The shampoo secret

Next messageMy hair experiment: How to get stronger, healthier, thicker hair: breaking the shampoo cycle- no poo washing

I have not washed my hair since July 2015. Here’s why:
The truth about shampoo
Shampoo contains many chemicals: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Parabens, Polyethylene Glycol to name a few.

A few things that these chemicals do to your health:
–        easily penetrate the skin and can circulate in the body for up to five days, leaving residues in the heart, liver, lungs, and brain. 
–     they are carcinogenic and suspected of causing kidney damage

–        they cause reproductive damage and organ toxicity. Further, an assessment of the breast tissue of 40 women who had undergone mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer found one or more of the parabens in 99% of the samples, suggesting a link between these chemicals and breast cancer


What they do to the hair – drawbacks to have squeaky clean hair from shampoo:
– Shampoo strips your hair of the natural oils. These oils are called ‘sebum’ but over time this has become known as ‘grease’ which conveniently has gross, unhygienic connotations. After stripping these oils it leaves your hair nice and squeaky clean. Good right? Sort of. By stripping hair of the unwanted oils it is actually taking away the very thing that keeps our hair from being naturally strong and healthy. The consequences:
–        weaker hair

–        dryer hair with no oils to naturally condition, meaning we have to buy…………..conditioner! Another man-made entity with the aim of getting more and more money from us.

–        As a result of washing your hair with shampoo, your scalp goes into over-drive and actually produces MORE oils. Meaning…..that you have to use shampoo again and more often! Convenient!

So we are basically paying the hair care industry to strip us of our natural cleaning/ conditioning elements of our own hair, and then paying them to restore it again. This is not only an unnecessary expenditure  but the chemicals in shampoo and conditioner cannot do the job as well. They leave our hair weaker and reliant on more products. When I found this out it made total sense to me to stop using these products on my hair and so starting that day I decided to find out about this for myself and conduct an experiment. And I have been experimenting ever since..making a note of everything I do with my hair and tracking its progress (geek!)
The benefits of breaking the cycle:
–        healthier thicker stronger hair. People often report that they have the hair they have always wanted and grow their hair longer than ever before

–        save time/effort

–        save money

–        save the environment from the millions of shampoo/conditioner bottles produced each year

–        middle finger to consumerism

–        it’s fun- try the experiment …what’s the worst that can happen?

 So now we know the why..this is the how:
There are a number of ways to quit the shampoo cycle
1.                  Switching to a natural shop-bought sulfate-free shampoo

2.                  home-made shampoo/conditioner recipes using products already found in your kitchen (recipes below)

3.                  water-only (WO) washing (method below)


 shampoo bottle
Which one should I choose?
This depends on how often you wash your hair now and how patient you are. I used to have to wash my hair every 1-2 days and method 3 sounded practically impossible to me so I started with method 2 but now use a mixture of 2 and 3 because I have seen how easy it is! I will therefore be talking only about methods 2 and 3.
My aim:
1.                  To stop using traditional shampoo and ALL other shop-bought hair products (serum, dry shampoo, mousse etc) and to eventually use only (or predominantly) water-only washing.

2.                  To move from washing my hair every day or every other day, to ….well as long as I can really! (Because the good news about water-only washing is that it works to clear your hair of sebum but the bad news is that even water-washing is damaging to your hair if done too often, plus hair washing is so time consuming right?!)


Shampoo recipes:

Baking soda (This is the most traditional method)
1 part baking soda
3 parts water
(depending on hair length)
Mix and apply to wet hair for 1-3 mins
Rinse with warm water
Follow with a conditioner below
(Please don’t over do this recipe by using it every day otherwise it can cause your hair to dry-out. Using as instructed below should be fine.)
Image result for baking soda
Rye flour (This is my preferred recipe because it is less drying than baking soda)
2 tbs rye flour sifted
enough water to make a paste
Mix and apply to hair for 2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
Please note that it is difficult to remove ALL the rye flour with water so when your hair is dry ruffle and shake it until the remaining flour comes out.
Image result for rye flour
Dry shampoo
I use dry rye-flour for this or coco powder now my hair is darker and I find these work really well.
Conditioner recipes:
Apple cider vinegar
1 part apple cider vinegar
4 parts water
optional: a drop of essential oil (though please note that even without any essential oil- once washed out, this mixture does NOT make your hair smell!)
Mix and apply to hair, wash with cold water to seal in the moisture and for de-tangled shiny hair! If this recipe makes your hair a little greasy, try not applying to the roots next time!)
Image result for apple cider vinegar
Coconut oil
This works great as a leave-in conditioner. Apply to the ends only.
(In fact I use coconut oil for a range of things including skin moisturiser but please don’t purchase oil produced in Thailand because they use chained- monkeys to collect the coconuts- see here for my page about natural beauty products)
Image result for coconut oil
Scritch and preen BEFORE showering (see below). Then use fairly hot water as cold water won’t work. Whist showering massage your scalp which will help break down the oils You can also scritch and preen whilst in the shower too.
Image result for washing hair water
Methods to help distribute the oil from the root to tips of your hair:
Boar bristle brush
Purchase a medium-priced brush (vegan alternatives available!) and every night and before washing, section your hair into inch size pieces and pull the brush from the route to tip.
(wash your brush regularly with a sulfate-free shampoo to clean)
IMG_20160111_104630 (1)
Scritch and preen
Start by massaging your scalp. Then section off your hair as above, hold the section with one hand and with the other, hold the hair at the root with your index and middle finger and then pull down to the tip. Repeat a few times and do for your whole head.
So here’s how to begin your experiment:
1.                  (Optional) Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove the build-up of silicones from your current shampoo.. By the time I realised this was recommended it was too far into my experiment and so I decided to leave it. Would it have sped up my process? Perhaps but it is impossible to tell
2.                  Wait as long as you practically can and then wash hair with a home-made shampoo and conditioner (above). There are many more options other than these and I would recommend finding the best one for you before beginning the journey.

