No-Poo Update: Some Additional Tips for Going Shampoo-Free

Tips for Going Shampoo-Free(This is my hair a day after washing)

A couple of my real-life friends have told me that they’ve tried going shampoo-free, like me, without success. They all gave it a good, long try, too, before giving up and going back to conventional shampoo.

“I feel guilty using regular shampoo again,” one friend confided. “I can’t un-know what I know about that stuff. But my hair just looked like crap when I was using the baking soda and vinegar.”

They all complained about the same thing I’ve mentioned: waxy-feeling, oily-looking hair.

I’ve been puzzling over the problem for a while. Why does it work for me? I’m still completely happy with this method of cleaning my hair.

To be honest, though, every once in a while, I’ll have a spell of bad luck with it, too. For no apparent reason, all of a sudden I’ll get the waxy locks  for a wash or two.

It happened a few months ago, just in time for a wedding. Great. I was befuddled and annoyed.

But now it’s back to fabulous. Consistently. (Is it okay that I’m calling my own hair fabulous?) And since then, I’ve come up with a few ideas, along with a couple of words of advice for anyone still interested in trying it. I still love it and want to help you find success, too!

(This post assumes you’re already familiar with the no-poo method — i.e. washing your hair with a baking soda rinse, followed with a vinegar rinse, instead of using shampoo — which I’ve outlined here.)

1. DON’T FEEL GUILTY if it’s not working for you, and you have to switch back to conventional.

It just doesn’t seem to work for some people for some reason. I don’t know why. It might be your water or your scalp. Who knows. But you’re not lazy or vain or lacking perseverance if you can’t get it to work for you and you go back to regular shampooing.

I do think it’s worthwhile to get the ‘poo out of your life if you can, but it’s not the most important thing in the world. It’s definitely not worth stressing over. And it totally makes sense that you don’t want to look icky. It’s not narcissistic; it’s totally natural.

If ridding yourself of conventional poo is important to you, try again another time. You might need to tweak ratios. But if it’s stressing you out, take a break and come back to it.

Or try to find some other option. If it’s the plastic waste and the synthetic chemicals you want to avoid, you might consider trying a natural shampoo bar, either bought or homemade. (I want to try this one yet myself.)

You don’t have to do it immediately, though. Put it on your to-do list. If it’s important to you, you’ll get to it. I have faith in you.

2. If you want to keep trying, and if it’s waxy hair you’re dealing with, TRY DOUBLE-RINSING.

When I was dealing with this a couple of months ago, this technique seemed to do the trick.

I think the problem is excess baking soda staying in your hair. Resist the urge to increase the vinegar concentration in your follow-up rinse to combat that. You’ll just get oily-looking hair. (Ask me how I know this.) Instead, rinse more thoroughly.

Do your usual apple cider vinegar rinse, in the usual concentration; rinse with water; and then repeat.

Additional Tips

If you are sticking with the no-poo method, and having success with it: hooray! We can be no-poo buddies. I have some additional tips for making it even better!

1. Invest in a good spray bottle.

In my initial posts in the subject, you’ll see I was using a crappy plastic spray-bottle for my ACV rinse. I got it from the dollar store. The nozzle was never great.

I recently switched to a high-quality spray bottle — one of those industrial-looking ones for the workplace, with warning labels on them in case they’re used for hazardous chemicals. I got it from the hardware store and paid a couple of bucks for it. That might seem like a lot for an empty plastic bottle, but OH MY WORD I should have done that a million years ago. I no longer have to give my forearm a workout just to rinse my hair. (Cuz let’s face it: I don’t want to ever feel like I’m working out. That’s why I don’t, you know, work out.) It gives a nice, heavy, even spray, and takes me half the time.

I don’t even have to do a double-rinse anymore (see above). SO worth the couple extra bucks.

(For the record, I still just pour the baking soda mixture onto my head, though.)

2. Pre-mix big batches of the stuff, and keep it under your sink or in your bathroom closet.

I got this idea from Tsh. Again, I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. I now mix them in big, old vinegar jugs. Instead of having to mix a new batch every week, I can mix up a big batch that lasts several months. Each week, I just have to funnel it into my spray bottles.

Realistically, it only saves me about two minutes every week, but that little bit of increased simplicity makes me ever so much fonder of the method. It’s just SO EASY.

Update: I found this page of suggestions helpful: No Poo Help for Dry, Dull, Waxy, Straw-Like Hair

* * *

So that’s it. Have you tried the no-poo method? Did you like it? Do you have any additional tips?

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  1. About a month ago I started the transition to no-poo. My hair looks great. I am still having to wash it every day. Starting to experiment with using herbs in the shampoo and I want to try for a scent.

  2. My husband and I both use your no-poo recipes, and we love them. I have a suggestion, though. My husband’s hair has always managed to be both oily and flaky. Adding about 20 drops of tea tree oil to his bottle of baking soda mixture really seems to be helping both of those issues, so I bet it would work for at least some of the people having trouble.

  3. I tried this No-Shampoo thing after reading about it on a couple of different blogs (including this one) and found a slightly different way of applying the baking soda helps my hair. Instead of dissolving the baking soda in water, I apply maybe a 1/4 teaspoon directly to my wet scalp and massage it through with a couple of really good rinses to make sure it is all out. I also just spray the ends of my hair with ACV and leave it in instead of rinsing it out. I don’t know if this would work for everyone, but perhaps worth a shot for anyone who wants a slightly different method to try. I haven’t had this oily problem, but I’ve only been working this No-Poo method for four months.

    Anyway, hope that helps a bit.

