the no 'poo method

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At my breaking point! I know you can help, dear no-poo community!
tower
littleetoile wrote in no_poo
Just about to finish my third week of my first try at no-poo and I feel like giving up. I had beautiful, shiny, soft, manageable hair before and now it's been reduced to a waxy, frizzy, dried-out mess. It feels like someone scorched the bottom half of my hair with a lit candle, then rubbed most of the rest of my head with the remaining candle wax. I gave a go at the usual solutions, but nothing seems to be helping.

I tried:
  • Water-only scrubbing for the first two weeks every day, or every other day
  • Added in the standard wash with 1 tbs BS + 1 cup water, rinsed, and then applied the same ratio ACV-conditioner after two weeks when the waxy build-up and dryness became too much (and yes, I scrubbed and rinsed well for both! ;) )
  • Adding more baking soda (~2 tbsp to 1 cup water; used full cup; left on ~1 min)
  • Adding more vinegar (~1/3 cup to 1 cup water; used full cup; left on ~1 min)
  • Thoroughly brushing 1-2x per day with a boar's bristle brush to distribute the oils/sebum
  • Boiling the water in case I have hard water, even though I live in northern California and should have some of the softest water in the US

For reference, my hair is:
  • Shoulder-length
  • Straight with just a slight wave
  • Color-treated, deep auburn
  • Normal thickness
  • Not oily (always only needed to wash my hair every other day, or sometimes even just every two days)

I have an important wedding in less than two weeks and I don't want to throw all this work down the drain, but I am really at a breaking point. I read through at least a hundred tagged posts on here and dozens of blogs and I keep getting conflicting info about the wax and dryness. Some say I need to add more BS, yet other says more ACV. Further complicating this, if adding more BS is the trick to get the wax out, everything I've read says that this will only fry my hair more. So then I'm free of wax, but left with a broom on my head? Gah! I don't know which is worse! And sure, I realize that three weeks is not a huge amount of time, but considering how infrequently I washed before, I (arrogantly, I suppose) assumed my transition period would be pretty short. *sigh* I know there is always an adjustment, but so far I haven't seen any encouraging signs of improvement--only deterioration--and by this point I thought I'd see at leas some igns of benefits.


Things I'm now considering trying:
  • Egg wash
  • Conditioner-only (CO), which I am resistant to
  • Giving up all together (noooooo!)

With all the resourceful, knowledgeable, helpful LJers on here who have been through the trenches, surely we can save me from caving in and returning to the standard shampoo+conditioner routine! (Yes? The no-poo-Gods willing?) My sincere and overflowing thanks in advance, lovelies!


1/8/13 Update REJOICE! SING TO THE HEAVENS AND GIVE PRAISE! MY HAIR HAS ARISEN!
So as planned, last night I applied two eggs yolks mixed with the juice from 1/2 a lemon last night to my dry hair and let sit for 5-10 minutes. There wasn't enough liquid to cover all of my hair, so about halfway through I poured a small amount of cold water over the top of my head to distribute the egg and lemon juice down to the ends. I then rinsed with cold water, and followed with a one-cup 50:50 water:white vinegar rinse on my entire head of hair and let sit for about a minute. I then rinsed out with cold water and prayed to the hair gods that it would work. It felt really dry and stiff when I got out of the shower, which made me feel really discouraged, and even though I rinsed with cold water after the egg mix, I must not have gotten it all out because there were bits of scrambled egg in my hair. Funsies! I combed my hair while wet (which I never ever do) to help get out the egg and tame my straw-like hair. I went to bed with it wet, as I usually do, hopeful, but also pessimistic. By the way it felt when wet, it didn't seem like the elimination of BS, nor the addition of egg, lemon, and switch to white vinegar, made a difference. However, when I awoke I ran my fingers through my hair and I could have cried! To my surprise, it was soft, clean, light, AND NOT AT ALL WAXY! Aaaaah! So happy! It's a tad stringy and flat (though I'm sure only I notice, it's so minor), so I think I'll dilute the vinegar more next time, but I'll take that look over what was going on before!

Thanks everyone!

