303. Why No ‘Poo Didn’t Work for Me

My Attempt at No 'Poo | Ann Ning Learning How

“No ‘Poo” refers to the “No Shampoo” hair washing method. You use baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV) instead, or only conditioner, or just water. My hair wasn’t washed for a month+ when I got sick. Thankfully I lacked the sensory awareness to know this frightful fact. My mother, however, watched my face as time wore on and said to herself, “That girl will NOT be pleased when she wakes up and sees the state of her eyebrows.” (Side note: I wasn’t. My issues make getting them tended to difficult, so F, maybe you could bring a pair of tweezers and help a sister out on Sun? Xxoo) This would have been the perfect time for me to try the No ‘Poo method since my hair “transitioned” while I was asleep, but it took another 6 months for me to learn to wash my own hair again and another couple of years for me to actually try baking soda and ACV.

So why go No ‘Poo?

  • Many people report their hair is AMAZING after saying goodbye to shampoo. It feels better and moves better, and the quality of hair health declines noticeably if (gasp!) you try conventional shampoo again.
  • It’s cheap – you don’t have to buy extra products at the store.
  • You wash your hair less often. If you try to go No ‘Poo, there is often a transition phase that reportedly lasts anywhere from a week to months. During Transition your hair is recovering from being constantly stripped by the sulfates etc. in normal shampoo, and your hair is learning to regulate the amount of oil it produces. You’re supposed to go as long as possible between washes (this was an idea I struggled with), so that when you’re fully transitioned your hair only wants to be washed every few days. I’ve read about people going for weeks, too. (No, thanks. I’d want to wash it anyway.)

I wanted this to work. I really did. But I’m dealing with a special set of circumstances here (motor skill deficit and a piece of missing skull) and Mommy made me start using regular shampoo again. But if you’re able bodied and interested in this method I’d recommend it. This is what I did:

  • July: Found out I was allergic to MCI, a chemical commonly used in soaps/shampoos. Discarded everything, started using an MCI and sulfate-free shampoo. Suffered with tacky-feeling hair for a month, although it didn’t look bad, it just felt bad. I’m not allergic to sulfates, but I figured I might as well not put that sort of thing on my head, plus I heard that sometimes sulfates can aggravate eczema so I tried sulfate-free shampoo since I was very itchy at the time. Note re. How to Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo: Sulftate-free shampoos do not lather. You need to shampoo twice. Just use a little the first time, scrub your scalp gently, rinse lazily, and then give it a good rub the second time around, during which you’ll get a little lather. I found this method during my desperate online research phase, and it helped, but I was never fully satisfied with my sulfate-free shampoo experience, even when I tried it again after my transition.
  • September: Started using baking soda/ACV with fabulous results until I realized that the lack of lather and my left-handed motor skill deficit prevented me from getting the left side of my head sufficiently clean. I tried being really careful and using my right hand to reach my left side but it was still hit or miss. I needed a stronger solution than most, so I used 3 Tb soda: 1 c water + a splash of tea tree oil for washing, and then a 1 Tb ACV: 1 c water conditioning rinse.
  • October-Nov: Decided that I need lather so I started using a pure castile liquid soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s). I diluted it so it was about ¼ c soap and ¾ water. The lather was fantastic and I loved that I could use one bottle for hair, face, and body. I did, however, stop using the peppermint flavor on my face. It was too “exciting” for my skin. After my soapy wash I’d use an ACV rinse.I’ve read things about how baking soda and castile soap are too harsh for your hair etc. but the alternatives, e.g. raw honey, coconut milk, weren’t options for me since I can’t be mixing and carrying things, and I don’t fancy the idea of using sweet food products in my shower.I started feeling flaky (blech – I was a serious devotee of Head and Shoulders in my old life, before I was allergic to it), but had good success with a tea-tree oil pre-treatment. About 30 minutes before I showered I’d combine a squirt of argan oil and a splash of tea tree oil and rub it all into my scalp. Daddy doesn’t like tea tree oil since it smells like kerosene to him and he’s afraid my head’s going to combust.
45.  Editing Reality

45. Editing Reality

When my castile soap routine was working well I got multiple compliments on my hair (people didn’t know I was doing anything different), and I was happy with the simplicity and results. After a month or two, though, my scalp got dry and itchy. Then CMD found a clump of dead skin cells near my scar. (Sorry, I know that’s gross.) So then I knew that I was unconsciously avoiding that part of my head even though I was trying really hard to remember to clean it. It still freaks me out – but it’s just like a baby’s soft spot. I just never touched it before I tried No ‘Poo. FYI they removed the piece of skull in case they had to go back in for more surgery, but they didn’t – Dr. Dogan got it all the first time – and then they didn’t need to put that piece back since the muscles are really strong and had already closed up. I didn’t need a plate or anything.

One night I started scratching that part of my head bc it felt like it was on fire, and I broke the skin. When I noticed blood on my fingertips I casually excused myself from my seat next to Tanpo (I was talking to him while he sat at the computer), and found Mommy in the kitchen. I asked her not to tell Tanpo (I guessed that he would have immediately shuttled me to the ER) and then she told me that she was displeased at the thought of blood coming out of my head, especially from that spot. So that’s when she told me to start using regular shampoo again. I got some with J a couple of weeks ago and my head feels good. I wish my foray into the No ‘Poo world had been more successful, but if you’re considering it, know that my experience is not representative and go for it.

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