  4. Ooooh, this reminds me that I wanted to try this! It is on my to-do list, but that is a mile long! ;) Thanks for the update.
    Michele recently posted..Motherhood Reality – Babywearing Part 2My Profile

  5. I’ve tried this no-poo method and gotten varying results depending largely on where I was living. When I was in cities with hard water, it really didn’t work well at all. When I was in places with high quality, soft water, it worked wonders. I alternate it with regular shampoo because I find it strips my hair too much if I do it repeatedly.

  6. I’ve tried a few times to go ‘no-poo’ and every time ends up in disaster. I think it’s our super hard water. I’m also wondering how much diet plays a role? But you’re right, it’s hard to ‘un-know’ the bad things about conventional shampoo once you know them. I think I might just have to find some really clean, natural shampoo after my icky stuff is gone. Then again, this post makes me want to try one more time! Ya never know, this just might be the time!
    Bekah recently posted..Paleo? Out. Whole foods? In.My Profile

  7. Also, I have noticed that the color of my hair seems lighter. I don’t know if that’s something that would have changed anyway (seeing as the color of some people’s hair does change). Has anyone else encountered this?

    • Amanda O. says

      yes this does happen… think about it.. baking soda is used in whitening toothpastes.. also… if you are using the ACV ( good for dryer hair types) will bring out the amber tones in your hair if you have the dark blonde/ light brown hair colors… if you use the white vinegar ( which is better for oily hair types btw) it can bring out the lighter blonde tones ( similar effect as lemon juice applied) you will notice this more on people who spend a decent amount of time in the sun.

  8. I TRIED ON THAT SHIRT AT TARGET TODAY. That’s all I’ve got, since I’ve still yet to try going no ‘poo. :)

    • I DID get it at Target! And we don’t even have Target stores here in Canada — I had to jump over the border. And I haven’t bought a new shirt (apart from thrift stores) in years. What are the odds?

  9. Question- I’ve been doing the no-poo thing for about six months with pretty good results, but s winter approaches I’m sensing a problem. My batches of bashing soda and ACV mixes are getting SO COLD sitting in the shower! I can barely handle pouring them on my hair some mornings. Do i just have an exceptionally cold bathroom? I don’t want to give up, but i know making then every morning would never happen and the cold is putting me of too. Thoughts?
    Lucky {unlucky} Girl recently posted..Breathing EasyMy Profile

    • Good question, Lucky {Unlucky} Girl! This is something I’ve struggled with, too. I find it much easier to tolerate if I spray it on rather than pour it on (brrr!). But since I prefer to pour on the baking soda mix, I’ll often mix it with less baking soda, and then when I’m using it in the shower, I let some warm water from the shower spray in to dilute and warm it before pouring it on. It’s still quite chilly, and not a great solution, but it’s a little more manageable.

      • Good to know the spraying makes it a little more tolerable. I’ll have to invest in a better spray bottle (I gave up on mine cause it was just not effective.) I already do the mix with warm water thing so I’ll just keep it up with the baking soda mix. At least I know its not just me! Thanks!
        Lucky {unlucky} Girl recently posted..Breathing EasyMy Profile

      • Amanda O. says

        the colder the water the better actually ( and unfortunately) it helps close the hair cuticles making for soft, less frizzy, more manageable hair. I usually “shock” my body and hair right before I get out of the shower for this very thing!! It also helps close pores on your face and skin! ( cold water that is)allowing for more clearer skin as well… its a win win?

    • I use spray bottles for both, sometimes just pouring on the baking soda solution – However, I mix both fresh before each shower. It literally takes 30 seconds, maybe less, and I keep a medium upright food storage container with opening (ikea) with the baking soda in it, a small funnel, and a bottle of ACV, and container of Citric Acid in the bathroom cabinet. I mix with Hot-Warm, Hot water from the sink and by the time I use it in the shower, it’s as warm as my shower water.

      I have read of people quitting the no’poo technique simply because they don’t like pouring freezing cold solutions on their head – and honestly, it takes minimal time (and the more you do it, the quicker you get at it) and is WORTH not dealing with the cold-solution issue!

    • I hate the “cold water poo” too! Here’s how I get around it…I call it the “paste method”. Keep a container of baking soda in the shower. Pull out about 1 TBS in your palm and apply to your roots. Shower as normal. Feel your roots. If they are “slippery” than you are ready to rinse it out. That’s it.
      There’s more about this method here: (about 1/2 way down the page)
      Leah @CodeRedHat recently posted..No Poo Help for Dry, Waxy, Straw-Like HairMy Profile

    • Have you ever thought of weaning off the bs and vinegar so maybe you could make the mix once a week and on a morning you have more time?

    • I just keep a flip-top shaker bottle of baking soda in the shower and sprinkle on wet hair. I keep the bottle of full strength vinegar in the shower with a cup, splash some vinegar in it, hold under the shower head to fill, and then use to rinse. I went to this method to avoid the cold mixes that you were talking about and to save time mixing with each shower.

  10. I’ve been doing no-poo for 4 months, and I’m really happy with the results. I used to shampoo every day, and now I only wash every 4 days. (I touch up my long, light brown straight hair with cornstarch on the 3rd and 4th days to control oily roots.)

    After I moved I started having the problem of oily looking waxy hair when washing with the tap water at my new home. Now, I mix my baking soda with bottled drinking water instead of tap water. I microwave to warm it up and mix 1/4 c baking soda in right before using. I rinse with tap water, and mix my ACV with tap water.

    For me, using the bottled water to mix with the baking soda really makes a difference!

    Also, on occasion I use Kirk’s Castille bar soap in place of the baking soda (and still rinse with ACV). This restores my hair if it is waxy or tangly.