I think, if you have a function in the short term that you want/need to look presentable for (not sure if you're getting married yourself [mazel tov, in that case!] or just part of the ceremony), I would switch back to shampoo just for now. That way you look presentable for the wedding (if you have to) and that's one less stressor to deal with in a stressed time.

I've temporarily switched back to shampoo because there is hella surplus shampoo in my bathroom and I'd rather it at least get USED instead of sent down the drain. It's never a permanent decision. :)

The one thing that worked the best for me, which I have recommended in other posts (and also never seen mentioned in the standard no 'poo newbie guide) is to schedule your washings so that they coincide when you'll be extra sweaty and gross. Nothing has helped my hair get clean like taking showers after a hardcore workout; I think the excess sweat makes it easier for the BS to lather up, and more lather means easier cleaning.

I also never found brushing very helpful for my hair, in terms of distributing oil. However, my hair was/is very much prone to oiliness. It's naturally very fine, and brunette, so a little bit of oil shows INSTANTLY.

My other suggestion is that it seems like you might have tried too many things at once and freaked your hair the hell out.

Thanks for the reply! So yes, I'm in the wedding, so as suggested, I was considering washing just that day before the wedding if it comes to that. Hopefully it won't undo too much of the work I've put in...?

In terms of the scheduling, I hardly sweat at all, so not sure that would be useful for me, unfortunately. :/

"My other suggestion is that it seems like you might have tried too many things at once and freaked your hair the hell out."

Ah, sorry. I realize it sounds like a tried a lot all at once, but it's not as bad as it sounds! I've only done two BS/AVC rinse rounds. The first was standard, the second was with a boost of each in boiled water. The first two weeks were just water-only. I've been trying to be as methodical as possible with this by not trying to introduce too many new approaches at once. But the more none of them work, the more tempting it is to just throw everything at it fast and furious! ;D

I don't think one wash should undo TOO much, if anything. Maybe if you had been comfortably no 'poo for a couple of years before this, but I think in this situation you'll be fine. :)

I don't know how anyone can do WO, to be honest. I've tried it with sort of lukewarm (at best) success. I'm not surprised you were frustrated those first two weeks.

But the more none of them work, the more tempting it is to just throw everything at it fast and furious! ;D

lol I know how that feels!

From my post update:

1/8/13 Update: REJOICE! SING TO THE HEAVENS AND GIVE PRAISE! MY HAIR HAS ARISEN!
So as planned, last night I applied two eggs yolks mixed with the juice from 1/2 a lemon last night to my dry hair and let sit for 5-10 minutes. There wasn't enough liquid to cover all of my hair, so about halfway through I poured a small amount of cold water over the top of my head to distribute the egg and lemon juice down to the ends. I then rinsed with cold water, and followed with a one-cup 50:50 water:white vinegar rinse on my entire head of hair and let sit for about a minute. I then rinsed out with cold water and prayed to the hair gods that it would work. It felt really dry and stiff when I got out of the shower, which made me feel really discouraged, and even though I rinsed with cold water after the egg mix, I must not have gotten it all out because there were bits of scrambled egg in my hair. Funsies! I combed my hair while wet (which I never ever do) to help get out the egg and tame my straw-like hair. I went to bed with it wet, as I usually do, hopeful, but also pessimistic. By the way it felt when wet, it didn't seem like the elimination of BS, nor the addition of egg, lemon, and switch to white vinegar, made a difference. However, when I awoke I ran my fingers through my hair and I could have cried! To my surprise, it was soft, clean, light, AND NOT AT ALL WAXY! Aaaaah! So happy! It's a tad stringy and flat (though I'm sure only I notice, it's so minor), so I think I'll dilute the vinegar more next time, but I'll take that look over what was going on before!

Thanks everyone!

Sadly I don't remember how I got rid of the waxy buildup when I got that. Have you tried oiling your ends? Just the parts that seem to get fried. I would also check for split ends and trim any you find. My hair is not your hair, but my hair likes 1-3/4 teaspoons of baking soda per 12 oz shampoo bottle, and I use a quarter bottle per wash.

