Help Me Help You Help My Hair. And my Home. And, you know, the Earth.

This post is purely for my own informational purposes, but it’s possible that some of my questions are also your questions; perhaps together we can get some answers.

I’m talking about saving the planet and whatnot here.

Lorelle and her Gorgeous Hair!

I recently read an article by Santa Rosa’s leading acupuncturist (and all-around inspiring woman) Lorelle Saxena, about making small changes toward a better world, called Seriously Minimal Hair Care. The timing was great, as I’d just wrestled with the wonky pump of my bulk-sized shampoo bottle not an hour earlier. I have a (perhaps) bad habit of buying discounted ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ shampoo at Grocery Outlet, because it makes me feel better about what I’m putting on my head to buy the hippie brands, which I am otherwise unable to afford. Doing this means I’m at the mercy of whatever rejects GrocOut has available when I find myself in need of shampoo again. The result is very confused hair which ends up needing to be washed more than I’d prefer, because it is constantly trying to correct itself via natural oils, which makes me look like I haven’t washed my hair in a week.

I’ve tried cutting back on my washing schedule, going every three or four days instead of every other day or especially, with my current shampoo, every day. I just couldn’t make it work in a way that didn’t make me feel scummy. That’s not a judgement toward other people’s hair thing, that’s a ‘my hair and face (which my hair touches) felt like they were literally covered in a layer of scum’ thing.

My current, just-cleaned hair: Fly, Flyaway

Different people have different advice involving vinegars and baking sodas and various science experiments they mix up in the shower, which for some reason boggles the hell out of my mind. Here are my initial questions:

  1. I’ve read advice to bring a big glass mason jar into the shower with the natural stuff already in it – vinegar? Baking soda? – and then fill it up with warm water when you’re ready to rinse your hair. Is it just me or does this sound like a recipe for slippery glass and bloody feet? Just asking. As I write this, it occurs to me that I could use one of the many plastic to-go containers we get when we order Pho, then keep forever because WASTE.
  2. When using vinegar – how much do you use? Lorelle advises an ounce. Normal people probably know what an ounce looks like. I am not one of those people. Side note: I feel like I need someone to hold my hand through this process and show me how it’s done, step by step. Yes, even in the shower – I’m not modest; this is important.
  3. How do you get through the awkward phase when your hair is freaking out? Dry shampoo? Excessive wearing of hats? What even is dry shampoo? I don’t get it.
  4. Where does baking soda come in?
  5. Speaking of baking soda – am I also supposed to be using this to brush my teeth? Like, straight? Yes I can google all of this but I’m looking for real answers from real people. Also, I’m kind of lazy and I just want you to tell me what to do.
  6. Another thing: I saw a comment from a woman I know – we’ll call her ‘Kate’ – who said she uses oil to rinse her face at night, as opposed to a chemical-based product. It’s possible I read that completely wrong, but if not, I want answers on this one too, please.
  7. Is there anything else I should know here? PLEASE ADVISE!

Another article I read last week was by Leilani Clark and described her attempts at going zero-waste, which came to mind last night as I threw away takeout containers which had once contained sushi and miso soup. Leilani suggests bringing your own containers when getting food to-go, which I like the idea of in theory, although that defeats the purpose of ordering ahead when you’re feeling punky and it’s raining and you don’t want to sit in an uncomfortable restaurant chair listening to yourself breathe while they prepare your food. However, it did make me stop to think when going to the store for some items I could very easily be buying in bulk. We have a lot of jars around our house, you guys. They could be put to great use here.

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Our Water Collection

That being said: I’d like to try. Because I greatly respect the women who wrote about trying, and I can’t bawk bawk about being good to the planet just because I collect our extra water and recycle a lot. And use cloth napkins and bought a glass water bottle and carry reusable bags with me everywhere. Wait – clearly I’m trying to justify my waste amount with my reusing/recycling amount, and that is not my goal.

The whole point of this ramble is that what was once ‘enough’ is no longer enough.

For everyone back in my small Midwest hometown who thinks I am now some wackadoodle hippy since moving to California, all of these questions should ease your mind that I’m still a clueless earth-killer when it comes to shampoo bottles and sushi. However, I’m hoping that after a few answers and a potentially prolonged awkward phase with my hair and my kitchen, I’ll be one step closer to being that California Girl I always dreamed I’d be.

I’d love your easy tips on how to do more, one step at a time – what are your favorite natural body care techniques and recipes? How do you get around the whole ‘food packaging’ thing…especially when you’ve got kids, a teenager, and a bigtime lover of snacks in the house? Have you ever dropped your mason jar and caused a bloody accident in your quest for natural care?

Thanks in advance – the bumbling toward a healthier home starts today!


