Back to Basics: Shampoo Free Update

This is the 5th or 6th week since I started my shampoo free experiment.  The flakes are gone; actually, those only lasted for about 3 weeks all together.

I did have to wash my hair with shampoo twice last week while I was in Oklahoma. I had no choice. The stuff I was digging in was quite questionable….with the rotting food and who knows what else that had been stewing under the rubble for a week.  I’m sure some people had just gone grocery shopping before the first tornado hit. My friend dug up a whole ham at the first house (poor thing kept finding all the meat). On the last day we were there, we split into 2 groups and the other group was talking about this enormous rat and its babies that they uncovered. So, yeah……I washed my hair with shampoo.

My hair was the softest it’s been in….well, since I quit shampoo. I resisted the urge to use conditioner. I didn’t need it though. I wish I had known that for years that my hair didn’t really need conditioner. I could’ve saved a lot of money.

You know, the whole 100 strokes a day hair brushing routine women did way back when?  I did some research on the best brushes to use on hair to disperse the natural oils. The brushes they used were boar bristle….which cause major static, especially for those of us who are “electric people” and carry a LOT of static on a normal basis. I found one at my local pharmacy for $12. And then I went back and got a synthetic one for $4 (it came with a free comb too). It still makes a bit of static but not near as much as the boar bristle. I read that a mix of real and synthetic is helpful with static probs too.

My hair looks a little better than it originally did and it’s less “nappy” (as my son said) feeling. I did read that sometimes it takes months for hair to adjust to not using store-bought shampoo.  I threw out the yucca root shampoo I made. I’ll probably try a different recipe, once I order my bulk herbs again, with the root powder. I’m still messing with the amount of baking soda necessary also. I think it has a lot to do with hair texture and how much hair you have as well. There isn’t really a tried and true one size fits all formula. I feel like it takes forever to rinse it out as well. I also cut out the ACV (apple cider vinegar).

Back to Basics: Shampoo Free 2

It’s been about 2 weeks since I’ve used shampoo and conditioner. At first, I thought my hair was protesting the change. Now, I’m not so sure about that. Unless my hair is taking its own sweet time adjusting, I think the texture of my hair is going to be significantly different now. It is a bit straw-like, thick feeling (not greasy but different…it’s hard to explain) and I have plenty of static (which I’ve always had a problem with).

I’ve tried adjusting the amount of baking soda, not using the apple cider vinegar, and just rinsing with herbal infusions. Maybe it will chill out after a while. We’ll see.

I tried making a batch of yucca (pronounced “Yuck-uh”) root shampoo too. Yucca root is supposed to lather. Different cultures have used it as shampoo and soap. I grew up in New Mexico and the state plant is the yucca. All those years I could have been getting free shampoo and soap….I had no idea.

Now that I live in VA, I have no access to it. So I bought it at the grocery store (for $6). I washed it, peeled it and pulverized it in the food processor. I froze what I wasn’t going to use right now. The recipe I had said to dry it in the sun or in the oven on 200 for an hour or so. Since it is usually overcast here, I opted to use the oven which made it rubbery. I tried it with no success. It didn’t lather at all.

Apparently the kind they have in the grocery store isn’t the right version (who knew there was more than 1 kind?).  I found another recipe that uses root powder (which I can order online). I think I’ll try laying the frozen stuff out to dry too, though. I’ll let you know how my experiments go.

Back to Basics Challenge 1: Going Shampoo Free

No, I didn’t just decide my hair never needs to be cleaned again.  I’m just not going to use shampoo and conditioner any longer. They cost a lot of money and are packed with chemicals that I can’t pronounce. My hair has been stuck in a cycle. I pull out all the natural oils with shampoo and then coat it in some creamy chemical based gunk; in return, my hair goes into overdrive trying to replace what should be there and gives me dandruff. Fun, cycle huh?


Our parents and grandparents (my generation at least) only washed their hair as often as once a week. Some only did it once a month (that’s a little much for me). My grandmother lived with my mom, brother and me when I was a child. I remember every Friday she would wash her hair. I used to think she was gross because society told me I needed to use shampoo and conditioner every day in order to have clean hair. Her hair was always healthy looking. I never made the connection.


So what was used for thousands of years before shampoo and conditioner? Baking soda, herbal infusions, and even yucca root (aka soapweed) in some cultures for shampoo and apple cider vinegar, coconut oil and herbal infusions for conditioners…..just to name a few.


I quit shampoo more than a week ago. I’ve washed my hair twice and I did use some corn starch mixed with cocoa powder (which I spent much time brushing through)for dry shampoo in between washes to control the oil. My hair is used to being washed squeaky clean every four days. I have flakes galore, my hair feels coated and it’s a bit on the frizzy side, but it’s going through a transition not to mention I live in VA (high humidity). Everything I’ve read online suggests that it’ll take 2-4 weeks for my hair to understand what’s going on. I’ve been force cleaning it for 38 years. I can understand the tantrum it’s throwing.  Thank God for hair ties.


Did you ever hear that women used to brush their hair 100 strokes a day? There’s a reason for that. It’s to pull the oils through the hair and loosen up any dirt that might be chillin’ out on your scalp.  It’s not just an old wives tale. So I’ve been brushing my hair before I wash. I made a bottle of baking soda “shampoo” (for lack of a better term) with 1 tbsp baking soda dissolved in 8 oz. of warm water which I apply to my scalp and work through my hair (I might switch to distilled water due to our severely hard water and might cut back just a tad on the baking soda. The recipe is not set in stone). I made sure to rinse well. Both times I’ve used a conditioner of 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar mixed with an herbal concoction I will refer to as “hair tea” (the herbs I used were sage, stinging nettle and  rosemary which I steeped in boiling water for about an hour first. Those are herbs for dark hair and dandruff). I might delete the vinegar (which by the way does NOT make your hair smell like vinegar) until my hair stops throwing a flaky fit. A blog I read suggested that I might be over conditioning too quickly.


We’ll see how things are in a few weeks or so.  By the way….no pics of me til I get my coif under control. I’ll show you what it looks like when it learns how to be hair again.