ShamPHree: Why I decided to stop shampooing my hair

Guest post by Roxie Hunt
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When I was a kid, I had a DIY hair-ruining experience that traumatized me. My hair melted off and it was my own fault for not reading the warning on the perm bottle. Over processing happens to many of us at some point. But it left me feeling very self-conscious about the way I looked. At the age of nine, I had officially became the perfect target market for Big Beauty ad campaigns.

For the same reason that a junkie might turn to religion, I turned to the enticing promises of beauty products to fix my down-and-out hair. I entered the Big Beauty marketplace as an up-and-coming insecure teenager with bad skin and hair and a will to be beautiful. It took me 20 years to look back and understand the origin of my unwavering belief in the words printed on plastic bottles.

As a hairdresser, I had been hearing about the no-poo method for years. No-poo-ing means using Baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar or lemon juice to cleanse and condition the hair. My first thought was 1. Gross for not shampooing your hair, and 2. Double gross for using the word “poo” associated with hair.

First thing I did was rename “NO POO” to “the ShamPHree method.” It sounded prettier and made it easier to talk about.

But there was something about it that I found intriguing. Everyone I encountered who used this method generally liked their hair, while I complained and bitched about my hair, desperate for that hair product system that would magically turn me into a Pantene model.

My hair has gone through many changes: cuts, colors, styles, bangs, not to mention texture changes due to hormones. After I had my first child, my curly thick dry hair straightened out, thinned out, and got oily. Nature’s way of being an asshole while I nursed my colicky baby. Nice.

Still I remained, notoriously a hair product whore. I was controlled by my restless and constantly unsatisfied hair. I would find a product or product line that I liked, use it until it ceased to please me, and then move on to another. A new one would work for a while but at some point my hair would inevitably stop liking it, meaning it was time for a switch. I would be happy with my hair for a couple weeks, and then all of a sudden it would be lank, lifeless, and oily all over again. Over my now nearly 30 years, I have spent more money than I would like to admit on hair products.

One day, while watching Mad Men, I had one of those “DUH” moments when I realized that a good ad makes you think that you need something. A necessity. Without even wanting it, it becomes absolutely necessary to have it. I had been naive enough to let myself get tricked into thinking that I needed to empty my pockets to buy my own beauty.

This “duh” moment was the origin of my no-poo journey. I got tired of searching all over for something to fix me and make me beautiful. I was being fed BS by companies who wanted my money in return for my promise to never feel beautiful enough and keep on buying. And as a mother, my bullshit sensors are now very fine-tuned.

I must add that I am not anti-hair product. There are some great hair product companies out there. I respect the companies that are breaking the mold instead of defining what is “beautiful,” and are encouraging people to work with what they have naturally instead of fighting against it. I love that there is more of a focus on sustainability, natural hair, and social awareness emerging within these smaller companies. The industry is slowly changing to suit the wants and “needs” of 99% of the population who are living in an economy that is deep in recession, disillusioned by corporate America. People are slowly starting to get back to their roots. (Pardon the pun.)

I got tired of searching all over for something to fix me and make me beautiful… All I wanted was to like my hair and not pay dearly for it.

But it isn’t changing fast enough for me. All I wanted was to like my hair and not pay dearly for it. I started blogging about hair to share my hair trials and tribulations with others. Part of starting my blog was to report about jumping off the hamster wheel of beauty industry standards, into the great black abyss of what I hoped would be a more sustainable and self honoring beauty regimen. I switched to the no-poo method.

First thing I did was rename it the ShamPHree method. It sounded prettier and made it easier to talk about. Sham for Shampoo, PH because it balances the PH of the hair and scalp, and ShamPHree because it is about freeing your hair of shams.

It took a bit of experimenting with different ways of applying the Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar. I went and purchased paint mixing bottles from my local art supply store to use as my applicator bottles. I also purchased some yummy-smelling essential oils to add to my apple cider vinegar so I would still get the yummy, clean, and fresh scented hair that I missed from my shampoo days.

My hair looked and felt great after my first ShamPHree. Two weeks in, my hair was better than it had ever been. After two months, I had my ShamPHree system down. My hair was shiny, soft, smooth, and balanced. I could go for four to five days in between ShamPhree-ing and it never looked or felt oily and limp like it did before. I honestly didn’t expect it to be such a drastic change.

I am now eight months into my ShamPHree journey and I have no intention of ever going back. I have spent a total of $26 on my ShamPHree journey experiment. My hair is as happy and healthy as I could ever have imagined. I have successfully detoxed my hair and mind from the grips of mainstream beauty and now I’m on to questioning and personally boycotting other corporate shams like useless baby gear, Febreze, and gimmicky kitchen appliances. I only wish I would have started sooner. But then, had it been sooner… it may not have inspired me to share my journey with you.

