On going no-poo (sort of)

So I’m going to talk about something I’ve rarely, if ever, talked about before. Simply because it’s a little embarrassing. If you’re wondering what the hell no-poo is, then just bare with me a second.

Basically- my skin sucks. Not in the I have problems with acne or anything like that. No, I have weirdly sensitive skin that reacts to a lot of things. I can’t use biological washing powder, can’t use any bubble baths/bombs/that kind of thing and most types of soap, have to be careful with other skin products, cannot wear most artificial fabrics or wool cos they itch too bad. Yeah. My main problem area though is unfortunately my face and scalp. For years I have been dealing with eczema on every part of my scalp, back of my ears, neck, and the sides of my face.

At one point it was itchy, red, raw, sore and bleeding/weeping other strange fluids in all those places. My skin was cracked and peeling away in little flakes, well quite large flakes. I went to the doctor, got told flatly “You’ve got eczema” (yeah, no shit Sherlock) and got given some medicine type things. The creams for my neck worked quite well, because hydrocortisone is lethal stuff and of course it would work. The moisturiser for my face was decent. The stuff given to me for my scalp however was not so successful. It was like a runny kind of liquid that had to be directly applied to the scalp. All I remember about that is me crouched on the bathroom floor, close to tears as my sister forced me to sit still and applied it. That stuff burned like hell. Safe to say I went back to the doctors. Got stronger creams and a shampoo (still no further explanation about my eczema, no instructions as to what I could be doing to help. oh no. that would be actually helping me). Creams, still pretty good. Shampoo, didn’t work. That was the first of the shampoos I tried. It was Nizoral. I also tried polytar, oilatum, head and shoulders…. Not a single thing worked. I wasn’t going to go back to the doctors again either; it was embarrassing and frankly they didn’t seem to know what to do or to even care.

Randomly I stumbled upon something called no-poo. No-poo is short for “no shampoo”. It’s the process of dealing with your hair naturally- either with Baking Soda and ACV Rinses or by going completely WO (Water only). I did that for a few months, just washing my hair with water and using conditioner to maintain the ends (my hair was long). My scalp went from bleeding and raw to dry and damaged and flaky but much better. I don’t remember why but I gave up the whole no-poo thing. If I remember correctly though I decided to try Nizoral and Polytar again and finally went to just plain old tea tree shampoo. I’d decided denial was the best medicine, so I washed and conditioned my hair twice a week and pretended everything was OK. Truly my hair was OK but my scalp was dry, a little flaky and so very itchy. A few months ago I switched to sulfate and pareben free shampoo which was much gentler and overall much better (my scalp wasn’t quite as flaky, thankfully) but still it wasn’t right. I’d already managed to heal my neck with serious hydrocortisone abuse (it probably wasn’t a good thing to use 1.5% hydrocortisone for two years but oh well) and now am managing it just fine with honey and propolis cream. The eczema on my face is still there, but its mainly just dryness now with only minor flaking near my hairline. I just use a plain moisturiser on that and it seems to be maintaining it. But my scalp remains a mess.

I started researching into home remedies for itchy scalps, because desperate times call for desperate measures (I’ve been dealing with this for about 4…5 years now?), and re-stumbled upon information about no-poo. I decided to go back to it. I decided I’d use shampoo about once a month and the rest of the time I’d be totally water only. I figured the transition shouldn’t be too bad, seeing so I was already using sulfate free shampoo and only washing my hair twice a week. I also researched into tea rinses and Essential Oils to help with my flaking, dry scalp. The livejournal community no_poo has proved to be a wealth of useful information in regards to just about everything to do with no poo and natural scalp maintenance.

And so.

I started No-poo this week. On Wednesday I gave my hair a thorough scrub with hot water, followed by a rinse with a cup of camomile tea with three drops of lavender oil added to it, then I rinsed that out with warm water, gradually turning the water down until it was cold. I made sure to do the whole tip your hair upside down and massage scalp to get it clean, and to run my hair through with the ends of my fingers many times. It was very strange. My hair felt thick and greasy when wet but yet when it dried it was clean and even slightly dry. I de-tangled it with a plastic comb whilst wet and then when it dried brushed it through with a boar bristle brush. The boar bristle brush has been quite good for making my hair look decent, although my hair hasn’t been at all that oily. Only my fringe/bangs tend to get really oily. My hair is more dry than oily. I quite like the boar bristle brush, although it makes my hair really static-y and washing it every day is a pain. The chamomile tea and lavender had a mild effect. My scalp was still itchy but not any more itchy.

Yesterday I did my second wash. This time I rinsed through with a cup of warm water with 3 drops lavender and 2 drops tea tree oil. I also didn’t rinse it out so furiously like I did on Wednesday, instead I gave my hair a quick rinse with luke-warm water (couldn’t face cold water!) then left it. I am still confused for how long to wash it because it never really feels like it’s becoming clean. D: Oh and I rubbed a bit of essential nuance airy hair mask into the ends of my hair because my hair was really dry after the wash on Wednesday and I didn’t want that again. I rinsed out the hair mask and then that was it. Again, detangled it with a comb when wet and then brushed it through with a boar bristle brush when dry. Again my hair looks pretty clean. The ends are much softer also due to the mask. But it feels really thick and heavy and almost greasy. It is mighty wierd. Also my scalp is really itchy. I don’t think tea tree agrees with me :x

I still have ylang ylang and rosemary oils to try. I also have a grapeseed oil carrier base. I might try adding a couple drops of EO to the carrier and rubbing that into my scalp and leaving it in for a bit before giving my hair a quick rinse. These essential oils cost loads (especially the ylang ylang and grapeseed omg) so I hope I find something that works. I’ll be experimenting with different teas too. I might even try things like yogurt and egg and oatmeal, because I am just that desperate and willing to try absolutly anything by this point.

I don’t know. I really hope this no-poo thing works out because I’m desperate here, you know. There’s nothing quite as confidence damaging as having terrible skin, especially in a place like the scalp. I want to be able to wear my hair down without feeling paranoid. I want to be able to wear black and blue and purple again; I’m tired of grey, oatmeal, and pale pastels. Its enough I already cannot wear wool or synthetics. I also want to stop this itching at least because scratching my head constantly makes me feel dirty. I want this to heal so badly, as I’ve been putting up with it for far too long.

(Lastly- if you just read through this all I applaud you. I didn’t mean for this to get so long…)