Why I Ditched Shampoo (And How You Can, Too!)

How (and why) to wean off of shampooI know, I know, I know. The thought of ditching shampoo is scary. The idea scared me for a long time, too. Won’t I look greasy and gross? Wasn’t shampoo invented for a reason??

But I gave up shampoo a year and a half ago, and I don’t think I’ll ever turn back. Here’s my story.

* * *

Lots of other bloggers have already explored the reasons to avoid shampoo and have given tutorials on how they manage their hair. The reasons offered usually include:

  • Shampoo is an unnecessary cost, and switching to a baking soda and apple cider vinegar rinse (or other similar regimen) is a very frugal and effective alternative
  • Most conventional shampoos contain all kinds of harmful chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. (And look out for toxic baby shampoo!)
  • Because it strips your hair of sebum (the natural oily lubricant in your hair follicles that protects against infection), shampoo increases your scalp’s exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Because it strips your hair of sebum, shampoo perpetuates a cycle that demands more and more products (including conditioner and more shampoo)
  • Shampoo is bad for the environment

I personally switched to the “no poo method” when I got pregnant. I had contemplated it before then — for all the reasons listed above — but didn’t take it too seriously until I discovered there was a teeny tiny little person growing inside my body. I didn’t want to expose that person to scary chemicals while she was doing complicated things like building a brand new liver from scratch. So I quit. I never put another drop of conventional shampoo on my head.

The most important thing I’ve learned about shampoo since then is that it’s absolutely, completely unnecessary.

We just don’t need it. Period. It might as well not even exist.

(There might be some exceptions, I’ll concede. But we definitely don’t all need it like we’ve come to believe).

Which brought me to an important ethical reason to avoid shampoo:

Because we don’t need it, every part of its production, packaging, shipping, and selling are a waste of the earth’s limited resources and our money. Moreover:

  • The non-reusable plastic bottles used for conventional shampoo are wasteful and harmful to our planet. (I’ve been learning recently about the problems with plastic in general).
  • The money spent into advertising it to consumers is a horrible waste.
  • If the chemicals in shampoo are harmful to our bodies, I can only imagine that the process whereby we extract them from the earth is harmful to our environment.

So what’s the alternative?

I’ve come across several alternatives, but here’s my personal experience.

My Journey into No ‘Poo Land

 

I will be honest right up front: it took me over a year before I got consistently satisfactory results going the no ‘poo route.

Yes, you read that right: I endured sub-par hair for over twelve months before it started to look pretty again. That’s a lotta ugliness for a fairly vain woman.

I did that for you, my friends. Well, you and my baby.

But it doesn’t have to be like that for you!!

The problem was that I didn’t have enough faith in baking soda alone to clean my hair. I’ve always been a bit of a greasy girl. I’d read in my early research that you could mix castile soap with the baking soda, and that sounded more reliable to me (it’s an actual soap, made for cleaning), so that’s how I started out.

It worked OK most of the time, but sometimes it left my hair kinda waxy-looking. I thought it was a ratio problem, so for months I tinkered with the baking soda/castile soap/water ratios, and then the vinegar/water ratios. I tried pouring the mixture onto my head versus spraying it on. I tried heavier application versus lighter application. I tried applying the vinegar just to the tips of my hair and just to the roots. Finally, I tried Crunchy Betty’s castile soap and coconut milk shampoo which she claims is miraculous.

Same problem: waxy hair.

I was stumped. I was ready to give up the whole dang thing.

FINALLY, 14 months after I first started experimenting with going shampoo-free, I decided to ditch the castile soap altogether. I bought myself a bottle of expensive natural shampoo.

I shampooed normally a few times, and then tried just plain old baking soda and water.

It was the best move for my hair I’d ever made. I really, really wish I’d tried that earlier.

Like a year earlier.

(I think the problem might be our water. Castile soap makes all of our hair look kinda waxy).

There is another way for you, my friend.

Try Weaning

As I’ve mentioned, there are a lot of posts out there that explain how you can go “no-‘poo.” (Some of my favourites include Simple Mom’s,  and Crunchy Betty’s).

All the ones I’ve seen so far suggest that you go cold turkey. Chuck the ‘poo and start rinsing with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, they say.

They all warn about a transition period, though, in which your hair adjusts to not being stripped of its natural, protective oils.

I imagine that it’s this very “transition period” that scares a lot of people off. They might be willing to forgo shampoo, but, Um, I have a job (or school), and I’m not about to show up all greasy-haired every day for three weeks while my follicles ‘transition,’ thankyouverymuch.

So I have another suggestion: slowly wean yourself off of shampoo. (This is sort of what I did when I finally switched to baking-soda-only).

Start by replacing one shampoo/conditioner a week with the baking soda and apple cider vinegar rinse (details below). In my experience, a single baking soda and apple cider vinegar rinse isn’t even noticeable. I’m very confident that you will come out of the shower looking totally normal and clean. You might even remark, “Wow, this no ‘poo thing works great! Who needs to wean?”

In my experience, it’s only after a few consecutive showers like this that you generally start noticing some funkiness (i.e. persistent greasiness).

So once your hair has adjusted to just one less shampoo a week, try two a week. Keep increasing the number of shampoos that are replaced with baking soda/apple cider vinegar until – TA-DA! – you aren’t using shampoo anymore!

Kathleen’s No ‘Poo Method

Mine is just a variation of the popular baking-soda-and-vinegar method, tailored to suit my needs. (Why these ingredients? See Simple Mom’s post – she explains in the last part). You might need to tweak it, depending on your hair’s texture and the type of water you have. As for me, I have naturally thin, straight, dark hair which has a tendency towards oiliness, and our water is on the harder side, if that helps you at all.

