Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Tree-Hugging Hippie in Me

Guys, you may not want to read this post.  This is a girl-thing. 

My inner tree-hugging granola-munching Birkenstock-wearing hippie is showing.  Don't get too close--it might be contagious.

Do you have any idea how many parts of my body now have coconut oil on them?  Holy crap, that stuff is just amazing.  I ask you--what can't it do?  Ok, well, it's not very good shampoo.  It can't do that.  Which brings me to my point...

Its been 9 weeks since a drop of commercial shampoo has touched my hair. 

Yes, I went no-poo.  I know, I know.  Ewwww.

But I can't say that I did it for the right reasons.  It certainly was not a case of no longer wanting that "cancer-causing chemical-laden crap" to come near me.  Ah, alas it was not.  But that would have been virtuous of me, would it not?!

How old are you?  Ok, you don't have to tell me.  We can pretend we're all just 27.  I remember 27.  I'd just had a baby.  My body was lumpy and frumpy.  I was prone to wearing overalls to hide myself in.  I cut off all my hair, making me no one at all.  People stopped looking at me and instead looked through me.  I blended in.  No one did any double-takes.  No one noticed me at all. 

Knock-knock.  Who's there?  Oh, is that you, vanity?

Yes, vanity calling.  It took very little time for me to realise that my hair was the best part of my appearance.  It was my crowning glory.   

I'm no longer 27 (and I did lose the baby weight).  If only I'd known what I had when I had it.  No, I'm 41 now.  And over the past decade and a bit, my hair has become thinner.  It has become more grey.  It has become delicate and frizzy and I have short, broken crazy hairs that confound me.  Around my temples, there used to be wisps.  Due to the sheer amount of greys coming in, I now have veritable bangs.  Seriously, I go to the hairdresser and they ask me if I want my bangs trimmed up.  Bangs?  I don't have bangs!  Those are broken, coarse hairs that refuse to grow anymore!  I just have so many that they look like bangs! 

Ageing hair just sucks.  You have no control over when your hair goes grey.  Its not the grey colour, either.  No, its the fact that those little grey hairs are wiry and kinked, they break easily and they're dull.  No dye will stick to them.  They stick up above your head like a crazy-hair halo.  When you pull your hair back into a ponytail, they stand straight out, making you look frazzled and unkempt.  They refuse to stay flat.  They defy gravity. 

It was the craptastic, dry, brittle state of my hair that drove me to try the no-poo method. 

Of course I went through the cycle of ever-more pricey shampoos first.  I tried them all.  I tried shampooing less; rinsing my hair daily and shampooing only about twice a week.  That worked great except on shampoo days.  The shampoo would strip everything out of my hair and it would be a big, fluffy, puffy halo that defied all straightening all over again. 

Desperation brought me to this.

We all try our versions of snake oil in an attempt to hold back the hands of time.  This is my snake oil.  They say that shampoo strips all the natural oil from your hair, and that is apparently a bad thing.  And the older you are, the less natural oils your body will produce.  We just turn into giant raisins as we get old, I guess.

Now, my hair is very fine.  It is not thin, per se, but the individual strands are very fine and therefore very prone to tangling, breaking, and swelling from humidity.  My hair is naturally straight--at least the top layer is--but the hair underneath and around my face is wavy.  Not a good wavy.  More of a frizzy every-hair-is-doing-its-own-thing kindof wavy.  It has never been, and never will be, the kind of hair that you can just air-dry.  But 3 minutes with a blow dryer is enough to remind the hairs which direction they should point in, at least, until I step outside into the humidity.

So the first no-poo method I tried came from Wellness Mama and contained coconut milk and vitamin E oil.  And it made my hair into a sticky mess.  It was simply way too heavy for my fine hair.  So I moved on over to the traditional baking-soda-and-water method. 

You only need one tablespoon of baking soda, dissolved in a cup of boiling water and let that cool.  I found that adding a half tablespoon of liquid castille soap helped make the concoction a bit easier to work with. 

Now, the no-poo advocates all suggest using apple-cider vinegar and water as a conditioning rinse after that.  Also just  a tablespoon dissolved in water.  Together, the baking soda made my hair  feel sooo dry, then the vinegar made it a sticky mess.  So I read somewhere that blondes do better using lemon juice and water or white vinegar.  I tried lemon juice, and still a sticky mess.  Apparently, you have to use something to acidify the hair after the baking soda since that leaves it alkaline.  I found that a bit of conditioner makes the hair workable again. 

This is my crazy ever-man-for-himself wet hair.

My hair went through about 3 weeks of icky, crunchy ugliness.  There was not a single day when I did not want to give up.  I read posts and blogs about how amazing the no-poo method is EVERY DAY.  They all kept saying to stick with it, it would get better.  God forbid anyone touch my hair--they would have cringed in horror with a big "Eww, gross, Cindi!!"

I really wanted to get off the conditioner. I tried using less and less vinegar/lemon juice, but every time the stuff hit my head, it turnd into a sticky mess.  Then I had an a-ha moment.  What if I tried MORE white vinegar? 

I found that my hair does best with white vinegar, mixed almost half and half with water. Just make sure you add it at the ends, then work your way up and in, not the other way around. There's a lot of rinsing involved. A LOT. Did I say a lot? 

And OMG, voila!  I could run my fingers through my hair as I rinced it. 

3 minutes with a blow dryer--take that crazy hair!!

My hair now feels like kitten fur, really. It is so soft and fine that the slightest breeze will move it out of place. I was actually hoping that by not stripping the oil out of it, the natural oil would kindof coat the hair strands, give them some weight, help coat them against the humidity. Has that happened? Nope. But my hair now dries at twice the speed it used to. Seriously, two minutes with a blow drier. Done.  The sticky, crunchy helmet-head stage is over.

Maybe some day I'll find a way to colour it, too, without crazy, harsh chemicals.  Of course I colour it.  I'm 41.  Today is not the day to fight that battle.  But some day I will.  Just not today.

Maybe next time I'll tell you all the things that I use coconut oil for, and what is in my homemade toothpaste.  Maybe.

My tree-hugging hippie is showing.
And it is crazy-soft and shiny.

Now, anyone want to teach me how to deal with weird wavy hair without blowdrying it?!


  1. So, so, SO glad you posted this today! I have just - yesterday - made the decision to eliminate chemicals from my person, so this is timely! And, I had never read the information specifically targeting blondes (me? I'm mouse-brown, but it may come in handy as I have the same fine-just-turning-into-gray-crazy hair).

    I hope you do post your coconut oil uses, as I am impressed with that stuff.

    Thanks, you!

  2. Thanks! I had held off posting this one, thinking I was going to put people "off". I will definately post something about all my crazy coconut oil uses soon!