Julianna Yu's Blog

No ‘Poo: My Transition Phase & Method

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This is the second post in my No ‘Poo series. If you didn’t read that one yet, check out my No ‘Poo post here. If you’re still following this blog after reading that last post, well I’m glad we’re friends still and you aren’t completely put off by the idea. Thanks for keeping an open mind.

I’m at a cafe right now listening to The End is Near by Band of Heroes. I Shazam’d that. I definitely don’t use Shazam enough but I love that this app exists. I’m always tempted to use it at cafes but it’s difficult when it’s too loud inside. Luckily, it’s quiet here so it picked it up. I can barely make out the lyrics but the tune is familiar… Oh yes, The O.C. lol Yeah, I use to watch that and as much as I’m embarassed to admit that, one of the reasons I liked that show was the music.

I just reread my journal entries of my No ‘Poo Experiment from the first two months. I journaled weekly. WEEKLY!? Revisiting the entries reminds me of how far I’ve come and boy how frustrating the transition felt. I’m not going to lie, I had moments where I felt like I was going crazy. I still look back and think, really? I did that and for the most part I only consulted blogs? That’s some serious commitment to giving this a shot. I didn’t want anyone to convince me to give up on this, so that’s probably why I didn’t tell very many people to begin with. It’s too easy to give up when things get tough.

A couple of friends became involved when I ran up to them in my very honest moments saying things like: “Do I look gross? Greasy right?? *nervous chuckle* Be honest.” and happier moments like “Smell me. You’ll never guess what I used.” It’s obvious I trust these two. And I’m lucky to know them in real life. Cherry and Shaza are bloggers too. Definitely check them out.

Before I explain my transition, I thought I’d list out the reasons behind why I decided to embark on this No ‘Poo experiment.

My Reasons for Going No ‘Poo

  1. Better for scalp and hair. Shampoo is a detergent. It strips your hair of sebum (the oil your scalp naturally produces). The more you wash, the more often you need to wash. It’s a bad cycle.
  2. Less chemicals: The chemicals used in traditional shampoo can easily get absorbed into your scalp. Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Sulfates (SLS and SLES) creates a lather that we associate with “cleaning”. The mineral oil in shampoo coats your hair giving it that oh so lovely but artificial shine that we associate with healthy hair BUT this chemical doesn’t easily absorb into your skin, so you’re left with grease that you need to wash out with more shampoo. GROSS. Learned this tip from SimpleMom.
  3. Less waste: when you reuse bottles and refill them, you are cutting back on waste. Hurray!
  4. Another way to use household ingredients that serve other purposes (multi-use products): essential oils, aloe vera gel, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and water
  5. Save money. :)
  6. Feels good to have a DIY beauty product that’s easy to make and travel with.
  7. Hair looks better and styles better. Yes, even curly and wavy haired ladies. Like Faye here.

Most posts I’ve read will share that the transition phase can vary from a few weeks to a few months. Everyone will be different because our hair is different, our old washing routine and how many products we use can effect how long it takes. I decided to only share the first month of my transition. You’ll see that a lot of tweaking happend but that over time I got a handle on things. I would say that it took me a good 2-3 months of tweaking which was due to many factors: washing too much, humid and hot weather, getting better about brushing and washing brushes and scrubbing/rinsing well.

In most no ‘poo posts, you’ll find people usually have a rinse with baking soda (or make a paste with baking soda and water) followed by a rinse with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. The baking soda opens up the hair cuticle and the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar closes it up. This restores the PH of the hair and leaves it soft, shiny and smooth.

My No Poo Ingredients.

My Transition Phase.

Week 1 : Excited for something new, prepared for change in textures, change in routine and no lather.

Recipe

  • Clarifying Rinse: 1 tbsp of baking soda (BS) and 1 cup of water
  • Conditioning Rinse: 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and 1 cup of water

Method

  • Starting focusing on scrubbing scalp with finger tips and water. Then pouring the entire clarifying rinse scrubbing some more and rinsing the solution out.
  • Finished with pouring the conditioning rinse all over my head. Scrubbing all over and rinsing it out.
  • During washing hair felt greasy/heavy and after blow drying, I noticed a bit of dandruff
  • Crown was bit heavy/greasy but always looked better next morning
  • I wasn’t waiting too long between washes – generally about two days.

I’m going to be completely honest. My first couple of washes were not as bad as I thought it would be. haha My hair felt greasy/heavier around the scalp and my hair felt a bit dryer than usual after the conditioning rinse but once I blew dry it looked normal.

Week 2 : Oily & Greasy Mess//Lesson Learned – Don’t add oils during your transition phase unless you’re hair is really dry. If it is dry, try tweaking the BS amount first. And when you do decide to use jojoba oil, add a little bit and only on the ends of your hair not near the scalp.

