Monday, June 27, 2011

Dirty Hippie... or Just Cheap?

This afternoon, I posted the following on my personal Facebook page:
"I stopped washing my hair one week ago.  Who wants to sit next to me?"
Now, considering the second sentence in that post, I of course was being a little silly, and most of my friends' snarky remarks appreciated that, like my friend Nick, who is as bald as a cue ball but who nonetheless congratulated me on doing what he did seven years ago.  But I really haven't washed my hair - with shampoo - since last Sunday.
Yes, I have said "poo-poo" to the 'poo.
That's not to say that I am not cleaning my hair.  I'm just not using commercial shampoo or conditioner.  Since I started using oil to clean my face (more on that in a bit), I've become more and more interested in minimizing my overall toilette.
Enter the "no 'poo" movement.  Just type that phrase into a search engine and see what you get.  The internet it full of people who have tossed their last bottle of shampoo into the recycle bin (or found another use for it) and found happier, healthier hair by using more natural treatments.
It's the same concept that I'm using on my face.  While it seems completely counter-intuitive, I've started using nothing but a combination of castor and olive oils to clean my face.  I can honestly say that my face has NEVER looked or felt cleaner.  I've always had oily skin - oily skin that resulted in greasy pockets next to my nose each morning that are so deep they rival the Exxon-Valdez spill in the 1980s.  So it was hard to decide to put MORE oil on my face.  But after only a few days of breakouts as my skin adjusted to this new routine, everything evened out, and I wake up with skin that isn't oily but not dry.

Now, let's compare a little bit the ingredients in the face/body cleanser that the dermatologist "prescribed" for me when I went in about my eczema to the ingredients in my new facial treatment.

purified water, glycerin, behentrimonium methosulfate and cetearyl alcohol, ceramide 3, ceramide 6-II, ceramide 1, hyaluronic acid, cholesterol, polyoxyl 40 stearate, glyceryl monostearate, stearyl alcohol, polysorbate 20, potassium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, sodium lauroyl lactylate, cetyl alcohol, disodium edta, phytosphingosine, methylparaben, propylparaben, carbomer, xanthan gum

A small assortment of what I used to use on my skin/face
Oil Cleansing Method
3 parts castor oil (cold press), 1 part olive oil (extra virgin) - oily skin formula

So, to recap, the dermatologist-prescribed cleanser has 22 ingredients, most of which I can't pronounce and have no idea what they are, while the oil cleansing method uses two ingredients that I can identify, pronounce, and control.
There are still some items to take into account.  Expeller-pressed castor oil is a little easier to find, but it's not recommended because hexanes are used in this process (certain hexanes can cause health concerns including nausea and headaches, but worse have also been recorded).  It's, of course, best to get organic olive oil to ensure that there are no pesticides or herbicides that make their way into the oil.
But when I think about it and look at it in this context, I honestly believe that this method is the best for me (you have to be the judge when it comes to the best decision for you).
One of my main reasons is that I'm basically applying Michael Pollan's rule for food regarding ingredient quantity ("Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.") to my skin (and hair - back to that in a sec).  I've worked on cutting ingredients in my purchased food down to few so that I can combine those items in my own dishes, and I've enjoyed cooking and eating (but still not the cleaning) of that food a great deal more.  So why not apply it, right?
In this vein, I've begun using coconut oil (and because coconut oil is comedogenic, olive oil for my face, when I'm not cleaning it with my solution) as a moisturizer.  It smells absolutely incredible, and it does the same (actually better) job than the CeraVe™ cream that the dermatologist also prescribed for me.
(Note - the coconut oil has NOT cured my eczema, but neither did the CeraVe™ or the steroid cream, which is why I stopped using them anyway.)
"But what about toner?"  I brew a small cup of organic loose-leaf green tea with mint and use that.  Again, it smells good, my face feels fresh, and I know what both ingredients are.

Left to right:
oil solution for my face, coconut oil (clear), olive oil,
"shampoo," "conditioner," and "toner" (in the green bottle)
Back to my hair.
If you've seen the infomercial for Wen® hair products, you have seen the argument that these products don't do what shampoo does - strip the hair of its natural oils only to require more "stuff" to be added (via conditioner and styling products).  I haven't purchased any Wen®, nor am I familiar with the ingredient list (it's online, but I've only perused it), but I'm not going to pay that much for a small bottle that will supposedly last me three months.
Enter my research on going "no 'poo."
Basically, the "no 'poo" method is similar to the oil cleansing method - fewer but more natural ingredients that are easy to put together to keep the hair (instead of the skin this time) more balanced.
For my shampoo, I simply combine 8 ounces of water (since we have hard water, I use the purified/filtered stuff) with one tablespoon of baking soda and pour that on my roots.  I massage that in and rinse.
The conditioner is a little more complicated, or at least I made it that way.  Many "no 'poo" websites out there will say that a water-apple cider vinegar combo works well.  I found this recipe from Mama Taney's Kitchen and love it.
No, my hair doesn't smell bad.  It also doesn't smell like apple cider vinegar or beer (I used a dark beer, since I'm a brunette... j/k!).  It smells like clean hair.
Right now, the oil is in a little bit of an overdrive mode, so I'm a little nervous about being seen in public, but I do see that proverbial light, and I'm persevering through the adjustment period, just like I did with my face.
On top of being more natural, these methods are waaaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper than conventional, commercial methods.  I can't even remember how much my gigantic bottle of Garnier® Fructis® fortifying shampoo cost at Costco, but my baking soda cost me 99¢, and our 5-gallon bottles of water cost $1.25.  So calculate that down, and you have pennies - even hay-pennies!  - per batch.  The castor oil was about $5.00 at Sprouts, but I only have used a few tablespoons of the large-ish bottle so far (I made a solution for one of my friends as well).  That $5.00 used to be one bottle of facial cleanser, and so far my six tablespoons of castor oil have lasted me longer than one bottle of commercial cleanser.
Is this method best for everyone?  Probably not.  But after doing the research, I determined that it is the best method for me and for my skin and hair.

1 comment:

  1. What a fab thing you're doing! I swear my hair is just fried from all of the product, blow drying, stripping, re-oiling and what have you I've done to my hair. This is definitely a worthwhile approach for me to consider. Thanks!! ~Megan