Hair follow up! Whoot!

Note: If you were hoping for a J Street update, you’re out of luck! I wrote this post ahead of time, because I knew I would neither have access to a computer, nor want to want to try to be two places at once (at the conference and in the ether) in the course of the conference events. I’m sure I’ll be writing something about it all on Tuesday or Wednesday. Please come back! (Well, please stay, and then come back again).


Note: Illustration may not depict any reality that I have ever known.

So. Remember how I decided that I was going to stop using shampoo? (See also: follow up post with clarifications and advice).

And then how the whole family got infested with lice?

Well…. Yeah. So. We got infested another time or two (…), which meant that I kept having to use shampoo again, which messed up experiment for a while.

And THEN, once I was fully back in the swing of things, I finally realized: You know what? The fact that people keep complimenting my hair — like, strangers, and everything — and I actually love the way it looks without shampoo? Still doesn’t mean I like the way it feels.

Within about 18 hours of a non-shampoo hairwash, the back of my head would feel kind of sticky to me. I was told over and over by countless loving (and patient) people that it didn’t actually look sticky/dirty/yucky/anything other than lovely, but whenever I would touch it, I would just go: Do.Not.Want.

So once I’d decided I’d been experimenting long enough to know that the worst of it had passed, and what remained was real, wasn’t going away, was in fact going to be an on-going part of the on-going no-poo experience, even if I used very warm water and really scrubbed with my fingers, even when I added cider vinegar into the mix — I did some more research.

And lo and behold, I am not the only person with this problem! Because (to quote the Studio101 article on the topic):

the ‘stickiness’ you may feel is a combination of dust, dirt and sebum (the oil produced by your scalp). When dust gets wet, it gets sticky; when it meets grease, it tends to adhere quite firmly. A quick rinse under water isn’t likely to help, any more than running a greasy, dusty board under water will clean it.

And if I wanted to solve that problem? Well, I’d more or less have to treat my hair like a pet (click, if you’re interested in learning all the machinations of the hair-as-pet approach).

And it came to me: I do not want to treat my hair like a pet.

And yet I also DO NOT want to go back to the bushy, first-year Hermione hair that had developed in the past couple of years, despite gentle shampoo, three kinds of conditioner, and decreased frequency of washing….

For me (and maybe for you, dear reader, if you’re still here and not bored out of your mind yet) the good news was that I had heard some vague information about shampoo without sulfates (aka Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, aka SLS) — the stuff that makes shampoo foam. And it turns out that the stuff that makes shampoo foam? Is the stuff that strips most of the oil off your hair like paint stripper strips paint.

I took myself off to Whole Foods (where the saleswoman told me not to break down and start using any shampoo again, sulfate-free or not, because my hair looked “so shiny! And great! It looks great!”…), bought some hippy shampoo, and gave that a whirl.

And, well – meh.

It just doesn’t look as good! It’s not First-Year Hermione by any stretch, but… meh!

So – a) I’m going to try some different hippy shampoos to see if there’s one I like better, and b) I’m now trading off: One hairwash with hippy shampoo, and one hairwash without, at roughly 5-6 day intervals (rather than the 3-4 day intervals of yore. Which replaced the every-other-day routine with which I lived some 43 years of life, give or take).

And I think that’s a decent formula. For me at any rate, me being a person with very thick, shoulder-length, light-brown-and-graying, white-lady hair. And with that, I believe I shall leave the subject of my haircare behind me and move on to bigger truths. (Or at least more interesting nonsense).

Unless there’s a dramatic development.

Who’s to say what truths this hair holds…?!


  1. SLS is actually the detergent in almost all shampoos, soaps and clothes cleaners. It’s what allows the soap to actually clean. If your shampoo doesn’t have SLS in it, or a reasonable substitute, it’s not going to be cleaning with detergent action (email me if you really want to know how a detergent works). Usually, this means relying on Lye or other nacelle-producing substances which try to do what detergents do best.

  2. Mom

     /  March 1, 2011

    try for non pastuerized (therefore not carsonogenic)shea butter shampoo. forgive spelling

  3. I love your hair posts. I don’t know why. I just do. I wash my waist-length Asian hair once a week at the most. I leave it the rest of the week. It works for me, but YMMV. Keep on experimenting!

  4. Lissa

     /  August 4, 2011

    I am completely intrigued by this no-shampoo business. I am at times and by parts, enchanted, frustrated, in love and full of wrath for my hair. I would love to try something new because 25 years and a whole slew of hair care products have left me sad and dissatisfied with the state of my poor tresses.

    However… my point. I am a chemist and I currently work at a fragrance lab. We distill and manufacture all kinds of highly fragrant (… and at times extremely stinky) chemicals. As a result some days I can come home smelling quite colorful and my hair is one of the victims – soaking up these smells and leaving them on my pillow if I don’t shower before bed. Have you had a problem with your hair absorbing cooking smells or the like? If so, is the baking soda/vinegar wash or a hippie shampoo enough to take care of the problem? My only concern is that it could, on severely stinky weeks, require daily washes of some kind.

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