1. I add one Tablespoon baking soda per one cup hot water (I double this), funneled into a spray bottle that has lost its nozzle. I shake this up leave it in my shower. Come shower time, I pour this mixture onto my scalp — just enough to wetten it – and massage it in. Then I rinse it out.

no shampoo

2. I mix 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water (Other recipes call for 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar for every cup water). Again, I double this.  I funnel this mixture into a spray bottle with the nozzle. After I’ve rinsed out the baking soda, I spray this heavily all over my scalp and hair. I have to be very thorough to get all the baking soda out, otherwise I find I get an icky residue on my hair. Rinse.

That’s it!

I make both of these rinses about once a week, and Ben and I both use it. He showers daily; I shower two or three times a week. That means we’re each using about half a Tbsp of baking soda and 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar weekly. If you compare that to how much shampoo and conditioner you would normally use, I’d say that’s not bad.

Here are some photos of me just after having washed my hair in this manner. I have absolutely no product in my hair. All I’ve done is blow-dry it, and quickly run a hot iron over the ends. (This is my usual styling method when I have my hair down).

going shampoo-free

You be the judge.

Oh, and my hair doesn’t smell vinegary at all, in case you were wondering. It doesn’t smell like anything. Just hair.

Some Observations and Tips

  • Since switching to the no ‘poo method, I’ve found that it needs washing much less often. As a teenager, I often washed my hair twice a day; as an adult, I always washed my hair every day, because it got greasy after 24 hours. With the no ‘poo method, I’m down to two or three times a week.
  •  Another benefit of the no ‘poo method? Baking soda and apple cider vinegar don’t leave any soap scum in your shower like conventional shampoo does. I clean my shower every week with a light spritz of diluted white vinegar and a damp cloth, just to make it sparkly.
  •  I’ve recently discovered another awesome method for when I don’t have time to shower: for a quick de-grease, I use this homemade dry shampoo from Petit Elefant (made from corn starch, baking soda, cornmeal and oat flour) on my bangs and put my hair up in a sock bun.  (The dry shampoo works on my whole head but is so much work with my long hair that I might as well just shower).
  • A lot of people worry that their hair will be super-tangly if they don’t use conditioner. They don’t realize that their shampoo is what’s likely creating the tangles. Apple cider vinegar is a natural detangler and I haven’t had a problem, even with hair past my shoulders.

So there you have it. What do you think? Still too scary? Any questions? Or, if you already go shampoo-free, what has your experience been? Any tips?

And of course, this post will need a “confessions of a hypocrite” follow-up, where I confess that I still use makeup.

NOTE: I have some additional no-poo tips in a follow-up post.

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Comments

  1. Emily W says:

    Hmm. Still scary, yes, but your hair looks so great that I’m tempted to try it. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes!

  2. Raeanne says:

    I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and after such a concise post from you I’m convicted! As soon as we move (1200 miles from North Dakota to West Virginia) in two weeks I’ll be starting the weaning process! My husband Karl’s probably gonna do it too! Thank you for inspiring us to be ever more crunchy! ;)

  3. Hmm. I’ve spent two straight years with that nasty, waxy hair. It would look worse /after/ I showered with baking soda/vinegar or natural shampoo than when I hadn’t showered for days…but it didn’t look great then, either. I had medium-length hair, then short hair, then long, then short again…didn’t matter. It was worse with the short, actually, because I couldn’t just put it up and hide the fact that it was greasy and waxy and gross.

    I never used castile soap in it, just various ratios of baking soda and water and apple vinegar (or no vinegar, or no baking soda, etc.), but after several months of deterioratingly gross hair (and the DDH complaining about the ACV smell in the shower, because apparently he has a bloodhound’s nose), I gave up and decided at least I’d use a “natural” shampoo without all the nasty gunk. The DDH was happier about how everything smelled, but my hair was no better.

    Finally, I was so. sick. of looking so. gross. (ironically I was in the midst of the first trimester misery and simply could not take one more thing that had me feeling nasty) that I gave up and used some of the DDH’s cheapo conventional shampoo, and I’ve been doing that ever since. It makes my hair really frizzy, with lots of fly-aways (perhaps because I’m not conditioning it?), but it’s smooth and soft and NOT waxy or greasy or gross.

    Because of how bad my hair looked after a shower (and because it’s so cold in our house in the winter), I had weaned myself down to one, maybe two showers a week, and I’ve stuck with that. Before, I thought I /had/ to shower every day or my hair would be greasy, but surprisingly that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Or maybe my grease threshold is just higher?

    Anyway, to conclude this long and rambling comment, this is the One and Only crunchy thing I’ve tried that simply has not worked (well, that and dishwasher detergent), and I’ve just decided that I have to draw a line somewhere. I felt terrible about myself and my appearance for two whole years (2.5, actually), and I refuse to be guilted into feeling terrible for using chemicals and plastics in this one area now (I don’t wear makeup, don’t blow-dry, treat, or curl/straighten my hair in any way…is it too much to demand that my hair just look nice the way it is?).

    At least, that’s what I say. But since your hair sounds identical to mine, maybe I’ll give your method a go. Part of the problem always seemed to be getting enough mixture into my hair. I feel like I would use most of that two cups in one shower, not over a week. I have this problem with regular shampoo, though, too–even when it’s wet, my hair sort of feels dry, like products (baking soda, shampoo, whatever) don’t spread properly. Sigh. Vanity!

