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Why I decided to stop shampooing my hair.

IMG_1780When I was a kid, I had a DIY hair ruining experience that traumatized me. My hair melted off and it was my own fault for not reading the warning on the perm bottle. Over processing happens to many of us at some point. But it left me feeling very self conscious about the way I looked. At the age of nine, I had officially became the perfect target market for Big Beauty ad campaigns.

For the same reason that a junkie might turn to jesus, I turned to the enticing promises of beauty products to fix my down-and-out hair. I entered the Big Beauty marketplace as an up-and-coming insecure teenager with bad skin and hair and a will to be beautiful. It took me 20 years to look back and understand the origin of my unwavering belief in the words printed on plastic bottles.

By my late 20’s I had 2 daughters and had slowly emerged from the fog of my young years. I began questioning my own beliefs and reasoning. I started to understand myself better and I saw my own “don’t tell me what to do” attitude morph from a child’s defiance to teenage stupidity and finally into a grown woman’s will to find her own identity despite mainstream standards set by multi-billion dollar industries. This is the will that my children will inherit.

As a hairdresser, I had been hearing about the no-poo method for years. No-poo-ing means using Baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar or lemon juice to cleanse and condition the hair. My first thought was 1. Gross for not shampooing your hair, and 2. Double gross for using the word ‘poo’ associated with hair.

But there was something about it that I found intriguing. Everyone I encountered who used this method generally liked their hair while the rest of us (myself included) complained and bitched about our hair, desperate for that hair product system that would magically turn us into Pantene models.

My hair has gone through many changes. Cuts, colors, styles, bangs, not to mention texture changes due to hormones. After I had my first child, my curly thick dry hair straightened out, thinned out, and got oily. Nature’s way of being an asshole while I nursed my colicky baby. nice.

Still I remained, notoriously a hair product whore. I was controlled by my restless and constantly unsatisfied hair. I would find a product or product line that I liked, use it until it ceased to please me, and then move on to another. A new one would work for a while but at some point my hair would inevitably stop liking it, meaning it was time for a switch. I would be happy with my hair for a couple weeks, and then all of a sudden it would be lank, lifeless, and oily all over again. Over my now nearly 30 years, I have spent more money than I would like to admit on hair products.

One day, while watching Mad Men, I had one of those ‘DUH’ moments when I realized that a good ad makes you think that you need something. A necessity. Without even wanting it, it becomes absolutely necessary to have it. I had been naive enough to let myself get tricked into thinking that I needed to empty my pockets to buy my own beauty.

This ‘duh’ moment was the origin of my no-poo journey. I got tired of searching all over for something to fix me and make me beautiful. I was being fed BS by companies who wanted my money in return for my promise to never feel beautiful enough and keep on buying. And as a mother, my bullshit sensors are very fine tuned.

I must add that I am not anti-hair product. There are some great hair product companies out there. I respect the companies that are breaking the mold instead of defining what is “beautiful” and are encouraging people to work with what they have naturally instead of fighting against it. I love that there is more of a focus on sustainability, natural hair, and social awareness emerging within these smaller companies. The industry is slowly changing to suit the wants and “needs” of 99% of the population who are living in an economy that is deep in recession, disillusioned by corporate America. People are slowly starting to get back to their roots. (Pardon the pun)

But it isn’t changing fast enough for me. All I wanted was to like my hair and not pay dearly for it. I started blogging about hair to share my hair trials and tribulations with others. Part of starting my blog was to report about jumping off the hamster wheel of beauty industry standards, into the great black abyss of what I hoped would be a more sustainable and self honoring beauty regimen. I switched to the no-poo method.

First thing I did was rename it the ShamPHree method. It sounded prettier and made it easier to talk about. Sham for Shampoo, PH because it balances the PH of the hair and scalp, and ShamPHree because it is about freeing your hair of shams.

It took a bit of experimenting with different ways of applying the B.S. (Baking Soda) and ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar). I went and purchased paint mixing bottles from my local art supply store to use as my applicator bottles. I also purchased some yummy smelling essential oils to add to my ACV so I would still get the yummy clean and fresh scented hair that I missed from my shampoo days.

