Monday, 16 November 2015

Going No-Poo: the Ideal Low-Maintenance Hair Routine for Travellers?

When I first heard about the no-poo movement, I was skeptical. The idea is that you don't wash your hair with shampoo. Initially I thought my hair would be dirty, greasy and smelly! But when I looked into it further, I found it so intriguing that I had to give it a try.
So what are the benefits? Your hair retains its natural oils and as a result your hair becomes more full-bodied and healthy looking. Not only that, but you can save a lot of time when you don't have to wash, dry and style your hair every day. 
No-poo doesn't mean that you never wash your hair. Rather, when want to 'wash' your hair, in the shower you scrub your scalp with only water. Some people also use natural cleansers such as a little bit of cider vinegar mixed with water, or shampoos that don't contain sulfates (these are what make it into a lather). 
During my experiment, I discovered several things that you should know before trying it yourself:

1. It may take some time for you to be able to work up to going entirely no-poo. If you wash your hair every day, it might take a while! You'll first need to make the change to washing your hair every other day, and once it doesn't become greasy anymore, wash it twice a week. I was already at the twice a week stage, so it was easy to move directly to no-poo. 

2. If you don't have very short hair, you will need to move the oil throughout your hair. Because oil is produced on the scalp, the rest of the hair cannot benefit unless you somehow distribute it down the length of he hair. I did my research and purchased a boar bristle brush from my local pharmacy. Note that if you have thick hair, you will need to get the brush that has plastic throughout the bristles, otherwise it won't go all the way through your hair. Every 2-3 days I would brush my hair working from the scalp through to the ends. I did this upright and then flipped my hair over to get the underside as well. When you do this, you'll see results quite quickly - your hair will look shinier! This takes some time (around ten minutes to do it properly), but it makes a world of difference. 

3. After a couple of months you may want to use conditioner or some other nice-smelling product. Once I was around the two-month mark, I noticed that my hair smelled a little bit musty. It wasn't a bad smell, but it also wasn't ideal and I thought it would get stronger. It was at this point that I bought conditioner (which I hated) and a shampoo bar from Lush Cosmetics. These shampoo bars contain only a tiny bit of sulfates, and I found that these worked well for me. When washing with the bar every two weeks, my hair was smelling fresh again and feeling great, because the bar didn't strip the oils like normal shampoos. 

4. If you do strenuous exercise, no-poo might not be right for you. The reason I had to finally end my experiment and go back to washing with shampoo was that I began a gym regimen. I was producing a considerable amount of sweat, and that includes my scalp. I found that my hair was becoming greasy again, and I needed to use my Lush shampoo bar 2-3 times a week. The same might also be true for places with extremely high temperatures. 

Since travelling again, I have fallen into a routine of washing my hair about once a week with normal shampoo. This is purely for practical purposes - my partner and I had limited bag space so taking one bottle of shampoo was easier than adding a shampoo bar and a boar bristle brush. However, if you aren't confined to strict sized backpacks, give it a try! My hair definitely had more volume and was less frizzy when I was on the no-poo routine. 
I highly recommend checking out www.reddit.com/r/nopoo where I first learned about the phenomenon. There's a community of people there who are all on the no-poo journey, and as everyone's hair is different it's a great place to ask questions and see what works for others. 

Have you considered going no-poo? What are you waiting for?!