Okay, I am lazy as fuck so I am just going to C/P a few paragraphs I posted to a local "Beauty" FB group. About 2 months after I posted this, I weaned myself off the baking soda and vinegar completely and now I just rinse my hair really well when I shower.
Let me preface this by saying I am about the least "crunchy" person you'll meet. I love plastic and convenience and don't believe "the man" is out to destroy our hair, or that shampoo is full of chemicals that are poisoning my children, etc, etc. A lot of the things I have to say with regards to no poo sound "alternative" or "hippie" and I just want to assure you all that I am no patchouli-waving barefooted guitar strummer trying to change your life. I just want to share what fixed my hair. Before/after photos to come.
So here is the basic rundown on No-Poo. The idea is that our hair has a natural balance of oils to keep it healthy and protected. When we use shampoos that contain foaming agents (look for "sulfate" on the label) that give consumers that "clean" feeling, all of the natural oils are stripped from our hair. In order to be able to style our hair after being stripped, we use conditioners, cremes, serums, and other products in an attempt to recreate the natural oils. Meanwhile, our scalp senses the stripping of the oil, so it goes into overtime creating more in a failed attempt to compensate. THIS is why many women's hair is instantly oily if they go a day or more (or even LESS) without shampooing. Sometimes our scalps give up; which is why hair can get SO dry without the addition of commercial hair products.
No Poo is a process by which regular shampoos and conditioners are replaced by natural alternatives; some advocate going totally "natural" and just "washing" with water (basically giving yourself a scalp massage) but I have been happy with a simple baking soda "wash" and a vinegar "conditioning". Most people use apple cider vinegar; I use white because it's what I had on hand when I started and I just haven't made the switch.
A word to the wise: No Poo has a 1-3 week "break in" period when your hair will be super oily. This was less intense for me because I'd already switched to Wen; I only had about 3 days of oily hair. But if you are going to do No Poo and want the full benefits, you just have to suffer through a week or so of wearing hats and scarves on your head! The reason for the "break in" period is because your poor scalp is so used to extruding ridiculous amounts of oil to compensate for the sulfates. The best thing you can do for yourself and your hair is to commit to ONE MONTH of No Poo NO MATTER WHAT. If you stick with it, you will be SO happy with the results!
The routine: Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 cup water. The water should be cloudy; NOT gritty. Slowly pour this mixture on your scalp, rubbing it in and lifting hair to get it all over the scalp. Massage the hair around your scalp until it "feels" clean (you'll know it when you feel it). Rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse. Rinse till you think it's all gone, then rinse one more time.
Mix tablespoon vinegar with 1 cup water. You can also add a drop or two of lemon juice or essential oil for scent, if you want. Repeat the same process you did with the baking soda, concentrating mostly on the ends of hair.
I use red plastic Solo cups and estimate my amounts. Theoretically you should be able to gradually reduce the amounts of baking soda and vinegar, but like I say, I haven't done so and am still happy. Your hair will smell strongly of vinegar while it's wet, but as soon as it dries the smell disappears COMPLETELY. I haven't added any scents to my vinegar rinse but I have read that when the vinegar scent fades the essential oil scent will remain.