Last updated on 16th March 2020
Lemme start with the basics here.
What in god’s name is No Poo?
The term was coined for no shampoo hereby no ‘poo. It won’t be false to say that it shaped into a movement there on. The official no poo site says that we can achieve clean healthy hair, by ditching commercialized toxic shampoos with parabens, silicones, and other funny ingredients and rather consider washing hair with alternatives such as baking soda and apple cider vinegar or even just plain old water.
Being caught in the vicious cycle of shampoo we continue to rip off the natural oil barriers from the scalp and as a response, our body keeps fixing it by reproducing more oils. Over shampooing triggering more oil formation and hereby even more shampooing. Mind you again, even if your shampoo is free of some shit. It has just been replaced with another and has been hidden well within.
Take, for example, the sulfate in shampoos which is believed to be harsh on hair. It is a surfactant that does the cleaning and some times the damage. Yet the sulfate-free shampoos are NOT surfactant-free shampoos— they just replace the sulfates by a different type of surfactant. Easy Peasy?
*slow claps for we all fall for marketing gimmicks once in a while*
Very well, let’s not dig in there.
So for the background, I have black Indian wavy hair of medium length. Everything was okay along with occasionally triggered hair falls.
Then I stumbled across the no poo movement on quora one day. I started researching more and found an enormous number of bloggers claiming great results. As I always love to try out things that do more with less, I quickly decided to give it a shot. B’coz hey why not?
Hereby I cleared my washroom racks for all my basic shampoos and conditioners and pulled out some packets of baking soda and bottle of organic apple cider vinegar. But before starting off I also took a step forward by using a clarifying shampoo to remove any product buildup and oils to make my hair squeaky clean.
Init No Poo and Gym Sweat
First day of hairwashing with no poo. It felt like not knowing what I am doing and a little more time than usual. I took a small amount of BS mixed it with water to scrub my hair. I also used a diluted spray of ACV washed it off and followed up by air-drying my hair. As I don’t wash my hair every day anyway. I waited for a good 3 days before another hair wash and did a water wash in between.
By the end of week 1, my hairs were greasy as hell! With working out every day I was more prone to sweat and oil in my scalp. It was terrible. But I decided to stick to it. I used BS + ACV twice a week. A quick tip can be dabbing the oily sweaty scalp with little baby powder to make it a bit more manageable after the workouts. No poo or yes poo, it is my favorite hack before heading to my desk after the gym. But surely after drying the hair out. You can also use cleaning wipes to get rid of the sweat.
Similar Read: Have you tried the coffee scrub?
Week two was no great, as my hairs felt sticky and clumsy with tips dry as straw. It itched and was heading forth with dandruff. Water or BS was no way helping rub away oils and I had to use more than usual. Also, I had to reach for a wide-toothed comb to scrub the BS residues off the scalp, that’s another story. Quick tip two here can be to have a slimy feeling in your hair after applying BS. You can thereby know that the BS is breaking the oil deposits while you should care not to use a lot.
Week 3 somehow turned out better with better manageable hair. My hair didn’t smell foul though it was not a lot appealing as well. It was OK and not bad. I did oil my hair lightly before heading to head wash. I held my hopes high and went by. Quick tip three can be to keep your hair tied up in a pony or preferably a hair bun. Just to keep them away from dust, dirt, and pollution.
If I had to say about the hair fall, there wasn’t much to worry about and it was going down.
Week 4 was a bit more relief, can’t say if I got used to it or it was working for good. Hair lacked volume but the shine was there. Pretty much because my hair was not being wiped clean for oils. And that you can like or not based totally on your preference. But for me as far as I was going non-toxic on my hair and it was not looking crazy, it was just fine!
if (condition) break;
It is initially acceptable for your hair to be a walking mess as stated by the unofficial no poo experts and known as the transition period. After this, you can expect fewer efforts on the maintenance of your hair. Some even go on with just plain lukewarm water to continue with no poo and leave out BS gradually. While they still use diluted ACV as a conditioner. Another popular method is Co wash, long story short it advises using just the conditioner to wash your hair like a shampoo. And doesn’t make much sense to me as its conditioner over hair grease basically :/
Anyway, this process went on for about 2months and in between, I used a natural shampoo for once while attending a special occasion which is permissible in no poo. But later due to frequent travels, I halted my no poo train with a promise to restart again. I didn’t want to push it further with continuously changing water. This brings us to quick tip four, no poo success does depend on demographics as soft water works best for your hair.
Though that never happened, I had a really bad phase hair fall phase of my life afterward. Not sure what and why was that but I had a really bad hair fall phase for months. I lost long strands of hair falling out in big chunks and my ponytail went to less than half in thickness. It was like losing all the charm from my hair in a zap. I tried taking the best measures and oiled my hair regular but that train had already left. Once your hair has reached that exogen phase, you can’t really help the loss. The hair has to fall out.
And then it was time to…
Science the hell out of No Poo
Research states that scalp treatment formulae and ingredients must create a final pH no higher than 5.5 so as to not damage the scalp and make hair frizzy. Though studying a pH chart we clearly find the BS to be highly alkaline as of 9.5. Some might stress on dilution, but it’s noteworthy that dilution to a degree of over 10 cups of water results in about a 0.5-degree decrease in the pH which is far from reach of no pooers including me.
According to Futurederm :
Baking soda is a known irritant that will cause your hair to dry out and break over time.
BS and ACV combination is thought to work in co-ordination to balance pH levels in hairs as Apple cider vinegar has a pH of 3.0 – 4.0 if diluted. But unfortunately, force opening-up the hair cuticles, shooting up the pH using extremely alkali BS and then expecting ACV to neutralize that down. Makes your hair more prone to frizz, brittle and brassy.
Seeing through pink glasses of love, we might feel that our hair is feeling better. While the alkali solutions like BS can be damaging the disulfide bonds in our internal hair structure which is terrible in the long run. Hereby using BS on your head might be the worst idea. While ACV usage might occasionally add value. Over usage while going under the sun can make your hair brassy.
Some adverse effects of having a greasy head while on no poo:
- Crazy greasy dandruff head. Especially if you workout a lot, sweat with grease can be a deadly bed of dandruff.
- Tingly sensations in the head caused by sebum trapped in the hair follicles.
- A heavy head that hurts, with all the clogged pores and dust and debris caught in a mess. Severe headaches are on way.
- Chunkier hair that’s not easy to brush.
- And at worst, a halo of acne on the scalp might run along.
My word on No Poo
Well, go on board with No Poo only when you don’t have anything important coming up for at least a month or two. Or better take into account the side-effects of BS and don’t do it at all. Living in urban we mostly get hard water which makes no poo even messier. Some hair types might play it better or worse than the others. What can be done instead is, switching to a milder formula or shampoo with a natural base. Following a schedule to wash your hair and using shampoo not more than twice a week can also help hair regain its life. I failed my hair but you surely can save yours 😛