{No ‘Poo Necessary} Adventures in Not Washing My Hair

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Six months ago, I stopped shampooing and conditioning my hair.

Yes, I am a gross-kid, but it’s not what you think.

Six months ago, I started washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

Let me back up.

When I was a vegetarian my health was really suffering.

In addition to the digestion problems, acne and moodiness, I was also losing my hair.

Everyone loses hair when they shower, but to me it seemed like I was losing more than the average bear.

I was losing enough that it scared me and I remember crying about it on more than one occasion.

When I started following a Paleo lifestyle, things got much better, but when I started No ‘Pooing, everything changed.

IMG_4830 Conventional shampoo basically strips your hair and scalp of their natural oils, and conditioners attempt to replace those stripped oils with man-made substances and other oils. In the Skintervention Guide, Liz Wolfe tells us that these conventional shampoos and conditioners can lead to excessive oil production, and/or overly dry hair and that conventional conditioners also use silicones to make your hair shiny like those movie stars in Pantene commercials.

No ‘Pooing means not using conventional shampoos or conditioners.

Baking soda = Shampoo

Apple cider vinegar= Conditioner

Baking soda naturally removes residue, while apple cider vinegar balances your hairs’ pH and leaves it soft and shiny.

IMG_4823 My Routine:

I have fairly curly hair, that’s fine and tends be be a little dry.ย  Because my hair is curly, I can get away with No ‘Pooing once a week (my stylist told me curly hair needed to be washed less).

  1. Before hopping in the shower, I put 1 Tbsp of baking soda into a little mason jar and fill the jar with water.
  2. Once my hair is wet, I pour the baking soda mixture over my head and gently massage through my hair.
  3. Then, I rinse out the jar and add 2 Tbsp ACV and warm water, pour this over my head, massage through and leave on for a bit.

My house guests must think I’m some kind of bathtub scientist.

My shower is filled with jars for mixing, jars of baking soda and a giant bottle of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar.

When it’s not a No ‘Poo day, I rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar, water and a few drops of lavender essential oil just to soften and shine it up a little.

I used to use lots of curl creams and gels, but now I just rub some pure Argan oil on the ends and let it air dry, or blow dry and straighten it.

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Every now and then, I’ll give myself a scalp massage with some argan or coconut oil before I got to bed– usually the night before No ‘Poo day, otherwise I’d look like a greasy mess.

My hair has never been softer, thicker or stronger than since I started No ‘Pooing.

Now I can run my fingers through my hair without worrying about a ponytail’s worth of hair falling out…

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The best information on No ‘Poo and other natural hair care options I’ve been able to find is in The Skintervention Guide.ย  Liz goes into great detail on the how, the what and the why of No ‘Poo, using shampoo bars and even how to brush and color your hair.

Do you No ‘Poo?ย  How’s you hair doing these days? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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44 Responses to {No ‘Poo Necessary} Adventures in Not Washing My Hair

  1. Melissa Bennett March 5, 2013 at 5:31 AM #

    I love this, your story is almost exactly the same as mine! Vegetarian, losing hair, went paleo and found no poo. I even learned about it from the skintervention guide and use the same measurements as you for my hair.

    • Allison March 5, 2013 at 4:35 PM #

      Yes! That’s awesome! It’s crazy how much your diet can impact your hair…

  2. conniesfinallylosingit March 5, 2013 at 5:02 PM #

    Does the ACV make your hair smell weird?

    • Allison March 6, 2013 at 10:18 AM #

      Yes, the ACV smells in the shower, but I’ve found that once my hair is dry, the smell goes away. I sometimes mix some lavender essential oil in with my argan oil to make my hair smell nicer.

  3. Deborah Webber March 5, 2013 at 5:46 PM #

    My hair is very similar to the way you describe your hair. My curls look a lot like yours actually. Been thinking about giving this a try for a while. Think I’ll take the plunge! Thanks for posting this.

    • Allison March 6, 2013 at 10:18 AM #

      You’re welcome, Deborah! Let me know how it goes ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Nicole March 5, 2013 at 5:54 PM #

    I mix my bs/acv solutions in a squeeze type bottle (http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E310280-475A-BAC0-5E93DEB3041892C7). I can really target my roots with the tip of the bottle!!

    • Allison March 6, 2013 at 10:19 AM #

      That’s a great idea! I’ve been mixing mine in a little mason jar, but a squeeze bottle would probably be much easier…thanks for sharing!

      • nancy May 31, 2013 at 9:07 PM #

        try the dollar store too like the red and yellow squeeze bottles for ketcupe and mustard

  5. Andrรฉa Renรฉe Pipkin March 5, 2013 at 8:54 PM #

    I was doing the same for about 8 months.My hair is like yours, pretty curly and on the dry side. I had never had a problem with split ends but after starting the no poo method I got them like crazy! i had my hair trimmed several times but with in a couple days the split ends were back. Maybe I was doing something wrong, I dunno. I was washing more then once a week or my hair felt waxy and hung limp, more like 2x a week. i was rising with Braggs ACV everyday, and occasionally doing the overnigh coconut oil thing. I finally gave up and switched to an all natural castile soap instead of the baking soda but still use the ACV. My hair LOVES it. Hoping its just as healthy for me. What do you think of castile soap?

