|This hair has not used shampoo in over four years!|
Here are some steps to smart product choices.
Read the labels. Look for things you can't pronounce. Search the ingredients on a database like SkinDeep. This website is helpful because it gives a rating to each product as well as each ingredient in the product. For example, I did a search for baby shampoo. It is for babies, so it must be safe. (Which is a whole other issue I have. Why make things safe for just babies, what about adults?) Ironically, when I found an "organic" product, it was listed as moderate risk. When you look further, the site tells you that the concern is due to the use of fragrance and is listed as a warning for allergies. No, there isn't anything too scary about the products you search, but if there is research stating that there is a safer product, why not try it.
Check for value. No need to waste money. Compare prices at online pharmacies or Amazon.com. Even if you don't buy from there, the prices should be comparative to the store you normally shop. Also, look for generic store brands like Whole Food's 365 brand. It may not be "organic" but it is free of dyes and artificials (and a lot cheaper). Remember not to freak out if a product contains a specific ingredient, just be cautious and make sure that it isn't an ingredient in everything you use.
Consider losing the product altogether. To quote one of my favorite movies, "I prefer the audacity of a woman who flaunts her own aroma." Do away with some of the products you use. I have managed to narrow it down to bar soap, face wash, lotion, deodorant, powder, and eye liner. My hair isn't perfect and I sweat like a normal human should, but I don't smell, and I'm certainly not unclean.
Be patient. When you stop using a product that is synthetically enhanced, it can take some getting used to. Most natural ingredients don't lather as well as artificial ones. You may not feel like you are getting clean, but you are. Also, your skin and hair will need some time to adjust. When I first stopped using shampoo, I tried the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method. This worked fine and only needed to be done once per week. After some research, however, I discovered that this could mess with your skin's pH level in the long run. I now only do this for really, really deep cleaning every couple of months. For the most part, it took about a year for me to really adjust to no "poo." Shampoo is designed to degrease and strip your hair. This is why they make conditioner to try to remoisturize. The problem is, your skin is smart. It knows when it is being irritated, dehydrated, and even chemically burned. To counteract this damage, the skin produces oil. It will take time for your skin to realize it does not need to produce this extra oil. Once the balance is found, your skin and hair will feel great.
So how exactly do I stay clean? Simple. Multi-purpose castile soap which is oil-based. Use it daily, and rub into the scalp weekly as needed. No need to scrub the hair or do anything else to it. I also use a mineral salt-based deodorant. This is not an antiperspirant, no aluminum, and no links to breast cancer. The salt helps destroy any bacteria that live on your skin. Without the bacteria, body odor is virtually nonexistent (odor can also depend on diet, water intake, and other factors). This might seem extreme, but that is why there are steps. Go as far as you like, cut away what you can, and be mindful of your health.