Last week the gauntlet was thrown: I launched this blog, and a reader wrote in, “Hey, have you heard of this ‘No Poo’ movement?” She linked to a story of a woman swearing that her hair was at its very best now that she did not use shampoo. I had heard of people doing this, but I invented a multitude of reasons not to join in. First, I have a white-girl ‘fro. I can barely keep these curls tamed with the six bottles of product I have. Second, I work out almost daily, and I’m not shy about sweating. How could plain old water get out all the gross, salty sliminess? Finally, because of the size of my ‘fro, I like my hair to smell good. The least you can do when you’re toting around this amount of curls is to interrupt people’s thoughts of “Whoa, that’s a lot of frizz” with, “Wait, but I smell flowers!” But times are lean and I do see how much money I’m bleeding out for my curl-control products. Said reader, sensing my hesitation, sent me another story about taking baby steps toward pure hair. In this case, I could still use my shampoo but would add baking soda to it. I was sold. And I decided to start a program with a goal of weaning myself off the ‘poo, starting with mixing the shampoo and baking soda, and then gradually transitioning to just a baking-soda-and-water shampoo, and a vinegar rinse for conditioner. Last night I tried it for the first time.

I dumped somewhere between a teaspoon and tablespoon of baking soda in my palm, and mixed in a little shampoo. I scrubbed it through my hair and immediately noticed that it wasn’t as tangled as it usually is. In fact, it didn’t feel like it needed my heavy-duty detangling serum at all. (Okay, so the ‘fro also needs to be trimmed of its dead ends.) After anxiously waiting for it to dry, I had to admit that this was the best my hair has ever felt. It’s squeaky-clean and shiny, and the curls are doing the bouncing thing that always makes my younger music students laugh and pull at them. I’ll check in next week, when I’ll hopefully have transitioned to all baking soda for the shampoo, and I’ll introduce the vinegar rinse for conditioner. Bonus: If you’re wary of the No Poo plan but intrigued with having a cheaper beauty routine, try this simple step with baking soda: Mix a little with your daily facial cleanser for a gentle exfoliate.