Tamara’s “Poo-Free” Journey


Did that really grasp your attention like it did mine?!?!  I first met this idea in a blog My sister wrote, called “Poo-Free”.  When I looked at the words I thought “Poo” meant poop, but “Free” threw me off.  Does it mean being able to clean accidental dog poop off the carpet for free?? Many different ideas came to my mind, until I read on and saw “Shampoo free”.  YUK!  Almost worse! But I was very curious, so I kept on reading.  In the end the idea really intrigued me so I decided to try it out but before I could make such a change I had to read up more on the hows and whats and other people’s experience with this idea.  The reviews I read were impressive.  90% were great and only a few were negative but all the reviews basically agreed that “poo free” is safer for the environment (think about our shampoo/conditioner in our drain and what it does to our water system) and that it is a more natural option in personal hygiene.  Also that basically modern shampoo & conditioners block our hair follicles from producing the body’s natural oils and the shampoos & conditioners that  we know today were not invented till 1930’s because of changes to municipal water supplies. Till then people used their body bar soap for their hair 1x a week and brushed their hair every night to spread the oil into their hair to keep it healthy.  I also have discovered that shampoos contain some ingredients that are also found in laundry detergents, which are obviously harmful for your hair.

Our basic assortment of ingredients for homemade shampoo.

I myself have naturally thick and wavy hair.  I have started washing my hair everyday since I was 16 or it’ll become greasy and so straight. Through my research, I found that using 1 TBS Baking Soda (BS) with 1 cup water as “shampoo” and 1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) with 1 cup water as “conditioner” to start.  I loved it at first; I loved that I didn’t have to wash my hair everyday, that it was cheap ($.99-1.00 for a large box of Baking Soda)($1.20-$1.99 for a large ACV), and how I was able to work my hair without any gels.  That’s right, NO gels.  My hair worked better.  My hair looked different and felt so different. Even my dandruff went away after the grease/dandruff stage.  Previously I’ve been using Head&Shoulders shampoo for 3 years, almost everyday to combat those dreaded flakes.  I was tired of it!

Since I have thick & long hair, the research suggested that I do 2 TBS of each (in different bottles) with 2 cups of water each.  I washed every other day at first, until the grease stage came (1x a day, everyday).  After that, I washed every 1 1/2-2 days.  Everyone who goes through “transition” will have grease/dandruff (yucky/gross) hair for few days-a month (variety for different people) after 2-3 weeks of washing with B/ACV.  I could wear my hair in ponytail after washing.  I wore hats and bandanna for few days.  Just remember that your hair is clean, just going through transition of hair scalps changing the way they produce their natural oil.  Also, I’ve noticed that my scalps have stopped itching.  Pour Baking Soda with water on your scalps and massage and work on your way down to the tips  for 1 min, rinse.  Pour ACV with water on the tips of your hair and work on your way up (opposite direction of shampoo), rinse.  ACV is like a conditioner and could make your hair close to your scalp really greasy.  I poured all over my hair for the first 4 weeks, until after the transition, I only poured it all over my hair once a week or 2.

My hair after 3 weeks of being "poo" free.

When my hair transitioned after the 3rd-4th week of washing with BS/ACV it felt and handled so differently that I had to relearn how to care for my hair.  My research suggested to avoid the hair dryer as much as possible.  So, If I was going out, I’d dry my hair partially (not damping anymore) then let it air dry;  If I wasn’t going out, then I’d just let it air dry completely.  I loved how my waves looked when I let it air dry!  I’ve read that after drying it with towel, then wrap my head with regular cotton T-shirt (after brushing with wide tooth comb) and leave it on for about 5-10 min.  My hair became more wavy (or curls for you).  Be sure to brush your hair before washing, because its  harder to brush when wet.

After a while, when my hair was wet, I thought it felt “sticky.”  I think it was because of the vinegar.  So, I would wash my face and body after washing my hair because my body felt sticky too when wet which eventually led to dry skin patches around my face, neck, shoulders, and upper back (places my hair would touch).  The sticky feeling goes away when the body and hair dries.

