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The idea of removing suds from your shampoo might sound daunting for many people. This is especially true if you are new to sulfate-free, sud-free, low-poo, or no-poo method and are used to foamy bubbly shampoos. If you are thinking of changing and not sure where to go next, don’t worry. I got you covered. In this post, let’s talk mindset about transitioning into a safer, healthier, and more natural hair regiment.
Over the past three years, I have been asked many times how I wash my hair without foam. Many people who have tried no-sud shampoos have similar comments:
- Their scalp does not feel clean.
- Their hair does not feel nice and fluffy.
- They can feel oil build up on the hair and scalp
Overall, it’s not the cleanest hair and scalp care routine but if you really understand why it’s good for you and how it allows you to accept and be your natural self more, you will never want to switch it back to commercial hair care products! But first, let’s get straight to the questions you have.
Why do many feel it’s not clean?
While user error is the #1 reason that people struggle with sulfate-free sud-free shampoos, being used to a “quick fix” to our hair problems is also part of the problem. It makes us feel impatient when we take the slow deeper route to find long-lasting solutions. This leads to a dropout for anyone not willing to go through it.
You may not feel the same cleanliness, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working. Sud-free shampoos just work differently from others. Instead of stripping off your natural sebum and let your scalp feel dry, this kind of shampoo works together with your body and helps rebalance the right among of oil produced. So, your hair or scalp doesn’t feel dry after washing. After all, it’s all about the balance. In the end, it takes a reconnection with our bodies and an understanding of ingredients.
For those of you who are new to this, I’d like to congratulate you on another chapter of self-discovery. And to make the transition period a little easier, here are some tips based on my own observations and experiences being no-poo for almost 4 years.
1) Let the process happen naturally. (And it can be veeeery slow.)
It is natural for someone who is not used to No Poo to find it hard in the beginning. A transition period is like a personal journey that isn’t always paved with rose petals. And it’s ok to let it happen that way! No need to force or not force anything because nature balances everything in its own time.
When I first started on the No Poo path, self-resistance, self-doubt, and internal debates were my friends. These ideas have led me to switch back and forth between normal shampoo, low-poo shampoo, sulfate-free shampoo, and ingredients from the kitchen to wash my hair.
Thanks to those tumultuous transition times, I went down a rabbit hole learning about No-Poo, the philosophy, the idea, and how it works. So, if you just started on this journey and are battling these emotions right now, don’t give up. Simply trust in the process of nature.
You don’t have to fake it until you make it. What you need to do is to dig for information until you live it. In a nutshell, just chill.
2) Know your hair.
Everyone is different, so are our hair and scalp. Knowing what kind of hair you have informs you which products or ingredients are best to rebalance it with!
Simply put, …
If you have dry hair, you would want to look into things that add moisture and volume such as sesame oil which is light and moisturizing, yogurt which gives you a little more groundedness, or our No-Poo Head-to-Toe Wash which can be easily adjusted according to your hair type and style.
If you have oily hair, go for more drying ingredients such as rice water or mung bean powder whose fine texture can absorb the excess oil from your hair. Or you can use lime juice to cut down on the sebum.
If you have thin hair, stay away from harsh ingredients such as pure baking soda. If you want to give it a try, dilute it or mix it with other ingredients.
A general rule of thumb is: Know thyself to choose what’s best for your hair
3) Embrace the whole experience.
Self-acceptance is a crucial step to being natural. It’s when you start accepting yourself as you are and taking full responsibility for your own decisions, regardless of the outcome. You become aware of the results and understand that these are specific to the nature of your hair and scalp, the way you clean them, and the nature of your shampoo, the weather, or even your hormonal level!
I have failed enough times throughout my No-Poo journey to learn a bit more about myself and the process. Some no-poo formulas are too oily for me. Others are too drying. Every time I fail, I learn something about my hair. I have to be mindful of what each product or ingredient makes me feel and compare it across different ones. Even if things don’t work out well, I don’t let it stop me from trying again. I accept it as a learning experience and move on.
If you feel that you need some time to get used to using sud-free shampoo, accept that fact and allow yourself the leisure of seeing how things will pan out. Identify what works in your regimen and tweak those that don’t.
When you reach that level, you are on your way to creating a new relationship with yourself and your body. You will see yourself as a whole being, embracing all parts of your imperfections and all. Embrace that vulnerability, understand yourself in all dimensions, and move on.