  11. Hi, I’ve been wanting to try this no poo method for a few months. Still trying to decide. My hair is long (longest length comes to the bottom of my ribs?) coarse, curly and frizzy. The ends are super dry but my scalp gets oily and I have dandruff. (I know, I’m a mess, right?) The only way I can ease the frizz is to use like 5 different products on my hair and even then it’s dry and frizzy and almost out of control. I try to avoid using products on my scalp, as it gets greasy very quickly.

    Anywho, I was wondering if there is an alternative to apple cider vinegar, besides normal vinegar? I absolutely loathe the smell of vinegar. Would lemon juice work?

    Also, has anyone tried honey and/or coconut oil for their hair and, if so, as a shampoo or conditioning treatment? I’ve heard good things about honey and coconut oil for hair. (And skin!) I’m just not quite sure how I’m supposed to use them.

    Hopefully I’ll be able to start this process soon and hopefully it’ll work! I want my hair to be long, strong & shiny and then if I’m not completely in love with it by then I want to chop it off and donate it!

    Looking forward to anyone’s feedback. Thanks!


    • Good questions, Jen! Since my hair is very different from yours, I can’t say for sure what will work with yours. But as for your question about alternatives to apple cider vinegar: yes, some people have used lemon juice with success, but it has two drawbacks: (1) it needs to be refrigerated, so you can’t keep it in your bathroom, and (b) it can bleach your hair a little. Some people actually prefer to use citric acid. (You can get that wherever you can get canning supplies. I found mine in the exotic spices area of my grocery store). It’s really cheap and comes in a granular form. Here‘s a very detailed (though poorly-written) article on using citric acid with the no-poo method (though she only gets to the part about citric acid near the end). (Kara, above, directed me to this article.)

      Good luck!

    • Kathleen,
      I’m jealous of your long hair! :) A citric acid rinse is the way to go if you don’t like the vinegar smell. Just remember citric acid is stronger than vinegar (acetic acid) so you’ll use less in your mix. I would suggest applying the baking soda to your roots directly since you have an oily scalp and allowing it sit until it feels “slippery”. Then rinse out and follow up with your citric acid rinse (with your hair being long and thick, just pour it over the ends – not the roots or you’ll end up with oily roots again). For flakes or dandruff use an Aloe Honey “shampoo “. Mix 1/4 c of Aloe Gel (make sure it’s pure) and 2 TBS of honey (you may have to double this since your hair is so long). Apply to your roots really getting it on your scalp and then down the length of your hair. It will help lift the flakes from your scalp and heal it at the same time – meanwhile, the rest of your hair will enjoy the hydrating effects of the aloe and honey. After it sits for 2-3 minutes rinse out with water. That’s it.

      You also asked about coconut oil. Coconut oils and jojoba oil are great for dry ends and frizz control but you use them AFTER your hair is dry. Rub a small amount onto your palm until there is just a sheen then run your hands over your hair. You may have to repeat the process a few times due to the length of your hair. What you are trying to avoid is getting too much oil in one spot. If that happens you’ll end up with an oily mess that will require a Low Poo to wash out. Your hair will absorb the oil to help keep it soft and add a touch of shine. Hot oil treatments are great with coconut oil but the only way to get the oil out of your hair is again, with a Low Poo shampoo.

      Good luck!
      Leah @CodeRedHat recently posted..Moisturizing Aloe Honey No Poo RecipeMy Profile

    • I had dandruff too before going no poo. I added a few drops of tea tree oil to my baking soda mix and it has cured my dandruff. I was having tons of static and I started adding some raw honey to my baking soda mix too and that helped a lot. I have hard water and I use filtered water to make my mixes and rinse with tap and it works well for me. I have thick wavy medium length hair and it looks great doing it this way! Sometimes if the ends feel a bit dry I run my hands through my hair after I finish rubbing coconut oil onto my legs. Just a tad bit spread evenly onto your hands or you’ll make it too oily.

    • Try aloe as a leave in conditioner. It is AMAZING!

  12. I had difficulty getting all of the baking soda out of my hair the first time I tried it. I used a squirt bottle of baking soda and water, scrubbed like crazy, rinsed, and used vinegar, rinsed that…all in the shower. My hair was DISGUSTING. Waxy, stiff, hard to dry. I don’t have hard water, so I have to figure I wasn’t rinsing well enough.

    The next time I tried it about 3 days later, I was in the bath. the only difference was that when it was time to rinse the baking soda, I dunked my whole head and scrubbed until I could FEEL the silky feeling so many other ‘no-pooer’s’ described. Then I sprayed the vinegar in and rinsed that with the shower head. It worked MUCH better! My hair felt wonderful!

  13. Ok, I am really, really intrigued by all of this, and I am longing to find a way to get my scalp to stop overproducing oils so I don’t have to wash them every single day.

    However, I will probably have to wait longer than I have. Mid January I began using solid shampoo bars instead of the Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo from Trader Joe’s I had used before. Instantly my scalp felt so much better, so that was a plus.
    The shampoo bars are pretty pricey though, if you have to wash your hair every single day like me. That’s when I did some googling, and I stumbled across the no ‘poo method.
    I gave it a shot, but substituting my shampoo bar completely with the baking soda mixture didn’t work. The first time I used it it was great, the next day my hair didn’t look as clean anymore, and by the third day I really couldn’t leave the house anymore.
    Then I read that someone eased their hair into the method, by gradually substituting their shampoo for baking soda and water, but not going all-in at first.
    I have tried that for a month now, so far without much luck, I’m afraid. I am tweaking the ratios back and forth, always using it for a few days to see how it works out. I have started using boiled water rather than just tap water, but I am hoping that when I move in a few weeks, that the water in the new apartment will be softer than it is here. Maybe that’s the problem.

