No ‘Poo

It’s a terrible term, isn’t it? It makes me think of the Weasley twins’ “U-No-Poo, the constipation sensation that’s gripping the nation!”

Evidently one can now buy U-No-Poo.

In fact, it’s a cutesy term for the hippie movement to forego shampoo: no ‘poo. I’ve been trying it.

Now, before you run screaming because I’m a disgusting person, hear me out. Instead of using shampoo, you use a mixture of baking soda to “wash” the roots of your hair and diluted apple cider vinegar to “condition” it.

But why do this? You can read all sorts of scientific and/or pseudo-scientific reasons why shampoo is evil and we’re pouring carcinogens on our heads and stripping away our natural hair oils and replacing them with synthetic grease! *deep breath* That’s not why I’m trying it, though, even if I really believed those things. Nor am I trying it because it’s cheaper or because I want to live a more “organic” lifestyle, though both those things are true.

No, you see, I have long hair. (I’ve written about it before.) Not SUPER long or anything, but it does reach my lower shoulder blades. It’s also very fine, and tends to need a wash every day so that it doesn’t look totally limp or require a ponytail just to give the appearance that I can manage it—which, to be honest, I can’t. And as it gets longer, it gets more unmanageable, and I have to spend forever washing it after every trip to the gym.

So I’d like to be able to wash it less. Yes, the basis of my decision to try no ‘poo was laziness. Go figure.

The basic process goes like this:
1. Mix approximately one tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of water. Repeat in a separate container with apple cider vinegar.
2. Spray or pour baking soda mixture onto roots of hair. Massage well and rinse.
3. Spray or pour apple cider vinegar mix over ends of hair. Let sit for a moment, then rinse.
4. Enjoy your newly lovely hair that may smell a tiny bit like pickled beets (but only if you didn’t rinse well.) Also, try not to give up during the so-called “transition period”, during which your hair will produce excess oil in a reaction to no longer getting stripped every day.

Easy. It started out grand: my limp hair was, for the first time ever, FLUFFY. I use all  caps because it really was huge. I was so amazed that I felt bad for slandering my hair all my life.

I feel your pain, random photo lady.

And then the baking soda started to build up. My hair wasn’t just FLUFFY. It was stiff. You could push it into a position and it would stay. It was alarmingly static-prone. It tangled and snarled enough to frighten away even the most dedicated nest-making birds. My fiance could pet my hair and come away with a small handful of it. And it was somehow simultaneously dry and oily.


I gave up and used shampoo again over the weekend. My hair was so limp on Monday, thoughm that I’ve adjusted my no ‘poo routine for another try. I’ve diluted the baking soda mixture more and now comb a very little jojoba oil over the ends to combat the snarls and tangles. I’m told more vinegar would solve that problem, too.

In short, I’ve spent way more time messing with my hair than I was to begin with.

The whole process has gotten me thinking about the ludicrous things we do in the name of beauty. I met a woman once who had had lip-liner tattooed on. Plenty of women have tattooed eyebrows. We use razor blades, wax, lasers, and bad juju to remove hair from our bodies. We use radiation to darken our skin.

Once, when I was in high school, I read that applying mayonnaise to your hair would make it ultra soft. I tried it, and my hair turned into a grease pit. Without thinking, I had used Miracle Whip.


Readers, what crazy things have you done in pursuit of beauty? Please, tell me, so I don’t feel so absurd.

Flat-Ironing a Novel

I am growing out my hair.

This is not a remarkable thing. I’ve had long hair before, but this time I’m highly conscious of it. Three years ago, I died my very long hair black. It was supposed to be temporary—but it wasn’t. I ended up chopping off my hair and wearing it boy-short for awhile. Since the black grew out, I’ve been letting my hair grow long in preparation for my wedding this June.

It’s getting longish now, below my shoulders. It is, depending on how you’re trying to characterize me, either the dark golden-brown of mesquite honey or the drab brown of mouse fur and dead leaves. It also grows erratically—vaguely straight on top, wavy around the ears, curly at the bottom, so I can’t air-dry it without committing to the just-rolled-out-of-bed, hippy-meets-flattening-humidity look. And no one likes that look.

There is one lock, about an inch square, near the nape of my neck in the back, that grows in a perfect, loose, regular spiral curl. It is, without a doubt, the prettiest part of my hair.

Usually I blow-dry and flat-iron it straight, though. It would be way more work to make the rest of my hair match that beautiful curl—work I’m not really capable of. When I curl my hair, it tends to end up resembling River Song’s, and not in a good way.

I LOVE River's hair

I have to crush that curl, flatten it, erase its existence, to make it meld with the rest of my hair.

It’s the beauty equivalent of killing your darlings. Sometimes you have to cut the most poetic, intriguing character or subplot for the sake of the rest of the novel. Sometimes our darlings just don’t match the rest of our plot. It would take forever to rewrite your book to suit that darling, just like it would take forever to put my hair into spiral curls. And in the end, sometimes you just end up with frizz and split ends.

Sure, it’s in your novel’s best interest. It’s in my hair’s best interest to flatten that lovely curl.

That doesn’t make it any less of a bummer, though.

Have you had to kill a darling (book or hair), readers? How did it feel?