Help for Thinning or Otherwise Messed Up Hair

Hair loss! Pregnancy! Hormones!

When I had my son almost 4 years ago now (!!!) I immediately began losing clumps of hair. This is one of those things nobody mentions about having kids and then all of a sudden everyone's like, "Oh yeah, that's totally normal. It's hormonal. It'll come back after a year or two. Blah blah blah." Um, WHAT? 

This was like when I found out that a pregnancy is not really 9 months long. It's 10. What is THAT? How can humankind have perpetrated this kind of deceit on the maidenhood for so long? 2.5 million years to be exact! "O no, dear, you've still got 30 more days to go! All that stuff you've heard about pregnancy being 9 months long? Hahahaha silly girl. That's just something we tell to young women to trick them into thinking that pregnancy is a walk in the park. A short walk. Sorry!" WTF???

Anyhow, my hair started falling out in clumps and I didn't have much to begin with. This was NOT okay with me. I went to doctors. I called wig shops. I contemplated hair restoration. I ordered crazy products online. I counted the hairs that were coming out each day. I counted the number of times the ponytail holder had to go around the "ponytail" (which was no bigger than a pencil, btw). I had bald spots at my temples. It was ridiculous. 

So I was determined to get my luxurious mane (hahaha) back to its normal state. No. I wanted my hair back, and I wanted it to look BETTER than it had before. I've permed it, died it, teased it, sprayed it, had long, luxurious extensions glued into it, everything you can imagine. And it was totally frazzled. It was limp and dull. My whole adult life, I spent millions and millions of dollars on the finest shampoos and conditioners and still my hair looked awful. So I started doing a bunch on research online to see what could really be done about it in the most natural, simple, inexpensive way possible.

The extensions and I celebrate Mardi Gras with Frosty the Sporran.
I went with the no-poo method at first (links below). That's where you use a baking soda solution to scrub your scalp and rinse with diluted vinegar. It makes a lot of sense. There are a lot of great reasons to stop using commercial shampoos. Shampoos strip your hair of its natural oils, causing an overproduction of oils (sebum) at the scalp to compensate. Then if you go one day without shampooing, your hair is a big greasy mess. The ingredient to avoid is sulfates. Sulfates are salts that cause a substance to produce lather and break up grease. These are harsh detergents and are irritating to hair and skin. I saw pictures of people who experienced miraculous results with this method! I was stoked!

Okay. So after a few months, I had to admit: the no-poo method did NOT work for me! I was so determined to make it work, I tried every little thing I could. My hair was a sticky, slimy mess.  See right.

Because the water where I live is very hard, the baking soda was reacting with the minerals in it to create this disgusting film that would not rinse out despite repeated trying. So, with my tail between my legs, I began to dig around for alternatives. I felt like I was going to get my hippie card revoked if I went back to regular shampoo.

So I decided to try organic shampoo bars. 
You can get them here and here and lots of other places.

I started using the lavender spice shampoo from Chagrin Valley. I wash my hair twice a week (I know, gross) and rinse it with a diluted vinegar rinse. 

The vinegar rinse is: 1/4 cup of vinegar diluted with 16 oz of water. I keep it in a plastic bottle in the shower and use about a cup of it each time. Throw your hair over your head and pour the mixture onto the back of your head. Work it through with your hands. Leave it on your hair for a few minutes while you're doing other showery-type stuff and then rinse it out.

Shanti Aromatherapy
Every night I rub a couple of drops of my essential oil mixture into my scalp. The mix is: 1 part clary sage, 1 part rosemary, 1 part sweet basil, and 1 part peppermint. I mix it all together in a little 2 oz bottle and keep it in my medicine cabinet. It's good for the follicles and feels and smells awesome. It's a little more expensive to make this, but it will last for years, seriously.

The key to all this is to rinse it out very very well. Even when you think it's all out, keep rinsing. And follow with a splash of very cold water. That part sucks, but it makes your hair shiny as it seals the cuticle on your hair strands, making them lie flat so they can catch the light. And voila! It works! My hair is better than it's ever been. It's soft, shiny, and finally starting to fill back in. You can actually SEE the line in my hair where I started using this method. All the older hair (the bottom 3 - 4 inches or so) is all frazzled and weird looking, and the 5 or 6 inches at the top, nearer to my scalp (new growth) is soft, healthy hair. Yay! And best of all, it's CHEAP! Pennies, actually. One bar lasts me 6 months and you can get a gallon of vinegar for 3 bucks and that lasts more than a year. Fabulous!

Me now! They gave me my hippie card back! (note: this is not really me)


  1. Hmmm, I may have to try those shampoo bars. I used Dr. Bronners soap bar as shampoo, but it doesn't work. I tried the no poo method and that didn't work either. Right now, I'm using a somewhat organic shampoo, but I'm always on the lookout for something better. Shampoo is the one thing that been hard to switch over. I feel like a lot of the natural shampoos don't clean my hair very well...but I'm determined to find something! I'll one of the shampoo bars a shot :)

  2. Hey Kate! Dr. Bronners never worked well for me. It is a bohemian/hippie staple, so I tried it many times... it leaves a film on my hair, body, face...yuck.

    I know what you mean about making the transition. Hair is so OUT THERE noticeable! Hard to live with it looking bad even for a day or two, much less a few weeks. The organic shampoo bars work really well for me. I didn't have any down-time like I did with no-poo. The key is to rinse it with the vinegar rinse and RINSE IT GOOD, GIRL! Try it! You should get a few samples from Chagrin Valley. They're cheap and you can try a bunch and they actually last a long time.

  3. I SO wanted to love the Chagrin Valley shampoo bars, but I just can't make them work for me with the very hard water we have. Even with a vinegar rinse, I kept getting that scum-like build up on my scalp. Any suggestions? Maybe I'm not using the vinegar rinse correctly. Should I rinse out the soap with shower water and then apply the vinegar rinse, or use the vinegar rinse first to rinse out the soap and then rinse it all out with shower water?

    1. iMarie! I wish I knew how to make it work. The water here is VERY hard, too. I got a filter for my shower and that seems to help.

      Soap and hard water are never a good mix, and since Chagrin Valley shampoo bars are essentially soap, sometimes they don't work for everyone everywhere.

      Try this:

      It's a shampoo made from soapnuts instead of soap. I just ordered a couple bars. We'll experiment together!

    2. That sounds like a good idea! I went back to liquid shampoo, but I am determined to make those soap bars work! I just ordered a shower filter, and maybe I'll try a slightly stronger vinegar rinse. Good luck to both of us ;)


  4. I liked the arrows for their help in organizing your notes.