and you'll find hundreds of articles telling you just that. We even wrote an article on going no poo a couple of weeks back.

What's the point in going no poo?

As I said a couple of weeks back, it’s about using less products. Less products means less chemicals, which is better for you and better for the environment. It’s supposed to be better for your hair and scalp, too, leaving you with healthy, shiny, easier to manage hair that doesn’t frizz or fly away. Well that's what the no poo brigade would have you believe. Except that it doesn't work for everyone. Lyndal tells her story of how no poo didn't work for her.

"The no poo people will tell you you're not giving it long enough. But I did give it long enough. Believe me I did! I gave it 6 greasy long months.

I've always had problem hair. It's a difficult mix of flaky scalp with greasy roots and dry ends. It's fine, and there's lots of it. My hair is dead straight, smooth and slippery - it's the envy of every curly haired girl I met and the enemy of my curling iron.

So I tried the no poo method.

After day one it looked and felt fantastic. Light and shiny and smooth. Day 2 was a little greasy and day 3 was a day I was really hoping I had no need to leave the house. So on day 4 I washed again. And that's really not too bad, considering I was a once a day shampoo-er who stretched it to 2 days if I wore it scrunched up in a bun.

But fast forward to the end of the month and it started to feel heavy and unclean. My dandruff got worse. My greasy roots continued, and was made more obvious by my brittle, clumpy, straw-like ends.

I persisted. I listened to the no poo bloggers:

"It's ok, just give it some more time".

"It's ok, just increase the vinegar".

"Clarify first".

"Try an egg wash".

"Do a clay mask".

"Add some lemon juice".


This simple living, I tell you, it really shouldn't be such hard work!

And so, through sheer stubbornness, I persisted. I made DIY dry shampoos to try and stretch it out longer between bicarb and ACV washes. When that didn't help, I dropped the bi-carb. When that didn't help, I tried different vinegars. I tried different ratios. I tried so many different mixtures from everyday pantry ingredients I felt I was failing at baking a no-fail cake recipe.

After 6 months, when I realised that time wasn't going to save me and that what I thought was cacao from my DIY dry shampoo for dark hair was probably in fact caked in dirt, I gave in.

I bought a natural shampoo. An organic, herbal shampoo especially for sensitive skin and itchy scalps, with no SLS's, no propylene glycol, no petrochemicals, no mineral oils and no nasties.

And it was heaven.

You know how the hairdresser gives that unbelievably good head massage when you're in the reclining chair, so blissful that you need to remind yourself that you're in a public place and so try not to moan? Well it was better than that. And so I washed it again. And thank goodness I bought a conditioner too, so I washed with that. And it was so incredible, that after 6 long months without shampoo I almost repeated the whole entire washing process right then and there, except that the hot water was starting to run out."

So where did Lyndal go wrong with no poo? Perhaps she didn't. Bi-carb soda is highly alkaline, and can strip your hair of its natural oils. This, ironically, is the exact reason we explore shampoo alternatives in the first place. I could geek out now on how much the pH balance matters to your hair and go into the technical how's and why's of what may have happened here, but Nicki Devola does a great job of explaining it in this article on FutureDerm.  So if the no poo method has not worked for you, then don't go pulling your hair out – the bi-carb is doing that for you! Don’t feel defeated. You haven't failed. The trick is to find a good natural shampoo that's pH balanced, and contains good, safe ingredients. Personally, I've managed to go from washing daily to washing once every 5 to 6 days. I've done this by using a good shampoo (I like the Acure range), pushing my wash back a day, and using a natural dry shampoo to get me through the greasy days. I'm aiming for hair washing once a week, and I'm just about there. My scalp is much happier. It's not dry, irritated or flaky any more. My hair feels good, and looks better for longer. And the bonus is that I'm not using anything like the amount of shampoo and conditioner that I used to. Tell us about your journey to natural hair care in the comments below. Get the latest posts straight to your inbox every week!
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