I also became self-conscious about possible odors from the vinegar, so I started to do different experiments with herbal and essential oils to overcome the smell.  I started by adding Lavender, Tea tree, and other essential oils (found in health stores ($5.99-$10, but it lasts for a long time cuz you only need 3-5 drops) to the ACV solution (5 drops each to 2 cups or 3 drops each to 1 cup).  These oils covered any vinegary odor and gave added benefit for my hair. I also tried Rosemary and Jojoba oils.  My favorite was a puree of 3-4 small peeled lemons and 1/4-1/3 peeled large cucumber (both acts like poo/conditoner, acid/alkaline) that I found at LovingItRaw.com.  This cucumber/lemon puree acted like a 2 in 1 shampoo; the lemon acts as a cleansing agent and the cucumber as the conditioning agent.  I had to play with the exact balance of ingredients for my type of hair though.  If the result was too dry, then I’d use more cucumber or less lemon; if it was too greasy, more lemons or less cucumber.  The only problem I had with this puree was the small pieces it left in my hair even after straining.  I loved how it made my hair feel though.  Sometimes I’d use my hair dryer to get as many pieces out as possible and let gravity and wind take care of the rest. But be careful that the pieces go where you want them to go; you don’t want them stuck on the cabinets/door/mirror/or etc.  Edwin would tease me and called my hair a “garden salad” every time I used the lemons/cucumber poo.  One other problem with it is the peeling and prep work; it’s hard to peel lemons and get the seeds out.  Its kind of time consuming too.  If you have any leftover, be sure to put it in fridge or it’ll stink. You could even use it as a shaving cream.

Here is a list of other herbal and essential oils (from babyslime) and their effects when used on human hair:

  • Burdock: root helps prevent dandruff
  • Catmint: leaves encourage hair growth and soothes scalp irritations
  • Chamomile: flowers soften and lighten hair
  • Flannel Mullein: lightens hair
  • Goosegrass: tonic and cleansing, helps prevent dandruff
  • Henna: red hair dye and conditioner
  • Horsetail: non-fertile stems and branches strengthens the hair
  • Lavender: antiseptic, antibiotic, stimulates hair growth, and degreases
  • Lime: flowers clean and softens
  • Marigold: lightens hair color
  • Nasturtium: for hair growth
  • Parsley: enriches hair color and gives a nice luster
  • Rosemary: tonic and conditioner, one of the best herbs to use, gives luster and body, also slightly darkens the hair. (This is good to use if you notice your hair lightening due to baking soda use.)
  • Rhubarb: the root makes a yellow hair dye
  • Sage: tonic and conditioning, darkens the hair
  • Southernwood: encourages hair growth and helps prevent dandruff
  • Stinging Nettle: tonic and conditioning and helps prevent dandruff
  • Witch Hazel: leaves and bark are astringent and cleanses oily hair

After using BS/ACV for about 4 months (Aug-Nov), the winter hit and my hair became a stranger again.  I experienced what seemed like flakes of dandruff, static hair, and really dry skin.  To combat this I tried a mixture of brown sugar & honey (1 TBS honey/1 TBS brown sugar, mix and massage the wet scalp directly. In cases of long hair it’s best if you flip the hair down in order to then work more directly on the scalp) to exfoliate my scalp and get rid of the apparent dandruff.  Honey helps to keep brown sugar together and brown sugar does not dissolve as fast as white sugar.  It washes right off with warm water with no problem.  It worked well but I had to use it every other day.  Then I tried 1 mashed avocado mixed with 1 egg; I had to leave this in my hair with a shower cap for 30 min then wash it off with the original BS/ACV solutions (like a deep conditioner).  I really loved how this made my hair feel; shiny and soft, but it only lasted about a week and I felt like I had to keep making it and use it to last for few days.  I was just fed up with my hair’s problems that in frustration I quit using BS/ACV for a while until my hair came under control again.  I kept on researching and tried to figure out.

