“I dream on, in the border between reason and reality. I fly to you, in this reality that’s like a lie.”

I used a tea rinse on my hair tonight and it was messy but worth it. My hair has a beautiful shine to it. According to my mother my hair doesn’t look dirty, but it looks dull. I feel rather self-conscious about that now that I’m working, as I do every aspect of my appearance. I wouldn’t give up no shampoo though. I wouldn’t use shampoo again.

As I’ve talked about before, no shampoo has been a journey to new territory and it has really made me question my lifestyle and well, my relationship with the supermarket. Just how many of the things that are pushed on us are actually necessary? When I gave up shampoo I found myself skipping at least half an aisle in the supermarket, filled with must haves and should be usings. It makes one think.

I started to use reusable sanitary towels and liners and that was also game changing. I always wondered how mere cloth could absorb everything but as it turns out, a good cloth pad is better than any disposable. The good is the key part- a bad pad will be uncomfortable, not absorb as much and not come as clean. Once I found good brands I could rely on though? And got comfortable with the care of them? No going back. From there I started to notice what a big chunk of waste I was not producing, and I started to question just how much I was throwing into my black bin (I.e the one for the rubbish heap) I started sewing up reusable facial cotton rounds, and there was another chunk of stuff I wasn’t throwing away. I read some eco lifestyle blogs and felt excited at the possibilities but also aware that a lifestyle like that wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to start agonising over every little thing. I just wanted to do what I could and what I felt comfortable with.

Of course not all aspects of this journey have been successful and there is one aspect I have been struggling with: skincare. I really wanted to try using simpler, less synthesised products, preferably from UK based sellers. I have had great success with no shampoo, milk/oil based soaps, using plain oils as body care, sugar scrubs for exfoliating my legs before shaving. So I thought this would go well. And it hasn’t. I have found so many of the products I have tried- and there have been many- greasy in texture and yet my skin feels dry. Oil cleansers that won’t wash off, moisturisers that sit on the skin in a fatty layer, but never sink in. The only success I have had is in using rose water as a toner, and I have found a night cream I can tolerate. I feel like I’m using up too much money and messing around with my skin too much by this point, but I also feel unwilling to give up. Isn’t this supposed to be the better choice? I feel frustrated by it; I want it to work, to become another amazing, revealing step in my journey. Instead I find myself leaning towards the uncomfortable conclusion that maybe heavily synthesised products with lengthy, confusing ingredients may be better for me.

(I also hope I am using this right wording here. I refuse to say chemical free, because that’s nonsense, but even natural sounds wrong- there’s nothing unnatural about that in the drugstore, I can’t say that, so I’m going for the words simple to describe the skincare others may feel comfortable saying natural, and synthesised for the products you get in the chemists. Ok?)

Meanwhile, where to next? I am playing with crystal deodorant. I’ve been dying to give up my supermarket brand, but I thought the only other choice was that coconut oil/bicarb mix and I didn’t want bicarb anywhere near me. A bit silly – crystals seem a popular method that’s been around years. I bought a tiny travel sized one and am tentatively using it on the weekends.

I started to venture away from beauty and personal care. I tried to change up things in the kitchen and am now happily using reusable/washable dishwashing sponges and microfibre clothes for minor cleaning, but I find myself unable to bring myself to use clothes for heavy cleaning. I am using up my dish washing liquid and multi surface cleaner bought in the supermarket, and plan to replace them with a more eco friendly product from a small British company. I refuse to change anything in the bathroom- I will keep my bleach and won’t use reusable clothes to clean there. I still use the supermarket, even though I also buy things from the organic store.

In the end, I think it’s best to be doing something, no matter how small, than nothing. It’s about making the choices and changes you can afford and are comfortable with. It’s about awareness and a willingness to try (outside of the bathroom. I will be hypocritical in that way) and I guess, through my failure in that one aspect, because I think I’m giving up now, it’s about accepting your limitations and being able to say this isn’t working and give up or compromise (I’ll keep my night cream and rose water, but switch my day cream and makeup remover) I think. To be honest, on this journey, I am constantly changing my mind, becoming uncertain, questioning exactly what is it do I want? To focus on beauty and personal care, purely to see if it’s better for me, or also for environmental reasons? And do I want to take it further, to venture outside those subjects? Is this something I’m really interested in, or am I just letting myself getting dragged in because it feels I ought to – if I’m already giving up shampoo and using reusable pads surely it’s not right just to do so just for me, should I not be thinking of the greater consequences and issues surrounding these things? It’s all quite overwhelming really.

