I almost forgot this one in the busyness of the last part of the holidays but there was still one more thing for me to decide to change in 2014: for the next year I'm going to be nicer to my hair and scalp: I'm going to try to minimize using shampoo.
I'm not going to stop washing my hair, let's make that clear. Far from it, dirty hair is among my worst offenders in beauty-related annoyances, only topped by finding that one stubborn hair (which I like to refer to as my beard attempt) that keeps regrowing on my chin + no access to tweezers. You have no idea how much that makes me rage but seriously don't get between me and my most immediate chance at plucking the fuker out. Whoops sry got derailed, fact is that I can't stand the feel or smell of dirty hair. So why would I want to stop putting shampoo in it, essentially making it as clean as possible? Well:
Perhaps I already began this in some form years ago when my mother, once upon a shopping trip, saw me looking up shampoos and gave me a strict talking-to on the importance of reading the ingredients list. "No dimethicone!" was the key point. She's a chemist so I have no reason to doubt her, and since the function of dimethicone in shampoo and conditioner is to coat your hair, strand by strand, with a layer of silicone it hardly sounds good. It's also used in skincare and I avoid it there as well although to be fair dimethicone is listed as a safe ingredient. That it may be, but fact is that my hair took a quick turn for better right after I stopped using products that had dimethicone and therefore I've tried my best to not have to go back to using that sort of stuff. It may be one of those things that are more damaging to you if your hair, like mine, is flimsy, light, dry and brittle by default, but if your hair type is anything else it'll be just fine. Therefore I'm not going to make any real statements about it aside of the "it doesn't work for me".
Dimethicone is by far not the only ingredient to look out for: sulfates and isopropyl alcohol are even worse. The bad thing is that they exist in almost every haircare product so they're very difficult to avoid. However, if you're willing to see the trouble it's entirely possible to find alternatives, the number one being obviously trying to find products that don't have those damaging ingredients - or even better, if you're really interested in knowing what goes into your hair just make your own hair products.
Cousin It and his six sisters?
How to use: mix with water, massage into the hair roots. Let sit for a few minutes until it turns slippery, rinse out well. Here's a tuto.
Many people like to add a vinegar- or a lemon juice rinse after washing with baking soda because baking soda is an alkaline and your scalp should rather be acidic. Btw it's important to rinse the baking soda out very thoroughly or you'll get a weird sticky feel to your hair. :(
Pros/cons: cleans the hair well but can dry it up, especially if the hair's dry to begin with. Does not suit all people although many are totally happy with washing with baking soda and have gone on for years doing so. No harm in testing whether it works, though!
Olive oil soap/castille soap
To be fair I've only used olive oil soap for washing my hair once in my life, during a week spent at a friend's summer cottage. Washing your hair in sauna is an art form of its own...
How to use: rub in, rinse off. :D Might want to consider the above-mentioned acidic rinses to go with it because they're generally good for the hair, at least in my opinion - a mildly acidic rinse makes the hair feel really silky without the usual flattening effect of conditioners.
Pros/cons: stings you eyes like anything. Again, does not work for everyone, especially not on its own. This has lead some creative people add it to other ingredients, such as the recipe for coconut milk + castille soap here.
I have not personally ever tried this one but it does sound promising! Therefore I'll just link you to the blog post I found the recipe from. I can say, though, that honey saved my skin more than once during my awful teenage years' acne. Will try.
Most blogs I've read on the so called "no poo" (= no shampoo) movement demand going cold turkey, that quitting immediately is the key and that suffering is inevitable for the first month, first two months or even the first full year... which takes me back to the beginning of this blog post and my deep hate for having greasy hair. There's no way in the world I'm ever going to voluntarily go through just quitting shampoo and bearing the effects. Nope. Especially because by what I've read the first month-or-more is going to be super greasy time and let's just say my hair is typically fast to grow that greasy look (that may actually be precisely because I wash it every day, causing my scalp to enter panic mode and push even more gunk out to battle my cleaning attempts).
Instead what I did (because actually I've already began on this at the beginning of December, er, in the name of early resolutions) was to first shampoo my hair every other day instead of every day. Then every third day, then only when it began to look oily. At this point it indeed looks like washing it less frequently makes it get oily slower - at the moment I need to wash my hair once in four days and it's only been roughly a month since I began. My hair feels softer, thinner but fluffier, does not look or feel greasy or dirty and most importantly doesn't smell (because if it did this project would be thrown out of the nearest window SO FAST).
This shouldn't be surprising at all, actually, considering shampoo is a relatively new invention. Ladies of the late 1800's and earlier washed their hair rarely because washing f.ex. weekly would have quickly destroyed their locks: the typical washing agent used was heavy alkaline soap, which is massively damaging to hair. Throughout history women might have washed their hair with soap perhaps once in a few months' time! For a really well-written and interesting post on the matter of historical hair care, go see this post in Lydia Joyce.
I'll keep you guys updated on how this goes, whether success or failure, what worked best for me and so forth. I made a new tag hair care so the related posts will always be easy to find. :)
You won't have to just take me by my word; for the next entry I'll take a photo of my hair every day between two washes so you'll see in practice what it looks like.