April 13 2009, 9:48 AM
Last week I embarked on the no-'poo lifestyle, trading my shampoo for baking soda. This week I took the natural beauty routine to a new level and exchanged my goopy conditioner for a vinegar rinse. Putting my curls to my nose now, my hair doesn't smell like a loaf of bread or a tart acid rinse. In fact, my hair looks and feels the best it ever has. I gradually worked up to the no-poo regiment. I started by mixing in the baking soda with my shampoo, and gradually phased out the shampoo for water. I use a pretty easy approach. I dump a tablespoon or so in my hand and mix in warm water from the shower, creating a paste not unlike the paper mache I used to make as a kid. One of my concerns for this all-natural shampoo was its ability to clean my sweaty workout hair. Some good advice I got along the no-'poo way was to be sure to really scrub your scalp when you slather on the baking soda to make sure you loosen any dirt. (And it feels good.) I was also worried to hear from other baking-soda devotees that a week into my regiment my hair could get really greasy. As a musician, I'm often onstage, and it's hard to hide a grease-blob head under the hot stage spotlight. Toward the end of my first week I did get slightly more oily, but more in that skipped-a-shower way. The oily phase lasted two days, and then my curls were back to normal. Along the way, I've influenced a few of my friends to start using baking soda as well. Yesterday my friend Amy called me into the kitchen and held up a 12-pound bag of baking soda, which she had gotten for just five dollars. She sent me home with two ziplock bags full of my new 'poo, which also earned me quite a few drug-dealer jokes. Last night I added in the next step--giving up my awesome, thick, creamy conditioner for an all-natural vinegar rinse. This website recommends apple cider vinegar, though you can substitute white vinegar or lemon juice. (Apple cider vinegar is apparently the least irritating for your scalp.) However, the author emphatically mentions not to use balsamic vinegar, which made me simultaneously laugh and crave a loaf of French bread. I didn't have apple cider vinegar (though I'm picking some up today), so I used white vinegar. It was recommended to mix two tablespoons into a cup of water, and I doubled the batch. It wasn't too hard to apply. I put my wet hair in a ponytail and dunked the ends into the measuring cup first, letting the ends soak in the mixture before pouring the rest over my scalp. Apparently, you can choose to either leave the vinegar in or rinse it out. I chose to rinse. It was easy to comb after the shower, and the curls dried silky and shiny. While my hair has no trace of the vinegar smell, I'm going to take a reader's advice and add some rosemary and lemon extract to make it smell better. Next step: I want to cut out my use of hair gels and sprays and find natural alternatives to keep my frizz at bay. Any advice?