I Am A No-Poo Traitor: A Eulogy For My Shampooless Existence

Welp, I made it a year. The great adventure is over for me. I’ve thrown in the towel.

I have used shampoo.

I feel like I need to write a eulogy for my no-poo experiment. After all, my original post and followup post about it were pretty fabulously popular for an untested, freelance blogger. Watching the Facebook “likes” tick upward on them made me think, Yeah, I could do this writing thing on the reg. When I posted about pH level and talked about how my hair rinse of choice — baking soda — was actually as bad as or worse than shampoo, a commenter asked me to follow up, and it made me realize that, yeah, a few people have actually been following my no-poo journey.

My heart will go on, no-poo. My heart will go on and on.

Well, anyway. Why did I start shampooing again? Basically, having rye flour in your shower leads to some really, really, really nasty residue problems. It’s normal for mold to grow on a shower liner over time, but the rapidity with which mold was growing on my shower liner was, like, intense. And super-disgusting. Washing with baking soda was great — it’s an effective household cleaner, which on a basic level is precisely why it’s not so great to use for your hair — and it didn’t leave scum behind. But once I switched to rye flour, it was all down the drain. Literally. It was causing buildup in my drain.

Beyond the cleanliness issues, there was also the fact that I started taking swimming lessons, and I was not so sure that rye flour was getting all the chlorine out of my hair. Which, you know — I feel like having chlorine inadequately washed out of your hair is worse than shampooing it. I wound up googling things I could do to get the chlorine out, and wound up with all sorts of pre-treatments you’re supposed to do, and then you have to use both your wash (rye flour or baking soda or whatever) and treat it with a crushed-up vitamin C tablet, and oh my god, I just want to be able to go swimming like a normal person.

The before-and-after has not been too dramatic. I chose to use J.R. Liggett’s Old Fashioned Bar Shampoo, which is made of saponified oils and therefore is neither acidic nor alkaline, and won’t strip the oils that I worked so hard to build up out of my hair. And now, my hair is a little silkier (which I don’t like, so much) and a little more prone to look greasy at the end of 3-4 days, but way more manageable. It has less volume than it did when I was rinsing with baking soda, but that’s because the baking soda was drying my hair out and making it frizzy; however, it still has way more volume than it did when I was shampooing and conditioning with conventional shampoos.

So, here’s the verdict, after my Great Shampooless Odyssey: If you can, you should definitely do no-poo. The shampoos most people use are genuinely bad for hair; they’re way too harsh, and your hair will become stronger if you allow the oils on your scalp to establish themselves and protect your hair. I do recommend rye flour. Put up with it for three months, and then, if you want to, go back to a nice, gentle, oil-based shampoo. Wash your hair two or three times a week max and just rinse or brush the rest of the time. I really do think you will be pleased with the results.

And now it’s time for me to psychically extract my no-shampoo experience, lay it on a barge, set it afire, and let it float down the river into Valhalla. You are gone but not forgotten, no-poo.

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