High Heels and Training Wheels: No Poo Part 2



No Poo Part 2

I'm a squirmy kind of gal; it's just who I am. There are some things in which I always adhere to the "don't fix what ain't broke" motto and other things I just can't sit still with. What if there's something even better out there? What if I'm missing it? Sometimes something can work great and I can be happy with it but I still want to venture into those potential "greener pastures"; No Poo was no exception.

The most common form of No Poo is the baking soda/apple cider vinegar method. I have used this method for almost a year and I have been satisfied with the results (if you're new here, I recommend checking out my original No Poo post first!) BUT there are other forms of No Poo out there and they were just begging me to give them a try. So what am I using now and how is it working out?

I've recently switched to the honey wash; this is exactly what the name implies: honey. Honey originally turned me off in the beginning because using a sticky, sweet goop in my hair just seemed like a terrible idea. It seemed as though this would just create a mess and be impossible to rinse out. More importantly, how was this runny slop going to clean my hair? The odds did not sound good and I wasn't eager to find out otherwise.

In the end, my curiosity got the best of me and I have used the honey wash 4 times now. So far, I am very impressed! Now 4 washes may not sound like a lot but you gotta think, I'm only washing my hair once a week so that's a month I've been using it. I'm sure I will still need time to decide if this is the best option for me in the long run but right now I am loving it!

Baking soda and honey are two very different substances yet, for us, they are both intended to do the same thing; replace shampoo. There are a lot of similarities to the baking soda/ACV method and then there are quite a few notable differences too. So how do you know which one you should be using? Well, let's do a comparison:

The biggest and most important similarity is that you're still keeping harmful chemicals of conventional shampoos out of your hair. That's why we're all going the No Poo route in the first place isn't it? It's still one simple ingredient and it's one that you can actually pronounce! None of those scary names and dyes that we want away from our bodies. I was shocked at all the chemicals lurking in my "organic" shampoo. After checking the cosmetic database, I found a lot of the products I had been using were actually dangerous. You definitely should check out your products; you will be surprised at what's in them!

Also like the other method, you don't need to "wash" your hair everyday. That was one of the biggest appeals of No Poo for me and this method has that same perk. Another great similarity is that honey does not seem to strip or hurt your color if you dye your hair. I know for most of you looking into No Poo, you try to stay away from those harsh chemicals and dye isn't probably something you use anyway but for me and all of my grey hairs, it's a factor that I cannot avoid. So far this has been as dye-friendly as the baking soda.

The differences in the honey wash aren't too extreme and for me have been nothing but beneficial. As I said above, this wash doesn't hurt your color but the difference is that it has made is my hair is even shinier. Soooo much shinier! Even after just my first wash I noticed how much more shiny my hair was. Huge plus!

Another great difference is the feel of my hair. When I was using the other method, I could tell it was healthier but it still never had that silky smooth feeling we all covet. I chalked this up to my dye usage and all of my wirey greys but after using the honey wash I realized that was not the case. I can't stop running my fingers through my hair!

Another big difference is the PH. The reason we cannot wash with baking soda too frequently is because the PH is too different from our hair and over using it can really dry out your hair and cause you problems. Finding your "sweet spot" (no pun intended) with the baking soda is crucial for No Poo being effective. This is also why we follow the baking soda wash with the vinegar rinse; to bring the PH back down and balance it out. With the honey wash, there is a lot more wiggle room. The honey is not going to dry out your hair from too much usage. Like the baking soda, you don't need to wash everyday as you would with a conventional shampoo, but you don't run the risk of damage if you do. For those who would like to be able to wash their hair more frequently because of sweat or chlorine exposure, you don't have to worry about how/when that factors into your No Poo routine. You can wash as much as you'd like!

There is slightly more preparation with the honey wash. You are still just simply coupling it with water as you do with baking soda but honey is a little more stubborn about mixing together. I have to use a little bit of heat to somewhat "melt" the honey but it only takes about 30 seconds.

1. Measure 1 tbsp of (raw) honey into a saucepan

2. Add 3 tbsp of water to the honey

3. Heat the mixture over low heat for 10-30 seconds or until the honey dissolves into the water. You could just heat your water prior to mixing (you could even use the microwave) and achieve the same thing, I just like to throw them both in and do it on the stove.

4. (optional) I then funnel my mixture into a bottle with a squeeze top. This just makes it easier to apply it while I'm in the shower and helps regulate how much I'm putting into my hair.

