Yep, I’ve given up ‘pooing. It’s been almost three months now.

I’ve been intrigued for a while by the eco-earth-friendly-paper-bag-type people who eschew chemical products in favour of natural alternatives, and I’ve followed their exhortations to some extent (but not with sunscreen — I need the chemicals in that), and in October I decided to bite the bullet and give up my shampoo.

Essentially created in the 1930s, shampoo and conditioner are heavily marketed products that strip hair of its natural protective oil (sebum) and then cover the hair with chemical moisturisers to protect it and aid styling. Which, when you think about it, is a vicious cycle that we have completely bought into (literally).

Even more amazing is that this product was successfully introduced into Depression-era United States, with Breck shampoo in 1936 targeting those with “oily” and “dry” hair types and creating a desire for a product — a separate soap for hair — in a time in which soap itself was considered a luxury. Even today, marketers work very hard to make sure the whole family doesn’t use the same bottle of shampoo with different colours of packaging, herbs, scents, sizes and “uses” tempting us to have one for father, one for mother, one for the kids, one for after swimming, one for dry hair, one for oily hair, one for daily washing, one for dyed hair, one for curly hair, and one for dandruff (okay, that’s different). How many different shampoos do you have in your house?

And think about the familiar marketing lines. “Healthy hair” — how is that possible when hair itself is dead? Promises like “adding body and bounce” are unprovable. Claims about vitamin and herbal additives — so what? Even terms like “all-natural” and “organic ingredients” remain undefined.

Yep. So I reviewed what shampoo is. And I researched how to clean your hair using baking soda and rinsing it with vinegar. However, I have long hair. I wondered if it would work with my long locks.

In October, I returned to the hairdresser for a trim for the first time since being pregnant with Calista. When the hairdresser asked how long it had been between cuts and I replied, “Seven months,” she nodded and tut-tutted in that smug way that clearly conveyed that I was ignorant and foolish and should have visited a hairdresser much sooner. My split ends were soon snipped away, but her attitude remained with me as a challenge to see if I could out-smart the hairdressing profession.

So I stopped shampooing my hair. It was okay for a couple of weeks. I washed about twice a week with the baking soda, and although it was clumsy, I’ve been getting better at it. Rinsing with apple cider vinegar does make my hair easy to comb out.

After about eight weeks, I felt like my hair was gross. It felt different, yukky. But David kept remarking on how much softer it was, and how he preferred it this way (and he wasn’t just being nice). So I persisted. And it’s gotten better.

My hair does look good now. Better than when I was shampooing it. I’m brushing it a lot, and that helps to keep it smooth and looking good.

I’ve been wearing my hair up most of the summer, and now I’m only washing it once a week or once every ten days. I’ve accepted that it feels a bit heavier. It’s not more difficult to manage, and it does look a bit darker, but I rarely get that achey-scalp feeling that I used to get if I delaying in shampooing my hair.

I intend to return to the hairdresser in another couple of months for a trim and see how my hair is perceived. I’ve noticed that I have fewer split ends, and it’s possible that the ones I do have are remaining from before my previous cut.

The verdict: it’s okay; I’d recommend it. Giving up shampoo isn’t exactly a spectacular environmental saving, but it is a small, defiant gesture against the big corporations and their well-paid marketeers. Go for it in 2009.