    • Wow, Katie — that’s devotion! I don’t know if even I would be able to commit to that long a trial period with little to no success. I don’t blame you at all for giving up after all that time. I’d say you gave it a very good shot, and a girl’s gotta feel pretty! And I almost always blow-dry, so I’m obviously not 100% environmentally-friendly with my beauty regimen, either. We’re all doing our best!

      I wonder why it didn’t work out for you? Not that you have to by any means, but I wonder if you’d have more luck at a future time, kind of like I did?

      • Haha, thanks! I don’t know why it didn’t work, and I may yet try it again. Oh well. Everybody’s different, I guess!
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      • I also do this its great. I pretty much use bakingsoda in everthing, household cleaners, home made tooth paste (I do baking soda, and cinnamon). Now Im’ moving to Ecuador and it turns out… baking soda was banned from the country because of its use in cocaine production… :( I have no idea what I’m going to do :( do you know of recipes for hair and household cleaning that doesn’t include baking soda?

        • Teresa,
          I live in Ecuador there are different types of baking soda you can buy cooking baking soda at pharmacies and cleaning baking soda at some stores I buy the TIPS brand at Coral. Don’t give up just look around.
          Enjoy Ecuador, Susan

    • I don’t know if this will help, but here are some things that have worked for me. Maybe you’ve already tried them, in that case ignore this rambling. Kudos for trying for that long (I tend to give up quickly)!

      If you rinse your hair in cold water, it will produce less oil. Something about cold water closing follicles. If you do some gymnastics in the shower, you can rinse your hair in the coldest setting without freezing your whole body. It also helps to rinse your hair in cold water without washing it.

      If your hair feels too greasy, try to go one day longer without washing it. Every time we wash our hair (even with baking soda), we lose a portion of the natural oils, which sends a signal to our scalps to start producing more. If you don’t wash it right away, your scalp “learns” that it doesn’t need to produce as much oil. Granted, this can be difficult with work/personal life/normal need to feel clean.

      If you have longer hair, try brushing your hair the stereotypical 100 strokes at night when it feels really greasy. I find that this distributes the oil along the whole length and then the bottom of my hair soaks up the oil.

      • Thanks, Anita! These sound great!

      • Thanks for the tips, Anita! Since I only shower once or twice a week anyway, I’m not sure waiting another day would help. ;-)

        I did try the cold-rinse thing, but never consistently. In the winter it’s maybe 55-60 degrees in our house and I need all the heat I can get! And then in the summer I would just forget.

        I never brush my hair at night, though, so perhaps that one is worth a shot!

        • Hey Katie!
          I was reading your comments..and I have a suggestion for you. Have you tried shampoo bars?

          • I have not, Josie. I think I’ve heard they exist but that’s about it.

            I was just thinking of giving the baking soda/vinegar thing a shot again with Kathleen’s proportions, since it seems her hair is similar and I’m now a SAHM. But if it doesn’t work, I might look up shampoo bars.

            Though I still don’t think it would do me good to wean with only one or two showers a week. ;-)

    • Do you dye your hair a lot?

  4. Okay. You’ve won me. I am totally going to try. Weaning myself, though. I’m super excited. I use vinegar for EVERYTHING, and I know it doesn’t leave an “after” smell, so I think I can do this.

  5. This is great! I went without shampoo and conditioner before but had zero luck but I’ll go for your method. I’m really excited!! Thank you for posting this! The pictures are great too – and you look fantastic as usual =)

  6. I don’t “no-poo” but I switched to a “limited-poo” schedule years ago. I only wash my hair (and yes I bath between hair washing) only 2 – 3 times a week and it’s great! Though reading this makes me want to try the baking soda solution!
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  7. I’m curious if you’ve tried baking soda for toothpaste. We tried that recently and it was a disaster. I ended up with badly stained teeth (that came right off when I went back to an organic-y, fluoride-free toothpaste from the health food store) and my son had six cavities (never had any before). I thought this should have worked for tooth care, but it didn’t. I am on board with the no shampoo method (ACV is wonderful on my hair!) but I keep coming back to toothpaste as the one thing I can’t seem to home-make vs. buying.

    • Hi Emilie! Yikes about the toothpaste disaster! Your poor son! I’ve never used plain baking soda — but my homemade toothpaste does use some baking soda (If you’re curious, my current recipe is 2 tsp castile soap, 5 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, 1/2 Tbsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp stevia or xylitol, and 10 drops peppermint essential oil). I might try this tooth powder or this similar toothpaste yet, too. We’ve been using it for about as long as I’ve been going no poo, and so far it’s been good — my teeth are as white as ever, and I haven’t experienced any sensitivity as I have in the past (though I have to confess I haven’t been to the dentist in years . . . who knows what she’d say!).

      Toothpaste is another thing that’s scary to tackle on your own, so a natural store bought version sounds like a good option; I’ve just not crazy about the cost!

  8. No shampoo is the best! I quit shampoo about three years ago, switching to baking soda and apple cider vinegar at first and then leaving off the ACV after awhile because I felt like no matter how little I used, it always still made my hair too slick.

    The just baking soda/water thing worked pretty well; my hair needed washing less and was nicer than it ever was with regular shampoo. Then I wondered if I even needed that, so I tried just scrubbing my scalp with my finger tips under running water while in the shower for awhile and now my hair is even better than it was before. Whereas before, I would go a day or so with dry-ish hair after a shower until my hair oils caught up and prettied my hair, now, my hair is perfect as soon as its dry and it seems to stay perfect for longer now, too – I “wash” it about once every week. My husband still prefers using baking soda, though.

