That really IS the question, and one that I find myself asking quite a lot!
Before we leave the house it’s part of the usual routine. ‘Pop your boots on Peanut, where’s your coat? oh, and do you need a poo? Are you sure you don’t need a poo? You should probably do a poo.’ But really, why does the poor girl need to do a poo? In recent weeks I’ve laid off the shit-forcing. Its mild child abuse trying to encourage the poor girl to drop a unit when she’s not ready so until one appears in her pants unexpectedly when I’m paying for the food shop at Tesco, then I’m quite happy to take the risk.
Furthermore, to poo or not to poo is the question I’m asking myself on a very regular basis. Thankfully though, not with matters relating to my own bowel movements, but rather that of my hair. Now, anyone that knows me well will understand that I’m not in the slightest bit precious about my hair. It’s just that; hair… and if it looks shit, well so be it. A messy bun and Bob’s your uncle. However, since its on my head and fairly close to my brain, I am very precious about the chemicals that might be so easily absorbed into the bloodstream surrounding it, and for that reason I took the decision to eradicate them from my bathroom.
The ‘No Poo’ movement is one that’s been on my list of things to look at for some time, and one that has fascinated me from an early age. The practise of using nothing but water to clean your hair may sound like a bit of madness to some, but what did our ancestors do before all of our shampoo and conditioners were so readily available? They used what they had; and they had water. Sadly, because we’ve been moulded into a nation of lathered-up loons that can’t get enough of squeaky clean strands, we’ve treated our hair to years of coating it in chemicals, sulfates and moisture stripping nastiness and the method by which we get it back to basics, isn’t all that pretty.
As we all know, if you leave your hair a few days without washing it, then a lovely layer of grease forms at the roots. The longer you leave it, the further down your hair it spreads and before you know it, you’re looking like you’ve taken a dip in a deep fat fryer. But while it may look manky as hell, smell awful and leave that nasty heavy feeling on your head, this is the way that nature intended us to be. That excess build up is non other than sebum and its the body’s own very beautiful way of cleansing the hair of all of the dirtiness that likes to attach itself on a day to day basis. Over washing and completely stripping the scalp of these natural oils with everyday shampoos and conditioners leaves the sebaceous glands working on time and a half so that heavy and dirty feeling in your hair is just your body’s way of saying ‘give me a bloody break woman!’ But, it can’t do it on its own and in order to rid the hair of what shampoo and conditioners coat it with, it needs to be stripped down and clarified so that the no-poo process can begin – there are special products that do this, although it is a minefield.
However, as lovely as it may be and as cheap as it’ll eventually make the chore of hair washing; I’m not quite ready to commit a few week or months of my life to experiencing what is known as transition; the period of going from waxy and heavy to luscious and silky. It’s a long and enduring process for some, and a quick one for others with results that leave you unable to tell the difference between a woman that washes regularly, and one that hasn’t touched shampoo for 5 years; so for now I’ll settle for Low Poo. But what’s Low Poo? you may be asking. No Poo is the complete removal of shampoo from your routine, whilst Low Poo is the use of products that are free from all of the chemical nasties that you’d usually find in a conventional product; things like sulfates and parabens. Such a massive amount of research has been done on the No Poo movement and while you probably could spend a century of your own time looking into it, my suggestion is to head over to Facebook and check out the No Poo & Low Poo Haircare Forum, where a wealth of information is at your disposal and plenty of patient ladies ready and willing to offer up a mountain of support.
As I got looking at ingredients in shampoos and conditioners, the usuals were popping up. SLS, SLES and PEG ingredients – all worth avoiding if you want to stay safe. But the search for a good alternative has been a long and frustrating one that has left me out of pocket and out of patience! I’ve tried natural shampoo bars, expensive homemade concoctions and luxurious brands that were actually a load of rubbish, and these all left my hair feeling unclean and looking lacklustre. It eventually led me back to my tried and tested poo brands and after one shower using high street names, I felt awful and disappointed in myself for taking a step back. But it really got me thinking that maybe, I was just doing it all wrong. The chemicals in regular shampoo make it easy for the product to do its job – in fact, TOO easy. And so we’re left with hair that’s stripped of everything and given the impression of being super clean and manageable. But for a natural product to do its job, it needs a helping hand. Massaging the product in properly and then thoroughly rinsing gives the same results as a fast wash with a fake, and with conditioner the key really is to coat the ends and rinse, rinse, rinse! Anything less than really bloody rinsing it out will leave you with hair that’s had a half-arsed wash. A bit like when you don’t rinse conditioner from the roots properly.
God bless the beauty box and its educating ways, without this wonderous little monthly gift I’d be stuck in a rut trying out products that just don’t work. Thankfully I’ve had a few products to try and I’m massively impressed with them. This week I’ve been using Ogario London Haircare products and a fantastic conditioner from John Masters ; both gave brilliant results without feeling too far away from what I’m used to. Both considered Low Poo products, they left my hair feeling clean and conditioned right down to the tips. I’ve also found a cracking set of products from Sukin Organics and regularly use their protein shampoo and conditioner – these are available in TK Maxx and were an awesome little find in the beauty section. In fact, there’s plenty of treasures there if you’re struggling for something on the cheap and fast whilst out shopping.
As the saying goes, a bad workman blames his tools, and in this case I was just not trying hard enough. Nobody ever said that the search for goodness would be an easy one but for now, I’m happy that I know a method that works and am gaining a bit more knowledge about the products available. While I’m not yet flying the No-Poo flag, I am pretty proud to be waving a Low-Poo hankie (and Peanut too!) and patiently searching for the combination that works well. Who knows, if I’m ready enough to embrace the grease come summer then I’ll have a try.
Until then, happy washing!