Well, I didn't give up and I pushed through. Today I have to take some photographs for a group that I volunteer my time for, so I thought due to the sesame oil incident yesterday I might have to use baking soda today (it was definitely not bad enough to justify actually using shampoo). But last night I did some experiments with hot rollers to see how my hair would look (and whether it would "take" without any gel or hairspray), and I was comfortable with the result. So today I showered using a water only rinse, followed by the blast of cold water at the end, then blow dried my hair and put it in hot rollers for 25 minutes or so. My hair turned out wavy, so not quite as curly as it would with gel and spray, but I am happy with it. It actually looks like how I wish it looked naturally. Toussled, perhaps, which is what I was hoping for. It feels really nice as well.
Not that I'm so far removed from using hair products that I can afford to look back and remark on the error of my previous ways (you know where this is going), BUT I have realized a couple of interesting things about the whole messy process of using hair products. First of all, think of how unnatural the whole process is: on a typical day, I would wake in the morning and shampoo my hair because it was greasy or had product in it. Then, because the shampoo stripped all of the natural oils out of my hair, I would condition it. Because my hair was both stripped cleaned and conditioned, it wouldn't hold a style, so then I would have to use gel so that it was easier to do things with. And at the end, in a (somewhat desperate) attempt to get the style to stay in place, and get the little hairs that had broken off to do what I wanted them to do, I would hairspray it all into place. Today I rinsed my hair with water and styled it and it looks fine.
The next matter that I have been reflecting on is how much I am coming to resent advertising. I am not a fan of the fact that so many companies are trying to convince me that I "need" their products. If a hundred years ago we didn't need their products, then what has changed? Our needs? I doubt it.
Finally, the more I learn about being shampoo free (and hair-product free generally), the more I think that it is time to re-evaluate all of my personal care products and really establish what I need and what I'm just paying a bunch of money for that serves no practical purpose. At this point I still use two cleansers (one for my face and one for my eyes) every day, body wash, a razor, two moisturizers (one for my face and one for my eyes) and toothpaste. I think I would like to get down to a "man" routine (toothpaste, razor, body wash). We'll see. Let's finish the hair saga first!