The tale of quitting shampoo

My thick wavy hair that has been very dry ever since. I always wanted to quit shampoo as I heard many wavy/curly girls don’t use it. However, I was never really ready for yet another unattractive hair experiment. With plenty of those behind me, I did not want to poke the beast.

But what attracted me to zero waste lifestyle was to quit supporting the billion dollar hair care industry. Shampoos contain harsh surfactants that pollute the water and dry the hair/scalp too much. On one hand, that leads to either having dry hair, needing conditioner and other products (and in turn, you need shampoo to wash it off). On the other hand, your scalp starts producing too much oil, leading to washing your hair too often. Since I was already unsatisfied with the results of many, if not all, different hair products throughout my life, I was ready to once and for all (in the name of zero-waste) figure out what my hair actually needs.

Turns out that what my hair actually needs is water. This simple conclusion, however, did not come easy. I have tried many alternatives over the course of half a year:

  • Lemon juice and cucumber shampoo. My boyfriend courageously used it without even asking what’s in it! He went to a job interview with pieces of lemon in his hair and the mixture went bad after a couple of days.
  • Different coconut milk shampoos. Coconut milk is way too heavy for my hair. I think it works well as a mask but it is hard to get out of the hair with sulphate based shampoo.
  • The famous baking soda and apple cider vinegar combination, which is a horrible idea and no one should use it. I felt that baking soda is burning my hair and after ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse my scalp was itching like crazy. I think everyone figured out that baking soda is destroying their hair by now.
  • Avocado shampoo, which worked more as a mask for me (which makes complete sense, what was I thinking).
  • Co-washing (conditioner-only washing), which is popular with curly hair people and would eliminate at least one product. I started with a store-bought conditioner to see what happens. It didn’t work on my hair, though, I later realised that it’s because of my low porosity.
  • Soap bar, which I loved. I used Castile olive oil soap at first, but after some time it made my hair a bit dry and I worried about alkaline pH of soap. I bought a pH balanced “cleaning piece” (they cannot call it soap because soap is alkaline by definition). My hair really liked it but I wasn’t crazy about the ingredients, so I bought Aleppo olive oil soap and used it only once per week, other days I used water only (I was washing my hair three times per week altogether).

I was waiting for my hair to go through some crazy transition, but nothing much happened. I have noticed improvement, but I still considered it too dry and was fixing the situation with different oils. After awhile it made no sense to use the soap bar anymore, as not much has happened, so I quit that too and used only water for a month. My hair did not turn oily per se, it was still dry but started to feel coated. No surprise there, as I don’t have the water filter (hard water) and I am using oils from time to time.

Trying to figure out why my hair is still so dry, I stumbled upon hair porosity. It’s the ability of hair cuticles to retain water. I did a porosity test at home and realised that my hair porosity is low, which explains why most hair products just sit on it. It actually needs as little products as possible for the water to be able to reach the hair. Looking back to all the experimentation, that makes complete sense.

I am currently washing my hair with very diluted apple cider vinegar. Most people use it instead of conditioner, but it works as a shampoo for me. My hair doesn’t have build-up anymore and it is much more hydrated. I worry about its acidic nature and wonder how long it will last. At a certain point, I would like to use only water to wash my hair.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. You’ve tried some shampoo alternatives that I haven’t heard of before. Hair porosity is also a new term to me. Thanks for sharing on the Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop.

    1. Sara Mu says:

      Hi Katy! thank you so much for stopping by 🙂

  2. I would normally reach for the dry shampoo at that point, but I felt like using a product would be cheating.

    1. Sara @ untrashified says:

      Yeah, I can imagine 😀 I have a feeling I wouldn’t like dry shampoo although I have never tried it… I think there is also some DIY recipe using cornstarch, maybe that messes up the hair less than the commercial product. Thanks for stopping by!

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