Baking Soda Experiment

Having been without shampoo for several months, I decided to try out baking soda, thanks to advice I found at life less plastic

 My head was getting very itchy for some reason and I was scratching it a lot and didn’t like the wads of gunk under my fingernails.

So I tried using a couple teaspoons of baking soda.  In France, baking soda comes in small paper envelopes, and I haven’t found the big boxes as you have in the states yet.  I used one envelope which is about two teaspoons.

I just wet my hair and put the powder all over my head and then scrubbed away.  There was a very pleasant tingling sensation which I enjoyed quite a bit, so I left it to sit for a couple of minutes.  Then I rinsed and put some lemon juice on my hair (vinegar is smelly).  That was it.

There was no extra sebum, but there was still some natural oil left. I read about baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, on wikipedia and found information which does indicate its history as a kind of soap. For whatever reason, it behaves on the scalp as a kind of emulsifier, and so is probably the perfect solution.


My head was still itchy, which was the only reason I washed in the first place! So I did another wash with baking soda and then, one morning, my wife spotted a nit in my hair! My girls all had lice from school, so I must have gotten it from them.

I had to use some lice medication and then shampoo to wash it out (it was an oily lotion).  So now my hair and scalp are dry as a desert I can’t wait for the oil to build up again.

So, my advice would be to treat baking soda as a kind of mild shampoo. I don’t see anything particularly different about it.  My advice is still: don’t bother using anything unless you have to, and then, perhaps once or twice a month, try the baking soda and lemon approach.

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1 Year On

Well, the no shampoo revolution is still nascent, but I have been without shampoo for a year.  I moved to Marseille, France in December 07, and the cleaner air and beach may be partly responsible for my pretty normal looking hair.

Let’s see if I can find a representative pic…

Yes, that’s me.  

It was hard at the beginning.  I had to ‘decide’ not to use shampoo every time I took a bath.  Now I don’t even think about it.  I reckon that if everybody eliminated shampoo, that simple effort would single handedly save the planet.  It’s a big idea, I know, but hey, the revolution must start with the individual!

Comments please.  And order a t-shirt, they’re fantastic!

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noShampoo True

I’m happy to say I’m completely shampoo free and everything is fine. My previous attempts at home-made shampoo were a quasi-failure, their only success that I realized it was either shampoo or noShampoo. To help me in my quest, I cut my hair pretty short and then just let things go. The end result is that I haven’t used shampoo for at least two and half months and everything is fine. I notice that my hair has it’s own natural cycle of getting greasy and then being fine, which is strange, but ok.

I will see how it goes for a year and take it from there.

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noShampoo experiments

Inspired by the overwhelming popularity of the site and video, I decided to go completely noShampoo. These are my thoughts so far.

I live in London. London is a dirty city. I realize many of the noShampoo gurus are living near beaches (it seems mainly in Australia). If you swim in the ocean everyday, and live near a beach, I wouldn’t have thought your hair (or anything) would really get very dirty. This is not the case in London.

Grease builds up. I haven’t used shampoo for several weeks, and at the beginning, there was serious sebum build up. My brush was clogged with a greyish grease. The upside was that new and interesting styles such as the one shown below can be created.

Too much grease

This style was created by brushing the hair backwards. Notice the incredible amount of lift at the back.

I didn’t see how this initial Grease problem could be overcome so I tried various experiments with shampoo replacement options.

Shampoo alternatives

The basic idea here is to find something that cuts out some of the grease and dirt, but leaves enough behind so that your scalp doesn’t increase sebum production.

shampoo oil mixture
I mixed shampoo with almond oil in a 50/50 mix. Shaking gives a white foamy emulsion. Using the emulsion in your hair doesn’t really create much foam.
Result: Too much sebum was stripped, leaving the hair unprotected and dry, and re-starting the natural sebum production.
Conclusion: doesn’t work

egg yolk
Recommended to me by an Albanian friend. Egg yolk is an emulsifier, which is something that binds oil and water. Soaps are detergents, which are very strong emulsifiers. I figured this might be the answer
Result: Success! The hair was not greasy, and it was not completely stripped.
Downside: Eggy smell all day.
Conclusion: requires addition of perfumes.

egg yolk + yogurt + vanilla extract
To solve the problem of eggy smell, I added vanilla extract. My girlfriend also suggested yogurt. I used Goats Milk Yogurt. Approximate ratio: 1 egg yolk to two tablespoons yogurt + two drops vanilla extract.
Result: Success! Washing my girlfriends hair this time (yes I convinced her to go no shampoo), I noticed that any trace of egg white in the yolk will leave snotty white pieces stuck to the hair. I removed these manually. Trick is to wash hair with coldish water or remove all egg white from the yolk mixture. Her hair was left very shiny. She was happy with it. So was I. There is almost no sebum buildup afterwards.
Conclusion: Way to go!

Where to go next
Emulsifiers are the way forward. They are weak enough to leave the sebum bound to the hair and scalp, but strong enough to remove excess oil and dirt. I will see if I can find any other natural emulsifiers that do not smell like egg.

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