Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Going poo-free....

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

Shampoo-free that is.

I've been enjoying reading everyone's articles here regarding all the little things we can do to live a more simple, green and frugal life. While I've still got a long way to go in my journey towards a simpler life, I have to admit that the skills I've learnt and the changes I've made in my life have brought great rewards.

I'm pleased to announce though, that I have finally achieved one of the big goals on my list - to finally do away with shampoo altogether! (6 weeks of being *completely* shampoo free!)

So why would I do something that in the first place?

1. I don't like the thought of being addicted to chemicals. Shampoos leach all of the natural oils in our hair so that we end up needing conditioner to put it back in. Use it long enough, then we get to the point where our body is no longer regulating the oils in our hair making us dependent on those shampoos to regulate it for us. This doesn't make sense to me. Why wreck a perfectly sustainable system of personal care?? My children have *never* used shampoo - they only use water to rinse and clean their hair and they both have wonderful hair.

2. Its bad for the environment. In December 2007, a report from the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), indicated that Britain's water systems are under threat from the abundant use of shampoo (as well as shower gels, cosmetic products etc). This media article explains the report in more detail. Wastewater treatments are not able to fully clean up the chemicals from shampoos etc and as a result, some of it is ending up in water supplies. Then there's also the added plastic packaging that accompanies buying shampoo.

3. I wanted to use the money for something else. I don't know about others, but for me buying shampoos meant I had to compromise on other purchases - such as buying organic fruit. My old shampoo brand cost me $15 a month and conditioner was $10 a month. An extra $25 a month meant I could upgrade to organic fruits.... or afford a nice bottle of organic wine. :P

So how I went shampoo free...

First, I tried the cold-turkey method... everything I read said that going cold-turkey would mean my hair would go totally bleugh for 3-12 weeks until my body finally re-learns how to regulate the oils in my hair. Unfortunately, I found that I am too vain about going to work looking as if I'd dipped my head in cooking oil. After several attempts at doing this, only for me to give up on either day 3 or 4, I decided there had to be another way.

2nd method was slowly weaning myself off shampoo - that is stretching out the days between hair washing... This went okay. Except I kept getting stuck on day 2. Trying to go any longer would end up with the same "dipped head in oil" look.

3rd method was switching to natural shampoo (so no harmful chemicals) and stretching out the days in between. This method was the best for me. Of course, there is the temptation of just washing everyday with natural shampoo - this addressed reason no. 2 for going shampoo free, but didn't really address reasons 1 and 3. Hence, the stretching out of days in between. I did find though that after awhile, I got stuck on day 6 - ie I still had to use the natural shampoo once a week. Occassionally I would use bi-carb instead of natural shampoo and the results were the same - great hair for 5 days, then I would have to wash by the 6th day. I was happy with this for awhile, but then I realised I really needed to tough it out.

So after several months of washing once a week, I finally gave up the shampoo altogether. To my surprise, the oily hair look only lasted about 2 weeks and even then, it wasn't the extreme "dipped head in oil" look that I experienced before. In fact, it wasn't too bad at all. It just looked a little oily.

So now I'm totally shampoo-free. I do need to rinse my hair regularly (and now that its summer, I do have to do it everyday) but I'm only using water now. My hair feels fantastic and clean. Some things I've noticed, when I get sick my hair is the first thing that shows it (it will develop the dipped head in oil look again). So it has been tempting to use shampoo again when I'm sick.... so far I've stuck to my guns and not succumbed. Plus now I have an added incentive to actually stay at home to rest and recover while I'm sick instead of pushing ahead and going to work anyway. The minute I'm well again, my body recovers its ability to regulate the oils in my hair. It is interesting to note though that my children's hair doesn't seem to lose its ability to regulate itself... even when they are sick. Perhaps its because they're young... or maybe its because their bodies have never been dependent on shampoo in the first place... who knows.

Anyway, for those who would also like to go poo-free, I wish you well! The benefits have been fantastic for me.