    My hair is fairly thick, wavy and reaches to the middle of my back, in case anyone is curious about hair types. I get complimented on it all the time, and sometimes I wonder how grossed out people would be if I told them… Sometimes being crunchy is so devious, hehehe.
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    • Thanks, Christiana! I’ve read about using only water, but haven’t been brave enough to try it yet. Maybe that will be my next step!

    • I also have thick wavy hair, so I’m excited to read how well it works for you, Christiana! I always use mousse, though, so I feel like I’d have to still use some sort of cleaning agent to get that out… although it sounds like I could potentially ditch that after awhile, huh? I’m so intrigued.

      Maybe I’ll start with the weaning like you suggest, Kathleen. Baby steps are good.
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  9. I’ve been curious about this method, but not willing to go through the transition phase. I like the sound of your weaning method though! I might be able to shower 2-3 times a week in the winter, but not in our hot, humid Ohio summers.

    Could you clarify something for me? Do you do the baking soda/water step when your hair is still dry?
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  10. Love your post! I’ve been intrigued by this idea since I first heard about it several months ago. I think I might try your method when I get home from visiting family. I also have thin, straight, dark hair with a tendency toward oiliness AND we have hard water. :)

    When you have time, could you explain what you use for your baby’s hair? We tried just water at first, but my parents kept commenting that our daughter’s hair looked greasy. So I caved and used the J&J baby shampoo we received at our shower. I’m not comfortable with it, but don’t know what else to use. I’d love some suggestions!
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    • Hi Michele! I actually avoided mentioning our baby’s hair because I’m not completely, 100% happy with the decision we made. Like you, we found that we got comments when we used just water or castile soap. Finally, I went to Whole Foods and got a really expensive all-natural kid shampoo-body-wash (this, if you’re curious). It works well, don’t get me wrong, and smells wonderful; I also love that it’s hand-crafted, organic, fair-trade, and all-natural. (It’s also not tear-free, so watch for that). But it’s definitely not frugal and it doesn’t avoid the plastic problem. But it’s what we’re doing for now. At least it only takes a few drops at each bath. She definitely needs some kind of serious cleaning action right now as she’s feeding herself solids — her hair gets full of food and grease after almost every meal. Maybe when the feeding has gotten a little tidier we’ll try baking soda and vinegar on her, too. I really don’t want to get her delicate scalp used to being stripped of its natural oils.

      Not sure if that helps!

  11. Love it! I have been using baking soda and vinegar for the past several months, and it is working well.

    One tip that I discovered that REALLY helped me in my no ‘poo journey was for people with hard water.

    Baking soda doesn’t dissolve in hard water, but if it’s boiling, it will. So I just boil the kettle and mix the hot water with the baking soda in a glass jar. It fizzes up as if you are doing the classic vinegar and baking soda experiment, so be careful! But hot water from the tap just isn’t hot enough.

    I was two seconds away from giving up no ‘poo altogether until I found a random comment on a blog about the hard water thing, and when I tried it all the grease was stripped off my hair with ease. It was awesome.
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  12. first off, i love that you write this after using it yourself for 2+ years! so many people get hooked on things and then write about it right away as if its the best thing ever and then never update when they quit…which more than a little annoys me, clearly! i did this when i was in texas and had a recipe that was working probably the last 8 months i was there. when we moved to mexico though i couldn’t get it right and felt that it was probably due to the already dirty water (seriously, we filled up our washer and the water was brown. and that’s what we were cleaning with. pretty gross.) since baking soda and the vinegar are just base and acid, it makes sense that given the hardness and alkalinity of local water you would have to change your proportions. going back and forth was too much and i just ended up buying an expensive sulfate free shampoo. then, since i’ve been in california i haven’t had the guts to go through the transition stage again since i was working, but i really should! i think i feel a little self conscious since with dirty blonde hair i can master the greasy look very easily! even if my hair isn’t that greasy it will appear a few shades darker! fortunately my hair isn’t as curly here, just wavy, which should be easier with the no ‘poo thing. i guess i only wash it like 2x a week (especially after having a baby, ha!) so i guess it should be easier to wean off!
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  13. i actually use shielo’s hydrate line of shampoos (which are sulfate free) to wash my hair. It doesnt have any of those harmful ingredients. I used to have the worst hair, and now I ALWAYS get complements when using the shielo shampoo. Worth the price. . .

  14. I would like to try the no poo shampoo but my hair is super soft at the moment like a cats stomach soft! And I was wondering if this made your hair feel unsoft or straw like or if it stayed the same?

  15. Sarah Harris says:

    hey there, i am day 4 of no poo and me being the stupid idiot i am i did my monthly olive oil overnight treatment on my hair but surprise surprise baking soda and vinegar wont get all of the extra oil off my head… i dont want to start over but im desperate to not look like John Travolta in Grease. any ideas suggestions?

    • I need to know the answer to that too lol. I did my monthly hot oil treatment, and just started my homemade natural herb/Castile soap shampoo and herb vinegar infusion conditioner, and also look like a grease monkey. Please help us….

  16. Hello. For those how asked how to wash the olive oil off without shampoo: the answer is eggs. Just take 2 eggs, shake it with some water and wash your hair like you would with normal shampoo. BUT rinse it with almost cold water- I think you know why! Try it, it works!

    • Really? Interesting. I’m afraid I’ve never tried a hot oil treatment, nor have I read anything on the subject, so I can’t really help. Sorry!

    • do you think this will work for other oils? im trying to grow out damaged hair so I oil to help it grow( doing about a month not =) still trial n error lol

  17. All of this sounds great, but what about lice? I don’t really know how you get lice, but I’ve heard it’s more common in people who don’t wash their hair..