    I will keep going, I am just hoping it will work out eventually :)

    Oh, btw – is there a significant difference in using acv rinse or substituting it with lemon or lime instead of acv?

  14. Something else that you might want to think if you’re trying no-poo is to lower the temperature of the water you’re washing in, as cool as you can take it. It’s a simple tip, but it definitely helped several of my friends when they decided to go no-poo to decrease the waxiness of their hair. (I’ve been no-poo so long I don’t remember much about the conventional stuff.)

    Loving the blog!

  15. I think I know why the no poo method doesn’t work for your friends. It could depend on styling products they use after the shower.. if they contain silicones (you recognize them cause most of them end with -cone, – conol, – xane) they will create build up in your hair cause silicones aren’t generally water soluble; they kinda create a coat around your hair and you can eliminate it only with the sulfates in shampoo so basically: if you decide to eliminate shampoo you need to eliminate also silicones in your styling products or you won’t be able to wash them away. So maybe this is the reason why your hair looks amazing and their didn’ may depend on which styling products they used! :) Hope you guys find this post helpful! kisses from Italy

  16. I’ve been reading tons about the “no poo” method and I really want to try. I have no Idea how to start. I have really oily hair. I can’t go one day without having to wash it. With that I don’t have an idea how to start. Should I use the BS every day? Do I use the vinegar solution and then rinse out? or is it a leave in? I’m a step follower, So I have no clue how to start. HELP!!

    Also I’ve heard that I can use corn starch or arrowroot powder as a dry shampoo for the in between days.

    • I have super oily hair, and I’ve been on no-poo for a month. I started using baking soda daily. I made a paste and rubbed it into my scalp. The vinegar acts like a conditioner, and like a conditioner, makes oily hair look limp and greasy even when freshly washed . So if you want to use vinegar, just rub it into the ends of your hair. Yes, you rinse it out.

      For the first three days, my hair after a b.s. wash looked like it normally did just before my daily shampoo — not bad, but I could tell it was getting worse. On the fourth day it was really greasy, so I rubbed in cornstarch and got through another day. It was also a little cleaner the next day when I washed out the cornstarch.

      By the eighth day, it looked like I had dipped my head in a bucket of oil — leaving the house was totally unacceptable. Then I had a brilliant idea. The oil glands in your scalp may be activated by a lack of oil on the scalp, but they have no way of knowing how much oil is on your hair. So I shampooed my hair only, avoiding the scalp. This left my hair clean and shiny.

      The next week, the daily b.s. washes kept my hair presentable for a few days longer. I began to notice that my superfine hair felt heavier, thicker, and seemed to stay out of my eyes better. I didn’t realize how much better until I did my next “hair only, no scalp” shampoo. The soft fine hair hanging in my eyes felt like I was walking through cobwebs.

      I’ve now been over two weeks without using shampoo and my hair looks fine. I’m almost ready to go to every other day washes. It’s not the metallic shiny that it was with shampoo, but it has a nice luster. It is much more manageable.

  17. alexandros pap says

    has anyone of you ever gotten a professional hair shampoo according to your type of hair?
    do you think it’s random why this method works for some and doesn’t work for others?
    most people just grab the cheapest shampoo from the supermarket…
    that’s not the reason why people get bald though. just sayin’…

  18. One thing I did to prepare myself for the no poo was I cut back on washing my hair with shampoo at first only every other day then every two days. My hair adjusted to that finally I only had to wash once a week because my hair wasn’t over compensating. And my hair took to the no poo like a champ.

  19. Morrigan says

    For those of you like me who can’t quite swing no poo, I found a Middle Way that gets my hair clean without betraying my eco impulses: organic, detergent-free shampoo bars. The bar form helps take care of the problems with shipping weight and plastic bottles; plus, I can take bars on planes! The bar ingredients look good to me: so SLS, things I can’t pronounce, etc. I’ve been using Chagrin Valley shampoo bars, but I know there are more good ones out there. I have very hard water where I live, and a mild ACV rinse does the trick.

  20. After a faithful try from Feb. 25 to April 8th, I had to give it up. :-( I was so hopeful. I have such oily hair, and hate having to wash it every- single day, but I just could no longer tolerate the yucky, oily hair. After two weeks, I read all the comments above and tried all the extra tips. Nothing really helped. We have really hard water, so maybe that’s it. I was hoping I would be able to only have wash my hair once or twice a week. What a dream that would be!! But alas, I will have to try making the shampoo bar. I do make my own soap, so hopefully that will at least be a chemical-free alternative. Good luck to others.

  21. Hi – I am wondering if anywhere you saw the recipes for no-pooing, it said to rinse the ACV out with cold water? That is what I’ve been doing since I started and am wondering if that may be why my hair is waxy feeling? I think I will try switching to just spraying it on, along with double rinsing, and see what happens. Thanks for your posts on this!

  22. I have been no ‘poo for 6 months, with generally good results overall. I had a terrible time with waxy buildup at first, but then I learned about just how awfully hard our water is here. That got me researching and I found few suggestions scattered across the web that really helped:
    1. Bring water to a boil. Turn off. Add baking soda once water is not boiling anymore. Baking soda will bubble up and then dissolve immediately. It will then stay in solution for weeks, so you can make a big batch and use over time. This has been such a game-changer.
    2. Pour baking soda solution directly on dry hair. I enter the shower and wet my hair with the baking soda solution. Then I massage and leave it on for 10-15 minutes if I have the time to spare. After doing my other showering, I rinse with tap water. Then I condition with ACV. This has been really helpful in combating the hard water and avoiding the waxy buildup.