One thing to note is the "expiration" of this mixture. We are using raw honey so there are no preservatives to keep it "fresh" once it's mixed into the water. I don't make more than I can use within a week and a half so that is something to keep in mind when preparing your mixture. You can obviously make a larger batch using the ratio above, just make sure to store it in the fridge and use it before it goes bad. How do you know when it goes bad? You'll definitely know; because it is completely natural, this mixture will grow mold.

The honey wash is much the same as the baking soda; you want to start by focusing on your roots. But, unlike the baking soda, there won't be any side effects if it trickles down the length of your hair. In fact, you want it to. I just squirt a little at a time on my roots and rub it in with my fingers; part my hair another way and repeat until I've done my entire head. For the under part of my hair, I tilt or flip my head over and apply it the same way. Once I've completely covered my roots and run it down the length of my hair with my fingers or a wide-toothed comb, I immediately rinse. I've found if I leave it in too long it's somewhat more difficult to rinse out.

Whether you follow this up with the vinegar rinse is up to you. I still do on occasion. I like the benefits of the shine it gives me so I use the vinegar when I feel I could use a boost. However, I am definitely using less of it. You don't need it to balance the PH like you do with baking soda so I use sparingly and not every time I wash; just when I feel like I could use some "oomph". I just lightly spritz the length of my hair, comb through with my fingers and rinse. I try to use cooler water when I rinse because hot/warm water opens your hair follicles and I want to seal that moisture in. By cool water, I don't mean freezing, just lukewarm. Using cool water will close up your follicles but it's not necessary, just a bonus.

Now, I will warn you now, do not think you will get even more "clean" by using more of this mixture. Even if you make a larger batch, I wouldn't use more than the recipe above. That's why I funnel my mixture into the small bottle; for easier application but also so I know I'm not using too much. I have incredibly thick hair, it's long, and there is tons of it and this is still plenty enough for me. Also, I wouldn't add any more honey in your mix, I'd stick to the 1:3 ratio. I speak from experience when I say that by using too much, you will have a mess. After my hair dried, it felt sticky and lanky. That's why we're premixing and diluting with water; a high concentrate of honey is just too much and it's difficult to thoroughly rinse out. The ratio above is what I always stick to. If it's more moisture you're looking for, you can always just add this to the ends of your hair for some extra conditioning benefits. Sometimes I don't "wash" my entire head and I will just add some on my ends when they look a bit dry, so you can always do that. I'd just be careful with how much you're putting to your roots.

 It's going to be an adjustment. Not having a lather is definitely something you have to get used to. If you're experienced with No Poo then you're used to this, but for someone new, it definitely feels odd. You're going to feel like you need to use more but I promise that this little bit is going to do the job. You won't have that "squeaky clean" feeling afterwards but that's a good thing! That feeling and lather that you get with shampoo is from detergents. Yeah, as in laundry detergent or dish soap. Would you put those in your hair? Never! But shampoos have those same ingredients and that's exactly what you've been putting in your hair. Not lathering with those detergents means you're still retaining your natural oils and you aren't completely stripping your hair. So not having that "squeaky" feeling, although new to you, is exactly what you want. So don't let the "newness" of not having that lather scare you off.

Now, as I said, I have been doing No Poo for about a year before I switched to this method so I my transition was minimal. If you're switching straight from shampoo will you have a transition? Yes. This method is no different from the baking soda in the sense that you aren't robbing your hair of sebum (natural oils) like shampoo does. Your hair will still have to get used to a lesser oil output with this method and will continue overproducing oils until it does. I used a "dry shampoo" mixture of corn starch and cocoa powder (nix the cocoa powder if you're blonde) throughout this period. You can just sprinkle this onto your roots where oil is building up and the cornstarch will absorb it. Then you can just brush through and style as normal. The only real problem area I noticed was my bangs but I think that was due more to the oil from my face, not natural production from my hair. Either way, the cornstarch is a great option during the transition.

You might also notice during this period that your hair feels dry or "rough". That's not No Poo! Using an alternative, like No Poo, you are no longer burdening your hair with all of that gross build-up from the silicones that your conditioner has been coating your hair with. Your hair might have felt soft and silky while using those traditional products, but that wasn't your hair you were feeling. That was an artificial softness from the film of silicone that's covering up your (already) damaged hair. It wasn't repairing the damage to your hair, it was just putting a band-aid on it. Like putting concealer on a zit; it's still under there! It's been faking you out! So if you find that your hair feels dry or even brittle during this time, don't think that No Poo is the culprit; that's just, shockingly, what shampoo has been doing to your hair all this time! I know, I know. Don't freak out, we can fix it! Once you get that gunk off, you can definitely see just how much damage shampoo has done to your hair but it's also exposing the actual hair so it can start to absorb all the goodies we're starting to feed it. Now we can start to rebuild! Now that your hair has been stripped bare, it can start to retain the much needed vitamins, nutrients and (most importantly) the moisture it so desperately needs. That's the great thing about using honey in place of the baking soda; it's a humectant. Meaning: it attracts moisture. So now that your hair is "open" to absorbing it, the honey is going to be your hair's best friend. Now that that barrier has been removed, your hair can absorb and hold onto it's natural oils as well....you're just going to need to give it time to do so. It's a transition just like the oil output.