My hair looked and felt great after my first ShamPHree. 2 weeks in, my hair was better than it had ever been. After 2 months, I had my ShamPHree system down. My hair was Shiny, soft, smooth, and balanced. I could go for 4-5 days in between ShamPhree-ing and it never looked or felt oily and limp like it did before. I honestly didn’t expect it to be such a drastic change.

I am now 8 months into my ShamPHree journey and I have no intention of ever going back. I have spent a total of 26$ on my ShamPHree journey experiment. My hair is as happy and healthy as I could ever have imagined. I have successfully detoxed my hair and mind from the grips of mainstream beauty and now I’m on to questioning and personally boycotting other corporate shams like useless baby gear, Febreze and gimmicky kitchen appliances. I only wish I would have started sooner. But then, had it been sooner……It may not have inspired me to share my journey with you.

Are you on instagram? If so, I would love to see your shamphree journey. Please hashtag your #shamphree photos and help inspire this hair revolution!

Want to embark on your own journey? Please check out this resource to empower your Shampoo-Free journey with all the knowledge you need to ditch the suds, DIY.

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  1. jen

    i’m willing to try anything after this last bout with post-baby hair. and would love to see how this works with my 11 year old’s scalp psoriasis.
    question: i dye my hair. and i go the drastic route – permanent dye. would the BS & ACV affect my coloring?

    thank you for this post!

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      FYI for you ladies who are curious about no-poo/shamPHree and color treated hair….I am in the middle of an experiment about no-poo versus shampoo and color-fading. SO FAR, it appears that no-poo strips less from the hair in general. And ACV is great for sealing the cuticle and locking in your color. Other things contribute to your color fading or lasting…..Mostly, hair that is well moisturized retains color best. So up the coconut oil treatments, and make sure to do ACV or lemon juice rinses regularly in the weeks after coloring to lock in your new hue. More on this soon! XOXO

  2. Joy

    Just wanted to say I love your blog! I, too am a ShamPHree convert for the past year or so. I have fine, straight hair that used to get oily after a day without washing. Now I ShamPHree once/week and. Jen, I do think it will work on your son’s psoriasis, it’s been great for my winter dandruff and sore scalp issues. I’m thinking about dropping hair washing completely, as I’ve read about on a few other blogs, although I haven’t been able to get through the rough patch of greasy hair that lasts for the second week. (after 2-3weeks it’s supposed to even out its natural oils and be fine with just water washing) My hair is so great now, I want to know how far I can go! πŸ˜‰

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      So glad to hear it;) thanks for writing!

  3. Amanda W.

    I’ve been no-pooing for a while too. I started because I had really bad dandruff (boo post-birth hormones). I read the apple cider vinegar/baking soda remedy. It is very invigorating for the scalp! It’s important to use a raw vinegar like Braggs. I like your ShamPHree rename.

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      I was wondering about the raw vinegar thing. That is good to know. I have always used braggs too.

  4. Melissa

    I had a similar revelation after a day in my garden. I practice chemical free, organic fruit & veggie growing. One day the irony of coming in to “clean” myself by dousing my hair with detergent just seemed ridiculous. Because it was!

    My hair was both dry and oily, if that makes any sense. Dandruff and lank hair, usually ment I washed my hair every other day.

    I have been ShamPhreeing since April 2013. I’ll never go back! I actually had it cut to a more flattering style (rather than just usually scraping it all on top of my head into a bun) because I can now wear my hair out without getting shoulders covered with dandruff, or have it go stringy and oily.


    1. roxie.hunt Author

      I know it. Our skin and scalp is a living breathing organ. And, I have been absolutely SHOCKED to discover that many simple natural products that we have around our houses actually visibly make an instant difference when used on the hair and skin. And we honor ourselves by using them:)

  5. Lily

    Hey, thanks so much for your writings, they’ve inspired me to go shamPHree! I’m loving it, but for the past week or so (I’m at the 2.5 week mark, washing every 3-5 days) my hair has felt almost…. Chalky. At the roots. Maybe its just greasy, but after this much time shouldnt it look fine on the 2nd/3rd day? Am I using too much baking soda? Should I use more ACV? Could it just be that my brush is dirty? My brush does seem to have gray residue that smells like baking soda on the bristles.
    Thanks in advance, sorry for the long string of questions πŸ™‚

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      Here is what I would do. Experiment. Clean your brush, use more ACV, less BS. Do an ACV rinse in between full ShamPHree’s to help remove buildup while sealing the cuticle. ( That is what I do)

      1. Lily

        Okay! I’ll try all that for the next couple of weeks. πŸ™‚ thanks.