Recipe

  • Clarifying Rinse: 2 tbsp of baking soda (BS) and 1 cup of water
  • Changed the clarifying rinse to 2 tbsp of BS and 1 cup of water. My hair would still feel heavy/waxy after washing but after blow drying it looked normal.
  • Conditioning Rinse: 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and 1 cup of water

Method

  • Used hot tap water for Baking Soda rinse and for washing out that rinse.
  • Used cold water for the conditioning ACV rinse only on the ends of my hair.
  • I read somewhere about using hot water for the BS rinse and cold water for the ACV rinse.

In retrospect, because my first couple of washes went well, it kind of fooled me and made me think that my transition wouldn’t be so bad after all. Wrong. My third wash made me crazy. I was excited about experimenting and wanted to try to incorporate some jojoba oil (I already had on hand) after the BS rinse but before the conditioning rinse. I added a few drops of jojoba oil into my palm (I meant to only add one drop but a couple of extra came out). It is an incredibly moisturizing oil that I find is heavier than almond and grape seed on my face. Oh dear.. I knew this wasn’t going to be good. I rubbed the oil between my hands and massaged it into my hair. Big mistake. As I’ve already mentioned my hair was already oily from my old washing routine. I finished with the conditioning ACV rinse and my head was left feeling heavy, waxy, and sort of greasy looking. This is going to be bad.

I blew dry my hair like normal hoping that after it dried it would look better. Nope. OK, so I have a bad hair day. Things could be worse. Side note: I say that a lot don’t I? haha Life has taught me that things can get worse and to make the most of it when things are going well.

I pushed forward and went to work. I needed to tell someone about my No Poo experiment (did I look as bad as I thought?) and so I told my co-worker & friend about my experiment. I went up to Cherry and told her I wanted to tell her a secret and I wanted her to tell me if I looked as gross as I thought I did. She said I did look greasy yes. hahah We both had a good laugh and I went about my day. I was so relieved when she didn’t make a face and called me gross. Cherry smiled and said that it was something she wanted to try too.

I knew I should hold back on washing for at least a few days but I couldn’t. I needed to remedy the situation asap. So, I told my bestest bud at work Shaza and she said that when people do an oil treatment on their hair with coconut oil and olive oil and find it’s still greasy after washing, they just wash more to get it out. Hmm… my dilemma was that I wasn’t using shampoo so it wasn’t going to be as easy as that. This is where I needed to tweak my ratio. It had to be more baking soda because my hair was oilier than ever. In my recipe above, I doubled the BS amount that night.

Week 3 : VERY Itchy scalp, dandruff and greasy around crown and dry straw-like hair. Not a pretty picture. Lesson Learned: Rinse out the BS very well and use a Boar brush.

Recipe

  • Clarifying Rinse: 1 tbsp of baking soda (BS) and 1 cup of water.
  • Changed Clarifying BS Rinse back to 1 tbsp of BS and 1 cup of hot tap water.
  • Made an additional moisturizing BS rinse with oil: Used 2 cups of warm tap water and mixed with 2 tbsp of baking soda and 1 drop of jojoba oil (I read somewhere that essential oils should be diluted in oil) and 1 drop of lavender essential oil (to help with the itchiness) to fill my new squeeze bottle
  • Conditioning Rinse: 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and 1 cup of water

Method

  • Used cold water for the conditioning ACV rinse only on the ends of my hair.
  • Bought a boar brush to bring sebum (scalp oil) from root to tips of hair. Started brushing daily
  • Before heading into shower for a wash, brushed with boar brush, then use a fine tooth comb
  • Scrubbed scalp throughly focusing on greasy crown areas in the hot water in the shower
  • Poured the cup of baking soda rinse (the warm water with 1 tbl of BS) all over and scrubbed again thoroughly focusing on all the problem greasy areas.
  • Waited for a minute. Then rinsed and scrubbed scalp again
  • Then used squeeze bottle to just squeeze a little bit of the moisturizing baking soda rinse (only used about ¼ cup)
  • Scrubbed scalp again really well then rinsed
  • Used ACV rinse on my ends and rinsed again
  • Towel dried (I read somewhere that this could help with the greasiness)
  • Then just use my fingers to arrange my hair (heard not to comb hair when wet)

Week 3 was probably the most challenging week. The itchiness made me feel like scratching my head like crazy. When, I got home and brushed, there was a bit of dandruff and baking soda residue on my boar brush. I felt this could be the source of my itchy scalp – leftover baking soda that wasn’t rinsed out. I spent a lot of time researching how to deal with dry hair and a greasy scalp and devised the above method. I read somewhere that essential oils needed to be mixed with a carrier oil so that’s why I incorporated the jojoba oil.

Week 3 & Week 4 : Other Good Habits I Incorporated

  • Washed my brushes and combs weekly with hot tap water and bit of dr. bonner’s liquid soap.
  • I cut back on washing to just twice a week. I decided I needed to in order for my scalp to regulate the oil production and not to further aggravate my hair (stop the itching!) by using BS so often.
  • I did a water only rinse (comb out my hair, wet my head with hot water, scrubbed my scalp, rinsed with hot water, then followed by cold water) between my hair washes
  • Used dry shampoo on days when hair around my scalp looked greasy. I will do a separate post on my dry shampoo recipe.
  • As a result of the changes scalp no longer itches

Present Day : After about 6.5 months of no ‘poo and going strong.