I went back to using head and shoulders for about 1 to 1-1/2 months.  The dandruff went away after 2 days, but I really missed how my hair felt when using the BS/ACV.  After using regular poo I hated how my hair felt.  My hair became greasy and so straight after just 1 day, and so heavy that I had to use gel to style it again.   So, again, I’ve been back on track with the BS/ACV solutions.  My hair is once again going through the short transitional phases.  I’ve discovered from blogs that Hair Butter works great or use lemon juice instead of vinegar for controlling grease.  I’ve heard of pouring a beer (pH balance) on your hair once a week (dunno about that).  Less washing during the week.  I think I’ll try wash my hair twice a week and slowly to once a week.  I’ll use water to wash in between.  All I need to do is experiment to what works for my hair.  I’ll write an update blog in 3 months.

Yes, I’ve even used the BS/ACV on my kids (mainly on my daughter, Aliza).  She never went through the transitional period because she’s barely 3 years old.  I only had to wash her hair once a week.  The frizz on the back of her hair was gone.  If she had food or something in her hair, I just use water to wash it off and viola clean again.  Her hair is so much easier to brush now!  My oldest son, Jeremie, has a very coarse and thick hair. It now looks shinier and nicer than before.  Caleb, our second, has beautiful wavy red hair when its little bit longer and it too looked healthier and shinier with BS/ACV solutions.

It is important to realize, there is no ONE solution for everyone; We all have different hair.  We just need be willing to learn as we go and figure out what works for us.  I’m trying again to find what works best for me.  I know that my hair worked better with BS/ACV, but I just need to find the right portions and other stuff to keep it healthy.  I know my hair never looked better and I want to do it again since the winter is almost over.  Next winter I’ll try again to figure out what’s best for my hair during the dry season.

Here are some of the blogs that I used as resources:

Happy Poo-Free!

11 thoughts on “Tamara’s “Poo-Free” Journey

  1. I’m almost out of shampoo….I’ve been putting this one off. I’ve even pulled out two bottles of the sample shampoo from the hotels we use when we go camping. Ahh…but now I’m almost out of that, and I’ll be out of excuses. I just need to DO it! I’m chicken. This post gives me courage!

  2. Thanks for the detailed report on your “poo-free” journee Tamara. I love how you keep trying to figure out what proportions/ingredients work for your hair and are not giving up.

    I haven’t made the jump yet, but keep thinking about it, so that’s a sign that sooner than later I’ll give it a go.

    I have one question: Do you mix your ingredients beforehand in a large container and then use a cup or so of each, or do you mix them as you’re going?

  3. Marcelledanielle, before winter, I did the bottles. It was a alot of work with BS, having to fill it every 2nd or 3rd shower. But, now that I’ve discovered that it’s easier to do a kid cup (1 c cup). I put 1 TBS of BS in a kid cup and fill it with warm water and stir. Bring it into the shower and pour. I make 1 cup of BS every time I shower. I keep ACV with scents in a bottle. It lasts a week or 1 1/2 week. Understand?

  4. All right Tamara, a little help here. I’ve been using the no poo for about two weeks, and so far, I’ve found it to be awful. I must be doing something wrong. I don’t know if I’m using too much, too little, or what. But my hair is hard. It isn’t soft and pretty like yours in the picture at all. It does smell clean, but it doesn’t look clean. It looks dirty, as if seperated by oil.
    The recipe I followed was three cups water and 2 tablespoons of baking powder. I only put it at my scalf. I wash it every three days or so. On all other days, I wash with only water. And I have a bunch of left over conditioner I was trying to get rid of instead of the cider vinegar. Do you think that’s the problem? But, it’s not like I’m not rinsing the conditioner out. I’m so frustrated!

  5. I suggest not to use bottle conditioner at all. Conditioner is different from ACV and I’m pretty sure that it reacts differently to BS. I suggest to put conditioner on shelf for later or to shave your legs (I use conditioner as “shaving cream”).

    Did you use baking powder or soda? Use baking SODA.

    This is completely different from what I’ve said on my blog. 2 cups water with 2 TBS Baking SODA and 2 TBS of Apple Cider Vinegar with 2 cups of water. If you have shorter and/or thinner hair, I suggest to use 1 cup water/1 TBS of Soda, same with ACV.

    You may be going through the “nasty” stage. Try that for 1 week, then get in touch with me. If your hair is getting damaged, go back to regular shampooing. After that part is over, then try again.


  6. Pingback: Pruning the pear tree | Attempting zero waste lifestyle in a military household

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