If there is just one certainty though- it’s that it doesn’t stop being interesting to question.

Unexpected no-poo success: powdered seaweed

I’d never heard of using seaweed for the skin before, but my sister and I were at a food fair when we stumbled upon a small store selling powdered seaweed. I asked about using it for a dry scalp/eczema and the woman gave us an amazing sales talk, and let us try some on our hands. My sister and I were quite surprised with how nice it felt and how smooth it left our hands. Still, usually I would not be so easily led to purchase, what with no prior research and one sales talk, but as anyone who has eczema knows, desperation for a cure/for relief makes you an easy sell. I purchased the smallest tub, and then set it aside for a while, before eventually deciding to try it out. I was a bit nervous about using it, as I’m always nervous for trying new things – I don’t want to make my eczema worse, or mess up my no-poo routine after all!

I mixed it up with a little warm water to make a soft, spreadable paste and smothered my scalp in it, before shoving my hair in a disposable shower cap (collected from hotels by me and my sister for this purpose!) Then I had some left over, so I put it on my face down to my décolletage. Then I left it be for a bit. It stank. It was messy (both to apply and when rinsing.) It was ugly – if you live with anyone, prior warning would be needed before turning yourself into a green skinned monster. It didn’t feel that amazing on my skin. However, once I had rinsed it away I was amazed by the results.

So I’ll get it out the way, this is yet another product that I bought for the intention of healing my eczema which did not do that and yet did other great things which means I still like it. phew. I’ve taken to using it every couple of months now. I use it the same way- smothering my scalp in it, shoving my hair in a cap, using the leftovers on my face, neck and back. Leaving it for 10+ minutes to do its thing. It rinses out really easily, although clumps of it do somehow end up everywhere so you have to give the shower a good rinse as well after. It leaves my hair glossy and with a lot more body to it. It’s noticeably nice, for lack of better terms. My sister even complimented my hair after using it, saying that it was looking good. (My sister does not approve of my no-poo routine, so this is unusual.) It does not really have any cleaning properties, but it does not make my hair any greasier. It does not soothe the scalp really, but it does help cleanse flakes. As for my skin, it leaves my face feeling smooth and clarified. It’s really great for when skin is a little bit red and unhappy, a little sensitive, usually because of stress in my case. It calms the skin. It also makes my body skin soft. It doesn’t cause any irritations anywhere.

I think I’m even getting used to the smell now. Because it’s worth it. I’m really loving this stuff and am quite pleasantly surprised by the results. I use the Aalgo brand, and I’ve got tonnes left (this stuff lasts forever) but if I was running out I would repurchase.

*This is not sponsored. Purchased it myself with my own money, and all opinions are my own.

No Shampoo, four years on

nopoo5years2It’s been four years since I’ve given up shampoo. And last year I did not post a picture, so I thought this year I would. My hair isn’t looking fantastic – but that’s not really to do with nopoo. Rather, I have a habit of pulling at it/playing with it when stressed which is always lately and so I’ve got a bit of a problem with thinness and split ends. Still, I’ve nearly hit my goal of having classic length hair – having just barely scraped past waist length recently. I often get annoyed with how long my hair is, but I am learning various braids which makes it fun and worth it. I can almost do a proper crown braid – my hair is so long it just wraps all the way around. :D My hair is still coping well with no poo. I still have a water filter and I actually remembered to change the filter recently so although it’s a just a cheap one and I’ve long realised it isn’t that effective, it’s better than hard water. My hair just about copes/looks OK washing it twice a week with water only, and silicone free conditioner on the ends. Actually, looking back on my previous post that means I’ve been using the same routine for about two years now! No poo is actually very low maintenance and kinda boring to talk about once you get past the crazy experimental stage where you are like, putting eggs on your hair. At first, during the crazy phase, I wondered if it really was so cheap and easy, but after my hair got out of transition and I found what works it became more so, and lately I’ve not been moving around too much, so right now it really, really is.