Comments on ShamPHree: Why I decided to stop shampooing my hair

  1. I started the baking soda/ACV method almost 2 years ago. I used to not be able to go 12 hours without washing it. Once I detoxed my hair I’m able to go 2, sometimes 3 days between washes. Every now and again when I’m in a super rush I shampoo with Organix shampoo, but it’s not often. Since I started the BS/ACV method my hair has actually grown in areas that I was having problems with such as those little broken bits around the crown of my forehead. I can even go longer between dye’s in my hair as well. Once I did this method successfully I decided I needed to try and go more natural in more of my routines and searched other things as well. I use all natural deodorant, wash my face with honey, and only use all natural products.

  2. The only reason that I am not doing baking soda and apple cider vinegar is that with being 9 months pregnant (!), I found I was getting disoriented flipping my hair upside down so I could get the baking soda mix in effectively. I miss it – it is so much more effective than any organic shampoo I tried, and my Jair’s drier and more brittle for it. Otherwise I was over 2 years shampoo free. Highly recommend it.

  3. Really like this method and using it now for 3 months. My hair is getting much less greasier and feels really clean. Also got lots of practical information from the howtohairgirl site, so thanks Roxy! However there is always build-up of the Baking soda in my hair. It looks if I have really tiny particles of powder in my hair and it makes my (dark) hair looks greyish. I tried a lot to deal with it, boiling the water before dissolving the BS and now Iám using bottled water to dissolve but the build-up stays. While I don’t want to use shampoo again, I also do not like this build up.
    Any ideas? Thanks!

  4. You can pre-mix your ShamPHree and use it for weeks! just make sure that you shake it up well before applying it every time.
    And I would suggest using an old cotton pillowcase for your coconut oil treatments and just let it get greasy. keep in mind that you really only need to saturate your ends with oil, not your whole head. If you can, wrap the hair into a bun to keep it contained. If its short, just put the oil int, and brush it all back out of your face. Fortunately, coconut oil is also great for your skin;)

    • I am thinking of trying this method, but the coconut oil thing scares me. I tried using it on my face once, and it absolutely DESTROYED it – I got some of the worst acne I had ever had. Do you have any other possible conditioning recommendations?

        • haven’t tried this part of it yet, but i DID try the baking soda / vinegar part, and wow, you aren’t kidding about it being awesome! I used to be a salon receptionist, and so I tried all kinds of shampoos, and I’ve been using the “deva curl” natural shampoos for a long time now, and my hair still feels better than anything i’ve ever tried. i’ve never been able to let my hair go for more than a day without washing it, and i’ve already gone two days and it looks fine, after trying this. this is crazy and awesome.

  5. How To Hair Girl!!!! I love your blog!!!!! I haven’t tried shamphree yet, but I hope to some day. I have super fine oily blonde hair and I know the first month is going to be so terrible ughhh, so I’ve been putting it off. I’m planning to chop a lot of my hair off in a year and a half (after the wedding) and want to try transitioning then.

    • I just started, and the first time I tried my hair was super greasy so I wasn’t expecting much. My hair came out clean and soft! If it’s a little greasy in the beginning, I would suggest washing a little more often in the beginning, and slowly weaning to fewer times per week.

  6. “I have a client who recently told me that she uses nothing but baking soda in her hair and on her teeth, as well as as an exfoliant for her skin. And her hair, skin and teeth look amazing.”

    Please please please have your client submit a guest post! Pretty please!

    Also, do you (or anyone) know of any natural, DIY, it’s-good-for-you-and-the-environment-and-your-wallet ideas for body wash? Or maybe even shaving cream? I’m now using the oil cleansing method on my face, and I’m now ShamPHreeing my hair, so the only not-natural thing I’m using in the shower is my body wash (and I don’t shave often, but I usually just use conditioner when I do).

  7. I’ve been “shamPHree” for about 4 years now (with the exception of when I go to the salon for a cut, but even then their shampoos are low/no sulfate; and I’m a once a year haircut person). I’ve always had a difficult relationship with my hair, and so now to be in my mid-20s with hair I would have killed for when I was younger is awesome. Added on top of that is the simplicity of my routine and the lack of product necessary to get my hair to look nice. I’m never going back to shampoo again!

  8. Will shamPHree-ing work on chlorinated hair? If so, do I need to do anything special? I’m a springboard diver and I am in the pool 3-5 times a week.

  9. Has anyone here tried the shampfree method on their kiddos? I was thinking of diluting my mixes and giving them a try on her. She’s 4 and we only shampoo her hair 2-3 times per week at most. I recently switched to just using Dr Bronners soap for her hair, which is what we all use on our bodies. Like many kids, she hates the shampooing anyway.

