You: Are you freaking kidding me? (stunned silence) Gross.
Me: Not only have I NOT shampooed my hair in
4 months 11 months 21 months, it is healthier, shinier, and I only have to wash my hair every 4 days.
You: Seriously? You only bathe every 4 days?
Me: No silly. I only wash my hair every 4 days. I bathe regularly.
You: I gotta know more.
What The Heck Is the No Poo Method?
The No Poo Method is a way of washing your hair without shampoo.
There are various ways to No Poo, but the most popular is to use baking soda and a vinegar rinse. Oh yeah, did I mention that the No Poo Method is cheap as hell?
How Shampoo & Conditioner Work
To understand why your hair will love being washed via the No Poo method, you have to understand what regular shampoo does to your hair and scalp. Traditional shampoos are really detergents. They use chemicals to strip your hair and scalp of dirt and oil. Good right? Not really. Shampoo strips the hair shaft and scalp of sebum (the natural oils created by your scalp). So after you shampoo, you condition your hair. Why? To replace the natural oils in your hair that your shampoo has stripped away. The result, clean hair that has to be shampooed daily (or almost daily).
Why You Have To Shampoo Your Hair Daily (or almost daily)
Shampoo today and you’ll likely have to shampoo again tomorrow. Why? Because the detergents in shampoo have stripped your hair, and more importantly your scalp of it’s natural oils (sebum). You may ask, “Well, if the oil has been stripped away, why do I wake up with greasy hair in the morning?” The answer is simple – your scalp is over-producing sebum to replace what is being stripped away by your shampoo. It’s a vicious cycle. Your scalp is trying to stay in balance – so it replaces the oils you washed down the drain – the result, oily hair that has to be shampooed and conditioned daily. On a side note, here’s some food for thought: We all know that the shampoo instructions of “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” were created by the shampoo companies to get you to use more shampoo than you actually need so that you run out of product twice as fast – making you buy twice as much shampoo and increasing their profits twice as much. It’s obvious to me that traditional shampoos use a formulation that requires daily use for the same reason. Unfortunately, it’s all about the benjamins.
Why You Don’t Have To Wash Your Hair Often When You Use The No Poo Method
When you wash your hair via the No Poo method you use baking soda to remove the dirt, oil and debris from your roots and scalp. Since baking soda is not a detergent the sebum your scalp produces doesn’t get stripped away. The result – your hair becomes healthier as a result of not having the natural oils stripped away. Your scalp, now in balance, will produce less oil. You will find that you can go anywhere from a couple of days to once a week before you have to wash your hair again. It’s really simple – less oil, fewer washings.
Why The No Poo Method is Great for Your Hair
It is important to remember that your hair will go through an adjustment period when you start using the No Poo style of hair washing. AFTER your hair and scalp are back in balance, you can expect:
- More Body
- Easier to Style Hair
- Less Oily Hair
- Less Frizz and Fly-Aways (Great for curly hair ladies)
- Added Shine
- SAFE for Dyed Hair
- GREAT for Grey Hair (commercial shampoos can cause grey hair to yellow – boo!)
- FEWER hair washings, as your scalp will no longer be over producing oils
- NO chemicals on your hair, scalp or washing down the drain (BONUS!)
- MORE money in your pocket, cuz let’s face it, baking soda and vinegar cost pennies per wash (DOUBLE BONUS!)
- NEW hair growth (for some people) This has worked for me, and my stylist has noticed too. I have tons of new growth coming in. My stylist says it’s because my scalp is healthier and my follicles are no longer clogged with oil and debris.
Get The Best Start On Your Journey To No Poo Nirvana
I’ve learned something I wish I had known when I started my No Poo journey…you need to clarify your hair before you start. Let me explain. Most commercial products contain silicones in them. Silicones are not water soluable so they aren’t going to just “wash down the drain” – they are stuck to your hair and can cause damage.1 Silicones usually end with “zane” “xane” “cone” or “conol”. Get your self a clarifying shampoo (Suave Clarifying Shampoo will work for this purpose and is cheap) for your final commercial shampoo wash. Follow the directions. Lather, rinse, repeat. You want to get all the silicone off your hair. This will help ease your transition phase and get you to No Poo Nirvana a bit faster. If you forget this step, never fear – it just may add a week or two to your transition. Wait until you would normally wash your hair again and then start using the No Poo method.