9 thoughts on “Help Me Help You Help My Hair. And my Home. And, you know, the Earth.

  1. Use cold water for the final rinse when you wash your hair. As cold as you can take. It will make your hair shiny. I read this in a book a while back, and it really works. Cheap and easy. And invigorating, especially in the colder months. (I started doing this AFTER I started going bald, so don’t worry about that.)

    NEVER take a Mason jar into the shower. That just might be the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard plenty of stupid ideas.


  2. While I applaud the whole idea of using natural, grass-fed, cage-free, organic, local, sustainable, mason jar, vinegar everything in as many aspects of life that are possible, hair is not one of those things in my book! I’m not saying you need to use super chemically nasty hair products. But I am saying why not use hair products that are sulfate free and silicone free and yet they actually work to make your hair the way you want it! I think you should love your hair – The way it looks, the way it feels and the way it smells. (You’re welcome, Paulie). Therefore, because you’re saving money and saving the earth in so many other ways, I say go ahead and spend a few bucks on a really nice high quality shampoo and conditioner. You will actually use less water because you won’t feel like your hair is scummy after just two days. Check out the Full Shampoo and Conditioner by Living Proof. It’s genius. I only wash my hair twice a week and it never gets greasy or feels scummy. And you only need to use the tiniest amount. You’ll be saving water and leaving the mason jars in the kitchen where they belong! And your hair will look super rad and you’ll be able to walk out the door and save the planet while looking and feeling fabulous. Go get ’em, tiger.


    1. As the daughter of s hairdresser, I’ve tried it all. I prefer this — it’s the most environmentally friendly solution, it’s easy, inexpensive, and my hair looks and feels great. Also, I don’t stink, thank you very much.


  3. 1. I cannot bring glass into the shower because I’m extraordinarily dysfunctional before my coffee. I have a used plastic Talenti gelato tub of baking soda, a reusable plastic bottle of apple cider vinegar, an empty reusable plastic bottle for mixing, a small plastic measuring scoop that came with some supplement a while ago, and a funnel. I measure a half scoop (1-2 Tbsp) of baking soda into the empty bottle, fill it with hot water, shake it, and pour it all over my head. I scrub that around for a bit, soap up my body, shave, whatever, and then wash it out. Then I do a half-scoop of vinegar, mix it with water in the empty bottle, and pour that all over my head. I rinse this out immediately, though. Too much vinegar will make my hair look greasy. And that is it! No glass. And with this “No-Poo” method, you just need to fiddle with it a bit over time to see what works. Just Google “No-Poo method.”

    2. I use 1-2 Tablespoons of vinegar, mixed with water for us straight-haireds. I just pour it over my head (avoiding my bangs because they get greasy-looking faster than the rest of my hair), and then rinse with water.

    3. My awkward phase was like a week at the most. But yeah — if your hair isn’t feeling normal or lovely at first, I would recommend hats, or headbands, or barrettes or something.

    4. and 5. (See above) I still don’t brush my teeth with baking soda because they are so sensitive that I have to use Sensodyne. 😦

    6. The oil-cleansing method! I use a teensy bit of castor oil mixed with almond oil. I smoothe that all over my face for a minute or so. Then I wet a washcloth so it’s pretty hot, and just let it rest on my face until it is just warmish. I do this about three times, wiping away any eye makeup, and I’m good to go. No moisturizer or anything, because the oil stays on the face. It’s a great method for ANYONE — even acne prone skin. Again, you just need to find the right balance. Lots of folks just do this with straight coconut oil. Google “oil cleansing method.”

    7. Every once in a while (like maybe every other month) my head gets a little bit flaky. This can happen with shampoo buildup, too. So the night before my hair-washing shower, I massage jojoba oil or coconut oil onto my scalp and tie a scarf over it for the night (when I had long hair I’d put it in a bun on top of my head). Then I wash my hair with baking soda TWICE the next morning, followed by a tiny vinegar rinse. Dude. My hair is so shiny and wonderful after this!


    1. Also — I still wet my hair when I take a shower, I just don’t wash it every time. I wash my hair just about every 4 days or so.


    2. Wow, thank you Kate! So much information! I’m still a little intimidated, but also excited to give it a try. It’s Spring Break so what better time to start than when I don’t have to be around anyone but my family? 🙂


      1. Did I mention how shiny and manageable my hair is now that I do this? No more flyaways or static, no products. It’s cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and if I travel it’s easy to find/buy baking soda and vinegar.


      2. Oh! And it’s really far less dramatic of a change than it sounds. The transition is easy, and that “awkward phase” is nothing — as a teenager I would have been concerned, but as s grown ass gal, it ain’t no thing.


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