Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Update on My Natural Hair Care Routine

I originally posted about using baking soda and apple cider vinegar for haircare over a year ago.  Am I still using this method? Have I made any modifications to the method? What other products and methods do I use on my hair?

Am I Still Using Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar on My Hair?

Yes!  It has now been nearly two years since I ditched shampoo and started using baking soda/apple cider vinegar (ACV) to wash and condition my hair.  I am still loving this method of natural and frugal hair care.

My hair and scalp are healthier than they have been any time in my adult life, so using baking soda/ACV has allowed me to grow my hair out much longer than previously.  Even without a hair cut in over a year, I do not have any split ends.  My hair is soft, shiny, and seems to resist tangles with this method. 

Have I Made Any Modifications to the Method?

For all of my adult life, my hair has been relatively short (sometimes super short), and has never reached shoulder length.  Right now, I am growing my hair long, and it is longer than it has been in over 20 years.  My hair is now a few inches past my shoulders.

With my new longer hair, I noticed that my hair was getting to be a bit dry.  I changed the mixtures of baking soda and apple cider vinegar a bit, and this has remedied the problem. (You can read more about how to modify the baking soda and apple cider mixtures to accommodate dry or oily hair here.)

Additionally, thanks to a tip from my sister-in-law, I sometimes add a couple drops of essential oils to the ACV conditioner for a nice fragrance.  While I actually like the smell of the plain apple cider vinegar conditioner, I am also really enjoying mixing things up a bit with the essential oils. 

I am currently using the following shampoo and conditioner mixtures (which I premix in old shampoo and conditioner bottles for ease of use):
  • Shampoo: 1/2 Tb baking soda for every 8 oz (one cup) of water
  • Conditioner: 2 Tb apple cider vinegar for every 8 oz (one cup) of water plus a couple drops of optional essential oil (lavender and/or jasmine oil are my current favorites)
With my longer hair, I have also changed the method of applying the baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixtures slightly.  The method I am using is as follows:
  1. Wet your hair.  Apply the baking soda mixture to your scalp, roots, and hair (only as far down as hair may be oily).  I run the shampoo bottle all along the roots on the top and back of my head, which lets a trickle of the solution out.  I only apply the baking soda mixture just as far down as my hair may be oily. There is no need to apply it all the way to the ends of my hair. Then I use my fingertips to scrub my scalp.
  2. Thoroughly rinse the baking soda mixture from your hair.
  3. Apply the apple cider vinegar mixture to the scalp, roots, and hair.  With my longer hair, I find that I need to apply the apple cider vinegar mixture to the full length of my hair. I let it stay on for a few minutes.  
  4. Thoroughly rinse your hair.  Then rinse it some more. Sometimes, the vinegar solution will grow some tiny SCOBY strands (these are like what is used to make kombucha), so I need to rinse my hair very well to make sure no little bits get left behind.

Other Hair Products and Methods I am Using

The rest of my hair care routine includes the following:
  • Curly Girl Method: I am using the Curly Girl Method which allows me to get the most curl out of my wavy hair. (The Curly Girl book gives detailed instructions for all different types of curly hair, from kinky curly on down to wavy hair.) The method I'm using for my wavy hair includes:
    • scrunching up my hair while using my baking soda and ACV mixtures in the shower to prevent the water from over-straightening my hair, 
    • drying my hair with a microfiber towel after showering, 
    • letting my hair air dry most of the time, and
    • protecting my hair from being over-straightened by the blow dryer by using a diffuser on days when I blow dry my hair. 
  • Dry Shampoo: I typically wash my hair once every two days, and my hair does not look oily on the second day.  Sometimes, though, I don't have time to wash my hair on the 3rd day, and to combat oil on those days I use dry shampoo made from equal parts of cocoa powder and arrowroot (the link recommends using cornstarch, but I use arrowroot in mine).
  • Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion: Most of the time, the only product I use on my hair after showering is Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion.  This is a very lightweight product that contains essential oils, and has a watery consistency.  I use it because it reduces frizz and flyaways in my very fine, wavy hair. I apply a small amount of Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion right after towel-drying my hair.  Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion has a score of 3 on the Skin Deep Website. (I have yet to find a homemade or frugal alternative to this, as all hair gels I've tried are far too heavy for my very fine hair.  However, I use such a small amount that one bottle of Sunset Styling Lotion lasts me nearly a year. If my hair had a more robust curl that wasn't so easily weighed down, I would try using plain aloe vera gel on my hair.)
  • Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz: On days when I want to look a bit more polished, I use a bit of Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz to smooth out any frizz in my hair and help hold my curl. I apply this by spraying it onto my palm, rubbing my hands together lightly, and then smoothing/scrunching it into my hair.  This results in a very soft hold that doesn't feel crunchy or hard. With the small amount of Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz I use, one bottle will last me around 6 months. Since I don't use much hairspray, I've never looked much into homemade alternatives; but in looking up the Giovanni Hair Spritz for this article, I was surprised to see it is given a score of 5 (moderate hazard) on the Skin Deep Website (whereas I prefer to use products that rank 0-2 if possible).  So I will be experimenting with these homemade hairspray recipes in the coming months to see how they compare:

What natural hair care products do you use?

This post is part of Traditional Tuesdays!


Tom and Juli said...

I started doing this shortly after you blogged about it last time. :) When I started I was nervous because everyone I knew or heard of that used it had at least somewhat curly hair and I have very straight hair so I wasn't sure if I would like it as much. However, my hair has never been fuller, softer, or shinier than it is now! I also only have to wash it every other day and I've never been able to do that before because by the second day with normal shampoo and conditioner my hair would be far too greasy to get by. I've been wanting to try out the diy dry shampoo too because if I could sometimes go every 3 days between washes I would love that!


Sarah Smith said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Juli! I'm glad it is working for you. Like you, when I was using normal shampoo and conditioner, my hair was always to oily on the 2nd day, but that is not a problem with this method.

Christine said...

This post is timely, as I am getting ready to try this after I get my hair cut next weekend. I have a couple of questions. I read somewhere that the directions for the apple cider vinegar rinse include adding it to a cup of water just before you shower. However, could you just mix it and keep it in your shower or does it need to stay refrigerated? Pouring cold liquid on my head in the warm shower does not sound good, neither does having to get it from the fridge each time. Also, has anyone tried this on children's hair? My twin girls will be 3 soon and I want to try this with their hair, but they often get food or playground dirt in their hair. Would this work for them?

M Leonard said...

For years I have only gotten about 2-3 haircuts per year. Basically, once I started to see split ends. I only recently heard about the "no poo" method but I haven't switched to the baking soda yet but I did switch to a shampoo bar and the apple cider vinegar rinse. My hair is 29 inches long. While it was getting fairly frizzy from split ends when I first began this new regimen, I am noticing that after about 2 months, I have no frizz, barely any split ends and much more shine. I'm only washing my hair about twice a week. I do still get some itching on my scalp though so I'm going to try the baking soda next to see if that helps the itching and flaking.

For my daughter's hair, I've always had a hard time getting her to let me wash it so she's only been shampooed when it's very dirty or she has sunscreen in it (I avoid sunscreen for my kids whenever possible though). I think in her five years I've only shampooed her hair about 2-3 dozen times and it is a gorgeous shiny blonde but gets horribly tangled in her sleep so she likes it short. All she usually needs is a good rinse!

Sarah Smith said...

Yes, you can premix the ACV and baking soda solutions. That is what I do, so I have them already mixed in the old shampoo and conditioner bottles in the shower. I need to refill the bottles probably once every 1.5-2 weeks.

I have not tried this on my children's hair, as I have found that both of my kids' hair benefits from not being washed at all. It may sound strange, but I only wash my kids' hair if there is something very sticky in it (like peanut butter or some such). Since I stopped washing their hair, they both have shiny, healthy hair, and many fewer tangles. When they take a bath (which isn't very frequently either since we have a bidet that keeps their bums nice and clean after going to the bathroom, and their skin seems healthier without frequent bathing), their hair just gets rinsed with plain water. I hope this helps!

Sarah Smith said...

If you have flaking/itching of the scalp, make sure not to use too much baking soda as it can have a drying affect on the scalp (I'm sure soap can as well). My scalp was rather flaky before switching to no-poo; that reduced once I switched initially, but I found it really dropped off when I changed the mixtures to what is listed above (originally, I was using more baking soda than that).