How To Wash Your Hair Using The No Poo Method
At it’s core the No Poo Method is very simple. Use baking soda to remove dirt and oils from the roots and scalp. Use a vinegar rinse to condition the length of your hair. There are two basic methods to do this. I’ve tried them both with success. My favorite method is Method One – The BS Solution. I started with Method Two – Hair Paste, but it’s hard keeping the shower water out of my little container of baking soda and I have more control when I use Method One. I also get that important “slippery” feeling when I use Method One more than when I use Method Two. (UPDATE: I’ve gone back to Method 2, I’ve found I now have better control and can get that “slippery” feeling more easily with method 2 – it’s really what No Poo Method works best for you).
- Clarifying Shampoo (if you’ve used products with silicone in the past for your last wash before you start No Poo)
- Baking Soda
- Vinegar (Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Dry to Normal Hair, White Vinegar for Normal to Oily Hair)
- Squirt Bottle with Pointed Tip (use a mustard bottle or 12-oz. Squeeze Bottle)
- Spray Bottle
- 100% Boar Bristle Brush (optional) This is my favorite, (it’s a bit pricey, but worth it) Olivia Garden Ceramic and Ion Turbo Vent Oval Brush (comes in 3 sizes). If you are an Amazon Prime member, standard shipping is FREE
- No Poo Hair Journal (I’ll explain more on this below)
No Poo Method One – The BS Solution No Poo Recipe (favored by others, I prefer the Hair Paste Method)
- Create a solution of baking soda and water – 1 TBS of baking soda to 1 cup of water.Use distilled (not boiled) if you have hard water. Make sure the baking soda (bs) has completely dissolved. The solution should feel slippery in your hands (if it doesn’t add another TBS of baking soda). Store in squeeze bottle.
- Create a solution of vinegar and water – 2 TBS of vinegar to 1 cup of water. Shake to combine. Store in spray bottle
- WASH: In the shower, wet hair and using the pointed tip of the bottle, apply the baking soda solution to the roots of your hair and massage into your scalp with your fingertips using a circular motion. DO NOT apply to the entire length of your hair. Leave on till it starts to feel “slippery”. Leave on while you finish bathing then rinse WELL.
- CONDITION: Spray the vinegar/water solution on the length of your hair, focusing on the ends. Leave this on for a a min or so before rinsing.
- NOTES: Your hair will have no odor once it dries. You can add some essential oils to your hair brush to fragrance your hair if desired.
No Poo Method Two – Hair Paste No Poo Recipe (Updated)
(These directions have been updated 4/3/2013 cuz I’m a total dumb a$$ and realized that they were about as clear as mud previously….sorry guys!)
- Keep a small plastic container with a tight fitting lid full of baking soda in your shower.
- Wet hair really well.
- Scoop out about 1 TBS of baking soda (eye ball it) into your palm – your hands are already wet so the baking soda starts to turn into a paste right there in your hands.
- WASH: Get as much of the paste onto your fingertips and drive those tips right into your hair at the roots and massage your scalp really well. DO NOT apply to the entire length of your hair. Continue this over your entire head. You may need to grab some more baking soda to do the back of your head if your hair is really thick.
- Allow the baking soda to sit on your hair while you wash the rest of you.
- Check your roots…it should feel slippery and all if not 90% of the baking soda should be dissolved (very little, if no gritty feeling at all).
- Rinse WELL.
- CONDITION: Spray the vinegar/water solution on the length of your hair, focusing on the ends. Let sit for a minute then rinse.
- NOTES: Your hair will have no odor once it dries. You can add some essential oils to your hair brush to fragrance your hair if desired.
What To Expect When You Wash Your Hair Using The No Poo Method
The First Few Days/Weeks
Don’t expect no poo to be like washing your hair with shampoo. There is NO lather. It’s weird at first, but you get used to it.
Don’t be surprised if your hair feels like hay, straw, or cotton the first few times (days or weeks) that you wash no poo style. (I know, I know, it sucks, but the pay-off is worth it!)
Plan on wearing your hair up or under wraps the first week or two. In other words, when you start the no poo method, don’t have a big meeting, date, or event where you need your hair to be perfect. I kept my hair pulled back and no one noticed. I kept asking everyone, “Does my hair look clean?” and everyone said, “Yes.”
How to Deal with the No Poo Dry / Cotton / Waxy Feeling
- Deep Condition your hair with a NON oil conditioner. I used fresh aloe-vera gel and honey.
- Apply a tiny (I mean teensy – tiny) amount of coconut or jojoba oil to your hair after it has been washed and is dry. (add a few drops to your palms, rub in till there is just a light sheen on your hands and run your hands through your hair, avoiding the roots) NOTE: Coconut oil has a fatty acid that penetrates the hair shaft the deepest and provides the greatest benefit. Jojoba oil is most like our natural sebum and is great for hair and skin, but does not penetrate as deeply as coconut oil.