4) Adjust and readjust
Regardless of where you are on your journey; sud-free, sulfate-free, no-poo, sebum-only, or water only; once you are able to identify exactly what you like and do not like about a certain routine, ingredients, or product, you can use your own creativity and adjust as you go.
Part of my No-Poo journey is to find ingredients and routines that work well with my thick, heavy, straight, low-porosity, oily hair. When I use the No-Poo Head-to-Toe Wash, an oil-based shampoo, I often find my hair ends up being too oily. First, I cut the amount that I use from 5 pumps to 2 pumps. Then, I dilute it with some water to make it easier to spread on my scalp. When I find that it’s still too oily, I add drying ingredients like baking powder, rice, or bean powder. In the end, I like rice powder best. I’ve tried two things;
1) Using the No-Poo Head-to-Toe Wash + rice powder. And
2) Reverse shampooing – using No-Poo Wash first, then rice powder.
The latter turns out really well. But then, if I don’t rinse my hair well enough, the rice powder usually sticks to my hair. So, I supplemented that with Shikakai powder. And this is where I am at right now. But when the weather turns dry and my hair needs more moisture, I would only use the No-Poo head-to-Toe Wash by itself!
See, there are a lot of trials and errors along this No-Poo journey. And each little step becomes a discovery. You learn more about yourself as well as each ingredient. Sometimes, you seem to get different results despite using the same ratios. Many times you may feel defeated, but don’t ever give up.
Adopting a No-Poo, Sud-Free lifestyle is a never-ending journey. You can be as creative as you want. Use what you find in your kitchen or come up with a new recipe. Maybe add more lime juice, apple cider vinegar, or even try it before using your normal shampoo or try washing your hair differently, using the scalp massage comb or washing your hair and in mini bundles and leaving the shampoo on your hair for a longer or shorter period of time. Or spend a longer time rinsing the shampoo off your hair. All these little details count!
No single days are exactly the same, and not every day you will need the same thing. So, let your creative juice flow, and you will continue to learn more about yourself day by day.
5) Enjoy the experience
Every moment is a learning experience. The more you try, the more knowledge you earn. Following your creative flow experimenting with different ingredients, you will gain an understanding of the nature of each element that you use in your No-Poo Sud-Free life. You may end up choosing one or two routines that you want to stick with on a regular basis and switch it around from time to time for a change. If it’s a pre-wash egg hair mask, let it be. If it’s coconut oil or even olive oil before the wash, try it. But before taking a trip to the shops, look around your pantry and see what you already have. You might find a thing or two that you can experiment with right here, right now!
6) When in doubt, go back to the reason why you started this whole journey in the first place.
Along this journey, there sure will be a time when you start to question the decision you have made, whether this is the right path to go forward. And from time to time, society norms would make it hard to stick to the No-Poo lifestyle.
Imagine going to a hairdresser who winces when you tell her you do not wash hair with shampoo or attending a wedding where you have to look nice with your not picture-perfect hair.
You might feel discouraged and doubtful of your decision. Acknowledge it and chill. Just go back to the main reason why you adopt No-Poo lifestyle in the first place and think about what would happen if you didn’t. It could be that you have sensitive scalp issues, or you are trying to avoid toxic chemicals. But all in all, when the journey is hard, it’s always important to think about the reward that it brings or what would happen otherwise. Think of how itchy it could be, the discomfort you would feel, or even how product-dependent you have become. And this would in a way give you some encouragement when you feel unsure
When you go back to your why, think it through and make a conscious decision about what you would like to do. For me, it took me almost a year of switching things around until I landed on this path on a more permanent basis. So there is definitely nothing wrong with doubts. But when you do a switch, it’s important to be aware of it. This is the path for self-acceptance, which liberates you from the social pressure that we all are used to. And through the whole experience, you will emerge to become your true self.
While the journey is different from person to person, for me, it’s a journey of self-acceptance and trust in nature. Through it, I have developed a new relationship with my hair and my body. I feel a transformation inside out! And I hope you feel it along the way as well.
Now, I have shared some tips on how I did it through the past three years. Hopefully, they are useful for No-Poo newbies out there. I would say that this is not a journey to be taken lightly. You will face many doubtful eyes, misunderstandings, and many times, you may experience adversity yourself when the results are not what you expect. But, instead of looking at it as a final answer, see it as a learning journey.
So, don’t give up. As long as you keep moving forward, your path will show up, one way or another!