3.                  In between washes, try using home-made DRYshampoo (see above) or water-only to gauge the effectiveness at this point of water-only washing for you.4.                  Scritch and preen/ use a boar bristle brush as often as you can, I started with every night at first and now do 2-3 times a week as well as before I wash my hair.

5.                  Continue to wait as long as possible between shampoo/water-only washes. Track your progress. When you have breakthrough moments it is the best feeling and makes it all worthwhile. Experiment with techniques to keep your hair from looking too obviously oily and also try to embrace the fact that your hair is chemical free!


My log highlights so far:
June 2015
Friday 31st July (I never forget this date!) : the last time I used traditional shampoo/conditioner. I had come back from a festival and my hair was thick with 3 day’s worth of dry shampoo and lord knows what else.
3rd August: first attempt at home-made shampoo (rye flour)/ conditioner (apple cider vinegar). The flour mixture felt weird on my hair but I could feel it was working (I got that squeaky feeling). After washing it out I saw that it worked at least as well as my normal shampoo had done! (Why have I been buying shampoo all this time??????!!!)

 First attempt with rye flour (same results as my regular shampoo)

August: continued the above treatment, trying to stretch out the wash days as much as I could (4-6 days). Each time I washed with my home-made shampoo I received 95-100% of the same benefits of using my normal shampoo. Sometimes my hair became so greasy that I used water in between these washes and the water-only washing gave me 75-85% same as shampoo results. Or sometimes I used my own dry shampoo. I started to develop a waxy build up on my hair (possibly because I didn’t clarify it first or because I was in a hard water area, however this only lasted for the first month)
I am enjoying the experiment so much, it is time to try water only (WO) washing.
I have been pushing to 8-10 days using WO between washes using dry flour or pulling hair back to help.
Also by this point I have realised that squeaky-clean hair is in fact not the be all and end all of my life and I am embracing the good feeling that comes from feeling natural and chemical-free instead.
My hair has started to feel a lot softer, though the ends were still dry (because of the bleach).
October: I have decided that I cannot only use WO washing on its own as there is now a build up of oil. So I decided to try another rye flour wash.
 After a rye flour wash which has completely cleared the build-up
Breakthrough: Water-only washing is now doing 95-100% the job of normal shampoo!
November: Despite the above breakthrough, the ends of my hair are not mending and I need to do something about this. (Well I am planning to visit a Buddhist meditation centre…shall I just shave my hair completely off, start again (and consider becoming a monk?- this is a different blog) …..could look cool…it definitely suited Demi Moore and Natalie Portman… but …oh no…Britney Spears, time to rethink) After a quick phone call to my friend I realised that on the facts this was probably not my finest idea and so we compromised.
I did some research on no-poo washing for short hair or even for men but did not find anything that encouraged me that this would help the process. So I decided to try it for myself! ………
I still have a bit of colour on my ends but my hair feels sooo much better.
Current situation (January 2016):
I now WO wash every 5-9 days and use rye flour shampoo as and when (usually once every 2-3 weeks). Water is doing an amazing job by itself I am very pleasantly surprised!
Results now after washing hair with only water


Do you have curly hair? This is my friend Kim. She washes with bicarb/ acv once a month and in between uses only water
Eventually I would like to completely grow all the colour out of my hair (which will be the first time since I was about 14!) and try henna for conditioning and colour.
I love my hair short but one day I would like to finish the experiment and see how long/ thick I can grow my hair now that my care-routine is completely chemical-free.
** Update April 2016
Ok so I didn’t quite shave my hair but it is now the shortest it has ever been and is COMPLETELY chemical -free; no hair dye, and never touched by shampoo or conditioner.
May 2016 ** Update
I have decided to shave my hair finally!
It feels amazing and I would totally recommend it to any woman. Cutting my hair really short was a great challenge to re-discover my identity and femininity in other ways and this is taking that challenge another step.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Jacalyn says:

    Hi I’m Jacalyn from Malaysia vegan Meetup ☺ Do you remember i told you that i had issues with no-poo in the car ? Im going to give it another try!! Got so inspired by you and other vegans bloggers .


    1. lauragoss8 says:

      Hi Jacalyn, yes I remember! Yes try it again, it really is worth pursuing with. Keep me updated and let me know if you need and help/ support through it x x


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