Unfortunately it's not just my ends that feel dry. Seems like my entire head of hair. :/

No split ends at this point, thankfully.

So maybe I should try less baking soda...? I was using a tablespoon, whereas you are using a teaspoon.


I reduced it slowly, and when I got down to 1-1/2 teaspoons, it wasn't enough. 2 teaspoons was too much. When it wasn't enough, I knew because my hair was still greasy.

Greasy, not waxy though? It seems like there is a distinction among no-pooers, right? Just trying to check against my own issues I'm trying to tackle. ;)

Also, what made you think that you should reduce it in the first place?

Edited at 2013-01-07 09:45 pm (UTC)

I had a verbose reply, and LJ ate it. My hair can be like an oil slick after two weeks without a wash. This is greasy. Waxy is when I get grey residue filling my fingernails or comb depending on what I used to go through it.

I eased into no poo as I was scared of transitioning. I had read that some people found their ideal balance of BS to be something other than 1Tbsp/1 cup water. I think I just wanted to see how little BS I could get away with.

From my post update:

1/8/13 Update: REJOICE! SING TO THE HEAVENS AND GIVE PRAISE! MY HAIR HAS ARISEN!
So as planned, last night I applied two eggs yolks mixed with the juice from 1/2 a lemon last night to my dry hair and let sit for 5-10 minutes. There wasn't enough liquid to cover all of my hair, so about halfway through I poured a small amount of cold water over the top of my head to distribute the egg and lemon juice down to the ends. I then rinsed with cold water, and followed with a one-cup 50:50 water:white vinegar rinse on my entire head of hair and let sit for about a minute. I then rinsed out with cold water and prayed to the hair gods that it would work. It felt really dry and stiff when I got out of the shower, which made me feel really discouraged, and even though I rinsed with cold water after the egg mix, I must not have gotten it all out because there were bits of scrambled egg in my hair. Funsies! I combed my hair while wet (which I never ever do) to help get out the egg and tame my straw-like hair. I went to bed with it wet, as I usually do, hopeful, but also pessimistic. By the way it felt when wet, it didn't seem like the elimination of BS, nor the addition of egg, lemon, and switch to white vinegar, made a difference. However, when I awoke I ran my fingers through my hair and I could have cried! To my surprise, it was soft, clean, light, AND NOT AT ALL WAXY! Aaaaah! So happy! It's a tad stringy and flat (though I'm sure only I notice, it's so minor), so I think I'll dilute the vinegar more next time, but I'll take that look over what was going on before!

Thanks everyone!

It took me a few moths of being persistent, I use 1Tbs in a cup of water and 1 Tbs acv and a few drops of essential oils to a cup of water. I kept my hair tied back and braided between brushings for the first 3 months (wearing an occasional cap as I lengthened my stretches between washes). It's been almost 6 and I am happy with my hair (it could do with a trim). The only trouble I had was when we traveled to Yosemite over the holidays and my scalp got a bit dry and flaky but I think that was the dry air, it cleared up when I returned home. I wash my hair once a week. It's long and un-dyed. I live in So-Cal I don't boil my water and it doesn't seem to make a difference.

Thanks for your feedback! (Although three months--oof! Not sure I can take that long of a transition!)

Can I ask you though: do you feel like your hair ever gets as clean and fresh as it did before you switched?

My hair has felt fine for the last 4 months (the last month in the braid was just me being sure my hair looked good with a week between washes). Oddly enough after going to Yosemite the gray goo on my brush quit happening. Don't ask me how, I didn't wash my hair up there, just spent 4 days there.

