One Year Later: Still Shampoo-Free (And now I have super-senses!)

still shampoo-free and loving it!

(If you’re reading this on the blog, you’ll notice that this is the same photo as my new profile picture. Sorry if that looks weird. I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself.)

Exactly a year ago, I shared my experiences and suggestions for going shampoo-free (or “no-poo,” as it’s often called on the Interwebz). I explained how I go about washing my hair (with a baking soda rinse, followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse), and how you might have better luck if you slowly wean yourself off of shampoo rather than make the switch cold-turkey.

That post has continued to be my most-read post of all time. (To be honest, that surprises me, because a lot of other people with way more successful blogs have already written about it, too.) I still even get regular comments on that post. It’s been pinned almost a thousand times. Turns out, there are a lot of people out there interested in ditching shampoo! To which I say: Woohoo! EAT IT, Proctor and Gamble! We don’t need your lousy products!!

Anyway, I am happy to report that a year later, I love the no-poo method more than ever! It just keeps getting better and better. No joke! I’m comfortable enough with it that I’m able to whip up my rinses without thinking about it, and I never have those weird off-days anymore (where my hair would randomly get waxy and limp for no apparent reason).

I love that I never have to buy shampoo (So frugal! So simple!). Instead, I buy one big jug of vinegar and a couple of boxes of baking soda (totalling about $5), and this will last me more than 6 months for my whole family.

Over this past year, I’ve discovered two new great things about going no-poo:

  • In the winter, I no longer have issues with static. I can’t explain this. But all my life, the dry air of winter has meant my pin-straight hair clinging to my face and driving me crazy unless I tie it up. The more I would touch it, the more electrical and crazy-making it would get. No longer. I don’t know why this is true, but I am loving this new quality.
  • In the summer, I no longer have issues with frizz. Although my hair is straight, I’ve always had to blow-dry my locks during the summer to prevent my flyaways from frizzing up and giving me a hair halo. Throughout my teen and early adult years, I would always follow my blow-dry with a flat-iron run-through as well, to keep everything smooth.

summer frizzies

(This photo of me is like a decade old but it’s the best example I have of what I’m talking about).

Again: this problem is no more. I can let my hair air-dry after a shower — even in hot, humid weather — and it sits perfectly tame and docile. (It’s not the prettiest if I do it this way, but it’s fine for at home and running errands. If I want it to look extra-nice for a date or something, I just blow-dry it.)

In the photo at the top of this post, all I’ve done is dry my hair with a hair-dryer (after washing with my usual baking soda and apple cider vinegar). No products, no flat-iron, no nothing.

And since I’ve eliminated everything with synthetic perfumes and fragrances from our home, I’ve discovered another interesting change: my sense of smell is enhanced a hundredfold.

Okay, so maybe not that much (a dozenfold?), but I have been downright astonished at the difference. I can perceive smells I would have never noticed at any point in my earlier life.

I’ve never had a particularly acute sense of smell, but that’s all different now. For example, I can identify my mom’s cooking by the smell of her dish soap on the food. From touching plates and utensils washed (and then rinsed) in her kitchen. It’s only the faintest smell, and not strong enough to be at all off-putting, but I can always notice, Ah — this came from my mom’s house.

I once walked into a friend’s house and asked, “Do you have a flowering plant in here?” They didn’t think so. It only took me a moment to sniff out a blossom on their little citrus tree that they didn’t know was there.

I could give you lots more examples but you get my point.

It might not be the most useful sense enhancement, but what alarms me is that I was robbed of this sense for all the years prior. Because we wanted our clothes and our bed linens and our bathrooms to smell pretty. It blows my mind that surrounding myself with artificial fragrances dulled my senses so dramatically for all those years. Now, I smell the way I was meant to smell. (Wait, that could be taken wrong . . . )

Anyhow. I just wanted to say that I’m still delighted with the no-poo method, and I hope you consider giving it a try if you haven’t already.

Here’s the original post on how to go shampoo-free, and another post offering additional tips.

*If you have any specific questions about going no-poo, consider reading the comments from my original post. Lots of good ideas there!*

Have you tried going no-poo? How did you like it? And am I the only one who has noticed sense-of-smell-enhancement since ditching fragrances??