- Allow your hair to air dry.
- Put your hair up, pull it back, sport a new hat or wear a scarf.
- Brush your hair with a 100% Boar Bristle Paddle Brush (and clean your brush often). The boar bristles distribute the natural oils in your hair from root to tip. If you blow dry your hair, try a vented ion bristle brush.
- Use Method One (not Method Two) and increase the baking soda by 1/2 (or until the solution feels slippery in your hands).
How to Deal with the No Poo Oily Hair
If you end up with hair that feels oily, instead of like cotton here are some tips:
- Between No Poo washes, do a hot water wash. Simply wash your hair with the hottest water you can stand (don’t burn yourself!). Dry.
- Increase the amount of baking soda you use when you wash your hair by 1/4.
- Decrease the amount of vinegar in your conditioning solution by 1/2.
- Switch from apple cider vinegar (ACV) to plain white vinegar if you are using ACV.
- Remember, don’t apply your vinegar solution to the roots of your hair.
- Remember to rinse, rinse, rinse.
- Apply a dry shampoo to your hair. Blondes and Reds use corn starch or arrow root powder on your roots and brush through. This will absorb the excess oil. Brunettes use coco-powder if you find that corn starch or arrow root leave your hair looking “grey”.
You can also check out this post specifically about No Poo Oily Hair.
What is that Slippery Feeling When You No Poo?
Before I started to wash my hair No Poo style I must have read a million articles and comments all over the web. Then, when I actually went No Poo I read more. My hair looked and felt like, well – poo! I was not happy. This was not the holy hair grail I was promised. WTF No Poo people? Then I learned about “that slippery feeling”. I don’t remember which blog I was on, but I do remember it was in a long thread of comments that I read something about your baking soda solution feeling slippery in your hair when you apply it. Slippery? My baking soda solution had always felt dry and cottony on my hair. So I researched some more and found that baking soda acts as a natural water softener. I increased the amount of baking soda in my solution until I achieved the slippery feeling mentioned – VOILA – success! NOTE: If you are blessed with soft water your No Poo hair success will come faster than those of us with hard water. If you have hard water plan on having to increase your baking soda till you achieve “slippery”.
Itchy, Flaky No Poo Head
If you start experiencing an itchy, flaky scalp do the following:
- Switch to Method One – The BS Solution (if you are using Method Two – Hair Paste)
- Decrease the amount of baking soda you are using
- Be sure you are rinsing the baking soda completely from your hair
- Do a scalp rinse with your vinegar solution to condition your scalp
- Try my Honey Aloe Moisturizing No Poo “Shampoo” Recipe for your next wash – Aloe is scientifically proven to help with itchy, flaky, no poo head.
Your Key To No Poo Method Success? The Hair Journal (added 3/13/2013)
Keep a No Poo Hair Journal. Get a spiral notebook, use an app on your phone, anything you’ll keep up with and write down your journey. Keeping a hair journal will allow you to see what works and what doesn’t. No Poo can be a “trial and error” experience. This will limit the amount of time you spend in the “error” phase. It will help you remember how much you used when you washed and how long you’ve gone between washes. Your hair journal will keep the transition phase to a minimum. Things to track in your hair journal:
- Days since last wash
- Current condition of your hair (shiny? dry? over-conditioned? anything note worthy)
- Amount of baking soda used
- Amount and type of vinegar in rinse used
- Method used (solution or paste)
- Did the BS feel slippery?
- Results (after your hair dries, how does it compare to before you washed?)
- Tweaks / Notes (track any tweaks you’ve made to ratios of baking soda or vinegar rinse or any other notes you find important)
(Optional) Easing Into The No Poo Method by Going Low Poo for a While (added 3/13/2013)
If you are concerned about starting the No Poo Method and the dreaded transitional phase, I recommend going Low Poo for 2 weeks to a month before starting your No Poo journey. Going Low Poo first can help shorten your transition phase because it removes less oil than traditional shampoos. It’s kinda the half way point between Commercial Poo and No Poo. Because Low Poo’s are much gentler and don’t have the same harsh sulfates and detergents found in commercial shampoo, your scalp can begin to slowly adjust before the “BAM” of a full-on No Poo experience. Learn More about Low Poo.
