View Full Version : Hair and scalp cannot agree on the time of day.

May 2nd, 2008, 06:00 PM
Okay, I'm at my wits' end.

I have 2a/C/ii shoulder-length hair that tends to be dry. It hates cones, loves coconut oil, and quite possibly would not tangle in a wind tunnel. I stopped using drugstore dyes about a year ago and started using henna. I tried shampoo bars for a while, but our water is too hard and even ACV rinses and a shower filter couldn't make a dent in the soap scum.

I've been trying for a year to find a good routine. Right now I'm doing CWC twice a week. My hair loves this - it's soft, silky, and feels awesome. Unfortunately, anything resembling buildup - of oil, products, sebum, sweat, air - is absolute death on my scalp and leads to huge itches and scary, hair-thinning sheds. The only thing that will keep my scalp happy is, you guessed it, washing every day - which leads to my hair being a dried-out, frazzled rat's nest.

My hair is too short to do scalp washes. If I stick to using conditioner from the ears down, the hair on my canopy and at the front starts looking and feeling like a brillo pad. I'm sort of afraid to stop using conditioner because (a) my hair is so dry, and (b) getting oil on my scalp also leads to shed.

I'd probably be a iii if my stupid hair would just stay on my head, as well as being a lot happier about how often I have to clean the bathroom. Unfortunately, at this point I'm out of ideas. What my hair loves, my scalp hates, and vice versa. Anyone else have any ideas?

May 2nd, 2008, 06:47 PM
Eurydice, would it not work if you simply washed your hair each day with something like Sauve shampoo, rinse, repeat, rinse, acv rinse, rinse with water and then apply the Sauve condish and let it sit while you wash the rest of you and then rinse VERY well. If there is any way on earth that you can manage to get a water softener, it would do wonders for you. When my mother was growing up (born in 1916) they saved rain water just to do their hair. Good luck! You know, I just had a thought... it might even be worth the trouble to take a 5 gallon bucket or some such thing to the home of a friend and fill it with softened water. It makes a huge difference.

May 2nd, 2008, 08:02 PM
You could always do your final rinse with distilled water, you can get a whole gallon for less than $1 each.

May 2nd, 2008, 08:03 PM
That's more or less what I do when I shampoo every day, minus the ACV rinse. While it keeps my scalp happy for the most part, it seems to be too hard on my hair no matter what products I use.

I wish I could get a water softener, but I live in an apartment. I was thinking for a while about getting a rain barrel, though - I'd forgotten about it until you mentioned it. I'll have to look around for one.

kwaniesiam, I've thought about distilled water too, or getting a Breta pitcher. I've mostly put it off because I hate rinsing my hair with cold water, but it would be better than losing a ton of hair. I'll pick some up next time I'm at the store and see if it does any good.

May 2nd, 2008, 08:10 PM
Perhaps you could CWC wash some days, and do a CO in the shower others? Apply a lot of conditioner, and scrub your scalp well. This may be cleansing enough to keep your scalp happy, without drying your length.

Or you might try diluting your shampoo when you CWC - condition from the ears down, use dilute shampoo (apply with a squirt bottle) on your scalp, etc. You want a squirt bottle with a small hole in the tip, so you can direct shampoo to your scalp, even at the back of your head, without running a lot of it through your length.

May 2nd, 2008, 08:15 PM
When I first started growing out my hair I tried CO for a couple of months; no luck. It led to massive shedding. I don't think my scalp likes conditioner.

I haven't tried diluting my shampoo, though. Maybe that would help, and then I could wash a little more often. I'd rather just not wash more than twice a week, but that's leading to pretty massive shed as well so maybe I'd better give up on that idea.

May 2nd, 2008, 08:19 PM
I usually keep my distilled water under the sink, so it's lukewarm but not freezing :)

I've read on here it's also better to rinse in cooler water as that helps the cuticle of your hair lay flat and makes it softer and shinier. Perhaps you could try misting your scalp with essential oils to try and stretch out washings longer?