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  1. I haven’t given up shampoo, but I use a chemical-free brand my sister buys me from a beauty shop (she’s a professional hairstylist — handy.)

    As for the no static, I suspect it’s the vinegar. Vinegar is a popular fabric softener replacement for that very reason. I used it for a while and it definitely works, but I now buy one made by Seventh Generation just because vinegar doesn’t soften and my clothes and sheets were feeling too stiff for my preference.
    Sarah recently posted..How to poach an eggMy Profile

  2. colleen greene says:

    Hey Kathleen, what other household products do you make yourself out of other substances.

  3. Awesome! That’s pretty interesting about being able to smell better (HA!). We try to use unscented stuff as much as possible, but it’s amazingly difficult to do that if you buy commercial goods, so I make a lot of stuff too. Fragrance is EVERYWHERE and most of the commercial stuff smells Gross. Did you notice a change in how things taste? I love spicy and highly seasoned foods, but can’t stand most processed foods because (among other things) they tend to be over-flavored, over salty crud like X-treme Doritos! Bleah…

    We have a section of our (Quaker) Meetinghouse that is specifically for those who are sensitive to fragrance (natural and otherwise), but it’s odd to me to have to segregate folks who may be sensitive to that stuff. I am somewhat fragrance sensitive (really, who CAN stand a half bottle of AXE bodywash at 10 paces!?!), and some flowers just knock me out, but mostly its the chemicals that are the worst; your lungs are a direct, porous connection to your bloodstream, why would anyone want to let that stuff in? As much as I love ‘pretty’ smells, Less is More.

    And your new picture is Lovely. I’m glad the no-poo is working for you!
    PepperReed recently posted..Back in the Land of the Living!My Profile

    • Oh absolutely — I have totally noticed a difference in taste. I mean that in every sense of the word: my sense of taste has changed so that I notice (and am disgusted by) processed foods; and also, my “taste” in smells has changed. What once smelled pretty to me (i.e. scented detergents, fabric softener, etc) now smell grotesquely fake and plasticy.

      I agree that it’s weird to have to segregate people with sensitivities . . . maybe we should all just stop using those products so everyone can breathe when we get together . . .

      And thanks! :)

  4. We don’t use anything scented in our house, and it’s amazing how much stronger everything smells. A few months ago my mom used a scented stain remover on my daughter’s pants, and we could smell it throughout the whole house for DAYS. Very strongly too, I might add. It was the first thing my husband noticed when he came home that night, and I’ve always teased him for being “smell deaf.” Then a few weeks later he came home from a friend’s house; when he walked through the door, I asked him what on earth he had been doing, since he smelled so strongly of women’s perfume :) Turns out he had washed his hands right before he left with Bath and Bodyworks soap. A year ago I never would have noticed, but now I smelled him for the rest of the night.

  5. I have just hit my 6 month mark of No Poo and chemical free myself! It is very freeing to not have to be chained to products. I can’t believe how much my sense of smell has done the same thing! I can’t even walk by the laundry isle in stores without getting choked let alone a Bath and Body.
    Joslyn recently posted..My Brand New Way of Looking At FoodMy Profile

  6. Emily W says:

    I haven’t gone poo free yet … maybe I never will. I have switched to an all natural shampoo without yucky chemicals and stuff though which works for me at this stage of life, although it’s expensive. These days I do have a super sense of smell though, because of being pregnant – and to be honest, I hate it! It is helpful sometimes, like when there are harmful chemicals around that I wouldn’t otherwise have detected, but overall I find it a big nuisance. So I’m actually eager for that to go away. I do work pretty hard to keep harmful chemicals and artificial scents out of my house, but apparently not enough to have a super sense of smell when I’m not pregnant. :)

  7. I alternate baking soda/ACV with Soap for Everybody by EO, but I’ve been using soap nuts instead of laundry detergent for about 4 years, and experience a similar sensitivity to fragrances now. Once my spouse decided to borrow from a bottle of someone else’s detergent in the laundry room of our building, and I couldn’t believe how badly our sheets reeked like chemicals afterwards. How did I live with, even seek out, that smell before?! Being able to smell traces of dishsoap on your mom’s cooking is pretty extreme—you could probably solve some mysteries with your super-sense!:)

  8. Huh. That’s really interesting about the super senses! I am still on the fence about the no poo method. I keep giving it a try but then stopping. I really need to just go ‘all in’ for a while and seeing if I can get over the weirdness about it.