From my post update:

1/8/13 Update: REJOICE! SING TO THE HEAVENS AND GIVE PRAISE! MY HAIR HAS ARISEN!
So as planned, last night I applied two eggs yolks mixed with the juice from 1/2 a lemon last night to my dry hair and let sit for 5-10 minutes. There wasn't enough liquid to cover all of my hair, so about halfway through I poured a small amount of cold water over the top of my head to distribute the egg and lemon juice down to the ends. I then rinsed with cold water, and followed with a one-cup 50:50 water:white vinegar rinse on my entire head of hair and let sit for about a minute. I then rinsed out with cold water and prayed to the hair gods that it would work. It felt really dry and stiff when I got out of the shower, which made me feel really discouraged, and even though I rinsed with cold water after the egg mix, I must not have gotten it all out because there were bits of scrambled egg in my hair. Funsies! I combed my hair while wet (which I never ever do) to help get out the egg and tame my straw-like hair. I went to bed with it wet, as I usually do, hopeful, but also pessimistic. By the way it felt when wet, it didn't seem like the elimination of BS, nor the addition of egg, lemon, and switch to white vinegar, made a difference. However, when I awoke I ran my fingers through my hair and I could have cried! To my surprise, it was soft, clean, light, AND NOT AT ALL WAXY! Aaaaah! So happy! It's a tad stringy and flat (though I'm sure only I notice, it's so minor), so I think I'll dilute the vinegar more next time, but I'll take that look over what was going on before!

Thanks everyone!

Ugh, I actually gave up. After four and a half weeks and various methods tried, I hadn't seen any improvement in the quality of my hair from my starting point, and in fact, my hair was only way worse than it was before I started. The ends were dried and frizzy, my hair felt stiff, it was flat and matted at the back crown...

What really pushed it over was getting ready for a destination wedding I was in, and seeing the photos of myself taken while we were out trekking in the local area during the couple days leading up to the event. Seeing myself one-step removed like that allowed me to see just how awful my hair looked. It wasn't worth it to me anymore and I didn't want to look terrible for my friend's wedding photos. I'm switching to a non-silicone shampoo and trying to wash my hair ~1x/week, but the no-poo thing just didn't work for me. :(

do an egg wash! it will wash away all the waxiness - trust :)

I quit shampoo about 10 months ago and I remember that 4-5 months into the process I still had some waxy build up.
I would wash it away with either two egg yolks (the egg whites were making my hair dry as straw, probably from protein overload but the yolks are doing a remarkable job) or a diluted natural shampoo (mine consists of oils and soap - so i guess it's more of a liquid soap) following with an acidic rinse, I recommend WV.

Here is the thing about ACV; around that time ACV was making my hair oily and lank, WV didn't so I would just rinse the ends with a WV solution. However, in July/ August last year, I gave ACV another shot and applied it directly on that waxy spot in the back of my head and the wax was magically GONE! since then it's been WO and ACV or WV rinse and my hair feels, looks really really well :)

when it comes to the dryness, I sometimes add a few drops of glycerine into my rinse. don't add too much or else it will make your hair dry forever. and it doesn't work for everyone but it's worth a try if you have dry hair.

but since you're 3 weeks in your hair is probably still transitioning and you should probably not strain it with too many experiments. have patience and definitely try the egg wash :)

hope my tips help! good luck! :)

That's great! I'll try switching to WV, and look forward to my attempt at an egg wash tonight. Thank you!

At this stage, how often would you recommend doing both the baking soda/vinegar rinses? What about the egg wash? Likewise, getting it wet in general? Especially when I was doing WO, I was getting it wet more or less every day, so I'm wondering if that is also contributing to it drying out so much. Then the two times I tried the BS/V washes, I did them one day after the other, which I think is also too close together. (Last one was Saturday afternoon and I haven't wet my hair since, so I'm hoping spacing things out will help.)

Thanks in advance! This is giving me hope! Always a relief to know people have struggled with the same challenges and managed to overcome! :D

weeeeell.... actually I never did the BS/ACV combo. My hair is incredibly fragile and fine and I am in the process of growing it out (which takes forever because it grows extremely slowly) so I do anything to prevent split ends thus never use BS (to be honest, I only did it once, in the very beginning of my "journey" and the results were alright I think. as in BS did the job hehe).

I don't see the point in first changing my hair's ph level to basic with BS and then balancing it with something acidic in the process of washing it, I think it's quiet damaging and I really can't afford that with my hair type. it's unnecessary.

