8.06.2013

Natural Health Hack #4: Natural, Healthy, Beautiful Hair

How many hair products do you have in your bathroom?  Shampoo, conditioner, and maybe a styling gel, spray, or mousse... All of these products (with the exception of expensive, specially made organic brands) contain synthetic colors, fragrances, and alcohols that compromise your health, dry your scalp, and rob your hair of its natural luster.  

Why not throw out that synthetic junk and simplify your haircare routine with an all-natural, minimalist approach?  You'll have more time in your day to do what you love, and your happy hair and scalp will thank you.  

First, let's talk about no-poo.  The "no-poo" method is a minimalist hair care approach that eliminates the need for shampoo without sacrificing the integrity or luster of your hair.  Daily shampooing may make you feel clean, but it strips your hair of the natural oil your scalp produces that keeps the hair healthy, shiny, and thick.  Going shampooless can also preclude any need for conditioner, as your hair is less likely to become tangled or dry.

But there is more to no-poo than simply abstaining from suds.  Here's what you do:
  1. If your hair is curly or prone to dryness, before your shower, rub a bit of organic coconut or sunflower oil into your scalp and through the hair.  Just a dab will do.  Let this be part of your daily Ayurvedic oil massage
  2. Take a hot shower.  Stand directly under the shower head and thoroughly massage the scalp with your fingers to loosen any dirt or dead skin.  The hot water will rinse excess oil from the hair, along with the dander and mess.
  3. Before you get out of the shower, blast yourself head to toe with cold water to seal the hair shaft and tighten your pores.
  4. After your shower, dry your hair gently with a soft cotton towel.  
  5. If your hair is long enough to tangle, comb the hair (again: gently) with a wide-toothed wooden comb.  Avoid using combs or brushes made from plastic, as they produce static electricity that zaps the hair shaft and follicles dry, causing split ends and eventual hair loss.
  6. Once your hair is completely dry, brush the hair in long strokes from scalp to tip with a natural bristle brush.  Boar bristles are best, but for those ethically opposed to boar bristles, vegetable fiber brushes are available.  I like Bass brushes and combs, as they are not only practical, but also lovely and well made.

    The Arsenal: Boar bristle brush and wood comb
The last two steps are crucial to a successful no-poo experience.  Natural fiber combs and brushes prevent oil buildup (a.k.a. the "greasy hippy" look) by absorbing the oils from the scalp and redistributing them along the length of the shaft, leaving hair soft, clean, and shiny.

Some may find, even with daily brushing, that the scalp becomes excessively oily after a few days or a week of no-poo.  If this is the case, resist the urge to 'poo.  Instead, dust a bit of baking soda into the hair before your shower, and then proceed with the steps outlined above.  If baking soda leaves the hair overly dry, you can try using a small amount of castile soap once a week, or whenever the scalp feels grimy.

I have thick, wildly curly hair and, being heavily pitta dosha, tend to have oily, temperamental skin.  I was skeptical that the no-poo method would work for me, but with patience, refinement, a hair cut, and an open mind, my haircare routine has grown simpler and my hair healthier than ever before.

Links to Purchase



Readers:  Have you tried to go no-poo?  Will you try again?  Let me know in the comments!

13 comments:

  1. I love the look! My hair is as curly as yours but it is thin and dry. Combined with the heat of the tropics it's pretty hard to keep it healthy. I was no 'poo for years but gradually got back onto it... You've got me thinking about going natural again and seeing how it goes. Probably not today... but maybe tomorrow!

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    1. Thanks! I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy and effective this routine has been for my curly hair. I wasn't sure how the brushing would go, as I hadn't used a brush on my hair in years prior to going no-poo because they separate the curls, but when the hair is healthy and moisturized, the tangles just unfold and the curls bounce right back.

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  2. Hi Megan,

    Really a very good article. I am now 27 years old. I have the problem of premature greying of hair and also hair.fall. I apply coconut oil on my hair and once week I apply anti dandruff shampoo and conditioner. I also apply colours in my hair once a month. In India, especially in Kolkata where I live the climate is very humid throughout the year. Will any sort of natural medicine help this problem?

    Regards
    CA Abhishek Sanyal

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    1. Hi Abhishek. A very soft natural fiber brush will be gentle on your hair while stimulating blood flow to your scalp, which can help slow or even prevent hair loss. Improved circulation to your scalp will also reduce dandruff.

      Use some kind of gentle tea tree shampoo or soap on your scalp when necessary. I like "Dr. Bronner's" of the tea tree variety, but there are lots of tea tree shampoos available. As for coloring your hair, be very selective about what type of coloring products you use, as synthetic hair dyes can be quite dangerous and may actually contribute to hair loss.

      Below is a link to an article that discusses some natural options for coloring your grays with a preparation of sage leaves or black walnut hulls. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

      http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/hair-color-natural-dyes.aspx?PageId=3#ArticleContent

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    2. Woops. Here's a better link to the whole article:

      http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/hair-color-natural-dyes.aspx?PageId=1#axzz2bNvERobl

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    3. Thanks Megan . When do I apply the brush? On dry hair after applying oil or on wet hair. I will try out the natural option and let you know.

      Regards
      CA Abhishek Sanyal

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    4. You're welcome. Brush your hair after you bathe, once it has completely dried. Wet hair is too fragile to be brushed, but you may use a comb on wet hair if needed.

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  3. Do I apply oil and then leave my hair for sometime before bathing? How much coconut oil is good? You are truly DAMN GOOD in dedication.

    Regards
    CA Abhishek Sanyal

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    1. No need to wait. You can just put the oil on and jump in the shower or bath. Hot water will rinse out enough of the oil to keep the hair from feeling greasy, but will leave enough to keep it moisturized. Whenever you use shampoo, just run a dab of oil through the hair after your shower instead of prior to keep it from drying out.

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    2. Thanks Megan. You are a great help. Usually I take bath 10-15 minutes of my Ashthanga practice. It sweats a lot during practice. But off late after using oil on all sides of my head I think my hair condition is improving slightly. Please do write something about a good pre shower oil massage.

      Regards
      CA Abhishek Sanyal

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    3. Hi Megan, Your technique is working. I have started to gently brush my hair with a light fiber brush after bath. I am also applying oil on sides of my scalp and even after shampooing. Today I have seen that while combing there was not a single hair fall. However, I have not yet tried your natural die technique. Hope to do it soon.

      Regards
      CA Abhishek Sanyal

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  4. Hi there Megan, I tried this on my hair type (African American-4c hair) and I liked it. Black natural haired women on Youtube use so many products. I'm glad I could find another way.

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    1. Great, Denisha! I'm glad you could, too. Why fight the curly, kinky hair? Natural is the way to go :)

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