  6. Aitch

    I am Very Curious! I am wondering, though, how well shamphree cleaning does with serious sweat. Anyone an athlete? How well does it clean after an intense workout?


    1. roxie.hunt Author

      It works great for sweaty athletes;) I like to recommend just doing an ACV rinse after your workout, and add a few drops of peppermint or tea tree essential oil to freshen you with a nice tingle.

      1. A itch

        Thanks so much! I will give it a try.

  7. Elizabeth @ Stoic & Pariah

    Hello! Thank you so much for all the ShamPHree info you shared πŸ™‚ I just started a week ago and I love it – yay! I need to stop by the store tomorrow to get me some lavender oil to add to the ACV. I got eucalyptus on accident, and now I smell like VICKS vap-o rub, hahaha. seriously though, thanks for all your helpful info & your video! πŸ™‚

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      you are so very welcome(:

  8. Maddie

    Hi Roxie, thank you so much for sharing about your ShamPHree journey! I stumbled upon your blog a few days ago and I am so blown away by your creativity! I’ve never seen so many cool hairstyles in one place before…you rock! Anyway, I am really interested in trying the no-poo method after reading all of your posts about it, but I am kinda worried about the transition period. I have course, very thick, pretty oily hair. Is it going to get super gross in the first couple of weeks? How long should I wait for it to feel nice before I should give up?
    Do you have any tips specific to girls with thick heavy hair on the no-poo method?
    Thanks in advance πŸ™‚

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      It seems to me like most people have instant good results. So you probably will too. But, you might notice that in the first month of Shamphree, your scalp might seem a little oily and your ends might seem a little dry. My suggestion is to use the paddle brush liberally!

  9. Lynn

    Roxie, I love your blog. I am going shamphree thanks to you and I made the ‘ocean Mist’ spray and I live near the ocean and love how my hair ‘changes’ after a beach walk – well your spray does the exact same thing. Thanks so much, you are really generous and talented!



    1. roxie.hunt Author

      YAY! so glad you found me. Best of luck on your ShamPHree journey:)

  10. Lala

    Hi! I stumbled on your site looking for 1920’s hair (great tutorials, thank you!) and ended up on the ShamPHree thing. First off, I’d like to acknowledge your genius in renaming the trend. I first read about it in Oprah magazine and was disgusted by the exact two reasons you listed here.
    It really does sound like an interesting method of cleaning hair. You mention several times how unhappy you were with the state of your hair–would you recommend this to someone who is satisfied with their hair texture? I don’t deal with post-pregnancy hormones (I’m 18) and have coarse hair that only needs a wash every couple of days. My hair product use is seriously limited: shampoo, conditioner, and a de-frizzing oil. Would I still benefit from this method of hair cleansing?
    Also, how does the baking soda get rid of oil buildup on the scalp? I’m used to rubbing it off with my fingers while shampooing
    Thank you,

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      Absolutely I think your hair would benefit from going ShamPHRee! and yes, it will totally remove buildup and balance your scalp:)

  11. motaz

    Hello! Thank you so much for all the ShamPHree info you shared πŸ™‚ I just started a week ago and I love it – yay! I need to stop by the store tomorrow to get me some lavender oil to add to the ACV. I got eucalyptus on accident, and now I smell like VICKS vap-o rub, hahaha. seriously though, thanks for all your helpful info & your video! πŸ™‚

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      You are so welcome!!! I am glad you found HTHG.

  12. susan

    love your blog! I love using baking soda/vinegar, but I live in Berlin which has very hard (high mineral, esp calcium I think) , and I notice that I often have residue on my hair even after I feel I’ve rinsed a LOT, and esp with baking soda, which makes me really sad … I had to go back to a shampoo just because it felt like it rinsed cleaner. do you have tips for how to go shampoo free with very hard water (besides a filter for the shower head, which is out of my budget right now and not sure how well it will work …)

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      I would suggest using less BS and upping the ACV if your water is very hard:)

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