The Life and Times of a Teenage Weirdo

My “No ‘Poo” Experience


Note: I am still “no ‘poo!” Check out my more recent post that includes a YouTube video showing how I separate my hair to distribute the shampoo!

I cannot get over how terrible the phrase, “no ‘poo” sounds. Oh well. The point of this post is to express my satisfaction with this method of hair cleansing after having done it for about a month and a half!

Anyhoo, going without shampoo has been a bit of an online trend for the past year or two (from what I’ve noticed) and I originally had looked into it because I had dyed my hair a flaming shade of red, which is an incredibly tedious color to keep up. I figured that it would make my color last much longer if I stopped scrubbing away the color.

When I first looked into it, the post I found (I can’t remember where I found it) didn’t really specify how to nix shampoo, so I went maybe two weeks without washing my hair, and just used conditioner to rinse away build up. This worked terribly for me. I was a nasty grease-ball. </3

Little did I know, at the time, that going without shampoo doesn’t mean going without actually washing your hair. A baking soda mixture is used as a “shampoo” and diluting apple cider vinegar works as a “conditioner.” Seriously.

So I went a year and a half until I came across a “no-shampoo” blog post while I was pinning one afternoon. I looked through, and took interest because the woman had updated the post to show that she had been shampoo-free for two full years. She posted pictures and everything!

One of the things that stood out about her post the most, was how she explained why to go “no ‘poo.” To recap what she shared: Shampoo is a detergent, which means that it strips your hair of its oils in order to get rid of the junk that clings to those oils. So it does work. Except that if a person wants soft, smooth, and luscious hair, then don’t they need those natural oils? Yes. Absolutely yes.

Another good point that she made was that many shampoos and cosmetics have mineral oil in them, which does not absorb into your skin, “it acts as a barrier on our scalp, preventing oil from being released.” Please check out her blog post (linked above) as well as this one for more info!

Now, there are several more reasons to go, “no ‘poo” and they are as follows:

  • To be green! Why waste all those plastic bottles that accumulate with every bottle of shampoo?
  • To save money. Think about how much a bottle of decent shampoo costs. Plus conditioner. :P
  • To achieve a healthy scalp! So many people are concerned about healthy hair that they forget it starts with a healthy scalp. I have used plenty of different types of shampoo (I usually always went back to Pantene) and none have cleaned my scalp so well as this “no shampoo” method.

The third bullet point was my personal reasoning for kicking shampoo and conditioner to the curb. I have an oily, flaky scalp, which I think is a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis—since I get it on my lashline as well. I tried using medicated dandruff shampoo, which seemed to get rid of buildup, but it never really cleared away the gunk on my scalp—talk about a reason to feel un-pretty. My aunt had previously suggested that I add tea tree oil to my shampoo to help my scalp. (For those who don’t know, tea tree oil is used for its natural but powerful anticeptic/antifungal qualities.) Using the oil is something I hadn’t gotten around to, but I figured that if I was going to try that, why not try this “no ‘poo” regimen while I’m at it?

I followed the “recipe” from the simplemom blog I linked earlier, except since I have coarse hair, and an oily scalp, I added a lot more baking soda. I filled a 6 oz. bottle a little more than a third of the way full with the baking soda and filled the rest with water. (Shake it up when you mix it so that you fill it all the way to the top with water.) The bottle lasts me about three washes. Make sure to shake it up before and while you’re using it! This mixture will be different for everyone, depending on hair type and how dry or oily their scalp is. I have read that it is best for coarse, and wavy/curly hair. (I think there’s a coconut milk shampoo recipe out there that would probably suit fine hair much better.)

Additionally, there will definitely be a “transition period” if you’re someone who washes your hair daily or even every other day. I was shampooing my hair about twice a week and I had about a week long transition period where my hair was greasy and almost always kept back in a ponytail. I would suggest cutting back on your regular shampoo use for a few weeks before switching to the baking soda mixture.

I now add tea tree oil to the shampoo (I hadn’t for the first few batches, just to see the difference that using only baking soda made) and I usually put about a teaspoon in each batch. I don’t measure it too closely. If you decide to use tea tree oil, and have never used it otherwise, make sure to dilute a little bit with water and test it behind your ear to see if you have a bad reaction to it. I had seen a difference in my scalp from just the baking soda mixture, it wasn’t as itchy, and there was very little build up. I think that the gentle scrubbing from the baking soda makes a huge difference. But I can definitely say that using tea tree oil has almost completely cleared up my oily dandruff. I wish I would have known about this sooner!

Using the apple cider vinegar “conditioner” is important. It balances the pH of your hair, so it softens and detangles. I use it on the ends of my hair, just like I did with regular conditioner. I made the mistake of skipping it recently and my hair wasn’t as luscious and manageable as usual—certainly better than when I used regular shampoo, but not as nice as it gets after my usual wash. I mix about a tablespoon of vinegar in my 6 oz. bottle and fill the rest with water. I could probably use even less, but I haven’t bothered to change up my mixture. The conditioner lasts me about eight washes.