May 2nd, 2008, 08:20 PM
Another thing to consider is that if you are comparing the amount of hair shed during a wash when you washed daily to the amount of hair shed during a wash now, you may just be seeing more hairs because your normal shed hairs hang out on your head until you wash. So you're seeing 3-4 days worth of shed instead of 1 day's worth of shed.

Also, as your hair gets longer, the same number of shed hairs make a much larger lump. A very impressive looking tangle might be just a single hair or two when unwound.

So there may be factors like this making your shed seem worse than it is.

May 2nd, 2008, 08:21 PM
I have a similar problem, actually, my scalp is quite oily and my hair a bit dry - my scalp needs washing more than my length. Here's what I do - I generally wash every second day, but sometimes less if I'm running short on time. I do a modified CWC, I put only a little conditioner on the very ends, use a very diluted sulphate shampoo on my scalp, a little more conditioner on my ends, followed by coconut oil once my hair has dried.

Your hair may be a little short at this point, but you could also consider scalp washing, which is how I avoid washing the length of my hair too often. I put my hair into a bun on the top of my head (you can cover the bun with a shower cap or plastic bag, I usually don't bother) and I wash the scalp only, and try to keep the bun dry. Using a diluted shampoo is better for a scalp wash, IMO, because it's easier to apply and to rinse out.

-- Natalie

May 2nd, 2008, 08:25 PM
Even with shoulder length hair, I think you could scalp wash. It won't be real easy, but if you put your hair in a pony kind of high on your head, and then proceed, it should work fairly well. You might have to make another pony a bit lower if some of your hair falls out of the first.

You would then hold both ponys with one hand, and shampoo with the other. Once the shampoo is completely rinsed, you could then carefully remove the pony holders, and do the conditioner dance as you normally would.

May 2nd, 2008, 08:28 PM
Perhaps you could try misting your scalp with essential oils to try and stretch out washings longer?

I like the sound of that, but I am an essential oils dunce. Which ones would work to keep away buildup and itching?

Ursula - it's not really a question of how much I shed at washing, though that's kind of alarming too. When my scalp feels gunky, no matter how many or how few days it's been since my last wash, I can run my hand through my hair and pull out seven or eight hairs, and if I brush a ton of hair comes out. When my scalp feels clean, my hair stays put. It's only been two days since my last wash but I had to wash again tonight because my hair was coming out by what felt like the handful. (It wasn't really by the handful, but it was a huge shed anyway.)

Sometimes, on the other hand, I can go the whole three or four days and not lose that much hair. It just depends on the state of my scalp. Overall, though, I lose a lot more hair when I stretch out washes than when I don't, even accounting for shed hair staying in my hair between washes.

ETA: nat242 and Raederle, I'll give scalp washing and shampoo diluting a shot the next time I shower. I am uncoordinated and my shower is made of fail, but it's worth a try.

May 2nd, 2008, 08:39 PM
My scalp gets oily very quickly, I wash every day but since my hair is so short right now length dryness is not a problem. I use a blend of tea tree oil, lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus in some distilled water and aloe mixture. It tingles and has a cooling effect from the peppermint, and smells great. I use about 3-4 drops 4 oz. bottle, and use 1/3 aloe to 2/3 distilled water.

Tea tree oil is excellent for itching, you could try that on it's own since essential oils can be expensive and sometimes hard to find. Check your local health food store or online.

May 2nd, 2008, 08:59 PM
I second diluting the shampoo. You may need way less shampoo than you think. It's worth a try.

You may also be able to change your washing technique a bit to get less shampoo on your length. My hair is not long enough to do a scalp wash where I don't wet the length (or if it is, it would be rather complicated to do it anyway I think) but I really don't get much shampoo further down than about 1" away from my scalp. I wet my hair first, then put a tiny bit of shampoo on my fingers and reach into the hair onto my scalp. Fingers spread out, enter the hair like a comb, sort of. I sort of wiggle them around in circles to get some lather going (not a whole lot, it's not really necessary), leave it for a bit and then rinse it out head upside-down - the suds run down the length but they're gone long before they reach the ends.

