No Poo or Low Poo for Fabulous Looking Hair (by Davina Shah)

Friday 5 December 2014

No Poo or Low Poo for Fabulous Looking Hair (by Davina Shah)

I am obsessed with one thing in life - HAIR! I want it thick, lustrous, dandruff and grease free.  So what’s a girl gotta do? Apparently, ditch commercial shampoos and go no poo or low poo (sham‘poo’).

Earlier this year I started my own experiment of trying to go longer between shampooing; you can read the blog post about it here.

All the while I have been unaware of the no poo craze taking the hair world by storm.

What is no poo?

Giving up commercial shampoos and using alternative natural methods that are considered to be healthier for hair and scalp.

What is low poo?

Using commercial products that contain low amounts of substances such as:

  • Sulphates
  • Silicones
  • Parabens
  • Saponification – Shampoo bars

Types of no poo methods

There are a few of them that I know:

  • Baking Soda followed by an Acid Wash of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Tea rinses – infusing herbs or essential oils in water
  • Wash Cloth or Brush Method – wetting hair and using cloth or brush to rub scalps own natural oils from root to tip
  • Water only
  • Sebum only 

You can also use things such as Egg, Flour, Honey, Lemon Juice, Beer, Clay, Argan Oil, Aloe Vera Gel, Distilled White Vinegar, Coconut Oil etc.

My experience

This week, I went four days without washing my hair (dry shampoo only plus backcombing) and I only used the Babyliss Root Booster on day one. Ha, take that stupid flat hair!  See how happy I look?

No poo low poo after a few days
Davina after four days without washing her hair

Thanks to this personal experiment I have unknowingly prepared myself for my no poo journey.  Most people go cold turkey and find the process a little harder. However, this doesn’t mean my journey will be without its own challenges!

There are vast amounts of information on the internet relating to no poo methods, low poo methods along with the science and reasoning behind it all.  Lucky for you guys, I have done most of the leg work for you.

If you start your no poo journey and need help along the way, join the No Poo and Low Poo Hair Care Facebook Group which currently has 13,605 members!  Many people share their experiences and are happy to offer help and advice.  Please note, this is an open group.  They use abbreviations, so familiarise yourself with files and pinned posts.

What are the benefits of low poo or no poo?

  • Fabulous hair: thicker, shinier, bouncy curls, waves and healthy scalp
  • Environmental: less plastic waste and chemicals going down drains
  • Economical: not spending money on expensive shampoos, conditioners & styling products

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all method that will suit everyone.  We are all unique and you will have to find a method that suits you personally.

Things to consider before starting out

Before starting your no poo journey and choosing a treatment method you have to consider the following:

  • Quality of water: hard or soft.  Epsom salts soften hard water.
  • Hair type: straight, curly or wavy.  Some methods can make hair flat or frizzy.
  • Scalp type: dry, normal or greasy.  You may suddenly develop an itchy scalp and will have to adjust or change your treatment.
  • Hair colour: dark or light. Some methods can lighten or darken blonde hair.

The Science behind no poo hair care method

Sebum is the natural oil produced by the sebaceous glands on your skin and scalp.  It prevents too much water getting into your skin and too much getting out.  The important thing to remember is that it also prevents the skin and scalp from bacterial and fungal infections.

So earlier in the year when I washed my hair daily, I was stripping the scalp of sebum, forcing the sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum to counteract the drying out effect of commercial shampoos.  Washing hair to counteract the grease became a vicious cycle.

When you break that cycle, the scalp starts to rebalance itself and boom… you are no longer worrying about flat greasy hair at the end of each day!

The skin and scalp needs to be slightly acidic to prevent fungal infections. This is why an Acid Wash such as Apple Cider Vinegar is used after the application of Baking Soda. It restores the PH Balance of the scalp. Baking soda can only be used once every four days to avoid damaging your hair.

Before you try a no poo or low poo method for the first time, wash your hair one last time with a clarifying shampoo.  This will help by removing built up chemicals and can make the process that little bit easier.  When you feel your hair is ready for a wash, you can then embark on your no poo/low poo chosen method.

Step-by-step No Poo Method using Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar Wash (Solution in bottle)

No Poo Method using Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar Wash
Baking soda
  1. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 cup of water. If you live in a hard water area, you should use distilled water. Ensure the mixture has dissolved and feels slippery. Add another tablespoon to achieve slippery consistency.
  2. Place mixture into a bottle with a pointed tip.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to 1 cup of water. Pour into spray bottle and shake to mix. WASH.
  4. Wet your hair whilst in the shower. Take your Baking Soda mixture and apply to roots and scalp only using the pointed tip of bottle. Use circular motions with your fingertips onto scalp. Use baking soda once every four days only to avoid damaging your hair.
  5. Leave solution for a little while in until it feels slippery. Use this time to wash your body.  Rinse well.
  6. CONDITION Take your spray bottle containing Apple Cider Vinegar and Water mixture and spray well on to the length and ends of your hair as well as your scalp.  Leave for a minute or so and rinse well. *YOUR HAIR WILL NOT SMELL OF VINEGAR ONCE IT DRIES*

Step-by-step No Poo Method using Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar Wash (Baking Soda Paste)

  • Place Baking Soda in an air tight container and keep it in your shower.
  • Wet hair well.
  • Take one tablespoon of Baking Soda and put into a wet hand. It will start to dissolve and have a paste-like consistency. WASH. Use baking soda only once every four days to avoid damaging your hair.
  • Pick up small amounts of the paste and apply with fingertips to roots and scalp. Massage the scalp and once again DO NOT apply to the length of the hair.  Continue over whole head and use more Baking Soda if necessary.
  • Leave the Baking Soda on your hair whilst you wash your body. Roots should feel slippery and Baking Soda should have dissolved.
  • Rinse well.
  • CONDITION. Take your spray bottle containing Apple Cider Vinegar and Water mixture and spray well on to the length and ends of your hair as well as your scalp.  Leave for a minute or so and rinse well.

How to Cope with Dry/Waxy Feeling Hair?

  • Use a non-oil Deep Conditioner such as fresh aloe vera and honey.
  • Add a small amount of coconut or jojoba oil to your hair after washing and drying.  Rub a tiny amount into palms and pass lightly through your hair – avoiding the roots. *Coconut oil penetrates deep into the hair shaft, whereas Jojoba acts like natural sebum and it is great for hair and skin.*
  • Allow your hair to dry naturally.
  • Keep your hair up during the transition, use hair accessories or scarves and hats.
  • Try brushing your hair with a 100% Boar Bristle Brush.  It distributes sebum from the roots of your hair right through to the tip.
  • Use the solution method not the paste and increase the baking soda by 1/2 (or until the solution reaches the desired slippery consistency).

I have been three days no poo but had to reach for a can of dry shampoo today.  You can use alternatives such as cocoa powder, corn starch and root powder which apparently work just as well!
My scalp felt a little itchy at first but it seems to have calmed itself down.  I will try the solution next time once I get my pointy tip plastic bottles.

Not quite ready to go no poo?  Check out these commercial low poo online stores:

Also, check out Davina’s latest interview article with legendry Indian actress Shabana Azmi.  Out now in DIVA Magazine (DEC 2014). You can find it here.

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