    • You get lice from having close contact with someone who has lice. It has nothing to do with how clean or dirty your hair is.

      • lice don’t like people with dirty hair….hair stylist here! lol I even came in contact with someone tha had it worse than all my other hairstylist has ever seen. it was my first time tho ekkk and I didn’t wash my hair for like 3 or 4 days then washed my hair and all was good =D

  18. If I make a large amount of this mixture how long does it last? I don’t like the idea of making more every week but will if I need to :-)

    • Hi Jessica! You can make as big a batch as you want. I currently mix up a batch of each big enough to fill an old vinegar jug (about 12 cups) and store them under the sink. Every week, I just refill the spray bottles. Each batch lasts me a couple of months.

  19. After using the a mixture of 1 tablespoon of Baking Soda and about 6 floz of warm water as shampoo and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and about 6 floz of water as conditioner……(this is my second day using these)….my hair feel very dry and brittle….very hard for me to stand because I was using WEN which left my hair amazingly soft and tangle free….any suggestions or helpful hints….I really want to make this switch because WEN is ridiculously expensive and I love the whole going natural and “poo-free”…and saving MONEY!!…So please please help

  20. Thank you for the tips! I’m on day 12 of no soap, no shampoo, no toothpaste. No soap and no toothpaste is an easier transition than no shampoo. I will refer to your suggestions if my hair doesn’t figure itself out ;) I am even using my deodorant (rock crystal and dusting of baking soda) less. I can actually go a few days with no shower and not reek :) I still use sunscreen and a bit of makeup, so I also use a nice makeup remover that doesn’t need to be washed off (Paula’s Choice) and a microfiber cloth. Just sad that I didn’t try any of this earlier. I haven’t washed my junk with soap since I was kid (who accidentally and painfully got soap in that sensitive area) yet never thought twice about not washing everywhere else with soap. I still wash my hands with soap of course, and will probably wash my feet with soap in the summer when they are visibly dirty. Even knowing that water is the most damaging thing for dyed hair, and reading that I must reapply sunscreen after every swim, I STILL did not make the connection that water really is enough to get us clean. That and a gentle rub with a washcloth, I guess :D

    • Just to be clear, I’m currently putting NOTHING on my head, but I dyed it one week into this experiment. I’d like to not have to use anything on it but I’m prepared to try the baking soda if I have to. I’m brushing and flossing my teeth, but no products used. I’m doing a fairly normal skincare routine with my face which includes a range of Paula’s Choice products (I may cut a few out once I run out of them but will not give all of them up), but have switched from cleanser to microfiber cloth. A few years ago I reduced all cleansing – hair, body, face – to one product: Paula’s Choice All Over Hair and Body Shampoo, but I will simply use this as hand wash from now on. I’m putting a little lotion on my arms and legs until my skin fully adjusts. Will probably use coconut oil when I run out of this lotion. So pleased with results so far…. I hope this info can be useful to someone ;)

  21. I have very thick curly hair and it tangled constantly with shampoo and conditioner. Going no poo was out of desperation, but now I love it!!!! Tip: use coconut or jojoba oil if hair still tangles.

  22. I found inspiration on your blog and am again going to attempt no-poo again (I went 3 months no-poo recently), this time with only the baking soda and acv. I don’t believe that we need shampoo, either. In fact, I have stopped using baby wash on my daughter and instead make my own soap from scratch because I refuse to pollute her or the rest of my family with *totally unnecessary and harmful* chemicals. Next, I’m going to make my own castile soap for dish washing! I just love your blog, by the way!

  23. What is your experience using this with colored hair? I’ve been doing the ACV for about 6 weeks now and just recently heard about doing it in conjunction with a baking soda rinse. I do color my hair — I started going gray at 24 and I’m just plain not ready for it yet (at this point, at 33, I would be beyond “salt and pepper” and I just can’t handle even the thought of it).

    I’ve only tried the baking soda rinse once. I’m not sure if it really striped my hair or if I just need a touch up job that bad. I moved recently and haven’t found a stylist here yet so I go a long time between colorings.

    Should I just stick with the ACV since that seemed to work on its own or is it better to do them both together? Have you heard of baking soda being bad for colored hair?

    • I can’t find the source right now (it’s somewhere on http://www.paulaschoice.com, probably in the Expert Advice section), but I remember reading that water itself is the most destructive thing for colored hair. My own hair is dyed. The color simply lasts longer because not using shampoo means I wash it less often (every 3 days right now, as opposed to every other day when I used shampoo). I’ve also been trying baking soda every other shampoo, but I think that the vinegar rinse might be a necessary addition because I’ve noticed a funny buildup since I started using baking soda.

  24. Kathleen, thank you so much for your tip regarding the spraybottles! It really made my life much easier.
    For almost a year I’ve been replacing shampoo with alternatives, mostly baking soda & ACV, but due to disappointing results (greasy roots & dry ends) I changed it to soapnuts and shampoo bars for a while. Then I decided baking soda + the ACV rinse should be the most simple & cheapest alternative and I started using it.
    Luckily I read your blog and amazed by the photos you took of your hair (it sure looks great!) I bought me two spraybottles. For me it worked better to spray both the baking soda solution and ACV rinse in this manner on my hair. And guess what? Now my hair looks better and it is softer than it has been for over many years and it seems I don’t need to wash it with baking soda anymore!
    Only warm water does the trick for my hair now and to style it everyday I just spray some ACV on my ends to get rid of the static effect after brushing with a boar bristle brush. I love my hair now!!

