SUCCESS STORY - 9 months of no-poo
I wanted to share what I have been doing with my hair since I first found this community in December 2012. I wanted to stop using surfactants (like sulfates) and petroleum products and silicones, and once I found this community, I knew I would do it.
My hair was pretty long when I started, about mid-boob length? and got longer once I started for about six months! It grew quickly, more quickly than it used to. I just cut it about a month and a half ago to right above my shoulders, which I'm quite enjoying! My hair is dark brown, is very full (I have a LOT of hair), wavy, and each individual strand is relatively thin.
I only ever used baking soda once, the first time. I used a couple tablespoons mixed with some aloe vera gel and honey, then followed it with a vinegar rinse (I'm not sure the ratios). I decided the BS was too drying, and for several months I used only aloe vera gel to 'wash' my scalp followed by an acidic rinse.
The rinse has also changed over time. I noticed that the vinegar gave my hair a weird smell, so I switched to tea, usually chamomile. I made a large batch of very strong chamomile tea and stored it in a squirt bottle. Eventually, I realized that the tea ends up smelling pretty rancid after a few days in the bottle, so now I make a cup of strong fresh chamomile tea every time I do a rinse.
Currently, I like to wash my hair with just a tad of dr. Bronner's soap (I'm using the original peppermint right now, but will try others in the future). I wet my hair, massage that into my scalp, let it sit for a minute, then I rinse it out. I follow by massaging the aloe vera gel into my scalp, then applying cone-free conditioner to mostly the ends then throughout the hair. I have a vo5 one that I like. Then I'll rinse all of that out very thoroughly and dip my hair in the fresh tea that has cooled down. That can sit on my hair for a couple minutes, then I rinse it out with lukewarm or cool water.
Above is the entire routine, but I don't do that all the time. That's when my hair really needs to be cleaned, moisturized, etc. In between this routine, I sometimes do a water only (WO), or I'll just massage my scalp with either just my fingers and water or some aloe vera, then do a chamomile rinse. It all depends on how I/my hair feel.
When my hair is still wet, I blot/scrunch with a towel to get some of the water out, then I comb it with a wide toothed comb. Once combed, I add a bit of aloe vera gel mixed with a drop or two of tea tree oil to my hair as a styling product, and it works great! I'll also use a boar bristle brush when my hair is dry and a little oily.
This is all I have for now, but the final routine really did take some experimentation and trial to see what works best for my hair. If you're struggling, don't worry. My hair was greasy and buildupy and kind of smelly at first, but I finally figured it out for the most part.