I’m not even doing herbal rinses lately. The craziest thing I did was an overnight seaweed mask, which was great but so messy and smelly I’ve not done it again. That’s the thing: I’m feeling lazy right now so I cannot be bothered with any rinses or masks or anything. I occasionally oil the ends of my hair with camellia oil as its winter, but that’s all the special attention my hair is getting right now.

Since giving up shampoo I’m still questioning my beauty routine and my “choices”. I nearly became soap free as I mentioned last time – except for after hiking and the time of the month and shaving – but then I received some fabulous homemade goats milk and essential oil soap for Christmas, so that’s on hold. I’ve not been using natural oils much for my skin, as it’s not that convenient, although I’ve been liking the Salcura Bioskin nourishing spray as a quick and fairly natural way of moisturising – the spray function means half ends up in the air, but it’s very quick and sinks in much easier and quicker than the oils do. (Sadly though, it joins the long list of products that aren’t suitable for use on my scalp nor particularly helpful for the eczema I have there.) I do still love my natural sugar scrubs for exfoliating my body. The most major change I’ve made since the last update is beginning to transition to using cloth sanitary protection, and I’m hoping to soon change to replacing my disposable facial cotton with reusable wipes too. That and giving up juice for herbal tea (mostly). I can just about manage to convince myself that moringa and mango tea tastes the same as mango juice, and I do notice my skin loves it when I cut back on the sugary drinks and get those herbs in. So I guess I’ve gone from putting tea on my hair for my skin and hair health, to ingesting it for the same reasons. Either way works, right? (Well, I prefer ingesting them to be honest.)

No Shampoo, three years on

I’ve not used shampoo for over 3 years now. I could write how it doesn’t feel that long but it does, in fact it feels longer. It’s become a habit now. My hair has had its ups and downs, likely due to changing locations, and experimenting with my routine. When I lived in Malaysia last year I was able to get myself down to one wash a week- water only, a silicone free conditioner on the ends. My hair looked fine. Coming back to the UK I had to push it back to two washes a week, and then I moved to uni and even that wasn’t enough. My hair was sticky and clumping together – typical of transitioning hair, although thankfully not as bad as that can get. Nonetheless it did not look good. I live in a hard water area so I decided to try a water filter. I’ve had problems with water quality from the start, but I’ve never been able to try a filter – my living arrangements have never suited it, and they seemed expensive. I currently live on my own in a rental which gives me a bit more leeway now, and so I bought myself a super cheap filter for about £10. It’s like a brita filter and not particularly sophisticated – nor do I think it completely softens my water. But it does the job. I’m back on my one wash a week routine now- water only, conditioner on the ends. My hair looks nice, I think. Its certainly growing fast enough, bringing me ever closer to my goal of classic length hair, and its become fuller, thicker looking, and has obtained a nice soft wave to it since I’ve given up shampoo. I will also always be fascinated by the texture of natural hair – my hair is fine, but appears reasonably thick, and has a very particular feel – it has a kind of a woollen texture, although it doesn’t look dry or greasy or anything.

I’ve also discovered the world of etsy. The high shipping costs acts as a barrier for me buying all the products I want. But I have become a fan of this shop. They sell inexpensive samples of their products, which allowed me to try them out. The dry shampoo didn’t do much, it made my hair look greasier in fact, but the dark hair herbal rinse is stunning. I love how soft and glossy it makes my hair, and it is admittedly nice to have that vague floral scent about my hair, when usually it doesn’t smell like anything. I splurged on the full size now and I’m going to try and use it regularly – I’m thinking once every two weeks should do. As can be seen, my hair care routine is very simple, lazy even, and involves just two products- conditioner and a hair rinse. My conditioner lasts forever and I don’t know about the rinse yet, but still, I must be saving money. And I’m certainly spending a small amount of time, which suits me.