    My biggest problem has been that after a few months of this, I noticed that I have been having some breakage from the ends of my hair. I have never had this problem before, so I want to attribute it to the no ‘poo system. I am pregnant also, so that could have something to do with it, but the last time I was pregnant, I was using regular shampoo and had glorious healthy hair. I recently started to use coconut oil as a leave in conditioner after I finish, so I’ll see if that helps. It definitely makes me smell fresh and clean, which was lacking with no ‘poo alone.

    • Kyle
      My hair did the same thing…I almost freaked because my hair went in total shock, so I deep conditioned with coconut oil put a couple drops of argan oil and tee tree in my baking soda and brushed my hair more(like 100 strokes rule) ( I used to groom horses and lots of brushing really strengthened their coats and made it shine) after a while my hair went back to normal and now despite my slight setback, my hair still look healthier than it did with commercial shampoo. Hope this helps!

  23. So, I’ve been without shampoo for a little over a month now and I am definitely have an off-streak. It started out great. I was “washing” every third day with BS/ACV. Then I tried doing a coconut oil treatment “for fun”…that was a disaster, never again. Anyway, I tried the CodeRedHat Aloe Honey mix and it left my roots really greasy, so next day I washed with BS/ACV again and tried the Aloe Honey mix one more time witht he same result. I think it just doesn’t work for me. So I moved on, Last week I tried Crunchy Betty’s “sort poo” astille soap and homemade coconut milk. I thought it was awesome until I felt the back of my head. It felt like it just shifted all the oil from my scalp to the back of my head. I tried it once more, same result. I am trying to stretch out the time I use BS to once a week and using something else in between. I have extremely fine, thin long hair. I used to wash daily, but with this I’ve been able to go every other day and want to get it back to every third day. This morning I tried an egg wash…disaster. I’m hoping no one at work notices that my head is a total greasy mess (strange thing is that it feels clean it just looks nasty, and I rinse very well, btw). I feel like I’m out of options and I just want to be clean :( I’m not giving up, I’m just not sure what to try next. I’m happy with 1TBS BS to 1 cup water and about 1:1 ration of ACV and chamomile tea that I’m doing, on the day I wash that is. My hair feels fabulous. It looks fantastic, it has so much volume and body that I’ve never had. The day after is less fabulous, but tolerable. Anyway, my point is….I don’t want to use BS every other day, or every third day – just once a week. But I definitely need something in between. Help?

  24. Caroline H. says

    I’m new to the shampoo-free method, and I’m excited to find such an eco friendly, healthy AND super frugal way to care for my family’s hair. Like many of you, I’ve tried to do as much research as possible for a smooth transition. I realize that everyone’s water and hair is different, but I’ve discovered that there’s a broad spectrum of methods for this process when it comes to HOW MUCH baking soda and vinegar to use.

    A few sources have said 1 T. BS to 1 C. water is the standard rinse and the amount of BS should be adjusted for your needs. Some, as far as I understand it, seem to make this amount of BS solution last a week or more. Other sources say use the whole cup of solution for every wash. Some people say they sprinkle as much as 1/4 C. of pure BS on their head every time they wash and they wash a few times a week. Some spritz a diluted ACV solution on the ends of their hair, others say it’s best to cover the roots, too. Some use the entire diluted 1 cup “recipe” to rinse, and some pour 1/2 C. of pure vinegar on their hair every time.

    Again, I know everyone’s different… but I guess my main question is, am I reading any of these directions wrong? Is it possible that some folks can thoroughly wash their hair with 1/4 C. of BS solution and get it truly clean, or am I misinterpreting? Some are using so much more it makes me wonder. What I would love to hear from all of you is: exactly how much BS and ACV (or other) are you applying to your hair per cleaning and how often do you clean your hair this way?

    • Hi Caroline! No, I don’t think you’re reading them wrong — I think everyone just does it differently. As for me, I usually mix 2 cup batches at a time of both BS and ACV, and this last our household (i.e. me and my husband) a week. (Well, now I mix huge batches in gallon jugs which I keep under the sink, but I pour 2 cups into my spray bottles once a week). So frugal!!

      • Caroline H. says

        Thanks for the feedback! I’m slowly figuring this thing out.
        Another thing I was wondering if it might be a bad idea to wash your hair everyday with this method? I realize it’s bound to look funky during the transition, but while I’m experimenting and adjusting my rinses, do you think it would be too harsh to wash every day? Will it hinder the production of natural oils?

        • I don’t know for sure, but from what I’ve read, I do believe every day would be a little harsh and might mess with the natural production of oils. Maybe alternate between conventional shampoo and baking soda while your figure it out?

  25. My hair is fine, thin and strait. Just started no poo. After BS/ACV washes, my hair is soo tangled I can’t comb through it with out adding a detangler. When my hair is dry it feels like dried out brittle straw. I’ve played around with amounts but can’t get it right. I know my water is hard…. Any helpful insight or tips would be much appreciated! Thank you!!

  26. Madisen Stafford says

    Is there an alternative to the tea tree oil? Like coconut oil instead?

