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Normally, I am fairly concerned with chemical exposure and the possible ramifications on my and my family’s health. When I am pregnant it becomes like a non-stop panic reel in my head. When I became pregnant with Truman is when it all began. When I became pregnant with Grant, it got worse.

Should we be having the exterminator come as often as we do? Should we have him come at all? I’ve read a ton of studies lately on the negative effects of fluoride, I need to find that recipe for home-made tooth paste. I cannot believe I’m eating McDonald’s breakfast AGAIN, this baby will probably come out of me with golden arches attached to his head. I am slowly poisoning my son by using this laundry soap on his clothes. I cannot believe what is in this body wash…and shampoo! I’m worried about having my hair highlighted, yet I dump this toxic sludge on my head every day and let it just soak.right.in. to my bloodstream! We are all doomed!

And…repeat daily.

During my pregnancy with Truman I started studying. I read a lot. I talked to a bunch of people. I learned a ton and made changes here and there. I stopped using most traditional household cleaners. I use vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and lots of hot water. I do use original Dawn dish soap, because I adore it. I made my own laundry soap for a long time, but with the hard water here in Nevada, it left everything pretty dingy so I returned to my conventional Purex. I all but eliminated the use of bleach except in absolutely dire situations. I no longer wear perfume, use candles or air fresheners, artificially scented body products or fabric softener.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t often give Truman anything to drink besides water or breast milk, and we eat mostly organic produce. I try to avoid packaged foods and limit microwave use. We very, very rarely use medications of any kind, and I never buy over the counter cold or cough meds.

Wait! Before I go any further, I do not want anyone to think I am going to bash their choices or beat them over the head with healthy life-style advice. Look, I eat fast food once in awhile. I am an ex-smoker. I drink on occasion. I enjoy bacon. I am by no means claiming to be the poster child for health and wellness. It is a long, hard journey; this road to wellness. And I’ve only just packed my suitcase!

During my pregnancy with Grant I decided to take things one step further and work on my personal care products. I looked up my shampoo and conditioner, lotions and sunscreen on Skin Deep and was appalled that they fell mostly into the hazardous category. As I learned about the number of carcinogens in these products, I became increasingly disturbed to find that many of the companies that manufacturer them also participate in fundraising efforts for cancer research. How awful to use harmful ingredients in your products that lead to a disease; then slap clever marketing labels onto those products to sell them under the guise of curing that disease! I was disgusted. So, I decided I would do my part and change my tiny corner of the world. I decided to go no-poo.

No-Poo is a slang term used for the no shampoo movement. There are lots of reasons people decide to not use shampoo; cost, healthier hair, or for my reason – I didn’t like the dangerous ingredients in my shampoo. I read up on different ways to go about this and jumped in with both feet. Looking back, I maybe should have started with something easier.

I first tried Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. This stuff is supposed to be the end-all, be-all soap for everything and anything. I squeezed it into my hand and rubbed it all around my head. It doesn’t lather a whole lot so it was hard to tell if I washed all of my hair. I used some more. My hair felt really weird when I rinsed it out, like it was kind of stuck together and too clean. Literally, squeaky clean. I wasn’t overly concerned since I wasn’t going anywhere that night, and styled it as usual. After it was combed and dry, it looked fine. I didn’t wash my hair the following day, and the day after I washed it with Dr. Bronner’s again. This time it was NOT looking fine. It looked dull and waxy and awful. I read more and saw that many people have this out come. Maybe I used too much, maybe I washed too often, or not often enough. It may have something to do with our water…. I was done with Dr. Bronner’s as a shampoo.

I went a week with hot water only rinses, and no hair products at all. My hair was decent for three days, shiny and full, it wasn’t overly dry or greasy. I felt very foolish for buying all of those expensive shampoos over the last thirty years of my life. I almost screamed out to the world that I was No Poo and Proud! On the fourth day… it all turned dreadful. I got out of the shower and towel dried my hair. I attempted to comb it and it felt like my hair had somehow thickened! There was now either twice the normal amount, or someone had snuck in to my bedroom and poured tar on my head, you know, The Grandmother from Flowers In The Attic style. I fought to pull the comb through my tresses as I blow dried. When my hair was finally dry…it still didn’t look dry. The hair all around my head looked like I’d spent the night wearing a mixing bowl full of bacon grease, while the length of my hair was flying around with enough static electricity to power up a toaster. It looked bad. Really, really bad. I threw it into a ponytail and went searching for answers.

I found that many people went through this greasy adjustment phase before they got the beautiful and healthy, shiny and amazing no-poo results I was after. Try baking soda and vinegar, everyone said. So, there I went. Oh, sweet baking soda! Vinegar, my love! It saved me. After the first shower, my hair looked beautiful. Shiny and soft and no longer like a gummy, fuzzy nightmare. It smelled like a salad in my bathroom, but whatever. I decided to use the vinegar and baking soda method every two or three days. My hair started looking pretty good, but I was having a hard time with the anti-soapiness of washing with products that don’t foam or lather.  I also hated how the vinegar was freezing cold in the shower, and while I didn’t notice the vinegar smell when my hair was dry, if my hair got sweaty or damp at all, I could smell it. I wasn’t sure what to do.

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Me with Truman, in the middle of my no-poo experiment. See how not nice my hair was looking?

I was hell bent on not using shampoo. I so wanted this experiment to work! I made it three weeks with the vinegar and baking soda method. Then, I went back to the drawing board. I found an all natural shampoo at Sprouts, our health food store. It works pretty well, doesn’t have scary ingredients and is gentle and effective. I cut down hair washing from every day to every third day, and the results have been great. Maybe I’ll try no-poo again at some point, but when you have to go to work everyday and run around after two crazy boys, some DIY projects just have to wait. Until I can spend three weeks with incredibly bad hair and get past the adjustment period, I’ve decided to stick to the safer versions of store bought shampoo. Right now, I’m just happy if I can get a shower.

Come back tomorrow to learn about my adventures in safer deodorant!

Photo by Emily J during a breastfeeding photo session.

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