I think that the most important thing to do while using this method is to section your hair while adding the shampoo. I usually wet my hair down and then pull the section of my hair from the backs of my ears and above out of the way. Then I distribute the mixture along the part line directly from my shampoo bottle, and then scrub that section a little before separating a section from about my temples and above up and out of the way, I repeat the process and make sure to get my front hairline and the crown of my head very well. Then I scrub for a good minute or so, to make sure that I covered every strand! Simply rinse and follow with the apple cider vinegar mixture as you had previously used your conditioner (rinse that out as well).

I see a huge difference in the appearance and texture of my hair and as I mentioned before, my scalp. It’s not a difference that only I notice, either. My boyfriend likes that he can actually run his fingers through my hair without them getting caught in the frizzy tangles that previously resided on my head.

Just a few more tips and ideas:

  • Purchase a boar bristle brush. Using it helps to help distribute the natural oils on your hair evenly.
  • I used the vinegar mixture to get sand out of my hair while I was in Alabama a few weeks ago! It worked very well, so that was handy to learn. I might start bringing a bottle of it to the beach from now on.
  • You can use the baking soda mixture as a gentle exfoliator on your face, as well. It works very well for me and I have pretty oily skin. I have a separate mixture that I added nutmeg to (for blackheads.)
  • Apparently the vinegar mixture can be used as an astringent as well, but I haven’t tried it. I use Witch Hazel or Neutrogena “Acne Stress Control” astringent.

I would also like to add that using this baking soda shampoo will NOT prevent your hair dye color from fading, it might actually make it fade more.

I hope I’ve enlightened a few people, and convinced a few more that going no-shampoo isn’t just for hippies. I really love this method, and my hair hasn’t felt so nice since I was a little girl. :)

I would love to know about anyone else’s endeavors into a world without conventional shampoo and conditioner. Please share your stories!

To (literally) illustrate my point, here is a photo of my hair a few hours after washing with regular shampoo and conditioner:

No product in my hair or anything.

And here’s a picture (taken today) a few hours after washing with baking soda and apple cider vinegar conditioner:

I’m a little washed out, but the photo serves it’s purpose. My hair is still clean, still full of body, but it is about a million times smoother and my natural waves are much more defined.

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9 responses

  1. Thanks for sharing! It’s great to hear you’ve had success in moving away from shampoo and conditioner!

    April 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm

  2. Pingback: Lightening Hair With Hydrogen Peroxide & Baking Soda « [Work In Progress]

  3. It took me a while and a lot of research online, but I think I’ve finally found the answer to my scalp woes. I used to have a terribly itchy and flaky scalp that I managed to ease up by laying off of shampooing everyday. Will certainly give the techniques that you have mentioned here. Thanks again. :)

    September 14, 2012 at 3:16 am

    • You’re welcome! This method is definitely great for those of us with picky scalps, I would also suggest looking into making a coconut oil shampoo (check out http://www.crunchybetty.com, she has a few different alternatives to straight no ‘poo) since coconut oil is SUPER moisturizing. :) That or doing some sort of hot oil treatment would help! I’m working on a more in depth no ‘poo post and video for my other blog, so I’ll be sure to share that when it’s up! :)

      September 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm

  4. Amy

    Thanks so much for posting your experience online. I have gone shampoo free for close to two months and my daughter was eager to try it out. However, I was afraid to let her do it as she has both oily scalp and pretty bad dandruff. I had used a tiny bit of tea tree oil in my apple cider vinegar “conditioner” so I used quite a bit in her shampoo. This first time her hair came out quite tangled. Is this normal? I told her to use the detangler she would normally use.

    February 17, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    • Did she also use the ACV conditioner after shampooing? I sometimes notice that my hair gets tangled if I wound up using too much tea tree oil or baking soda in my shampoo mixture. Since tea tree oil is so potent to begin with, I would suggest going with as little as possible. :) She may also want to try a different method of applying it to her hair. I section mine off three or four times (shown in the video linked above) which seems to help.

      February 18, 2013 at 12:55 am

  5. Kayleigh

    I am thinking about ditching shampoo, but it’s really scary to me. I have horrible eczema on my scalp and I’ve tried SO many things from Rx shampoos to injections directly into my scalp! My problem is that I have very greasy, fine, wavy hair and combined with eczema I have to wash daily to keep the flakes and oil down. I tried washing my hair every other day for a while, but it got so bad that I couldn’t stand it anymore – at the end of the day I’d have a scratch fest on my scalp because it itched so much. I’m going to try and use shampoo every other day, but still use a little bit of conditioner for the next week or so and see how that works.

    May 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

  6. Hello! (:
    I have hair exactly like in your ‘before’ pic, and this post really inspired me to try my own no ‘poo method. But I was wondering how long it took for you to get the results you got? /is super impatient

    June 10, 2013 at 12:20 am

    • The bottom picture is a month and a half into going without shampoo. :) I’ve been no ‘poo for over a year now, and am still loving it! You can see my pics from after six month of no ‘poo, here: http://tinyurl.com/ph8e89f. I’d say that I saw the “full effect” after about three months, but it was significantly better after a couple weeks. :)

      June 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm

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