  25. What really motivated me is your amazing hair. Hopefully mine gets better

  26. Darel coster says:

    Glad I came across this as i looked into the no shampoo idea anyway
    But as you said I was put off slightly from the thought of sporting a greasy
    mop for several weeks so the weaning idea is great!!
    Will let you know how I get on as I can’t wait to do this
    and hoping it sorts my hair/head out! Also did you always wash it once a week
    or was it just something you didn’t need to do as much as time went on?

  27. I have been doing this for three weeks now. The oiliness has regulated, but my hair is terribly dry. It feels like straw and plain yuck! What am I doing wrong?!?
    Kaela recently posted..The B Family :: Thornton, CO Lifestyle Family PhotographerMy Profile

  28. has anyone tried a beer rinse? pour a flat beer over your head, scrub, and rinse out in 30 secs. worked good for me. I do it once a week.

  29. I have tried the baking soda and apple cider vinegar and both me and my husband like it,except I don’t know how to tame my frizzy hair.My husband loves the way his hair looks now,he has problems with dandruff and he has hardly any flakes now.Me I’m still kinda weaning myself off shampoo,as I still have some I need to use up.I’m still experimenting with the whole idea of no shampoo.
    Thanks for giving us your ideas;]

  30. Hi there…. I really want to try the no poo method. However can it be used on colour treated hair. Will the baking soda and vinegar strip the colour?

  31. I’m 4 or more months into this now and my hair is a mess! It worked great at first but now the ends are horribly coarse and dry feeling. The roots are oily after a day. I’m about to my wits end. (My hair is long, brown & thin/fine.

  32. Linda Mohammad says:

    I can’t wait to try this! (going to try it today :) ) just wondering, the baking soda you mix with hot water, but the vinegar just says “water” does it mater what kind of water it’s mixed with?

    Thank you,
    Linda

  33. I’m about to try it – just mixed up my bottles of Baking Soda and A/Cider Vinegar – my friends are waiting to see the result !
    (Funny how things happen – I’ve been sparingly using shampoo lately thinking of the chemicals/plastic etc – then UP popped ur link!) .
    .. got to agree, your hair looks amazing! Thanks for sharing – off to the shower I go – hope it works for me ! :)

  34. I’ve tried a lot of things…. From mane n trail to noting, from cutting dead ends to no trims…. And no luck. My short hair is just an annoyance now. But this seems like a wonderful idea. And your hair looks simply amazing! I’ll HAVE to try this!!

  35. I tried to No Poo method before. Per a friend, I used a baking soda paste and varying ratios of the vinegar/water rinse. My hair constantly looked nasty, somehow it was both greasy and dry -_- I quit the method ultimately because I color my hair often and this was just stripping it like crazy.

    It is over a year later but, I’m trying it again. It hit me the other day that the paste might have been just as harsh on my head as shampoo is, why try it watered down (as you show in your photos)?! My hair is still color treated, currently a deep purple, and I’m really curious to see how it will effect my coloring routine. As it is now, I apply more color in a conditioner and leave it on my head for a few hours every 2-3 weeks. I’m hoping that by using the No Poo I can get off of shampoo/conditioner for good and have longer lasting color in that I won’t have to use the mixture more than 3 times a week.

    How does my reasoning sound? Anyone else with color treated hair try this?

  36. Charlotte Quevedo says:

    In your zeal to be natural, it is not really good to put a hot iron on your hair without protection. Mineral oil is widely demonized but in fact a lot of ppl are finding that the claims made against are simply untrue. Mineral oil is actually a great heat protectant and it is great as a leave-in. It’s the only thing I put on my curly hair that once was full of splits and breakage everywhere. However I do not straighten my hair so I cannot say that it will damage proof your hair if you heat style.

  37. I used the vinegar rinse and it works well but has a very drying effect and so made my hair end up like straw

  38. So this sounds like a great idea. How many times should I start using the no poo method a week?

  39. Hello Kathleen, I found you while looking for an alternative to shampoo, so pleased to have found you. I live in Kingston Upon Hull UK, we have hard water here, very limescaley, if that’s the word to use. I tried your bicarb and vinegar method this morning, my hair is fine and have such a lot of it. It has laid down and not moved or gone scruffy as yet, will find out if the breeze outside does its usual cursory trick of making me look as though I have just rose from my bed, it feels quite different like it should feel this way. Thank you for all your inspiration and think I will go cold turkey with this one. Hair took next to no time to dry and have used no other product on it, not had to. Will let you know how it performs outside. Thank you again, your hair is so pretty (as are you) I wish you and your family well. Jean xxx

    • Thanks, Jean! Do let me know how it works out! It may take a couple of washes before you notice any problems . . .

      • Hello Kathleen, just a recap. The first wash was ok, am washing hair every two days for now, the second left my hair feeling rather oily and was ready for its third wash this morning. Hey, it is feeling really good, letting it dry naturally and am really pleased with the results. Not bad for just the third wash. I am 63 next month and have fair straight hair in a neck length bob. Am really pleased with the results so far so a big thank you sweetheart. With best wishes from me. Jean xx

  40. Thanks for the great post. As I get older, I feel the need to exercise daily and sweat so much that doing something with my hair is a must. I plan on giving this a try….I would think the apple cider vinegar would dry it out..so glad to read that I might actually see a bit of oiliness….which might be a good thing.