  27. Hi Gals … I started going pooless 13 days ago … I have long straight hair down to my waist. All one length. I have been having trouble for the last several years finding a shampoo that worked .. I would be clean and free of oils for only about 6-10 hours and by the next morning I looked like I had dipped my head in a bucket of oil. Also I have had trouble with small bumps on my scalp that hurt and itch and flake. So My mom happened on going pooless on a blog and read it to me. The blog she read didn’t go so much into using the BS .. mainly rinsing your hair out with water and then an ACV rinse. I have been doing this ever other day. The vinegar seems to have made the oiliness worse and boy am I ever so oily so bad I am having to keep my hair put up in a twist because it’s so thick in oil that I can’t leave it down. I’m also suffering right now from my scalp itching really bad. But I am perservering because my alternative is going back to the shampoo which wasn’t working for me either ..I’m just in that transition time where the oiliness is driving me nuts ..LOL ! Anyhow thanks for all the info .. I am going to try the Baking Soda and Vinegar and see how that works. I live in an area with hard water so it’s possible I’m going to have to make some adjustments as mentioned by others. BTW .. I can tell a difference in the ends of my hair already ..they looked like straw before and now as the oils are being drawn down the hair they are looking really beautiful .. I just keep hoping that’s how all my hair is going to end up looking eventually. Thank goodness it’s summer so putting up my hair is nice for the heat.
    Sara recently posted..Things our Mother Taught US.. A little Laugh for the weekend ..!My Profile

  28. I confess to using all the hair products out there. I have curly hair. I started going gray in my 30’s. I use foam or gel and hair spray daily. I color my hair every 6 weeks. I’ve recently started looking into natural ways to color my hair. Do you have any suggestions for that? Also, how about styling products because I am sure they are bad too if shampoo is. I just don’t want to look like a puff ball with dry frizzy hair. Any suggestions?

    • Hi, Carol! Unfortunately I don’t know anything about curly hair or colouring. I’ve heard good things about the Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey, though (it includes no-poo instructions for curly hair). I’ve also heard good things about henna for colouring hair, though I don’t have any personal experience. Good luck!

  29. I have tried this method, but it seems more hair comes out when I comb my hair out after my shower, than when I wash with shampoo. Is this normal? and the hair on the comb has a white-ish buildup on it. Did you get more dandruff as well?

    • Hi Jenee. I’ve never noticed my hair coming out, but I HAVE experienced whitish buildup. If it’s the same thing I had, that’s just baking soda that didn’t get fully rinsed out. You may need to be more thorough with your ACV rinse — that’s why I suggest the double-rinse. Good luck!

  30. I haven’t read any info on the web about the temp of the water, I assume that’s because most people have hot water, I however do not and I’m seriously considering defeat. My hair is gross. Stringy, greasy, dull and just yuck. I keep thinking about how difficult it is to wash something like butter or oil off dishes in cold water WITH SOAP, with cold water and no soap it’s nearly impossible. That’s what I’m thinking is going on with my hair. Defeated.

  31. Just an FYI, the “waxy” feel is actually soap scum! Yup, the same thing that coats the shower walls. I ditched the castile soap and do just the baking soda and vinegar (I use white distilled, but whatever is fine!). The soap scum will be worse if you have hard water. You could always try buying a cheap gallon bottle of distilled water, add the baking soda to that and another gallon of distilled water with the vinegar. Keep these under the sink and fill up your squirt bottles weekly! Also, I find a hot oil treatment once a week helps keep the hair moist – afterall, vinegar is an acid, it does dry things out!

  32. Kathleen,
    Just had to share this video clip about No Poo featured on Inside Edition.
    So cool that “ditching your shampoo” is getting national attention!

  33. A friend of mine went no-poo several years ago and inspired me to take the plunge, but she’s tried many different methods with limited success so she’s always looking for something different to try and find the best way for her hair. She told me the other day that she’s been washing her hair with an egg for a couple weeks and it seems to be doing great! She washes with the yolk and rinses and then whips up the white and uses that like a conditioner. Just throwing the thought out there for people looking for multiple methods to experiment with.

  34. Hi there,

    I have been using no poo method for a couple of months now and although I was initially happy, I’m finding that I’m loosing a lot of hair! Every morning my bathroom floor is covered in my hair. I should thou mention that I just had a baby 4 months ago and I know that it is normal to loose some hair after childbirth, but I’m worried that its too much. I don’t remember loosing this much with my first born… Just wondering if anyone else has had this happen to them?

    Kind Regards,

  35. Kathleen, I’m wondering how this is going for you over a year later? I recently began the No Poo method and I really like it. BUT… I just read this article ( about the damaging effects of baking soda on someone who was using BS/ACV for 3 years. I’m interested in the health of your hair since you’ve been using it for quite a while now.


    • Hi Daniele! I’ve been using it for close to three years, and am still totally happy with it. No noticeable damage whatsoever, and I keep my hair quite long. I’ll check out the link!

  36. I currently use baking soda and apple cider vinegar. (No transition period for me really, and no noticeable difference if I use conventional and then switch back. I must be lucky!) My question is, what do you do for travel? All I can think of is taking small containers of baking soda and vinegar, and also other containers for diluting them, but considering I was used to traveling with one container (with conventional shampoo, I very, very rarely used conditioner), four seems like a lot to carry around. Any thoughts?

  37. Hi Kathleen,

    I have been washing with castile soap and Dr. Bronner’s citrus rinse, but am intrigued by the baking soda and vinegar method.

    By the way, have you ever tried using a perineal rinse bottle to wash? I use it for my rinse and it is great for distributing liquid all over the head evenly.

