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.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A year without shampoo & how to wash your hair with reetha (soap nuts)

(La même page en français!)

Today is a big day for me! Yes, today is my first anniversary of being poo-free. I have not used shampoo for a whole year, and I am still delighted about this change in my life.

I have not written anything about being poo-free for six months, yet my hair has changed and my experience has evolved further since then.

(1) The first thing is that it will have taken about 8 or 9 months to make a difference, but now I really lose my hair a lot less than I used to. And here in India I used to lose my hair more during the hot season, but those days of are over, finally.

(2) The second thing is that it took me quite some time, but I have finally learnt how to use reetha (soap nuts) properly. It used to clean my hair well sometimes and badly at other times; now I finally have the hang of it. As a result I have also grown to like reetha more than baking soda, which I only use when it is inconvenient to soak reetha overnight, for instance after a night on the train or if I have forgotten to soak it the day before I want to wash my hair.

And so for my first anniversary, I have decided to write a detailed guide on how to use reetha/soap nuts properly - or at least how I use it and how it works for me. Because most of the websites I found on going "poo-free" talked about baking soda only, and because I only found (very few) websites explaining how to wash hair with powdered reetha, but absolutely no-one that explained how to use soap nuts in their natural form!

NB: Soap nuts are a cheap local product for me because I live in India! I am aware that they are very expensive in Western countries; still they can usually be found in organic/health food shops so feel free to try! If they are too inconvenient/pricey for you, there's plenty information on how to use baking soda in the list of links below!

(1) Preparation:

In the evening of the day before washing your hair

It's very simple, but you have to remember it. If you wash your hair in the morning, the evening before put some soap nuts in a bowl of water. Some people use hot water, but I don't find this necessary if the nuts are going to soak all night.

- My hair is quite long and I use 8 to 10 nuts. It is important that the nuts are open before you soak them, since the soap is secreted from inside the nuts. To open a nut you can use a knife to cut through its soft top and crack it open. Alternatively, if you think about it, about 3-4 hours after soaking the nuts are soft and easy to open by hand. A round black stone comes out from each nut; you can remove them from the water if you want as you won't use them.
- Do not add too much water, otherwise the soap will be too diluted and it will not wash well. I pour about 2 cm of water in a medium-sized bowl, like on the picture below.

In the morning before shower

You will need:
- the soapy water in which the nuts have soaked overnight; it should be dark yellow/brownish.
- the juice of a lemon in a small cup, topped-up with water, for conditioning;
- a clean comb. I use a wooden comb which I regularly clean using soda becarbonate and a toothbrush.

(2) Hair washing with reetha:

Remove the nuts from the water and keep them aside, as they still contain some soap and you will be able to soak and use them again. Throw away the black stones. The water is now soapy, and it should be quite dark yellow in colour like on the photo above. If it's too limpid it won't wash your hair well enough.

Pour the soapy water little by little onto your wet hair - tilt your head back so that the water won't go into your eyes, as the soap stings them badly! Pour a little water, massage your head; pour a little more, massage, and so on. If your hair is long it's handy, because the length of your hair will get very foamy with reetha whereas your scalp won't! I use the length of my hair as a "glove" to massage my scalp, so it gets a little more soapy and it washes better.

After you have poured all the water and massaged your scalp and hair well, rinse well.

(3) Conditioning with lemon-water

Slowly pour all the lemony water onto your head and hair, tilting your head back so the lemon juice won't sting your eyes. Comb your hair as you would do with an ordinary conditioner. The hair is easy to comb as the lemon juice makes it nice and soft. Rinse well.

That's it!

(4) Remarks

- Reetha doesn't wash out oil well, so I no longer put oil in my hair (I never did much anyway, but this is a problem for many Indian woman because they are used to putting oil in their hair!)

- The soapy water is cold by morning time, and it may be chilly to pour cold water onto yourself! I live in India where I shower in cold water half of the year anyway because it's so hot, thus it doesn't matter, but in the winter I prefer to tilt my head forward so the cold water won't run down on my body - in which case you have to be extra careful not to put any soapy water in your eyes - it really hurts, your eyes get all red, and it takes a while to wash out...

- You can use apple cider vinegar instead of the lemon juice for conditioning. It works in exactly the same way; instead of the lemon juice simply pour a tablespoon of vinegar (same amount as the lemon juice) in your cup and top it up with water. Pour it onto your hair and head, comb your hair, rinse well.

- It is not actually necessary to condition your hair with lemon/vinegar after using reetha, but the wet hair after washing it with reetha feels kind of "papery" and uneasy to handle. Although the hair feels normally soft once it has dried, I prefer to condition it with lemon water, as it makes it really soft and easy to comb.

- In theory you can reuse the soap nuts 2-3 times more. I find that for hair washing though, they don't work well a second time. So what I do is I keep the used nuts of two washes and then only I use them to wash my hair. In other words, I need 8-10 new nuts but 16-20 used nuts to wash my hair well.

- I wash my hair with reetha (or baking soda) about once a week. In between two washes I massage my hair in plain water everyday as this keeps it clean for longer. (And in India it's a great thing because there is so much dust that it gets grubby quite quickly!) Note that in a hot country like India, half of the year I shower in cold water which doesn't clean the hair as well as hot water! And in the winter I rinse my hair (with hot water) every two days only because I don't feel like wetting it every single day.

(5) Results

- My hair is silky and soft (OK, it always was!)
- It falls a lot less.
- As a result it feels more voluminous.
- It gets greasy a lot less quickly, and when it is greasy it doesn't show as much as it used to.

My dirty hair after 6 days of just rinsing with water, before I wash it with reetha:

It doesn't look too bad when my hair is tied-up, even after a week!

My hair just after I have washed it with reetha:

(6) More information on how to go poo-free:

On how to quit shampoo using baking soda & vinegar:
Shampoo Free from Now On! - with photos!

On washing hair only with water!
Beyond no poo only with water - I have not tried this I have to say...

On washing hair with natural powders, including reetha powder:
(French only)
Joséphine au natur'elle
Poudres pour les cheveux

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