  41. About 6 months ago I tried to quit shampoo cold-turkey. It was gross. The first day I was like “yeah, this is awesome.” And then it got yucky. I was using Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap, but my hair was sooooo greasy. I felt like it was going to leave stains on my clothes (it didn’t). Then I came across the baking soda method. I tried this a couple times too, but it was still yucky. I gave up after a little more than a week. I may need to try weaning. And I think I need the apple cider vinegar too this time. Thanks!
    Oh and your hair looks lovely!

  42. I use a method which I call “not so ‘poo”. I use a mixture that is 4 parts soap berry liquid and 1 part baking soda. I have found that I can normally get by with only washing every other day now. Before you would almost never catch me going a day with out washing and bangs were not an option due the oil in my hair.

  43. Kristina Larsen says:

    Hi. Thank you for this great blogpost. I’ve resently learnd about this, and it scares me that shampo has toxic chemicals. I’ll try your no poo products.

  44. How would this work on dyed hair? After I dyed my hair, I have to use condition for it to not to tangle up too bad.

  45. Martha Courtney says:

    Just found your site and tried the baking soda solution and vinegar solution. Only have used it once (today) but am already impressed. I’ve been wanting to ditch store-bought shampoo/conditioner for years (even though I use sulfate-free, cruelty-free, vegan, etc products as much as possible). Thank you for posting the information. Glad I found you! God bless you and yours.

  46. Sick of Oily Brittle Hair says:

    This is day one of the no ‘poo method for me. So far, so good. It looks just as clean as with normal shampoo; feels a little different, but I suppose that’s normal? I’ll probably try it once or twice a week for a while and slowly up the frequency of baking soda and vinegar. I just can’t take my oily, over-processed hair anymore. Here we go!

  47. So not only are you replacing shampoo, you are getting rid of conditioner too; right??

  48. I have been using dry baking soda rubbing it thru my dry hair, then rinsing it out, and using a half and half mixture of water and apple cider vinegar. Some days my hair would look great, other days it would look super greasy. So I was searching castile soap, looking for a soapy alternative, and I am glad I found your page! I will try your baking soda wash instead! After using apple cider vinegar, I will never use conventional conditioner again. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  49. Hello! I’ve done the baking soda vinegar thing before and it didn’t work well for me. But I’m gradually aiming to try again and I am doing my own weaning program which is going great, if anyone is interested:
    1. Cut down the frequency of hair washing. I got it to third/fourth day.
    2. Once this is successful, start conditioning twice per wash, instead of shampoo-condition (i.e. ditch the shampoo part). Use a light condition and massage in well. Rinse very well with hot water.
    3. Then cut down to only 1 condition session per wash.

    I have just gotten to step 3 for the first time. My hair does NOT frizz or go fly away like it used to after the washes including shampoo (it was one big fluffed up puff ball for the first 36 hours after washing before as I have lots of fine straight hair, and would tangle so easily). It is much shinier and softer. I did not need to blow dry as I styled it wet (by gentle brushing) and it dried like that. I am now on the fourth day since last wash and it still doesn’t look dirty or greasy so I am going to go to fifth day (maybe sixth) before repeating step 3. I can’t believe how much better looking and more manageable my hair is already. This method seems to dilute (with condition), but not strip (with shampoo) the sebum out of my hair, which has allowed my scalp to gradually reduce the amount of sebum it produces, without going cold-turkey and getting the greasy smelly ‘transition’ phase.

    4. Next I plan to wean on to the baking soda + AVC wash as per Kathleen above!

    Just an idea to make the transition EVEN EASIER for fine haired people like me!

  50. I came across this blog post while searching for natural ways to wash my hair, because I’m so tired of the cycle that you described above of constantly having bad hair due to shampoo. So I am going with your method. I can’t find a funnel and wondered where you got yours from. But I have been making do with what I have so far. I have to say, I think your method works great! I have begun to notice a difference in my hair! The second day, it starts to look a little greasy and I’m tempted to wash it again with shampoo, but I have been resisting. I’m hoping that will get better over time. But I want to stick with it because I like the results so far! Thanks for the post! It’s been very helpful!

  51. Melanie says:

    Hi Kathleen

    I was wondering if you could use this method for curly hair?? I’ve tried using white vinegar and rosemary for a period, but I couldn’t stand the smell of it, so I quit. I am now ready to try the apply cider vinegar and baking soda routine. But can you use it to curly hair? Please answer! :)

    From Melanie

    • Hi Melanie! I can’t speak from personal experience, but many curly-haired girls have responded saying they use the no-poo method (with ACV) and love it. Sounds like it’s worth a try!

  52. Do you believe that people with dandruff is the exception or it will be more beneficial?

  53. Wanted to send a BIG THANK YOU! I’ve been having horribly oily scalp the past few months and I knew it was due to my traditional shampoo/conditioner. The more I washed the worse it got and then I washed more and so the cycle continued. I was skeptical about the “no poo method” and tried many homemade remedies which all left my hair oily, the exact thing I was trying to get away from. Your blog inspired me because you seem to have tried the same Castile soap shampoo mixes I was trying, your hair is also very similar to mine. I finally decided to give it a try and used your exact measurements for both no poo shampoo and conditioner. To my delight it worked amazing, from the very first no poo shampoo. My hair/ scalp has been oil free, soft shiny and bouncy. I can’t believe it worked so well and there was absolutely no weaning period. I read so much about weeks to months of greasy hair before your scalp balances out and gets used to the no poo which had me running in the other direction. Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring others to give it a try.