I also avoid shampooing my kids' hair. Their hair seems healthiest without any regular shampooing, and more resistant to tangles. When I read the Curly Girl book, I decided to try some of the methods on my daughter's very fine, slightly wavy hair. So I stopped brushing her hair (she also likes to keep it kinda short because of tangles). Instead of brushing, every morning I spritz her hair with water that has a few drops of lavender oil in it, then scrunch it and use my fingers to remove any obvious tangles. This has worked amazingly well, and now she hardly ever has any tangles at all! And her hair looks nicer since her waves aren't being forced into submission through brushing.

Laurie Paul said...

What about your husband? Can you see men using this method. I have grey hair but I think I may give this a try.
Thank you for sharing!

food.books.andbeaches said...

Has anyone with color treated hair used this method? Most of my hair is white, but few can tell! ;)

Sarah Smith said...

My husband has very short (shaved with a buzzer) hair, and he doesn't use any shampoo at all. But I have a friend whose husband uses this method and likes it.

Sarah Smith said...

Yes! On my previous post about the method, there were several people with color-treated hair that used this method.

Anonymous said...

I've found that washing soda works far better than baking soda. I use it about once a week and just rinse my hair the other days. That's been working well the last several months. For those converting to baking/washing soda, the transition will be much smoother if you use a clarifying shampoo one time right before ditching shampoos (something with no parabens or -cones) to remove conditioners and other residues.
Baking/washing soda is great at cleaning everyday grime but poor at removing the waxy buildup your conventional shampoos and conditioners left behind.

Anonymous said...

One thing I didn't like about using the ACV as the last step is that I ended up smelling like, well, a pickle. We have very, very soft water which makes it difficult to get stuff totally rinsed out, including the long mop of thick waves on my head. I've found that if I do the ACV rinse first, and then work in the baking soda slurry, that the acid kicks off the base and I get a bit of reaction between them, and I am not left with as much of the vinegar smell. Going the other way, the ACV just sort of rinses through, because it's much thinner than the baking soda slurry, and doesn't leave much time for the neutralizing reaction.

Also, I do this only about once a week, with a very occasional olive oil only shampoo bar (maybe once a month), and do water-only rinses on other days. In most cases, just as I get out of the shower I drip a few drops of whichever essential oil I feel like and rub it in my hands and then do the scrunching thing talked about in Curly Girl. Since ditching shampoo and condition (and Starbucks, too, but that's another story!) I've got money to spare AND healthy hair that needs a trim only about every six months instead of every six weeks!

For my next trick, I'm going to make some homemade rosemary ACV and see how that works.

Sarah Smith said...

Thanks for the tips, Lori! As you know, the water here is very hard, and I don't notice any residual smell from the vinegar. Glad you found a way to make this work for you.

Susan said...

I love the no-poo method. There have been a couple of times where I went back to shampoo because I was in a hurry and boy, did I regret it! By the end of that evening my hair was already oily. Yuck. With no-poo I can wash my hair every three days and it feels great. I saw recently on some other blog where the person said it can destroy your hair, but I have yet to see that in the 15 months I have been poo free.

I get an itchy spot on the back of my scalp on occasion that I have found the perfect solution for. I bought those clear plastic ketchup/mustard bottles that grocery stores often sell during the summer season for BBQs and picnics. They're like a buck or so. I make my ACV solution in one of these bottles and the nice, long tip on the bottle is great for making sure I get the itchy spot on my scalp nice and soaked with ACV. Now granted, since I've gone no-poo my scalp rarely itches any more, but the tip is nice to get to those spots, and it even controls the flow so it rarely flows down my forehead into my eyes any more.

Sarah Smith said...

Great idea! Thanks for sharing, Susan.

Matt & Lynda said...

I did this "no poo" method for a couple years and then my hair started getting very dry and brittle. Even had to cut it off. From your post I realize I was using way too much baking soda. Immediately started the day you posted this with your suggested amount of b soda and now works fantastic! My curls are happier again and so is my scalp. Even healthy DIY shampoos leave residue on my scalp. Thank you!

As for your reader who mentioned not liking cold water on their head in the shower, I'm the same way. The baking soda is so little, doesn't bother me. But I keep a bottle of ACV in my bathroom and a designated cup. Every shower I just put a generous capful of ACV in and fill with shower water when ready. Then pour over my head of course. :)

Ruth said...

A tip for the cider vinegar - I put holes in the plastic cap of the cider vinegar bottle with a skewer and dispense the diluted solution directly from that. Easy peasy - enjoy : )

Sarah Smith said...

Great idea! Thanks for sharing Ruth!

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