Because I was already No Pooing and not starting from scratch, I know some of you might be skeptical of this transition and want a little more info on how it will effect you. The potential of dry hair with oily roots might sound a little scary and intimidate you out of trying No Poo. Don't let it! A blogger over at FreePeople.com documented her experience with the honey wash, week by week. If you would like to see what the transition straight from shampoo to honey looks like, I would definitely recommend checking out her journey. It's not as scary as it sounds and you can see how her dedication paid off. She has gorgeous hair!

This is going to be like most aspects of No Poo, personal preference and specific types of hair. I have very thick hair that is naturally wiry and coarse. And as I've said, I dye it as well. On the whole, my hair tends to lean to the drier side. Honey has been a good option for me because honey is a natural humectant. Like I said, this means that honey attracts moisture. This is great for us gals who really suffer from dry, frizzy locks. It’s also full of antioxidants and nutrients that feed the hair follicles where the live part of your hair is; encouraging hair growth. So presented with the option between the two, you have to decide where your hair stands naturally. Thick and dry? Or fine and oily?

This is not to say that you can't happily marry the two together though. You could definitely find a balance between them both. As I said, I need more time to determine what is going to be the best for me in the long run but I could very well see where I might end up with a routine that switches between the 2. Maybe a honey wash schedule with one baking soda wash thrown in a month? Or maybe vice versa? I'm still figuring that out. Just this last time I "washed" my roots with half of my normal baking soda amount and followed with the honey on my ends and then a light vinegar spritz all over. My results from that "experiment" were really good so maybe that's what I'll stick with? Again, I'm still playing around with it and that's what would I suggest to any one of you thinking of trying it out. I definitely recommend sticking to this "recipe" with the specific honey/water ratio but how and when you use it is definitely something you should play around with. Trial and error has been the way I've gone about using No Poo and it has really helped me in figuring out what my hair likes best. Don't be afraid to deviate from the norm and don't let one of those "errors" scare you. If one way doesn't work out, tweak it.

So do you need more moisture? Give the honey a try. Is your hair plagued by too much oil? Give baking soda a try. Or do what I plan to, use them both! As I always say, keep an open mind. And most importantly GIVE IT TIME. Especially if you are coming straight off of shampoo. Don't let the transition period intimidate you. Don't let one time of adverse effects turn you off. If you don't like the way your hair feels, maybe you should try another method but maybe your hair just needs more time. I won't lie, this is definitely a big change for your hair. It has spent countless years damaged by harsh chemicals and coated in silicones and you're rebuilding from the ground up. It didn't get damaged overnight and it's not going to repair overnight either. But, (let me put this in bold caps) STICK WITH ITIT'S WORTH IT!!

If you haven't already, you can check out my first No Poo post to ease you to the world of no shampoo. I've touched on the transition and why No Poo is a great alternative here, but my first post really goes more in depth and I've also answered a lot of commonly asked questions. It's a great post if you're new to the world of natural hair care. I definitely recommend doing your research and exploring all of your options before taking the plunge. There are so many options out there! As always, feel free to leave any other questions you might have in the comments. Or if you're already a honey washer and you have some advice, I would love to know how it's working for you! I will keep this post updated as time goes on to let you know of any changes and just to keep you in the loop on my journey. Happy washing No Pooers and good luck!

Check out my other No Poo posts for more answers to your most-asked questions:

Q: "Why isn't No Poo working for me?"
A: No Poo FAQ: How to Make No Poo Work for YOU!

Q: "Will vinegar make my hair stink? Can I add another scent to it?"
A: How the smell of vinegar effects your hair and what you can do about it
Q: "How can I continue my daily work outs with No Poo's strict wash schedule?"
A: Maintaining your No Poo hair on sweaty days
Q: "What do I do about swimming? How do I get this chlorine out of my hair?"
A: The Battle: No Poo vs. Chlorine
Q: "I dye my hair, can I still use No Poo?"
A: How I fit hair color into my No Poo routine

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