Monday, April 16, 2012

how to go no 'poo: day one

Okay, so after having read obsessively on the subject over the past week, I have decided to not only stop using shampoo, I am also going to stop using soap, face wash and body wash. Well, not stop using them, but I have found alternatives to soap for each. This is an experiment in progress, so my routine may change as my body reacts. First, I'll describe my routine today and then I'll explain why.

what you need (all these ingredients chosen based on cost and availability):
1 bottle of castile oil (I used dr. bronner's, it is really inexpensive, $10, for a giant bottle that should last for weeks)
Organic olive oil
Apple cider vinegar (I didn't use organic, but it would probably be better if you did)
some little plastic containers that would be good for applying soap/shampoo/body wash

My routine from the shower I just took:
In place of shampoo: about a teaspoon of castile soap, 8-10 drops of olive oil and water
in place of conditioner: a capful of apple cider vinegar mixed with about a cup of water
in place of face wash: 8 drops of castile soap mixed with 5-6 tablespoons of olive oil
after face wash, out of shower: apply a mixture of one capful of apple cider vinegar to one cup water and apply to face like a toner
in place of body wash: a capful of castile soap mixed with a cup of water

For the shampoo and conditioner, these two concoctions are merely aiding the transition to using no shampoo at all. The sebaceous glands on your scalp get dried out by the harsh detergents in shampoo and so in response they over produce sebum (scalp oil). After a certain amount of time (ranges anywhere from 4 days to 12 weeks), your glands get the picture and stop producing so much sebum. At that point, theoretically, you should just need to rinse your head and massage your scalp everytime you shower. We'll see if that ever happens. (some people I've read just continue using the ACV mixture twice a week or so).

In the meantime, since you don't want to look like a grease monster, you can use these little concoctions that have a fraction of the degreasing power of regular shampoo/conditioner. It had been a couple days since I showered last, and my hair was quite greasy going into the shower today, so we'll see how it looks when it dries.

As to WHY I decided on these concoctions, it is really just an experiment based on a bunch of different sources of evidence. Some people use a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water as their shampoo substitute, but I've also read that can dry out your hair a lot. I have read a lot about using oil as soap, since the idea is to clean out the dirt without stripping away too much of the oil. Castile soap, so much as I can surmise, is made entirely from oil products, some with stronger cleaning power than others. So, instead of the baking soda, I decided to use a little bit a castile soap, but I heard this can also dry out your hair. So I added some olive oil to the mixture along with water to thin it all out.

I have also read that your scalp and face both are naturally acidic. So, after both the face wash and the "shampoo," I use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to make these more acidic. On your head, this is supposed to work like conditioner, detangling and making your hair smooth. From my experience today, the "shampoo" mix did make my hair sort of tangly feeling. But the ACV "conditioner" did detangle and by the time I got out of the shower I was able to easily comb my hair and it felt smooth. My hair is in the process of drying now, and I have to admit it doesn't feel clean like it did before, but sort of sticky like it is greasy at the top, but it does feel a lot smoother all the day down to the tips. We'll see how it looks/feels once it is completely dry.

FYI: Most of these washes don't make any suds, and are quite liquefied, so you'll have to have a bottle that allows you to apply it all over your scalp and rub it into the roots.

For the face wash, I have been doing a lot of research into this. Like I said before, different oils have cleaning/absorbing dirt power. The most basic oil-based face "wash" I have heard of was a mixture of olive oil and castor oil, but I went to the health food store and saw that a little bottle of castor oil was $10, so I thought I'd try out alternatives first. I decided to go with a few drops of the castile soap (assuming it is a cleansing oil like castor) mixed with olive oil. I just rubbed this into my face and left it on for the duration of the shower and washed it off with water at the end. This wash can easily be used outside of the shower and would probably be easier to clean off with a dry wash rag, as we all know that oil and water don't mix. When I have washed my face out of the shower with this mix, I then followed up with a steaming hot wet wash cloth which I then placed on my face for a couple of seconds. I read somewhere that this helps to open up the pores, but I think it also feels really nice. Like I said before, I then follow up with an ACV toner to bring my skin back to a naturally acidic place.

I should mention that I have been having problems with mild acne for a couple of years now and am hoping that this new routine will help. I have read that, as with your scalp, your face gets dried out with regular soaps which you then try to make up for by using lotions, but both the dry skin and the lotions can cause acne. Leaving the natural oils on your face where they belong and only cleaning out accumulated dirt and makeup may be a good route to clearing up acne. I am also going to stop popping zits, which I know leads to more zits as the bacteria flies all over your face when you pop one. This will be hard, but so far this method of oil cleansing followed by a dry washcloth and then finishing with a hot and wet washcloth has seemed to naturally take the heads off of white head pimples, without any popping.

Finally, for body wash I just used some diluted castile soap. Today in the shower my body felt sort of sticky after using this mixture. Kind of like the water was just beading off of me. This has got to be a result of cleaning with oils -- your skin just retains its natural oils while the dirt is carried off with the soap. so, we'll see if I am actually clean (tested by my smelliness). This mixture does make suds, but it is very liquidy and hard to apply without some sort of sponge or loofah. I don't have one of these yet, but I think it would be good for exfoliating purposes, so I will be getting one soon.

We'll see where this experiment goes. Keep on reading.

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