No ‘Poo Alternatives: Why Baking Soda Didn’t Work for Me

This post has been sitting in my “back end” for a couple weeks, waiting for those last minute touches: photos, proofing, etc. Strange that while I’m working on this post, this story went “viral”.  It was aired on Fox, Kathie Lee & Hoda felt a need to put in their two cents (starts at 6:30), and crunchy blogger ladies have banded together to stand up for Mrs. Little Owl.

Obvs you know where I stand on the issue. I’m as crunchy as the next coconut cream-loving, anti-toxin cleaning, essential oil-creating, soaked bread-baking gal out there. Even if I did smell like I just walked up outta the swamp (come on, Kathie Lee, that’s completely ridiculous), if I smell that bad, don’t stand so close.

Rant over.

I jumped on the no ‘poo bandwagon last spring! Yep, I did. My no ‘poo journey started off well. See my posts from last year The Transition, Journey Continues, and Why I Left BS/ACV.

There’s a reason my posts ended so many months ago… I’ve been stuck in rut since July. I guess I’ll go ahead and share with y’all what’s been happening with my mop since then. I’m not ashamed to say that there was a 2-week period where my head did not smell good. There, I said it. Surprised KLG?? While I wasn’t happy with what was happening, I simply pulled my hair back and dealt with it accordingly.

Baking soda and apple cider vinegar didn’t work for me. For about two months, my hair felt great using them every 3-4 days, but at about 8 weeks, my head, neck, chest, and shoulders began breaking out. Gross! It was suggested that maybe the products were detoxing my body, and maybe they were, but I’m not convinced. Since using essential oils, and thinking back to my skin “issues” in the past, I’ve come to realize that I’ve got sensitive skin.

Here’s why I say that:

  • Growing up I would break out where my bra lines were (where my clothes would rub)
  • My skin breaks out when I wear make-up
  • I have to use a carrier oil when using essential oils, even the “not hot” ones (everyone should use a carrier when using “hot” oils like peppermint, wintergreen, Deep Blue) or else I get bumps exactly where the oil is placed
  • When I started making my own deodorant with baking soda, my armpits started peeling and I was left with raw skin for days
  • I get “shave bumps” often, even on my legs

Take a look back at your skin “history”, and you may also discover why the “traditional no ‘poo” method hasn’t worked for you.

Other No ‘Poo Alternatives that Didn’t Work for Me

It seems the following hair-cleaning methods have worked for others, but these are the routes I’ve taken that left me at a dead end. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try these, just know that if you try them and they don’t work, you aren’t the only one!!

1. Castile Soap: I used Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile soap by itself and diluted with water, it left my hair very waxy and greasy looking, as mentioned in my last post.

2. Just water: After weaning off of BS/ACV, I tried using just water. I live in an old house without a water softener and also in SoCal where the water is very “hard”. This method didn’t work either. It seems to work great for some people, I think it depends on our hair and the water. Give it a shot!

3. Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle: This one didn’t *not* work, it definitely cleaned my hair and left it looking good, but I’m not really sure if it was the best product as far as ingredients goes. It’s mostly made up of essential oils, but there are some other things in there too. I would still recommend it to someone looking for a more natural shampoo.

As a writer for the Alternative Living Network, I have the privilege of asking women near and far, living a similar lifestyle to myself what they use to wash their hair and here are some of the tips, products, and recipes shared with me.

No ‘Poo Alternatives

1.  Soap Nuts: I bought these to clean my laundry with, but several women recommended soap nuts for shampoo as well. Check out the EWG’s rating on soap nut shampoo here. This product is said to leave hair soft and shiny without harmful chemicals. It is a bit expensive, but not any more than your “fancier” commercial shampoos.

2. Dry Shampoo: Extend the days between washings by applying a dry shampoo to your roots. For darker hair use a combination of cornstarch, cinnamon, and cocoa powder and for lighter hair a few shakes of cornstarch or arrowroot powder will do. I use this method from time to time. Use a natural bristle brush to evenly distribute the powder.

3. Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Bar Soap: A fellow ALN writer uses this to wash her hair. Maybe the bar would work better for me than the liquid did, who knows. Have you tried washing your hair with this yet? If you found you didn’t like using this bar soap for shampoo, don’t let it go to waste, use it as body wash or grate it into your laundry detergent.

4. Miessence Shampoo: Using this product may result in a “hair detox” in which your hair is drier than normal for a few weeks. This occurs when your hair is coated in chemicals found in most commercial hair products, but hang in there, the results are worth it.

5. Rhassoul Clay: Rhassoul means “washing” and this clay can be used to wash your hair, body, or as a body moisturizer. Moms AWARE has an easy recipe for shampoo. Those who use clay to wash their hair claim to have an adjustment period, but say their hair is left light and fluffy. Some people need to use an acid, like ACV, for conditioning.

6. Dr. Woods Shea Vision: This is another castile soap, so it may cause a waxy buildup like Dr. B’s did for me. It’s worth a shot. If it doesn’t work as a shampoo, there are so many uses for castile soap (cleaning products, detergent).

 My Latest No ‘Poo Exploration

This photo is from the post I shared over on Modern Alternative Mama earlier this month. The hair: doesn’t look bad, doesn’t smell bad. Just sayin.

J.R. Liggett’s Shampoo Bar I’ve been using this bar for a few weeks now. Thus far it is working out great for me. My hair gets clean, but I don’t lose the volume and natural curly fringe. I need to use this product every 3 days or so. My scalp isn’t itchy and my roots don’t get greasy until 3 days. I will use ACV on the last few inches of my hair once a week maybe less. ACV leaves my roots very greasy looking, so I’m careful to only put it on the very end.

Ingredients: Olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, New Hampshire spring water, sodium hydroxide (a binder), essential oils and earth fragrances.

Not bad if I may say so. What shampoo alternative are you using or have you used in the past?
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