    • Allison March 6, 2013 at 10:27 AM #

      SO weird– I read your comment before I went to bed and had a dream that every single hair on my head had a split end! I use castile soap as body soap, and I’ve made my own shampoo with castile soap and coconut milk– I think it’s a great alternative to conventional shampoo.

      I’ve heard of people mixing castile soap with baking soda to shampoo and then doing the ACV rinse– I’ve never tried it, but here’s a great resource for that: http://shalommama.com/everyday-castile-soap-uses

      I’ve made my own shampoo with castile soap and coconut milk: http://friskylemon.com/2012/04/04/adventures-in-homemade-shampoo/

      You could also try a shampoo bar, which is something that Liz Wolfe talks about in the Skintervention Guide– she does a really great job of troubleshooting based on your hair issues. You can find awesome shampoo bars at Primal Life Organics: http://www.primallifeorganics.com/products/organic-shampoo-bar Or experiment with making your own! http://frugallysustainable.com/2011/12/shampoo-bar-soap-recipe/

      I’m definitely NOT a haircare expert, so I’d check out Trina’s blog at Primal Life Organics, or the Skintervention Guide– tons of great info there that might help you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Terri DeMarco March 5, 2013 at 11:51 PM #

    Maybe you can give me some advice about this. My hair is a lot like yours. Very dark, slightly curly, and dry. It’s also thick and very long – past my elbows. Last year I did the no ‘poo method for about six months and finally quit because my hair was SO dry I couldn’t stand it anymore. The no ‘poo method HAD, however, gotten rid of the eczema on my scalp which I don’t ever remember not having. It returned as soon as I went back to regular shampoo. Any ideas what the problem could have been? I think I used more baking soda and less water than you do – made more of a paste in order to scrub my scalp, but the vinegar to water ratio was about the same except the first couple times I washed. I used coconut oil and olive oil a few times, trying to restore some moisture. I still color my hair in the traditional way because I’m only 37 and about 1/3 grey. I’d love to hear your input!

    • Allison March 6, 2013 at 10:36 AM #

      Hi Terri!

      It sounds like there’s something in your shampoo that’s causing the eczema– so I’d stay away from regular shampoo. There are other natural hair-washing alternatives besides No ‘Poo– like shampoo bars (www.primallifeorganics.com/products/organic-shampoo-bar), which might be more nourishing for your hair– I sometimes feel like the baking soda is a little harsh.

      You might need a little more ACV than I do– my hair is pretty short and fine. The recipe for Vinegar Shine Rinse in the Mommypotamus DIY Organic Beauty Products ebook uses 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ACV and 1/2 cup water. It could be that your hair isn’t getting restored to it’s normal pH after using the baking soda…

      You might also try some leave in hair oils–I use organic argan oil (which is MUCH less expensive than Moroccan Oil and has no added ingredients). I’ve found that it leave my hair feeling really soft.

      I would definitely recommend reading the Skintervention Guide– Liz has a TON of info about eczema and hair care– she’s a real expert in skin conditions and natural remedies.

    • nancy May 31, 2013 at 9:11 PM #

      try this site. I found it interesting. I just started with the no-poo method with the baking soda and ACV and have loved the results so far. but I may try this one too with the honey and water. http://empoweredsustenance.com/diy–honey-shampoo/#

  7. isla March 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM #

    I’m in week 4 of my own no-poo experiment. Static has been my greatest issue so far. Diane Kidman’s book Hair Gone Wild has been a great resource for me with her ideas for hair teas and essential oils to help with various problems. Also no-poo and castille soaps didn’t work for my hair until I got a water softener if that helps anyone.

  8. Melissa March 8, 2013 at 12:27 PM #

    I am on month three and my hair is so greasy. My husband won’t even touch it ๐Ÿ™ I am at my wits end and want to quit…any suggestions?

    • Allison March 8, 2013 at 12:40 PM #

      Hi Melissa! When I first started no poo, my hair was pretty greasy as well– at that point, I was mixing a little baking soda and water in my hands and trying to massage that through my hair. After reading the Skintervention Guide, I started mixing 2 Tbsp of baking soda in a little jar with warm water and pouring that over my head– and now my hair is NOT greasy. I’m definitely not an expert, but maybe adding more baking soda would help– the baking soda is supported to remove residue and “clean” your hair. How much baking soda do you use right now? How long is your hair? Is it thick?

      • Melissa March 8, 2013 at 1:36 PM #

        my hair is very thick and a little past shoulder length. I have used as little as one tablespoon and gone up from there. I have also made a paste with 1/4 cup of the baking soda. It is ok for one day and than greasy again. ๐Ÿ™ After doing some research, I see that it could be the hard water we have…I am hoping I can get it figured out sometime as I don’t want to put all those nasty chemicals in my hair again…on the plus side, the grease makes my hair styles stay in place ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Allison March 8, 2013 at 1:49 PM #

          Yes! It could definitely be your water–I don’t have any info on how to troubleshoot that, but you can probably find something with the wonders of the internet. OR in the skinervention guide.