So back then I was relying on weekly egg washes and WV on the ends and coconut oil on the ends. Basically, because of my hard water, I could do a weekly egg wash + WV and two or three WOs inbetween. Only two or three because after the third time my hair would be super waxy (hard water - I think) in the back and would tangle like crazy - but the egg yolks would get rid of the wax by the end of the week. My hair was really nice, I had quiet a reliable system going on here :)

but suddenly, after two months, my hair remained slightly waxy after an egg wash (maybe I just didn't massage my scalp thoroughly enough, Idk) which is when I used my natural soapy-shampoey liquid, it's sort of a 'last resort' and a 'resetting' tool for my hair; I only use it if it's really necessary.

Also, ayurvedic herbs. I don't have much experience but aritha powder is really good in getting rid of the wax - it does make your hair dry though. There are many posts here that tell you to brew it and use the brew but I found the powder itself was really great for massaging the scalp (it gave me the feeling that I was getting rid of more wax plus, a head massage is always good for you :)) that was a few weeks before my ultimate ACV breakthrough that I mentioned in the previous post :D

I remember that my hair was dry as straw (the coconut oil was only on the surface) so glycerine did a great job moisturising my hair from the inside (btw, when I wrote "don't add too much or else it will make your hair dry forever" in the previous post I meant that it takes the hair to dry for a long time and might stay lank and damp ;))

I also figured out how to make a WO the most effective; I actually wrote about that yesterday in a post; let me copy paste it here:

When I WO there are a few important things that work for my hair (I have very fragile, fine, straight hair):
- the shower head has to have really good pressure; mine has a 'massage water stream' option which I use to wash my hair with
- the water can't be too hot or else it fries your hair (like a curling iron) and not too cold (the hair remains oily)
- if there is hard water using an acidic rinse to wash the waxiness away is recommended
- massaging the head and moving chunks of hair so the water washes every bit of your scalp
*and of course massaging it ;)

anyway, as I mentioned in my previous post I gave ACV another shot last year in the summer and it magically washed away all the wax - so maybe you just need to get to that point, it really takes a while to transition completely but it doesn't mean that your hair is bound to look terrible all the time.

Last three things... (whoaaaaa what a long post!)

1. while rinsing the egg wash from your hair use cool water - scrambled eggs hazard!

2. corn starch or any other dry shampoo of your choice. Seriously, it's a life saver. My 'last resort' dry shampoo is Batiste, all hair gurus rave about it on youtube and it's a life saver even if cornstarch has failed you :) I mix my own DIY dry shampoo: corn starch + talcum powder + cocoa powder (for dark hair) + EO of your choice. My previous mix was with an addition of cocoa + peppermint, nom nom nom so yummy :)

3. sorry for any potential grammatical, spelling, semantic, etc mistakes, it's quiet late here ;) I really need to go to bed...

anyway, good luck with the egg wash, let me know how it went. I really hope it will work for you :)

You reply was amazing! Thank you! And guess what!

From my post update:

1/8/13 Update: REJOICE! SING TO THE HEAVENS AND GIVE PRAISE! MY HAIR HAS ARISEN!
So as planned, last night I applied two eggs yolks mixed with the juice from 1/2 a lemon last night to my dry hair and let sit for 5-10 minutes. There wasn't enough liquid to cover all of my hair, so about halfway through I poured a small amount of cold water over the top of my head to distribute the egg and lemon juice down to the ends. I then rinsed with cold water, and followed with a one-cup 50:50 water:white vinegar rinse on my entire head of hair and let sit for about a minute. I then rinsed out with cold water and prayed to the hair gods that it would work. It felt really dry and stiff when I got out of the shower, which made me feel really discouraged, and even though I rinsed with cold water after the egg mix, I must not have gotten it all out because there were bits of scrambled egg in my hair. Funsies! I combed my hair while wet (which I never ever do) to help get out the egg and tame my straw-like hair. I went to bed with it wet, as I usually do, hopeful, but also pessimistic. By the way it felt when wet, it didn't seem like the elimination of BS, nor the addition of egg, lemon, and switch to white vinegar, made a difference. However, when I awoke I ran my fingers through my hair and I could have cried! To my surprise, it was soft, clean, light, AND NOT AT ALL WAXY! Aaaaah! So happy! It's a tad stringy and flat (though I'm sure only I notice, it's so minor), so I think I'll dilute the vinegar more next time, but I'll take that look over what was going on before!