  38. Hello Kathleen,
    I have been following this method for about 8 days and i have already washed my head 3 times and i don’t know if this is what i am supposed to do or try washing less in the beggining. (?) I am a bit confused about the adjustment period…Both times my hair looked as i had used a good quality shampoo and a conditioner so i was really happy. Yesterday though i think i used too much baking soda and today they feel very rough to touch and blurry. Now, i know that this method takes some time to give permanent results but i just want to know that i am doing everything right, because i always tend to overdo it.. Plus i wanted to ask if there is something i should do (or not) considering the fact that i dye my hair. Just to let you know i am from Greece and i have lots (and lots…) of wavy and strong hair. (just in case it makes a difference)
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, i really like your blog!!!

  39. I never seem to be able to follow directions. I invented my own way of crocheting, for instance. So, when I heard about no-poo, I decided to do it in my own unique way. First off, I have a gallon pitcher that I throw a few Tbsp of baking soda into, and then fill to the brim with really hot water. I mix the baking soda by stirring with my hand when the pitcher is half-full. I have already thoroughly moistened my hair in the shower with nice hot water, so I proceed to simply pour this entire gallon of baking-soda-and-water over my head, slowly enough that it saturates my scalp and hair. I then refill my pitcher with more hot water (but no more baking soda). Takes about a minute. During that time the baking soda has been marinating on my head and hair. I then step back under the full flow of the shower, and proceed to empty the pitcher over my head again. I do that once more, so that I am really sure that the baking soda has been rinsed out. Now I put a few Tbsp of vitamin C powder into my pitcher, and again fill it with really hot water from the shower head. This now gets poured over my head. I then refill the pitcher twice more, using both shower and pitcher to make sure I’ve rinsed out all of the vitamin C. Amazingly, the vitamin C appears to work as a detangler for my long hair. I do this before going to bed at night, and the next morning it is really easy to comb out my hair.

    I developed this technique for several reasons. 1) It is really easy to do, and all I need is my pitcher and some small plastic cups containing the baking soda and the vitamin C (premeasured so I just dump them in). 2) I hate putting anything cold on my head. I’m a hot shower person. No way will I use something that has been sitting getting really cold. 3) I find I am sensitive or allergic to most benign chemicals. This avoids the problems I have been having with anything else I use. 4) It is cheap to do. I may switch to vinegar, but I need extra vitamin C, and it is acidic.

    My hair looks great. Just to keep the shorter hairs more in line, I have a solid hand lotion that I make (beeswax, cocoa butter, and castor oil), and I rub a little of that on my hands to melt it, then just rub my hands over the top of my head. And as for the people that say that the baking soda is harming my hair, I would ask them why do most shampoos have chemicals that give me a rash and make me itch? If someone would make a shampoo that is a dry powder I can put in my pitcher, add water, and then pour over my head, I would be willing to try it. Until then, this is as good as it gets for me.

  40. I’ve actually not used shampoo in quite awhile – due to The Curly Girl book – after asking a woman at work (on a RAINY day) why her curly hair always looked so gorgeous while I was always in ‘fuzz control’ mode due to more humid climate (move from Arizona, to ANYWHERE else in the country). So I was just using conditioner, but have super long hair and difficulty paying a lot for conditioner with no bad stuff in it. I was spoiled buying the big ol’ super sized cheap stuff at Costco

    Anyway, I ditched the store bought and started using a vinegar rinse about a month or so ago. I love it. I add a few drops of mint essential oil to the vinegar and it is so refreshing and feels great on my scalp. I rarely use/don’t use shampoo anyway due to the dry nature of curly hair, but the next time that I do, I’m going to try a shampoo bar. It’s probably once every six months that I do that. I just haven’t found it to be necessary.

    • Oops! forgot to mention: I DO use oils on my hair for conditioning. Argan, coconut, almond, etc. I just warm them in my hands, scent with whatever essential oil I am ‘feeling’ that day and focus on ends and everything below the scalp. Maybe a little bit on top to get ‘frizzies’.

  41. I have been no poo since Oct 2013, I hit my nirvana about 4 months in and was super excited. My husband followed shortly after and has had no problems. Since summer I have been working outside a lot so I have had to wash my hair more because of the humidity , now the back of my hair feels ich and rough feeling. I have tried everything, to get that nirvana back and not sure what to do. I do not want to go back to shampoo! Any advice would be helpful

  42. Hi Kathleen, great article. I love the idea of slowly weaning myself off shampoo. At the moment I’m in the transition stage and my hair is a little greasy. I’m determined to keep going – even if the adjustment period takes a while.

  43. My husband, daughter and I went no ‘poo three months ago. My husband adjusted so much quicker because he has short hair. I had difficulty with oily hair for about one month and was ready to throw in the towel. I tried altering the ratios and it did not work. My daughter ended up going back to regular shampoo, but I was determined. What I ended up doing is using a spray bottle for the ACV mix. I sprayed it on my hair BEFORE my shower and did not rinse it out till I was done washing up. Then I rinse thoroughly and then wash with a mix of baking soda, water, and liquid castile soap. This has worked wonders for me and I hope it helps others with the same trouble.

  44. I usually shower at the gym so I need good no leak containers. I’ve thought about those tupperwares where the top screws on, but something more convenient for applying would be better. Any ideas?

    • One more note, I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to use old shampoo and conditioner bottles because the solution will be much thinner than regular shampoo and conditioner and so it may leak? The reason for the concern is that I often come straight from work and have a laptop in my backpack too!

  45. My mother used REAL, lemon juice for rinse in the summer.I like the smell of vinegar,
    But if you don’t lemon may work, my MOTHER was ahead of the time.

