In my past life I worked in the magazine industry as a freelance writer, interviewing experts and publishing gripping articles like Five Tips to Amazing Nails and Ten Steps to Your Healthiest Summer Ever. I traipsed through fields of chamomile in France, discovering the secrets of farm-to-face skincare. As a regular contributor to a Canadian salon-industry trade magazine, I enjoyed an endless bounty of professional-grade hairstyling products.
That said, I know my way around shampoos and conditioners: good ingredients are worth paying for and, with a stretch of greying roots, I am careful to go sulfate-free to extend the longevity of my coloured hair. The odd time I have cheaped out, my hair rebels.
So it is with great trepidation I mix together my first shampoo and conditioner with my daughter Eden. After the complex process of funneling coconut milk, vitamin E, castile soap (available at the health food store in pure form –allowed!) and a teensy bit of jojoba oil into the dollar-store squeeze bottle, Eden looks at me and shakes her head.
“This is not going to work, Mama.”
“Yes it will, it’s on the Internet,” I answer. So there.
“Ooookay.” Complete with eye roll.
On to conditioner: a cup of water and a tbsp of apple cider vinegar (henceforth to be known as ACV because of its vast popularity amongst the no ‘poo movement). No poo-ers (according to Wikipedia) are people who don’t believe in using commercial shampoo to wash hair, for a variety of reasons from cost to toxicity to insanity (according to me). If I am offending anyone out there was doesn’t ‘poo regularly, I apologize. Eden and I also make a backup shampoo, consisting of water and baking soda (otherwise known as H2O with a dash of BS).
It is time to try the merchandise. At 11:30 pm I finally get in the shower. Rather late to be experimenting, but I am doubtful that this is going to be easy and don’t want to leave it until the morning rush. My olive oil/sea salt/lemon body scrub from the day before is a success –apart from the filmy deposit it leaves on the tile. That will be fun to clean. Yippee.
As I lather the coconut milk shampoo mixture into my hair it starts to feel…weird. I harbour some odd sentiment that going au naturel will give me hair like Gisele Bündchen. Ridiculous, right? But she just seems like she would use this homemade stuff– all “doesn’t even own a hairbrush” ( January 2014, Vogue). I mean, come on! Unfortunately reality is far removed from this fantasy. My hair feels like wet, tangled gimp– like my kids summer-camp project migrated to my scalp. Maybe it’s just the ‘poo?
Oh, well, time to condition. I have a distinct childhood memory of being 12 and using Vaseline as hair gel one Halloween. The costume was punk rocker and the intended hairstyle was a Mohawk. Much to my horror it ended up looking like a floppy fish fin. No amount of washing would degrease my head until, ta-da, white vinegar to the rescue! Four buckets later and I had the softest hair ever! That ACV is about to rescue me. Or not. Maybe it’s a dilution issue?
“Hon!?” I yell from the shower.
“What?” comes the slightly annoyed response from the bedroom. It is after 11:40 pm.
“I need a favour.”
“Uh-huh.” Like he is expecting nothing less.
I proceed to force my half-asleep husband to trudge downstairs to the kitchen and dig up the ACV bottle because I obviously need a MUCH more concentrated dose.
At 12:23 am, three doses of “conditioner” later, with my hair blown dry, I crawl under the bedcovers.
“It’s not quite as light and fluffy as I was hoping,” I whisper, as if my husband anxiously awaits a report.
“That’s a shocker,” comes the muffled reply from the lump beside me, his head stuffed under the pillow.