Initially I gave up shampoo due to problems with eczema on my scalp. No-poo has helped my eczema, but my scalp remains dry, slightly flaky and itchy. I think no-poo has done more for my hair than my scalp, although my eczema is definitely better and at no risk of becoming worse/the way it was. I wish I could find some kind of moisturising scalp treatment. The hairdresser last year used this lovely product on my scalp but I cannot remember what it was. I thought it was Shiseido and googled it to find that Shiseido do sell a scalp treatment and regardless of whether it is the right one it is about £30, which is way out of my budget. I looked on etsy but all I could find were scalp creams and oils – neither of which seem particularly suited to no-poo. I have in fact tried applying a herbal eczema cream to my scalp, as well as an emollient cream, and some natural oils but they are all too thick, and its really a pain to apply, and doesn’t even seem to help. The hairdressers product was a thin liquid that sank into the scalp wonderfully, with no residue. I wish I could find something like that.

Apart from that, since giving up shampoo I’ve been thinking about what other products I use. Since I was little I’ve had sensitive skin and so I’ve had to be careful about what I wore and what I used on my skin, and despite that I’ve struggled with my skin. I’ve always felt self conscious about this. Things like- I wanted to be able to pick something off the rack and try it on without looking at the label first to see what it was made of, I wanted to be able to travel without lugging around my own products – who actually travels with soap these days when most hotels give decent shower gels? I just wanted to wear and use whatever I liked. Giving up shampoo has made me realise how unneccesary it all is though. I now walk past a whole section of the supermarket filled with products marketed as essential, but I’ve found they are not. So I try and look at these other things and instead of thinking I can’t use them, I think I choose not to. Since giving up shampoo I’ve been thinking about what products I choose to use, and am keen to experiment to find what’s best for me. I’ve become very open to alternate things – I never thought I’d be using herbal rinses and natural oils but I’ve become very comfortable with this now.

Giving up shampoo has helped my eczema get better, but it has also opened up a door to a world of beauty that is accessible to me. I have, I think I mentioned it before, become a big fan of using oils as a body moisturiser and sugar or salt scrubs for exfoliating. I’ve never been able to find a moisturiser that made my skin feel so soft and comfortable (i.e. no allergies) since discovering oils, nor have I ever been able to exfoliate. Its pretty great. I also experimented a bit with my facial skincare – trying those cleansing balms made with oils, an organic moisturiser. However I didn’t like any of what I tried. I think I’ll stick with my chemicals for my face! My face is the one area of my body which isn’t so sensitive, so I like having the freedom to play around with commercial stuff in this instance. I’m currently thinking about soap. I’ve always used very just plain bar soaps and now I’m wondering if I need even that. My hair is fine with just water, why not my body? How wonderfully lazy would it be to just use water for everything? Plus it would make travelling a lot easier!

I’m hesitant to say I’ll never use shampoo ever again, but right now I like it. I like the way my hair looks and feels, and I like the fact that through no-poo I’ve been thinking about alternate skincare, questioning what we’ve been conditioned to believe we should be doing and becoming comfortable with making my own choices.

My no-poo salon experience

Yesterday I went and had my hair cut. I was terrified- I had read through the posts on the no poo community and the way that some of those women got treated for choosing not to use shampoo is quite something. And, there is my eczema. I had bangs before I came to Malaysia though, which I’d grown out and  wanted back. I was planning on going to my usual place in the UK when I got back but researched places in Malaysia on a whim one day,  and when I stumbled upon this salon and realized I could a fancy cut at a fancy salon for what it would cost in the UK for a very average haircut at a very average place, well, I was sold. I was nervous but at the same time my curiosity won out and I booked an appointment close to when I was going to Japan- so I could look pretty for my holiday!

The place I went to was number76. They are a Japanese salon, tucked in a very strange, hard to find corner of north point in midvalley (before this, I had no idea there was this place called northpoint, which was probably why it was no hard to find for me) I got there about 5:20pm to find my online booking had not gone though but thankfully the salon was quiet and they could fit me in. They gave me a form to fill out with my details and there it was- a place asking for allergies. I took a deep breath and wrote can’t use shampoo. By this point I was a bundle of nerves and was fighting the urge to flee.