  46. I apologize for the long post in advance. I have been no poo for about 3 months now and I had yet to have that ‘Hallelujah’ moment. My hair was terrible! It was heavy gunky/waxy I didn’t have the smooth shiny beautiful hair everyone was talking about after the transition period. Now I know I was done with the transition period bc my hair was different from the greasy mess it was in the beginning. I was looking around to figure out what the heck was wrong before I gave up on no poo I didn’t really want to go back I wanted to stick it out. I didn’t really keep good track of what I did to my hair but was trying all kinds of stuff from just water, to increasing my BS, to switching between WV and ACV and increasing and decreasing the amts of vinegar. UGH! I FINALLY found what was wrong, HARD WATER! My husband said that our area is a 10 out of 10 for hard water (used to work for our city water dept) Through all my research I had found that if you have hard water the BS doesn’t dissolve in the water and therefore doesn’t clean your hair the way it should. So Friday night I boiled my amount of water that fits in my bottle( plus a little more bc you will lose some the evaporation. You also want to use a pan that is bigger bc when you add the BS it will fizzle and you don’t want a big mess) for about 10 mins. I then added a few tablespoons of BS and watched it fizzle. Once the water has cooled you can pour it into your bottle and voila! Use it like you have been using your BS mix and follow with vinegar. I finally noticed the slight lather everyone was talking about and when my hair was dry HALLELUJAH I had beautiful, smooth, shiny, awesome hair!!!! It is now Monday, usually I have to try some cute braid or some other type of up hair, but I have my hair half up and it is still gunk/wax free and beautiful. 

  47. Your ” initial posts in the subject” link is broken. It’s missing the colon after “http”

    So “http://..” instead of “http//..” should do the trick

  48. I decided in Europe that I’d had enough of shampoo. My hair was thin and tangled up easily. Washing hair in the morning would make it look good for a few hours, but then it would be greasy and id reach for the dry shampoo if I were going anywhere after work. It became upsetting that my hair couldn’t cope with a trip to the swimming pool or rain. Basically I either washed my hair several times per day or looked grotty. So I quit the poo. I tried some of the methods suggested here, but they weren’t for me.
    The 1st few weeks were awful. Then it got to a less oily stage. After 15 weeks it felt like it was almost there.
    Then I moved to Asia, so from cold climate to hot+humid. My hair did not like it at all. But it wasn’t thin or tangled any more. So I really didn’t want to give in and go back to putting detergents on my head! But it was like starting from scratch. My hair was very oily and it was a case of tying it up and plaiting it.
    I have a cold shower at least once a day in this heat, what I did find recently was the message here about hot/cold water. Thank you so much for the tip, this has worked for me. I have been combing my hair and rinsing it thoroughly with water as hot ask can stand it, for 2-3 minutes, then having my usual cold shower. It has worked! I am thrilled! Last night I went out with my long hair on display and was complimented. I hope it goes well now.
    I hope it goes well for anyone trying to go product free. It doesn’t make sense to put chemicals on your head.
    I wish you success and patience in your quest.

  49. Hey, I was wondering if anyone can give me any insight on this. I stupidly washed my hair with baking soda, not knowingly that your supposed to follow it up with apple cider vinegar. After I did this, my hair immediately was destroyed and fried beyond fixing. My hair was very stringy, mushy when wet, very thin, split ends, can’t retain mositure, always very dry and has lots insane amount of density. I figured once I cut of all my hair, new healthy hair would grow in and my hair would be okay. I have had a few buzz cuts after the incident , but my hair is still in horrible condition. It won’t stop thinning, and its density is extremely bad. Have I done permanent damage? I have gotten my blood tested by multiple doctors ( derms, endocrinologists, GPs) and my thyroid, iron levels are completely normal every time. Does anyone know what could be the problem and if theres any chance of getting my old hair condition back.

  50. Don’t use baking soda on your hair. The PH is too high so in the long run, it will damage and ruin your hair.

  51. Bicarbonate of soda produces carbon dioxide gas when in contact with acid. Use enough bicarb and you’ll get foam with a cleaning effect.

    So I guess you can vary the strength of your no ‘poo by altering the concentration your bicarb solution OR by increasing the amount of time the two compounds (vinegar and bicarb) are in contact.

    Stronger solution/leave the vinegar on for longer >>> get more fizziness >>> have cleaner hair/less waxiness?

  52. Hi I’m considering to go on no poo but worried from the apple cider smell….
    I hate apple cider. Will my hair smell from it? Is there any other substance?

    • Hi Yael! After you rinse it out, there is no smell at all. SOme people have had success with different acidic washes (lemon juice, citric acid), but I haven’t personally tried them and can’t speak to their effectiveness. Good luck!

  53. I love this post. I have been thinking about being shampoo-free as well since I get falling hair for it. Thank you for sharing this. It will help me a lot!

  54. Thanks for the reassurance. I couldn’t get it to work for me either.
    Carrie Letlow recently posted..How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?My Profile


  1. […] a bit but then I was hit with a waxy issue so as recommended by Kathleen again on another post, No-Poo Update, I started doing a second Apple Cider Vinegar rinse, which is working pretty […]

  2. […] No-Poo Update: Some Additional Tips for Going Shampoo-Free by Becoming Peculiar […]

  3. […] No – Poo Update: Some Additional Tips for Going Shampoo … – (This is my hair a day after washing) A couple of my real-life friends have told me that they’ve tried going shampoo-free, like me, without success…. […]

  4. […] Some Additional Tips for Going Poo Free {Becoming Peculiar} Welcome to no-poo hair care {great post on how to start and troubleshooting, by Love Yourself Naturally} […]

  5. […] got thick locks, you may have to pay a little more attention to your rinsing process. The second time you rinse, you can even toss your head upside down to make sure you get into the little nooks and crannies […]

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