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Why You Should Ditch the Shampoo

Like many women I know I was totally fed up with my overcrowded, overstuffed shower filled with ruined hair care relationships. It had become a sulfate-free, paraben-free, extra moisturizing, made for curly hair, made for colored hair, made for thick hair, made for damaged hair, clean scalp, tea tree oil, Wen nightmare.

No matter which one I used my hair looked and felt the same: dry, frizzy and tired. I knew there had to be something better out there, a more proactive approach to taking care of my hair instead of feeling like a slave to whatever new product was coming out. I was more than a junkie looking to fixate on the newest trend.

Then, one morning, on "Good Morning America" was a woman who hadn't washed her hair in five years. The comment that got me hooked? "There's no redness; there's no sign of irritation." Bingo.

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I figured going "no 'poo" was worth a shot. After all, whenever I'd reach up to touch my scalp I could literally scrape chunks of waxy buildup away with my fingernails, leading to more picking and more peeling until I could shake my head out like Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club until a tornado of dandruff covered my clothes. It was becoming an addictive nervous tic of sorts and really embarrassing, especially in front of clients.

I approached my doctor and he looked at me like it was all in my head (no pun intended), and handed me an ointment to put on my scalp daily. Oh great, another product to help get rid of my product problem! That didn't feel like a permanent solution.

My shower is emptier, my wallet is fuller and there is an entire population of product peddlers that I can completely ignore.

While looking for help in salons and through stylists I picked up a few tricks from a self-proclaimed curly girl salon. All you needed to "wash" your hair was water and pressure, and the trick was in the drying. Use a microfiber towel and a lot of scrunching. No turbans allowed since they pull at your hair and put unneeded pressure on curly locks. Then when your hair starts to feel too heavy with build-up, a rinse of equal parts water and apple cider vinegar can make it feel revived and fresh.

Armed and ready, I started working my magic. At first I was using the vinegar rinse every four or five days, but after a while I went to once a week if that. Combing my hair in the shower with a wide-tooth comb and scrunching the wet hair when I came out, I could actually see the ringlets forming at the side of my head. In fact, the more natural buildup in my hair, the more boing I got. When my hair started to feel dry, I mixed up some eggs and coconut oil and lathered it on nice and thick on my hair, leaving it soaking for at least an hour. The result was beautifully conditioned hair, and I could keep it out of the shower for days. A spray bottle of water by my sink to refresh the curls was all I needed for morning touch-ups.

I've been doing this on and off, but mostly on, for 1.5 years. Just like my life hooked on 'poo, there are good hair days and bad hair days. The bad included when the smell of my apple cider vinegar rinse led my son to recoil violently during my morning hug, when my hair felt too thick and too coarse, and when I stood in front of the mirror and went "ugh" just like everybody else. When I reach up to play with my scalp there are no chunks of waxy buildup to pick at and I can wear my black wardrobe with confidence. I still get some patches during the winter, after all, I live in Chicago. But when I go in for my haircut and the tattooed chick at Hair Cuttery tries to up sell me on that $30 deep conditioning mask, I'm confident she's not holding the solution to my hair care problems.

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Even if you don't stick with a "no 'poo" program, it's worth a shot to re-boost your hairy relationship. Like those "juice cleanses" people do for their insides, going without hair product for a few months is a great way to reevaluate what's working for your hair and what it's really supposed to look like if mother nature had her say. My shower is emptier, my wallet is fuller and there is an entire population of product peddlers that I can completely ignore. A huge chunk of my brain is free from the shackles of hair care products and I've got all of this space to obsess over really important things in my life, like lipstick.

Photograph by: Don Getsug Photography

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