    I have to say, your hair is gorgeous and so are you. I love this picture of you so much! With my natural wave, I can only wish I had such nice straight hair with bangs that don’t go all wonky. :) But then, maybe if I used the no poo method my hair would behave better, wavy or not.
    LisaZ recently posted..Hurry! Summer Special ends when June ends!My Profile

  9. I have curly/wavy/frizzy hair and I tried going no-poo a couple years ago using baking soda/ apple cider vinegar, but after a couple months I wasn’t super happy with it. For some reason it didn’t seem to be getting rid of the grease, so I’d end up using more baking soda and that would just dry out my hair. I then went back to shampoo, until a couple months ago when I just stopped using everything. Now I just rinse my hair with water and brush it really well when I’m in the shower. My hair now seems softer and even less greasy. I’m really loving it and I’m very impressed with the results.

    I know what you mean about your sense of smell changing. I’ve been using homemade laundry detergent for a couple of years, but occasionally we’ll run out and I won’t have time to make more so we’ll use regular detergent and it’s disgusting. I can’t stand the smell of it on my clothes and I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before I switched to homemade.

  10. Hi Kathleen,
    I tried the no poo for a long time, maybe even a year, mostly because I couldn’t find a shampoo I could use since I have an allergy to corn (and corn is in EVERYTHING, including those pesky fragrances). I have very, VERY thick hair and I just never could find a good balance or routine with no poo that didn’t leave part greasy and part dry and frizzy. I have to admit, I didn’t try that hard to mix just the right amounts… I did find a shampoo from the Gluten-Free Savonnerie that’s corn free recently (as well as pretty natural and scent free) and that’s fitting the bill these days. It’s just making my hair care easier, and life with corn allergy can be complicated enough some days. :)
    Laura recently posted..What I’m into: Easter seasonMy Profile

  11. I am naturally curly, and have been no-poo since 2006. No poo works!! I go between baking soda scrubs and brown sugar scrubs (brown sugar with a little bit of EVOO) on my “wash” days, and do an apple cider vinegar rinse once a week. Shampoo just kills my curls. On my non “wash” days I still do a cleanse with conditioner. I use whatever fragrance free conditioners are on sale at my local health food store. I also use a ton of conditioner because of how dry my hair gets.

    It’s good to note that if you’re curly and not shampooing, you should consider dropping silicones, waxes, and petrolatums from your haircare routine. These products really weigh down curls, and they can only be removed with a sulfate shampoo. Straight hair can stand these ingredients a lot more than curly heads!

    This is an awesome post!!
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  12. I haven’t gone no-poo yet, but we use unscented, non-petroleum based products for those items I do buy (the rest is homemade and I do add essential oils to some of those). I noticed several years ago that I had become much more sensitive to artificial scents and chemicals. Not long after I switched our dishwashing detergent I was at a friends house when he started the dishwasher; I had to leave the room the chemical smell was so overwhelming. I can smell people doing laundry when I’m out for a run. I cannot abide the smell of “regular” laundry detergent on my clothes or linens. Being in an enclosed area with someone wearing perfume/cologne can trigger a migraine. And scented candles have forced me to cut more than one visit with a friend short.
    Lily recently posted..Minimalism, Simplicity, and St*ffMy Profile

    • THIS!! We had an issue with the drain our washer is hooked up to a couple months ago. My husband took his laundry to his mom’s. It came back smelling like chemically enhanced flowers on steroids. I couldn’t stand it. And I noticed my newborn would break out in a rash on his face if daddy held it against his chest.