    One happy “no poo-er”

  54. Cristina says:

    Shampoos seem to make my hair shed excessively Now when I was in my twenties, I had a lion’s mane of hair and shedding wasn’t a problem…I shed, but I had so much hair it always grew back quickly. My struggling came after I had my fourth child, in my thirties. I shed always as usual, but my hair just seem to get damaged more easily and break. It became so frizzy. Frizzy hair in many cases means your individual strands are breaking off more frequently. The past few years, I have tried so many things that didn’t seem to help. And yes a few years ago I have tried the apple cider and baking soda, castile soap, tea, you name it. I even washed my hair with cool bottled water. I kept it trimmed and short. I really would like it long. I’m 44 and I see women with long hair. But I never felt my hair would get healthy enough to the point where it could be long.

    But the past couple of months I’ve been doing something different. Sort of a natural form of dry shampoo. I don’t buy the stuff at the store. At first I used Keratin Complex. The stuff is incredible. It takes the greasies away and gives your hair that lift it needs. But what I don’t like is the ingredient aluminum starch. I don’t want aluminum in my hair, on my scalp. Plus it is soo pricey. It is mostly tapioca starch. I tried tapioca starch from Red Mills and it looked as though I had a powdered wig on. So then I tried Red Mill’s stone ground rice flour. It is slightly coarse, but fine enough to work.

    So basically the past two months or so I shampooed once a week. What I didn’t like after I shampooed was that my hair would be stripped of all the oils that were in my hair. It’s crazy but the natural oils gave my strands a boost and my hair was thicker.

    Daily I take a small handful of my stone ground rice flour, bend over, work it through with my fingers. It absorbs all the excess oils, leaving the necessary oils in my hair and on my scalp. I couldn’t believe how manageable my hair became. Sure you do end up with some on the back of your neck. Just brush it off.

    I decided this past week to go a step further and do the baking soda/apple cider vinegar mix. Ditch shampooing altogether. After my first try (in a long time) my hair was greasy, so I worked an extra dose of rice flour through and after an anguishing day, the greasiness went away. And my hair was back to being wonderful again.

    Today I did my weekly hair washing and now second time using the baking soda and apple cider vinegar. This time I applied more baking soda and sprayed on less apple cider vinegar. I let my hair dry naturally, right now it is still wet. I will see if my new method worked.

    One thing I noticed after my first cleaning, during the week, my hair did not have that terrible frizziness. I am convinced that our natural oils are very necessary. I think so many people, particularly young people,have hair that can handle the sulfates and all those other chemicals. And still look great. Yet for some, as we age, our hair needs more consideration and care. For the first time in years, my hair is growing longer, and I am not shedding. They say we lose one hundred strands or more a day and that’s “fine.” WELL I’m here to tell you perhaps you should try this if you are concerned about shedding, because honestly, the past month or more, I probably shed about ten hairs a day and no more. I think I’m on to something here. I dream of getting my lion main back.

  55. Rebekah says:

    So I’ve heard about this whole “no poo” thing for about a year now. I’ve always convinced myself that it simply wouldn’t work. homemade deodorant is also something that I firmly believed wouldn’t work. I found the courage somewhere to try it recently. I am a ballet dancer so smelling “ripe” isn’t really an option. Long story short, the homemade deodorant worked better than store bought deodorant. Around that same time I was running out of shampoo and conditioner so I decided to try Whole Food’s 365 Lavender Shampoo and Avalon Organics Conditioner (they were out of the 365 Conditioner). It’s different from the commercial sulfate free shampoo I was using. I felt like I needed to wash twice to get the hairspray out. I thought there must be a homemade hairspray recipe somewhere..One less thing to buy and less chemicals. It was a win win situation. The homemade hairspray washes out a lot easier with my Whole Food’s shampoo.

    Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of people with curly hair using the no poo method saying how it decreases the frizz. My hair was always awkwardly wavy but fluffy and fizzy when I was younger. Once I hit puberty it became curlier. It’s weird because the top half of my hair is thinner and the underneath chunk is softer and thicker but doesn’t curl as well. I’m starting to open up and consider trying this. I do have one question… Will this remove my homemade hairspray? It’s a sugar water mixture. I’m also planning to use homemade flax seed gel for my curls when I don’t have to put my hair in a bun.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Perhaps I’ll try a bit of baking soda next time, or follow some of the advice out there for going no poo. But really, this is already a win for me. Second, my hair is used to not using shampoo. Your hair [...]

  2. [...] to tweak my recipe a little to get my optimal results.  Kathleen of Becoming Peculiar posted Why I Ditched Shampoo (And How You Can Too) that really helped me [...]

  3. [...] decidedly simple, approach is to stop using hair products altogether. Don’t use it. There are some very thorough accounts of people’s personal journey’s to a shampoo free life and they are quite convincing [...]

  4. [...] Becoming Peculiar – the nitty gritty details [...]

  5. [...] these couple links were helpful for me when I was trying to figure things out. Why is shampoo bad? Can no shampoo hair look good? See conditioner-only hair too (another version of the no-shampoo method). Frequently asked no-poo [...]

  6. [...] think I have the ratio right so I will have to try again the next batch. Here is the link to the website that inspired [...]

  7. […] of not using conventional shampoo and conditioner is known as “no-poo”. Learn about it here and you can also get recipes for the baking soda/vinegar method of no-poo hair washing. The baking […]

  8. […] Toxic chemicals in shampoo 10 Alternatives to shampoo Why I ditched shampoo-A blog post […]

  9. […] always tended to get oily locks pretty quickly. It has improved significantly since I switched to the no-poo method, but sometimes my hair still needs a quick clean-up between […]

  10. […] Perhaps I’ll try a bit of baking soda next time, or follow some of the advice out there for going no poo. But really, this is already a win for me. Second, my hair is already used to not using shampoo, as […]

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