Personal Posts

No-Poo, Co-Wash, What the What? (and What I’m Trying!)

If you click my links & buy, I may receive a small commission. Thank you. I read this post from Hobo Mama in April, and my hair products have been on my mind (ha) ever since. My hair is just wavy enough to be a disaster, but not enough to be pretty. I’ve spent years blow-drying, flat ironing, spraying, moussing, and otherwise trying to tame it.

Since adding “CVS’ing” to my couponing repertoire in 2007, I haven’t paid more than a few cents for shampoo or conditioner, often getting paid to take it. I’ve tried lots of brands and found a few favorites, but my husband and I just use what we get free.

My own personal care products have been my biggest struggle in my efforts to go green. First, while I don’t hesitate to spend extra on my kids, I can’t bring myself to spend a small fortune on items that may not work for me, especially when I can get them for free! Second, the products have to work. I know what I like, and I can’t deal with something with so-so performance. Last-and the reason I’m most ashamed of-I like my products to smell good. I know, I know! I’ve been brainwashed by marketers blah blah but yeah. I’m that chick in the drug store sniffing the shampoos.

Yes it’s pathetic, but I’m vain I suppose. Environmental and health concerns couldn’t convince me to change my hair care routine, but the possibility of pretty hair did! I’ve never been interested in “no poo” (baking soda, apple cider vinegar etc.) but I was definitely willing to try the curly girl method of “co-washing.”

I’m no expert, but the basic gist I got is that you do not use shampoos containing sulfates, nor conditioners/styling products with silicones. There are lots of variations, but you cleanse with a nice puddle of conditioner, massaging your scalp well while you do it, and alternate washing with water only. The idea is that you will no longer be stripping your hair of moisture with sulfates, coating it with silicones to re-add moisture, necessitating sulfates to remove the silicones and so on.

Again, there’s a lot more to it as far as how you handle your hair & such, but right now I’m just getting a handle on the washing. I need to get my hair cut before I can really see if it does anything for my hair’s waves, but so far I am loving how soft and shiny my hair is!!

Here’s what I’m doing:

I started with a deep clean using Neutrogena Shampoo, Anti-Residue Formula, 6 Ounce. I bought a big bottle of Suave Naturals Conditioner, Tropical Coconut – 22.5oz. and I use a big palmful in the shower. I massage it into my scalp with my fingertips (usually adding a second puddle of conditioner) and use my fingers to untangle my hair while the conditioner is still in it. Then I rinse it out thoroughly. I was surprised the first time I tried co-washing; I expected my hair to be gross and greasy but it did a great job of getting my hair clean! I picked up L’Oreal Paris EverSleek Repairative Smoothing Shampoo, 8.5-Fluid Ounce and L’Oreal Paris EverSleek Intense Smoothing Conditioner, 8.5-Fluid Ounce at CVS for about $2.50 each after coupons & ExtraBucks. Not free, but not too bad either! After my co-wash, I use a bit of the L’Oreal conditioner on my ends and rinse it out. What I do on other days really just depends on how my hair feels. I may “wash” with water only, then add a dab of conditioner to the ends, or I may do another co-wash. If I’ve been sweating, or my hair just feels like it needs a little extra, I will use a it of the sulfate free shampoo.

Time will tell if this will work for me long term, but I am really dying to get my hair shoulder length or so again (it’s mid/lower back now) and see if the waves cooperate with me.

Do you no-poo, co-wash, use natural products, traditional products…?

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • September 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

    […] massaging coconut oil into your scalp an hour or so before showering, then wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo to avoid stripping your […]

  • September 3, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I have been no-poo for about two years. My fine, curly hair is so much healthier and shinier (especially when I do the ACV rinse). I got a little tired of warming up warming and mixing in Baking Soda before I washed my hair, so I started washing with an all-natural, unscented soap (SkinFree Extra Moisturizing Soap & Shampoo Bar). I tried it as part of the review and loved the clean feeling. I still rinse with ACV sometimes, but the shampoo bar is a quicker method.

    • September 3, 2012 at 8:27 am

      A friend of mine used shampoo bars. I’m not sure if she stuck with it though!

  • August 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    I have curly, coarse, thick hair, and I’ve been doing the no-poo for about a year now. I use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar, but I don’t think there’s a big difference in the two. I love that my hair is MUCH more manageable, curlier, etc. I do use Suave’s mousse (or sometimes a bit of CJ’s BUTTer!) to style my hair, and I’ve “stripped” it a couple of times with regular shampoo, but I prefer it so much more to how my hair “behaved” before I started! On top of that, fragrances in shampoos would leave my scalp ridiculously itchy. Thankfully I don’t have to deal with that anymore!

    • August 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      Yay! Hopefully it will get better over time for me too!

  • August 29, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I didn’t know that L’Oreal conditioner was silicone free! (Ironically, I think it was the EverPure, or something like that, DID have silicone in it! So I guess I just stopped checking out the rest of their line!) I’m loving the Suave coconut as a co-wash and a leave-in, but haven’t been quite as wild about the Tresseme Naturals I was using as a rinse out (it’s nice and thick when you apply it, but when I rinse it out my hair still feels dry, somehow!) So maybe I’ll try this conditioner next 🙂

    Also, I’ve been experimenting with aloe vera gel (it’s supposed to be moisturizing and help enhance your curl pattern without providing much hold) So far it’s made my hair feel super dry and pulled the curl right out of it, though. So, I don’t know what that means about my hair, but at least I’m only out about $2, and I’m sure it’ll come in handy for other situations 😉

    • August 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      The Eversleek I bought actually says silicone free on it, but I did check for xanes and cones and it didn’t have any! I believe it does contain alcohol, so maybe not the best choice, but I am liking it!!

      I haven’t found a good leave in for my hair yet, just a little something to smooth the frizz. For now I’ve just been squirting some John Frieda stuff (silicone free) on my hands and swiping it through. My hair is similar to the least curly type on the curly girl site and I’m hoping to get some wave eventually!!

      • August 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm

        Have you tried plopping or diffusing at all? In years past, my hair would go from semi-curly to SUPER curly with the right products and diffusing. Now I need to find the right products again, but with a toddler and a new baby due in 2 months, I don’t have much desire to work too hard on my hair 😉 So for now, I’m content with my ponytail, but I’m trying to get it as curly and smooth/frizz-free as I can! 🙂

        • August 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm

          I am with you, LOL. 3 kids, an 8 month old, I don’t have much time for my hair! I do want to try diffusing though!

          • August 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm

            Well, and that’s why I like plopping, because it doesn’t take any extra time (I put my hair up in it while I have my evening snack and then brush my teeth before bed, but if you did it during the day, you could do it while you eat breakfast or whatever your morning routine is!) and I do find that it enhances my curl pattern quite a bit! It doesn’t necessarily stay that way (partly because I’m sleeping on it, though!) but it’s definitely helpful!

          • August 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm

            I will have to try Carolyn, I have plenty of flats to use!

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