Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to start a no-poo method of hair care

What you need
You will need a few products to get you started. You don't need to get online and spend big bucks on boutique type CG friendly products (such as Deva, Curl Junkie, JessieCurl, and more) unless you want to. I started my journey for under $30.
1. You will need a silicone free sulfate shampoo. This is to clarify any silicones or build up causing ingredients from your hair so you can start with a clean slate. I happened to have Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Shampoo in my shower. So I didn't spend anything there. But even if I needed to go out and buy some, it's under $2. (I still have that same bottle under my sink, half full. And since I have hard water and color my hair, I clarify with it every 4-6 weeks before coloring.)
2. Silicone free light conditioner for co-washing. Again, I happened to have the Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner in my shower, so I just used that. Any of the Suave Naturals or V05 conditioners will work, and they are again under $2.
3. A good silicone free rinse out conditioner. This should be more moisturizing than your co-wash conditioner. I picked up Renpure My Pretty Hair is Parched for around $6, and I still use it a year and a half later! I also picked up some GVP Conditioning Balm from Sally Beauty Supply for around $6. I use this as rinse out in winter, and I add honey and coconut oil to it for my deep conditioning treatments.
4. Optional: A separate conditioner for a leave in. Some use a small amount of their co-wash conditioner or rinse out conditioner, and it works just fine. So that's up to you.
5. Optional: A curl enhancing product. This could be as simple as Aloe Vera Juice (the drinkable kind found with the laxatives) or Aloe Vera Gel (alcohol free, like Fruit of the Earth or Lily of the Desert). A homemade product like Flax Seed Gel found in this list of recipes. Or one of these choices reviewed at WHC product reviews. I prefer Flax Seed Gel (FSG) in all dews. KY jelly (it works!) in normal dews, or AVG (Fruit of the Earth brand, found at Walmart) in low dews. But it's whatever you like.
6. Hair Gel. Most wavies need a pretty strong holding gel to keep thier waves from falling flat as they dry. Don't be scared of ending up with crunchy hair. You can scrunch the crunch out (SOTC - scrunch out the crunch) once your hair is fully dry. Leaving you with soft, defined waves and curls. Some prefer mousse.. but when I started CG, my weak wave pattern demanded the strength of gel.
7. You will need something to scrunch out water, because you will no longer use a terry cloth towel. Terry cloth has a grabby texture that pulls strands free of their clumps and results in frizz. You can start with an old cotton t-shirt if you don't want to run out and buy anything. They work just fine. I prefer flour sack towels. Which can be picked up for around $5 at Walmart. Microfiber towels (yep, the ones found in the automotive section!) work well, also. Particularly if you have thick hair or a weak wave pattern and need a lot of water soaked up off your hair.
8. Optional: A low sulfate shampoo to ease your transition or in case co-washing isn't right for you.

Shower Routine
On your first day, you will use your silicone free sulfate shampoo to clarify your hair. Rinse well. Now use your moisturizing rinse out. Use enough to completely coat your hair (you may want to only coat your hair from the ears down, to prevent flat roots). Gently detangle your hair now, don't brush wavy or curly hair when dry! Only detangle your hair when it is wet and coated with conditioner. You may use your fingers or a wide tooth comb. Squish scrunch the conditioner through your hair, adding more if needed until you can hear it squelching, and it feels like wet seaweed. Now, you can either rinse all this out and add some leave in later, or you can lightly rinse and leave some of this in. I prefer to rinse it all out and add leave in later. It's easier to control the amount left in my hair that way, and I prefer using Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk as my leave in as opposed to my Renpure.
After your first day, you will begin co-washing. Co-washing involves using the conditioner to lubricate the pads of your fingers as you use friction to scrub excess oil, dirt, skin cells, etc. off of your scalp.
To co-wash, pour your co-wash onto the the pads of your finger on one hand. Transfer some of that to the other hand. Slip your fingers in your hair at the scalp. I like to make sure my scalp is adequately covered with conditioner before I begin scrubbing, so I repeat this step until I feel I have enough conditioner on my scalp. You will now scrub your scalp and roots with the pads of your fingers. This takes quite a bit more scrubbing than shampoo. But it's a great arm workout! Once you have scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed and scrubbed some more, continue to scrub while you rinse to make sure the conditioner rinses clean. Then proceed with the conditioning step like above.

Here you will just need to experiment with what works for you to get you the hair you want. Here is the WHC reviews with links to the most popular wavy styling methods.
But to give you an idea, I will share my styling routine.
I turn my shower to the tub faucet, leaving the water on. I rake probably 2 dime sized dabs of my LI through wet hair, raking out away from my scalp. I then do a modified supersoaker technique (reviews and link can be found above) by bringing cupped hands full  of water up to my scalp all over until I have good clump-age. I then flip my head upside down and scrunch a very generous amount of FSG into my hair while I squeeze water out. I do this before stepping out of the shower, because it can get messy! I leave my hair flipped over while I carefully step out and plop my very wet hair into my waiting flour sack towel that I set up on the closed toilet seat before my shower. (Plopping can be found in the above link). I dry off, lotion up, get dressed then take my first plop down, leaving my hair flipped over. I scrunch in a good amount of gel (3-4 palmfuls for my slightly below bra strap length hair) and I plop again in a dry flour sack towel. I leave that one for maybe 30 minutes before I start diffusing on warm heat, low speed until the gel is set (starts to feel a bit crunchy). I aim my diffuser at my roots while I am upside down to get those a little dryer. This does 2 things for me, gives me a little more lift, and helps the rest of my hair dry faster than leaving them damp. Then I air dry the rest of the way. Then scrunch out the crunch when dry.

Putting product (be it just curl enhancer or all your products) into very wet hair helps with definition, clumping, and keeping you frizz free.

There is a transition period as your scalp adjusts to not being stripped of it's natural oils. I recommend just sticking it out for at least a month. But if it bothers you, you can alternate co-washing with low-poo. The transition may take longer, but you won't be as greasy.
If, after a month or 2, co-washing just isn't for you, a gentle low-poo is just fine.
Please keep in mind, however, that clean well moisturized, NOT stripped hair does feel different than the squeaky clean of a sulfate shampoo! It takes getting used to. But once you are used to it, you will start loving it and wonder how you lived all this time with the horrid squeak of a sulfate shampoo.