  13. Your hair looks great! I did the no shampoo for a year and a half with my super thick and slightly curly hair. Loved it! I actually usually just rinsed my hair with rosemary infused water and my hair was shiny and healthy. Then we moved and had totally different (and horrid) water. For months my hair and scalp was awful so I finally gave up and began using Giovanni shampoo once or twice a week. I need to try again though now that we have moved again. I’ll have to read through your posts and the comments to get some more ideas.
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  14. theresa gianna says:

    i’ve seen several posts around the blogosphere lately expressing concern over the pH of the baking soda/vinegar method of ‘no-poo. it might not be the best for your scalp (which has its own pH) to be subjected to the high pH of baking soda followed by the lower pH of vinegar. i’m not sure how accurate that is, and i used the baking soda/vinegar method for a while (although my hair hated vinegar, so i was just using baking soda…), but i’m experimenting with other natural shampoos right now after having read some of those articles. really, i think if it works for you and your hair is seeming healthy, then keep at it! but i know some people’s hair has gotten worse when attempting baking soda/vinegar washes: it may be a pH problem.

    just some thoughts!

    • Interesting! Thanks, Theresa. After three years, my scalp seems to be healthier than ever, so I think it must be okay for me; maybe some people are more sensitive.

      Really, I probably should start weaning myself off of ANYTHING until I can just rinse with water, like some people do. Then I’d really have found an all-natural solution!

  15. I’ve used apple cider vinegar rinse for almost a year and my hair is so much healthier! The smell isn’t great but it goes away once your hair dries. Recently I’ve incorporated jasmine. I mix 2 tb vinegar with jasmine essential oil, about 8 drops in a water bottle. Fill up the rest with water. My hair smells like wonderful jasmine for almost a week. Plus jasmine has awesome softening and moisturizing properties! My hair seriously does not need conditioner. And I have thick, curly, unruly hair. I use baking soda with corn starch as a dry shampoo but I still use a natural traditional shampoo once a week.

  16. Stumbled across your blog while I was looking for info on cloth tp, but ended up reading a LOT more. (You remind me so much of myself!! – Canadian earthy penny pinching mama) I loved the idea of no-poo. Tried it yesterday, actually found it left my hair beautiful on the first go! Background info: I already had a pretty healthy scalp, only wash 2-3 times a week and had only been using ‘natural’ hair products for about a year. I was really impressed at how clean my hair felt afterward. I was expecting it to feel kind of greasy still.

  17. Hello! I am about to ditch my poo, and read some things about people having bad experiences with baking soda. Ive read a bit about using coconut milk and aloe instead. Has anyone tried this? My hair is super fragile, which is an understatement, and I’m concerned about the baking soda. Maybe I’ll alternate, i guess ill figure it out as i go, but I’m scared. Any thoughts?

  18. Thank you so much for posting more information on ditching shampoo. I was born with soft white-blonde hair and kept it untl my teenage years. Then my hair started to grow out an alarming mud bown at the roots and just looked uglier and uglier as the years went by. Its not pretty when the description ‘light bown’ doesnt describe your hair color. My hair as constantly greasy even though I washed every day. I tried ditching shampoo breifly at 21 and didnt feel it worked the first week so quit. Then I tried every ‘natural’ product on the marked. Even that expensive Wen by Chaz Dean I saw on the infomercials (by the way if you want to look like a grease monkey use this. He diesnt lie about ‘brilliant shine’). Then I switched back to using vinigar an baking soda. And It worked!
    I have only been using it for three and a half weeks so I am still waiting for my scalp to adjust fully but i notice that even on a slightly greasy day my hair feels clean and a million times lighter than it ever did on a regular shampoo (a big deal for thick heavy hair).
    Also my hair is starting to go blonde again for the first time in years. I compared a photo of myself weekly just to be sure and my hair has gone at least three shades lighter at the roots! It shines and moves the way it is supposed to and feels great. I only wash twice a week too.
    I should note that I dyed my hair in desperation once last year so the ends of my hair are damaged and a slightly lighter color. The baking soda dries them out and maes them brittle so I still use a silocone free conditioner on my ends only. But I have noticed that the need for that too seems to be growing less and less. Hopefully I’ll be able to go all natural before long!

  19. Thanks for share!! I couldn`t live without shampoo, I know that chemicals can damage your hair so I tried this argan oil shampoo by Pro Naturals and its really awesome because it`s all natural and free of those harmful chemicals like sulfate, silicone, alcohol and paraben.

  20. I am curious how this no shampoo would work for someone who fixes their hair using hairspray/gel. Would it still work?

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