Recipe

  • Clarifying Rinse: 1tbsp BS and 1 cup of hot tap water. Use entire solution every time.
  • Conditioning lemon rinse: 1tbsp of lemon with 1 cup of cold water with 1 drop of lavender and/or peppermint essential oil. Refridgerate after use. I just use a bit on my scalp and a lot on my ends after I use the shampoo rinse. In June (a month after I started No Poo) I started using lemon juice in place of ACV and at the end of the month I started to add lavendar essential oil. I didn’t add a carrier oil in my conditioning rinse because I noticed other similar recipes on the webs didn’t use a carrier oil and I was afraid at that point to over condition my hair with oil.

Method

  • Comb before washing hair.
  • Massage head while wetting it in hot water.
  • Use shampoo rinse to cover head and massage/scrub scalp well, focusing on crown.
  • Let it sit in head for 1 minute.
  • Rinse well with hot water.
  • Use conditioning rinse all over scalp (just a bit) then concentrate on ends.
  • Let it sit in head for 1 minute.
  • Rinse well in cold water.
  • Towel dry well.
  • Blow dry if no time to naturally dry.
  • Don’t brush out hair when wet.

Also Essential to My Hair Care Routine

  • Brush out hair daily – start with tips and move up (Joyous Health hair brushing tip). I usually brush in layers separating my hair in 4 from bottom to the top. I’ve gotten compliments. :)
  • Wash brushes/combs weekly.
  • Occasionally use dry shampoo if I am in need of a touch up but it’s too soon to wash. Usually this might happen the day I’m going to wash my hair. The hair around the scalp will look shinier/greasier looking. Especially the more frequently I wash it.

My current method works well. I will continue to experiment though and just recently started using ACV again. Here are some pictures of me during my 2.5 month mark.

Feeling a little silly taking pictures of my hair outside while people are having lunch. Whatevs! Great sunny weather that day in July to be doing it.

Side shot.

Back shot.

Backshot with the crown of my head.

Hair washing day in New York. You can see the bangs are a bit greasy. Obviously a before hair washing pic. haha

Even though I only shared about my first month of my transition, I would say it took about 2-2.5 months for my hair to adjust

Look out for my next post on factors to consider and ways to tweak your method to fix your hair/scalp issues and the no poo blog resources I used.

Now, what about you? Have you tried no ‘poo? If not, what are your thoughts? If so, what was your experience like? And are you still going no ‘poo? Please share! Let’s get a discussion going.

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Author: juliannayu

I love food, people and cats. I love reading about people's kitchen adventures, taking pictures of it, and sharing it with good company. I enjoy strolling, playing with cats on the street, chewing my food slowly, playing in the kitchen, curling up to a mug of hot tea and laughing with friends. This blog will include things I've done, eaten, seen, my interests, and anything else I can dream up. My hope is that you will find something you can perhaps relate to or enjoy during your visit here. Welcome to my world.

11 thoughts on “No ‘Poo: My Transition Phase & Method

  1. Really great article. I love how you specify exactly what changes you made to your routine and why. I started no ‘poo a week ago and my hair is just now in the OMG GREASE! Phase so I have been reason every no ‘poo article I can find and your is the best one. I hope it doesn’t take 2 months for my hair to transition!

    • Hey Honeybee! Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you appreciated my post. If someone had told me it would take three months to adjust I might not have given this a go. So ride out the greasiness as these days will be behind you before you know it. 😊

  2. I’m on day 7 of no poo and my hair is waxy and greasy at the top, crunchy and dry at the bottom. I’m just gonna keep riding it out and hope it gets better. I have until August before I have to move and if my hair still sucks by then, I’m going back to shampoo.

    • Hi Darian!
      That sounds like a plan. No poo isn’t for everyone but good for you for giving it a try. It does seem to take some tinkering. Keep experimenting while you’re at it. :)

  3. Hi I’ve started doing this I think 2 weeks ago. And omg. My hair feels like I used a ton of wax on my hair. :)) but ill try to rinse out the baking soda really well. And ill start to use hard water! :)) I also really have to brush my hair before I shower. :)))

  4. I’ve been on no poo for about 2.5 months now. It was initially really good, I had to wash my hair only every 4 days, but for the last 3-4 weeks my hair has been getting oily on the second day and I can’t figure out why. Any suggestions? I haven’t changed my routine, so I am not sure why the method doesn’t seem to be effective any more :(

    • Hey Magda!
      That’s frustrating. I’m sorry to hear. The only thing I can think of is using dry shampoo to soak up the oil on the second day. Also, to make sure you are brushing your hair with boar hair bristle brush.
      Good luck!

  5. Pingback: I sort of stopped washing my hair | andcuriously.net

  6. Just day 4 and I’m about to break!! Thanx to you I won’t! First days I thought I was the lucky one without the transitioning period but day 3 was nightmare!! Hope to get though this quickly!! Nice & helpful post :-)

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