How I cured my itchy scalp.
So. I can’t say that my scalp never flakes, but I don’t really have dandruff. However, I have had an itchy scalp, um, forever. I have used dandruff shampoo since childhood, and assumed that it would be part of my routine forever.
I had discovered that salicylic acid-containing shampoos (like Neutrogena T-Sal) work better than… uh… whatever makes the blue dandruff shampoo blue.
Four or five months ago, though, I learned about the “no ‘poo” movement: People “washing” their hair with baking soda, and using apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse. I already buy my baking soda — which I use for everything — in 13.5 lb bags from Costco, and apple cider vinegar (raw, organic, unfiltered) in quarts. So, I had the supplies on hand, and was already a fan of them. Plus, I am always on the lookout for ways to make our household more natural. I suspected that my normal regimen of Suave clarifying shampoo for the first wash, Selsun Blue Naturals for the second wash, and Herbal Essences None of Your Frizzness conditioner didn’t meet any benchmarks for “more natural”, and on my low-priority list at the back of my mind, I’d been wanting to figure out a replacement for them. Win-win, all the way around, right?
So, I did no ‘poo for a few weeks and hated it. It’s not so much that it didn’t work, exactly. It’s because I have so much darn hair — it’s thick and reaches the small of my back — that the process took FOR-EV-ER. Working enough baking soda into my hair to wash all of it required a LOT of baking soda and a LOT of time. Then, it’s hard to rinse out. The apple cider vinegar rinse helps with that because the acid neutralizes the soda. However, I am already trying to minimize my water usage in the shower; I could languish in a hot shower pretty much perpetually, but know that it is wasteful. All that water draining as I’m trying to get enough soda into my hair to wash it, then enough water in my hair to rinse it… I just could never get all of the soda out, even using up an entire water-heater full of hot water in the process.
As a consequence, my hair would feel heavy afterward, and I hated that.
I had read that there is an adjustment period where your hair needs to get “used” to not being stripped of its oils, etc., like normal shampoo does, and thought that, maybe, that’s what was happening to my hair. But, I find myself suspicious of this because:
- Baking soda strips stuff of oil. That’s one reason it’s an effective household cleaner.
- I deeply suspect that the “adjustment period” is not your hair balancing out, but you, as a person, finally getting used to how weird your hair feels after “no ‘poo”ing.
So, I shelved that idea. Chalk me up as Not a Convert to No ‘Poo.
One thing I had noticed, though, was that my scalp was NOT itchy, at all, while doing “no ‘poo”.
I had already recognized that at least one of my children (Audrey) is “allergic” to Suave shampoo. It makes her head peel. I’ve know that for years. Literally, about four years. With a slowly-dawning “duh”, I thought, “Maybe my shampoo is what is making my head itch. Maybe I need to switch shampoos.” For nearly my whole life, I have used a clarifying shampoo as my first wash — I am not looking for frou-frou in my shampoo; I just want my hair clean. If I’m going to splurge, I save my $$ for conditioner. Therefore, I use the cheapest clarifying shampoo I can find: Suave. Hmmm… If it makes Audrey’s scalp peel, maybe I have the same problem, and that’s why my head itches. <facepalm>
I shopped for various natural shampoos, to give it a go.
Lemme tell you, I hated that. The cheapskate in me CRINGES over the per-ounce cost of natural and organic shampoos and conditioners. And, I had a reasonable fear that I’d plunk down my $15-20 dollars for two bottles of stuff that
- wouldn’t clean my hair,
- would make my scalp still itch, and
- would totally waste my money.
Finally, I settled on Everyday Shea, mostly because I liked the info provided on the bottle, and it was 32 ounces, and about $10, which is a fair price for such a large bottle. I’ve read some glowing reviews of it, but I’m here to tell you that stuff is CRAP.
- It doesn’t clean worth a darn,
- I had to use a good quarter to half-cup of both the shampoo and conditioner each time, to get a good lather on the shampoo, and to feel like the conditioner was being spread through my hair.
I had to stop using it, which made me groan at the waste. I tried using it a few washes even after I knew it wasn’t working for me, just to try to get my money’s worth, but I just couldn’t continue. Then, I tried — ahem — passing it to my children, because maybe their standards were lower than mine. But everyone — husband and children included — uniformly reported, “This stuff is weird. It’s so watery. My hair doesn’t feel clean. Do I have to use this?” Now, the bottles — FOUR OF THEM, mind you, because I thought that if one variety of it didn’t work, maybe another did — are just sitting around my house (and yes, that’s $40 worth of crappy shampoo and conditioner), because I can’t bear to throw them away, but neither could I, in good conscience, give them to anyone.*
Nature’s Gate, which, while somewhat expensive on the outset (about $6-7), at least comes in healthy-sized 18 oz bottles, so the cost per ounce was lower than most of the other options. It’s not organic, but it is sulfate-free, paraben-free, butylene glycol-free, and more. I’m not sure — at all — which of those — if any — is what was making my scalp itch. But, I thought it was likely to be at least one of those things.
I must say that, initially, I didn’t want to buy Nature’s Gate because I bought some, years ago, and the stuff smelled exactly like Old Spice, and it was a SSTROOOONGGGG scent. So, I’d smell distinctly like a man whenever I used it. That’s a no-go, even though I liked how it worked. But, in the store, I noticed that there were several new varieties of their shampoo, and it had that chipper “New Improved!” graphic, and I hesitantly picked it up. I opened the cap to smell. Wow! It smelled GREAT. I plunked two bottles in my cart.
I’m happy to report that, a few months later, after using both the Aloe Vera and the Jojoba versions of Nature’s Gate shampoos and conditioners that
- It cleans my hair, on ONE wash, even if it’s been several days since I last washed my hair.
- I don’t have to use a ton of the shampoo, just a normal amount.
- The conditioner conditions well, and even with my long, thick hair, I don’t have to use a gallon of it, either. It’s thick and rich.
- It doesn’t make my scalp itch. I am itch-free, and no longer need to use dandruff shampoo.
- And it smells great. Not like a man at all. But, my hubby likes it, so it doesn’t smell girly, either.
Overall, I’m very happy with Nature’s Gate shampoo and conditioner. It’s still pricier than my penny-pinching self likes to pay. BUT, it’s cheaper than dandruff shampoo. And, I have been pretty successful buying it on sale. Locally, to the Phoenix area, the everyday price at Bashas’, of all places, is LESS than at Sprouts, $6 vs. $7-something. But, from the 25th of April (today) through the 2nd of May, all of Sprouts’ vitamin and bodycare goods are 25% off, so if you’re interested, it might be a good time to buy… (And, NO, I’m not paid by Sprouts to say this; I just like shopping there.)
*Although, if anyone I know IRL is reading this, and wants to try it, even after my thumbs-down review, you’re welcome to. I’ll give you my bottles.