I have now been shampoo-free for 2 months and 3 weeks. I wanted to wait 3 months to write an update on my new hair experience, but today I'm so excited about my new discovery that I had to write about it!
So for about a month and a half now my routine had stabilised to washing my hair once a week with sodium bicarbonate in water and lemony water for conditioning. The rest of the time I have just been rinsing my hair every morning. I have also been washing my comb every morning before shower (with "savon de Marseille" and a toothbrush) because when I comb my hair in the evening the comb gets really dusty (there is so much dust in this country!) and grubby. In the last month or so it hasn't seemed like I can keep my hair clean for longer than a week with just water and I have to push it a bit to wait for a whole week to wash it again. Well, it is really quite odd: after 5 days it still looks fine, but on the 6th and 7th day even if it feels dirty when I touch it, when I let my hair loose it doesn't actually look that dirty. It really is a new feeling for me. And it is now clear that I lose my hair less than before, because it feels thicker than ever. I'm very happy about that. But I still didn't quite like the "kind of dirty" feel my hair has 5 days after I've used the soda bicarbonate ("bc"), and there's another thing: with "bc" my hair mostly doesn't smell of anything, but after maybe 3 days, its ends have quite a weird smell. Just the ends! I wonder if other "poo-free" adventurers have had the same experience...!?
I was getting a bit uncomfortable with that smell so a few days ago I tried to find some more websites on going "poo-free". The women of the websites I found were not talking about using soda bicarbonate; instead they were using powders such as reetha, amla, sidr and shikakai, which they all buy from organic internet shops and which all originate from... India!!! Now that's interesting, I thought! I asked Vijay and his family whether you could find reetha in Khajuraho, because that was the one that seemed most used. The answer was yes - and also amla powder, and sidr, and shikakhai, but reetha is the most common. Vijay's brother-in-law who was visiting even told me you can find it easily in his village, which is a tiny place in the "bumhole" of the earth, as the French proverb says. I was very happy but puzzled that I hadn't known about all these beautiful natural products before! And so Vijay brought me some reetha from the "market" yesterday evening.
I opened the bag and was surprised to see that reetha was none other than... soap-nuts!!! Now I had seen them in organic shops in Europe, and I have even used them once for my laundry after a friend had asked me to buy some for her in Delhi. However I had never known that you could find dried soapnuts powder as the websites mention, and especially I had never known that soapnuts actually come from India and that you can find them just everywhere cheaply and especially in rural areas!!! That's just amazing news!!! So last night I looked out for more information about how to use soapnuts on the internet as well as asking Vijay's sister, who sadly didn't actually have much experience with it! All website said to just soak some nuts in boiling water overnight and to use the soapy water on the following morning. So I asked Sonam for a bowl, filled it with water and dropped 6 nuts in it. I told Sonam the websites were advising to use boiling water but she told me that it wasn't necessary if the nuts were to soak overnight; boiling water was used to speed up the process if you didn't have time. I said OK let's see.
This morning before my shower I opened the soaked nuts with my fingers to throw away their seeds, and I took the nut-skins out of the water. According to the websites you can reuse the same nuts up to 5-6 times; I shall have to experiment with that... Then I simply poured some of the natural soapy water on my head slowly and started massaging my scalp, poured some more and massaged some more. There was no foam at all on my head; however when I massaged the length of my hair it was foamy. I poured the rest of the water on my head, massaged my scalp some more and let it rest for 5 minutes while I washed my clothes. You have to be careful because reetha stings your eyes quite badly. Finally I rinsed my hair and that was it.
I went back upstairs after my shower and after my hair had dried a bit in the towel I combed it. WOW!!! It was soft and easy to comb just like after ordinary conditioner!!! No need for lemony water like after soda bicarbonate! And my hair felt better than after using "bc", just like with ordinary conditioner!! I am so happy!!! But why oh why, do all Indian women today use ordinary shampoo when they have access to such wonders of nature!?? Really the West is spoiling India more and more. If Indians throw away their rubbish outside and mounts of plastic have covered their poor country, it is because before they became in awe of anything western, they could throw their rubbish outside, because it was all natural!!! Like those wonderful earthen chai cups which are sadly being replaced everywhere with horrible plastic cups!!!
In summary, reetha is: cheap (about 10 Rs for at least 6 wash), ecological, natural, healthy, easy-to-use, and local!!! I really am gutted that it took me 6 years in India to find out about it!!!
So my poo-free adventure continues now with reetha, as well as soda bicarbonate. Actually I also found some (non-organic) apple cider vinegar in Varanasi, and although I will probably never buy any here again because it is imported from America (*blush*), I shall give it a try also. Finally I am very happy because I thought I had lost my wooden comb before coming back to India while I had actually just forgotten it at a friend's house, and she is now back in Varanasi with it! No more plastic comb from now on...
More websites on going "poo-free" (en francais)
Joséphine au natur'elle
Poudres pour les cheveux
A note on my three blogs
A note on my blogs
(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...
(2) vio; sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!
(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.