The stylist greeted me and asked me how I’d found the place to which I gave an utterly random answer, that did not answer the question in the slightest. At that point I knew that this was going to be very embarrassing. Once I start saying weird things, I cannot stop, only get worse. I stumbled through my explanation for what I wanted- just bangs straight-across and a trim, and some layers. I had toyed with the idea of cutting my hair off in a drastic change, but at the end of the day as much as I think about a mature, easy to manage bob, I long for waist length hair still. He asked about the not using shampoo thing, too and I nervously admitted I had eczema. OK, was what he basically said. Nothing else- just calm acceptance and they readily agreed to just rinse my hair in water. Another girl came and took me to the rows of basins they had. Let me confess- I’ve never had my hair washed at a salon. Seriously. This was the first time going to the hair dresser in about 4 years, and the first time ever going to a place this nice. I sat down where I was told and awkwardly arranged myself with lots of guidance, nervous as hell and feeling completely like a fish out of water. The girl followed through- rinsing my hair with hot water and massaging my scalp. Just that. it was…nice. I took note of what she was doing, as I’ve often wondered what the best technique is for no poo water only- I think after this that I may be too rough with my fingers when I scritch or whatever you call washing your hair with no shampoo. After that my hair was gently wrapped in a towel and I was led back to the chair, still in a nervous daze, with no real clue of what was coming next.

Next was, of course the cut. The stylist started, then announced he was going to give me a fancy scalp treatment for free- and this was the only time I felt a bit embarrassed about the no poo thing, as I think he did this as he did not think my hair was clean. Nonetheless, I got a RM50 treatment for free, so I cannot really complain. It was a pretty cool treatment- no chemicals, just using carbonated water to clean my hair in the same fashion as when they were rinsing it before.  Midway he showed me some of the water with all the gunk floating on top- gross, but fascinating. Then it was back to the chair where he rubbed some product in my scalp, with my permission, to replace whatever was lost in the treatment (I think). Before blow drying my hair.

He asked me if I blow dried my hair and I had to admit, never. This was the only point he gave me any advice or pushed for anything and it was not a product or anything, just the friendly comment that I should consider blow drying my hair more. And I contemplated it, too. As it felt really nice. Again, I noted what they were doing, filing it away if I ever do get a blow dryer. I was really finding it all quite fascinating. Then he started to cut again. I could not help but stare at my hair and remark “it looks like its been shampooed” Absolutely amazed. Because my hair was squeaky clean, glossy and smooth but without using chemicals, and well, my scalp felt great too. He told me that you can actually do this at home using pure carbonated water, and mimed something to do with using a basin too. As I live alone next year I think I can play around with trying to do just that. I also need to look into the product he used to and see if it salon only, or if I can pick it up in Japan. Sometime during the past however long I had been there my scalp, which had been freaking out for some reason (mostly stress) had actually stopped itching, with only a little tingling here and there. I hadn’t felt itch free for so long in years. It will be a little annoying if after various medicines, shampoos, herbs, teas, essential oils and what not its freaking carbonated water that works with my eczema but hey, as long as it works. I hope I can make it work at home.

Anyway,soon he was finished and then this was where it got weird- he wanted photos. I was already in a state of heightened anxiety and I’m fairly sure none of them are good pictures- but he spent some time arranging my hair so it was just so, and that’s all that matters.

Overall it was a very awkward experience, I felt slightly embarrassed and very self conscious throughout, but the results are amazing. I came back and popped by my friend and she was so amazed at the results, that she is thinking of going herself! The cut is not drastic, I think even the stylist was surprised at my simple request, but I was not going for a drastic cut, I was going for the experience. Because I was curious, really. And the results are more than I was expecting. (To be honest, all I was expecting they would refuse to cut it or force me to shampoo…) my hair looks beautiful now- it has such a different, interesting texture to it and I love having bangs again. And I loved the whole professional salon experience. Yes, I felt awkward but I also felt really pampered and grown up. I mostly really appreciated how, faced with a shy, awkward girl who does not use shampoo and has eczema even, the stylist remained friendly and professional. It helped me to relax, if only just a little. (The awkward small talk kept me from relaxing fully, as indeed, I kept saying strange things and coming across as a wierdo. Yes, my embarrassment came more from knowing I was making a terrible impression when the stylist was being so nice more than anything else)

Today my hair still looks amazing, and I still love having bangs. And my scalp still feels amazing- it’s an incredible feeling not to be itchy. Well, not as itchy. (Yes, there is a difference between itchy and itchy) I’m so glad I gathered courage and  went for it. It’s a pity I’ll probably never be able to go there again.

(I hope it is obvious that  this is not paid/sponsered…)