Herbal Rinses To Enhance Washing Your Hair No Poo Style
There are tons of herbal rinse teas to enhance your hair. Follow Method One or Method Two to wash your hair. Then, after you condition with vinegar and rinse with water, do an herbal rinse as a last step. Depending on the herbal rinse you can leave it in, or rinse with water. The rule of thumb is 1 tsp of dried herbs to 1 cup of hot water. Steep as if making a cup of tea. Allow to cool and use as hair rinse. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the rinse to fragrance your hair. To stimulate hair growth and add shine (it also helps with flakes and dandruff) try this Rosemary Herbal Hair rinse.
Vinegar Smell Got Ya Down? Try A Citric Acid Rinse Instead
You can swap out a vinegar rinse (if you really have to) with a citric acid hair rinse. (NOTE: DO NOT USE ASCORBIC ACID) You can find citric acid in the canning section of your grocery store with the pectin and mason jars. The citric acid rinse has NO SMELL at all. It is also an excellent water softener so a great choice if you have hard water. Like the vinegar, don’t get it in your eyes. Make sure you follow the directions below to obtain the correct dilution in your solution.
Why A Boar Bristle Brush?
No Poo is a great natural method for washing your hair. A boar bristle brush is another natural way to enhance your hair care. Boar bristle brushes range in cost from a few dollars to over a hundred bucks! Boar bristles distribute your hairs natural oils from root to tip, adding shine and helping to seal the hair shaft. The natural bristles are great for fine, or fragile hair as they will not tear or break your hair or cause damage. NEVER brush your hair when it is wet with any kind of brush. Wet hair is fragile and subject to breakage – run a wide comb through your hair when it’s wet if needed. Boar bristles also help remove dirt and debris from your hair. The bristles themselves are like a tiny micro-fiber cloth, trapping dirt, dust, and debris trapped in your hair. Cleaning your boar bristle brush, for this reason is very important (dirty brush = dirty hair). You should dry clean your brush once a week (more frequently if you use dry shampoo) and give it a good washing once a month. Check out my post on the easiest (and fastest) way to clean a boar bristle brush. If your brush came with cleaning instructions – then follow those for best results. Unfortunately, my favorite boar bristle brush is no longer available (they aren’t making it anymore – boo!), but this is a good vented bristle brush alternative.
After The Adjustment Phase – No Poo Nirvana
Congrats! You stuck with it! Your scalp and hair are now in balance. You only have to wash your hair every few days (or less) and your hair has never looked better! Keep up the great work, knowing you are going something great for your hair and for the environment!
Beyond The No Poo Method To Water Only Washes
What? Did she say “Water Only Washes?” Shut the front door!
Yup, after achieving No Poo Method nirvana many women find they can stop No Poo’ing and just wash their hair with water with the same beautiful results. How’s that for low maintenance hair care? I personally have not reached Water Only Bliss (I actually tried it today and experienced an epic fail – my hair isn’t ready for water only yet…but maybe one day!)
Not Ready For No Poo? Then Low Poo Is For You!
I can’t say enough good things about Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo. If you have to use a shampoo of some sort, this is what I recommend since it is all natural and organic. I use it myself after I do a hot oil treatment on my hair (No Poo won’t remove the oil from your hair, you have to use some sort of shampoo). This is a gentle, hydrating, shampoo. It still doesn’t lather like a traditional shampoo, but it’s more like what you are used to. I also love that it is made in the USA! So, if you have to wash your hair with shampoo, then this is the Low Poo for you!
What Makes Shea Moisture Low Poo Great:
- Sea kelp: Trace minerals detoxify hair follicles of impurities and residue
- Argan oil: Restores shine and rebuilds hair elasticity
- Shea butter: Deeply moisturizes and repairs damage to hair and scalp
- Ethically traded ingredients, sustainably produced
- No parabens, phthalates, paraffin, gluten, propylene glycol, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, PABA, synthetic color, DEA, animal ingredients or sulfates (ick, yuck and no thank you)
- Cruelty free, no animal testing
- Certified organic ingredients
NOTE: Previously I had linked to Amazon for those wanting to try this shampoo. You can still get this shampoo from Amazon by clicking here.
Good Luck! Please let me know how things are going or if you have any questions.
What About Other Low Poo Shampoos?
3/13/2013 Update: Low Poo features sulfate free shampoos and conditioners – but WHOA they can be expensive! L’Oreal has come out with two lines of sulfate free and paraben free shampoos that are very inexpensive and a great way to try Low Poo without breaking the bank. You can learn more about Low Poo and my favorite (won’t break the bank) line of Low Poo hair hair products. (Oh, and these aren’t just sulfate free, they are paraben free too!)
No Poo One Year Later
The proof is in the pudding…here’s my hair after a year of No Poo. (By the way, it’s really hard to take a pic of the back of your head.)
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