I wash only the top part of my head - the back doesn't get oily for some reason, it's self-cleaning - but I can reach the whole front half of my scalp this way without getting much shampoo on the length. The back could be a bit harder to do, I'm not sure.

Also, what about oiling after you wash, do you do that? You say your hair likes coconut oil but you don't say how you use it (or I missed it?). I think that oil as a leave-in is much easier to apply only where you need it. I mean, it's hard to be precise about where you apply conditioner in the shower, but oil after a wash, you can put it exactly where you need it and really avoid your scalp, while still getting some oil on the hair somewhat close to the scalp.


May 2nd, 2008, 09:03 PM

Also, what about oiling after you wash, do you do that? You say your hair likes coconut oil but you don't say how you use it (or I missed it?). I think that oil as a leave-in is much easier to apply only where you need it. I mean, it's hard to be precise about where you apply conditioner in the shower, but oil after a wash, you can put it exactly where you need it and really avoid your scalp, while still getting some oil on the hair somewhat close to the scalp.


This is so true. I only apply conditioner to the bottom two inches of my hair, because when I was conditioning from the ears down I'd have greasy, lank sections of hair and dry, frizzy sections of hair. Oiling after my hair is dry allows me to control where I apply moisture.

-- Natalie

May 3rd, 2008, 08:11 AM
kwaniesiam, thanks! I have to go pick up some more MSM today anyway; I'll look and see what essential oils I can find.

Iris, that sound sort of like what I do now, but with less shampoo. I'll give it a try. My hair did like CO, much as my scalp hated it, so maybe just getting conditioner on it every day would be okay.

Also, what about oiling after you wash, do you do that?

Yes, that's usually when I oil, though sometimes I oil dry. I used a clarifying shampoo with no condiitoner last night, just oil as a leave-in, and that seems to have been a mistake, so I don't think I'll be able to use just shampoo and oils unless I'm using a much gentler shampoo than VO5 clarifying.

May 3rd, 2008, 08:27 AM
You mentioned about a rain barrel? That would be nice. Here is what I would do, if I wanted to try the soft water: Get 2 of the "dish pans" from Wal-mart - they are vinyl and not very expensive. Put soft water in both of them. The second one, which will be for the last rinse should have more water than the first one. Set them both somewhere that is low enough that you can lean over enough to put the top of your head in there. Use a shampoo bar, and mix about 1 Tablespoon of vinegar in 2 cups of water and have that sitting nearby as well, and your towel. Ok... here we go.

1. Lean over and thoroughly wet your hair in tub #1
2. Lather up lots of suds in your hands with the poo bar and then massage it well into your scalp and without being too rough, through the length of your hair. (Over time, the poo bar will repair the dryness in your length.)
3. Rinse in tub #1. You might want to have a plastic cup there for scooping up water to pour through your hair for this.
4. Re-lather and rinse again in tub #1.
5. Leaning over tub #1, pour the vinegar rinse through your hair and work it in gently.
6. Go to tub #2 and using the plastic cup, lean over that one and rinse your hair there.
7. Squeeze out the excess water and then wrap a towel around your hair and head.
8. With a very wide toothed and smooth comb, comb out your hair, and then let it air dry.

Like I mentioned, over time the poo bar will help lots with dryness on the length of your hair. The soft water will make it possible to use the soap successfully. I don't know if just rinsing with distilled water would be the same as washing and rinsing with soft water. I have never tried that.

Anyway, there's my 2 cents' worth! :soapbox:

May 3rd, 2008, 08:46 AM
I've also tried mixing shampoo and conditioner together as an alternative to the 'regular' CWC method in the past when my hair was short enough to make CWC a pain. My scalp will accept 1 day without shampooing, but it starts getting ornery after that. I would put some shampoo in my palm, add half the amount of conditioner, mix and apply. Needless to say, you don't get much in the way of suds, and you do need to make sure you massage your scalp, though not as much as when doing CO. Then I conditioned as normal.