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The great no-‘poo experiment!

Check out Chance’s new project at Room Farm: an experiment to spring free of commercial shampoos! Can’t wait to see how this works out.

Some Blogger sites refuse to recognize my existence in any permutation, and Chance’s is one of them. So I’ll try just adding my two cents here:

Back in the Cretaceous, we had shampoo but no one shampooed every day. We didn’t have conditioners of the sort available today—to get rid of the frizzies and tear-jerking tangles, we used this pink liquid (don’t recall the brand name) that you squirted on with a pump sprayer and combed through your hair. While it did get rid of mare’s nests and static fly-away, it left your hair kinda limp.

In the absence of hand-held blow dryers, washing your hair was a major project: you had to set your hair with bobby pins (twisting little pincurls allll over your head!) or, in later years, with rollers, and then you either slept in them overnight or you sat under a bonnet dryer for anywhere between one and three hours, depending on how long and thick your hair was.

Women in recent years have been bamboozled into dousing their heads with various chemical brews every day, when really it’s not necessary. One’s hair did start to get a little greasy-looking after a week, but the truth is most women’s hair can go for three days or so before really needing to be washed. 

In the past, I’ve used Neutrogena bar soap on my hair. It’s a little harsh, but it will get your hair clean. I found it drying, and if you get the stuff in your eyes it hurts like the dickens…probably not a good sign. Baby shampoo works quite effectively on women’s hair and is pretty mild. Like grown-up shampoos, it contains many ingredients straight out of a chemistry lab. 

Hair conditioner alone can be substituted for shampoo, at least for a few washings. It tends to build up in the hair like liquid fabric softener in the washer, not surprising since we’ve discovered that you can use hair conditioner in place of fabric softener. Here in the Southwest, ordinary bar soap makes a mess of your hair, because most areas have pretty hard water. This can be ameliorated to some degree by rinsing with diluted vinegar or lemon juice.

I’ve also used dish detergent in a pinch. It works exactly like shampoo, with exactly the same results…not surprising, since shampoo is your basic detergent. Clear Ivory dish detergent behaves just like shampoo, except at the cash register.

It’ll be interesting to see how Chance makes out with the baking soda-&-vinegar treatment. If you could use that on your hair and olive oil on your face, you’d go a long way toward breaking the grip of the cosmetics industry on women’s everyday lives.

5 thoughts on “The great no-‘poo experiment!”

  1. Hey – thanks for mentioning my Big Experiment. I hate blogger, because it randomly selects people and won’t let them comment. It never occured to me to use Ivory dish detergent — if this doesn’t work, I may try that approach since it is way cheaper than ladies shampoo. So far, the no poo experiment is going very well. I figure on the weekends I will do the baking soda and vinegar technique, and once during the week, the conditioner only technique, to avoid conditioner build-up. Anyway, thanks for the link and the tips.

  2. You should be careful with dishsoaps because they still contain many chemicals that can be dangerous to your health. For my hair I usually use Dr. Bronners hemp soap (diluted 2 parts water to 1 part soap) and only wash once a week. This can bog your hair down a bit after a while but if you add a bit of baking soda to the mixture once a month (or more for oily hair) it works like a charm!

    Good luck!

    • @ katie lee: I can’t find any credible evidence, in an online search, that dishwashing liquid is toxic. Sites that make this claim have an ax to grind (videlicet, they’re selling “natural” detergents) or provide no evidence to back up broad generalizations.

      It will give you diarrhea if you swallow it, because soap is an efficient laxative. Some antibacterial brands contain triclosan, which is said to react with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform, a carcinogen; however, the amount that results is less than the amount of chloroform already present in chlorinated tap water. In the presence of ultraviolet light (which one rarely encounters inside the bathroom), triclosan can degrade to form dioxin; be aware, though, that dioxin is not one compound but a family of compounds, only 17 of which are of concern in human health — and the one formed by triclosan is not a public health concern. However, byproducts of triclosan formed in surface water as a result of exposure to sunlight present a number of environmental concerns. For this reason, in the U.S. products containing triclosan (which include certain toothpastes, Clearasil, Softsoap, Dial, Right Guard, Old Spice, & Bath and Body Works hand sanitizers, among others) are required to say so on the label. To avoid this chemical, simply read the label.

      Dishwasher detergent, on the other hand, is extremely toxic. Care should be exercised in using it: don’t use it in the sink to wash dishes. If you get it on your skin, wash it off immediately. Store dishwasher detergent out of reach of small children, and watch the dishwasher cup. If dishwasher detergent accumulates in it, as will happen when the machine isn’t running optimally, be very careful that curious small children don’t mess with it. If a child puts any of it in his or her mouth, call poison control and get the kid to an ER immediately.

  3. The pink hair de-tangler that we sprayed on our hairs in the ’70’s was called TAME and sure wish it was still around! Great advice all around, thank you.

    • @ Pammiesue: YES!!! That was the stuff. What on earth do you suppose was in it? It made your hair slick, and if you put too much on, you got a kind of lank effect. But it was superb for fine, tangly kid’s hair…so many tears avoided!

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