Thursday, February 2, 2012

"No-Poo" How-To

About 8 months ago, I was presented with the idea of never using shampoo to clean your hair. My first thought was "Eww." Then I read up on the subject and decided to do a little experiment. 
Recently, some of my friends were asking about how to start living the "no-poo" lifestyle. So, I thought I'd write up a kind of tutorial for how I made the transition. 

A quick lesson on how "no-poo" is better for you.
Most shampoos contain surfectants like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which strips the natural oils from your hair, giving it that "squeaky clean" feeling we so often desire. Take a look at the ingredients on your shampoo bottle. If there is an ingredient that contains the word "sulfate", it is probably stripping your hair. The downside to this is that our sebaceous glands will start to overcompensate for the lack of oil, and produce an excess of sebum,  making your hair greasy. So, you start to shampoo more often, and this just makes things worse! If you are shampooing everyday, your glands will adjust to that level of oil production. Why would the shampoo industry put this stuff in their shampoo if it is so bad for your hair? Well, it's just smart business. Wouldn't you want your consumers to use more of your product?
So if you are thinking "I can't even go a day without shampoo, my hair gets so greasy!", I think your head would be the perfect candidate for a little "no-poo" therapy.

How to clean your hair without Shampoo 

All you will need to clean your hair from now on is baking soda and vinegar (apple cider or white). Don't worry, you won't smell like vinegar if you are rinsing properly. With this method, you should only have to clean your hair every 4 days max. Just brush out your hair between washes. I can go a whole week (don't worry, I still shower often). 

Yes, that's a 13 lbs of baking soda. 

Squirt bottle-you'll need 2.

For deep cleaning (once a month): Dissolve one tablespoon in enough water to create a paste. Apply this to your roots and let it sit for a moment. Then, start massaging your scalp, starting at the crown of your head, working upwards and out. Really focus on the area where your part lies. Lastly, scrub the remaining paste into the back of your skull and sideburn area. All this massaging will clean out the grime and stimulate blood flow. Be sure to scrub gently, as to not break the hair. 

For regular washing (only needed every 4 days): Put one tablespoon of baking soda in a squirt bottle (or an empty shampoo bottle!) filled with hot water. Note: you may need to experiment with different amounts of baking soda for your hair type. Mine can get pretty oily, so I use a bit more.
Anywho, squirt it into your roots, massaging it in as you go. You should really only use 1/4 cup of the mixture. After a good scrub, rinse it out thoroughly. It may feel like its not clean, but it is, you are just used to the "squeaky" feeling of shampoo. You may over wash your hair the first couple times. 

The rinse (about every other wash): I use the rinse after every wash, but you may find it to be too much. Pour one part Apple Cider or White Vinegar into another bottle with 4 parts water. Squirt this into the ends of your hair and rinse promptly. Rinse it very're done! 

See? Just as clean as shampooed hair!

Please keep in mind there is a transition period of about 1 month. To offset this, try adding a bit of Dr. Bronners castille soap to your wash bottle. Try the kind with lavender or tea-tree for some extra goodness! Just be sure to phase it out of your wash, otherwise your hair won't adjust to less frequent washing. 

I love not having to buy shampoo ever again. I'm just cheap like that. BUT...If you find this all to be too much of a change for you, try just switching to a sulfate-free, paraben-free, shampoo and conditioning system. They cost a bit more, but your hair will thank you! 

Happy scalp!

Trouble with "no-poo"?

  • "My hair is frizzy!" -use less baking soda or add some honey. 
  • "My scalp is itchy!" -massage some essential oils into your scalp after cleaning. Try tea-tree, rosemary, or lavender. 
  • "My hair is greasy!" - you are using too much vinegar. Try using the white vinegar if you were using Apple Cider vinegar. Or use lemon juice instead. 


  1. LOVE. I have been dying to try this, and I am out of shampoo now so looks like there's no time like the present...

    1. Hurray! Let me know how it goes. Resist the urge to grab the shampoo during the transition phase ;)

  2. I am trying this now! Just started with my initial wash with baking soda today! so far so good! I am going to try to post about it weekly (or hopefully more) on my blog:

  3. ooh I want to try this too! When you say add the Castille soap - do you add that to the vinegar rinse or to the baking soda? or just as it's own thing?

  4. JKMommy, just add.a couple drops to the baking soda wash for the first week or so. If you continue to use it, your hair may not adjust and you'll have to wash more frequently. Good luck!