Thanks everyone!

awesooome :D I'm so glad it worked!

about the stiffness you experienced, it's the vinegar, I'm also trying to work it out. check this post: http://no-poo.livejournal.com/625115.html

I also did an egg yolk mask today, this time I added a tsp honey and it made my ends super moisturised. definitely adding honey to my regime.

Enjoy your good hair day :D

Sorry to hear you're having a rought time! However I agree with what you said, three weeks is not a whole lot of time. Your terrible results are completely normal at this time, lol. I haven't read through all of the replies to your thread, so forgive me if I am only repeating things. Maybe you can try applying your BS wash to dry hair, and then throughly rinsing. I found that this helps all the gunk in your hair lather up with the BS. However if you do that I suggest tying the length of your hair in a loose bun at the nape of your neck so that you can focus the BS on your scalp and prevent brittle ends. Also, I completely second the egg wash! In the past I have messaged two beaten eggs into my scalp, let it drip down the length, and it did wonders.

We all know how gross it can get in the beginning. Good luck, hang in there, and be patient!

From my post update:

1/8/13 Update: REJOICE! SING TO THE HEAVENS AND GIVE PRAISE! MY HAIR HAS ARISEN!
So as planned, last night I applied two eggs yolks mixed with the juice from 1/2 a lemon last night to my dry hair and let sit for 5-10 minutes. There wasn't enough liquid to cover all of my hair, so about halfway through I poured a small amount of cold water over the top of my head to distribute the egg and lemon juice down to the ends. I then rinsed with cold water, and followed with a one-cup 50:50 water:white vinegar rinse on my entire head of hair and let sit for about a minute. I then rinsed out with cold water and prayed to the hair gods that it would work. It felt really dry and stiff when I got out of the shower, which made me feel really discouraged, and even though I rinsed with cold water after the egg mix, I must not have gotten it all out because there were bits of scrambled egg in my hair. Funsies! I combed my hair while wet (which I never ever do) to help get out the egg and tame my straw-like hair. I went to bed with it wet, as I usually do, hopeful, but also pessimistic. By the way it felt when wet, it didn't seem like the elimination of BS, nor the addition of egg, lemon, and switch to white vinegar, made a difference. However, when I awoke I ran my fingers through my hair and I could have cried! To my surprise, it was soft, clean, light, AND NOT AT ALL WAXY! Aaaaah! So happy! It's a tad stringy and flat (though I'm sure only I notice, it's so minor), so I think I'll dilute the vinegar more next time, but I'll take that look over what was going on before!

Thanks everyone!

I am wondering how your hair is now? I have the exact same experience as you and was so stoked that my hair wasn't waxy after the egg mask, but a week later it is back to where it was before. I don't want to have to wash it with egg yolks all the time!

Ugh, I actually gave up. After four and a half weeks and various methods tried, I hadn't seen any improvement in the quality of my hair from my starting point, and in fact, my hair was only way worse than it was before I started. The ends were dried and frizzy, my hair felt stiff, it was flat and matted at the back crown...

What really pushed it over was getting ready for a destination wedding I was in, and seeing the photos of myself taken while we were out trekking in the local area during the couple days leading up to the event. Seeing myself one-step removed like that allowed me to see just how awful my hair looked. It wasn't worth it to me anymore and I didn't want to look terrible for my friend's wedding photos. I'm switching to a non-silicone shampoo and trying to wash my hair ~1x/week, but the no-poo thing just didn't work for me. :(

Bummer!
I as hoping the egg worked for you.


Try putting just a drop or two of L'oreal Eversleek sulfate free shampoo in your BS solution (it will last forever) and use the Evercreme leave in condoning spray on the ends while your hair is still wet, it has no waxes and washes out with BS. That little drop of shampoo made all the difference, make sure you apply it to your roots in several places and let it sit long enough to feel slickery.