  10. After reading this (thanks for the method, I’ve wondered about this for some time) I tried the baking soda and ACV method. I have short-ish (neck-long), straight hair with some dandruffs. When shampooing I would shampoo on day 1, have dirty oily hair on day 2 and shampoo again on day 3.

    First try : so far not so good. My hair didn’t feel as clean as after shampooing. On the second day it felt oilier than my usual day 2.
    Second try, with a little more baking soda and ACV : getting better. My hair feels clean and light but doesn’t look super shiny, just normally clean. On day 2 it gets a little dirty and oily but I still can wear it down. Day 3 is oily and I have to wear a ponytail.
    I will try the coconut/shea butter treatment tomorrow night (day 2) and wash again the day after.

    I am hoping my hair will get used to shamphree and need less and less cleaning, so I’m sticking with this method for now. I like the idea of not using shampoo, knowing what chemicals I use and not paying for expensive brands. But it’s not the miracle I expected.

    • Keep experimenting with it. You will know when you have it just right when your hair feels healthy and balanced and stays that way for days.

  11. I had never heard of people not using shampoo on their hair until I came across a stylist’s blog just before Christmas. Right then & there I decided to give it a try. My hair needed to be washed every two days with shampoo & got pretty oily by night 2, and I had dandruff/psoriasis issues. Two weeks before Christmas I switched to a baking soda/ACV routine & I’ve never been happier with my hair. Every now & then if it starts to feel dry, I comb some coconut oil through my hair the day I wash it.

    My husband just uses our handmade soap on his hair (but has dandruff, which doesn’t bother him a bit). So now we have a bunch of shampoo in the cupboard that we’ll probably never use…

  12. I have been trying the bicarb and apple cider vinegar for a week now, and I hate it! My hair is disgustingly dry yet oily at the same time, feels like straw. I only washed every 2-3 days. My hair is thick and wavy and I have patches of irritated scalp. Help! Should I stick with it or try something else? I have previously tried conditioner only, but this did not work for me at all.

    • How To Hair Girl has tips on how to change the recipe according to your hair type . Maybe all you need is a tweak in the recipe.

      As always, it’s not an exact science, so try it a few ways and see what works for you. She suggests I use double the ACV because my hair is color treated, but that makes my hair feel greasy. I prefer 1tbs ACV to 3/4 c water (so a slightly higher concentration, but not double).

      I suggest trying to change the ratios, brush your hair a lot (get the grease from the scalp down to the ends) and if the ends are still dry she suggests a coconut oil hair mask.

  13. I’ve been doing this for almost 8 months, and I’m a HUGE fan. I will sing from the rooftops that I don’t use shampoo and it’s the best beauty decision I’ve ever made. I think everyone should give it a try for the same reasons you mentioned. We don’t need corporations profiting from us and making us feel bad about ourselves. I feel so free now and so happy with my hair I’m now planning on going natural in other areas of my life, and will soon start making my own cleaning products.

  14. I’ve been wanting to try this for a LONG time! I only wash my hair once or twice a week as it is and would love to get results with only baking soda and vinegar. Perhaps this is the inspiration I need….

  15. I have been thinking about going a more natural route with my hair. I have been researching different recipes but was hesitant to try any of them. I tried an at home hair mask a few months ago with eggs, glycerin, etc and my hair freaked out. So I was afraid it’d be a disaster.

    I did my first baking soda soda, vinegar rinse last night and my hair LOVED it. I am going to keep with it and see if my hair continues to be happy. Although, I think I will start adding essential oil to the rinse (just because). After rinsing and drying, you really can’t smell the vinegar.

    I used 3tbs baking soda with 9 tbs water then followed with 1/3c vinegar (all I had was white, which seems to be fine) and 1 1/3 cup water. I made the vinegar rinse in a cup so that I could hold the tips in for like a minute before pouring it over my hair. I read somewhere that the tips like the extra attention.

    So far, I am pleasantly surprised. I normally struggle with oily hair and have to wash every day. It’s a cruel cycle. So far my hair seems great but it’s just the first day after. My journey has only begun!

  16. I have only used conditioner on my hair for two years now. I used to use shampoo occasionally but realized it was doing nothing and was all psychological, my hair is just as clean conditioner only and I don’t have to go though the reconditioning process after the once a month or once every two months shampoo. Shampoo dries me OUT!!!!!!!!
    Even when I work out or sweat a lot, conditioner alone will suffice. I am black and have natural kinky curly hair, I use all kinds of conditioners, I’m a beauty products junkie, but currently loving Hebal Essences The Sleeker The Butter.

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