          I secretly like my hair a little greasy because it stays in place better ๐Ÿ˜‰ Grease = less frizz. Gross? Maybe…

        • Kelly March 9, 2013 at 3:45 PM #

          @ Melissa-Hard water makes a HUGE difference! I ordered a Culligan Filtered Shower head on Amazon for $25 and now I can use shampoo bars and we have really hard water (I couldn’t use them before-they would leave my hair limp and sticky). My hair feels a little sticky when it is wet but goes away when it is dry. I use an ACR once or twice a week after using the shampoo bar.
          I get my shampoo bars from http://www.applevalleynaturalsoap.com. This is the first time I have ever been able to not use conditioner and shampoo and have nice hair. I put a few drops of scented(w/essential oils) organic argan oil or jojoba oil (the website has this too) in my hair as it is trying and that keeps my hair from frizzing and gives my ends a little added moisture. Their soaps are amazing…make sure you order a shampoo bars vs. a body bar for your hair though. I use the green tea and nettles one.

          • Melissa March 11, 2013 at 1:24 PM #

            Thanks, Kelly…I will have to look into that ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Nadine Galland March 10, 2013 at 10:28 PM #

    I love the No-pooing idea. Will try. Thanks

  10. Sarah March 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM #

    I am an official “No ‘Poo” convert!! I have been doing it for 3 months straight and can’t turn back. I have thick, wavy, dry hair and balancing out the pH has done wonders for it. I used to have somewhat oily roots and very dry ends, and would wash every other day. Now I only no-poo once a week! The ends do not look dry and the roots stay clean for a looong time. My hair was overcompensating to the stripping agents in the shampoo before. I tend to use a little more ACV than most people just because I have had dry ends in the past. I haven’t had a haircut in almost 6 months and I am not seeing any split ends or fuzzies like I used to. And I hot-airbrush my hair dry 1x a week, but there is no heat damage like I used to get. Sometimes I will follow with an organic coconut conditioner to the ends just to seal in shine and moisture, but it isn’t necessary. I just like the added natural smell it gives. ๐Ÿ™‚ Think of how cost effective this method is, too! And you can find the ingredients for this “hair treatment” at any grocery store! No more staring at the oodles of brands of shampoos and conditioners in the beauty aisle, wondering “which formula will actually work for my hair?”. I am so glad I don’t have to do that anymore. I am also pregnant right now, and I feel this is a lot healthier to use on my body than rubbing ‘cones and parabens into my skin. ๐Ÿ™‚ Great article!

    • Allison March 14, 2013 at 11:11 AM #

      Thanks for sharing, Sarah! LOVE that you’ve seen such an amazing change in your hair! Question– what kind of organic coconut conditioner do you use?

  11. June March 21, 2013 at 7:39 PM #

    Is Wen a no poo shampoo? I tried baking soda and acv and it worked well for about 2 washes after that my hair was limp and greasy. I’ve started using hair one a knockoff of wen and it makes my hair look great.

    • Allison March 22, 2013 at 11:44 AM #

      Hi June! I don’t know much about Wen, but after looking at the ingredients, it seems to be much different than no poo– No Poo as we know it has only two or three ingredients: baking soda, ACV and essential oils. Wen seems like a okay alternative to sulfate containing shampoos, but it still has some ingredients in it that are questionable. Sometimes it can take a while to get the ratio of ACV and baking soda down– and there’s definitely an adjustment period for no poo-ing.

  12. smileysummer April 21, 2013 at 9:38 PM #

    HI Allison
    I just started no pooing..this will be my second time trying..My hair is so dry..I can’t figure it out..First I started with 2 tbsp of Baking soda in a cup of water, then 2 tbsp of vinegar 1 cup of water for the conditioner..first week..hair still dry and nasty looking, second week..1 tbsp of baking soda..4 tbsp vinegar 1 cup of water, my hair is still dry and look horrible..I really don’t want to quit doing this, I am not a quitter but can’t seem to get the effects of what others are saying..my hair looks great!! NOT…what am I doing wrong..am I totally missing something..how many days should I be no pooing…should I also use the vinegar conditioner every time I no poo…I have so many questions, but first I would like to get the no pooing right first..what is the best way to go about this dry and brittle type hair..I can’t even get my brush through my hair…I was hoping for some awesome results..please help..I would appreciate it greatly..blessings Theresa

    • Allison April 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM #

      Hi!

      I’m so glad that you’ve decided to start No-Pooing!

      I no poo once a week– I find that if I do more, my hair gets REALLY dry. I always use the ACV after the baking soda– it helps restore your hair’s pH, which is really important. You could try using more ACV– I’ve used as much as 1/2 a cup mixed with 1/2 cup of water before.

      Because No Poo allows your hair oils to start regulating themselves, you don’t need to wash as often as with regular shampoo (where you would strip the oils and your hair would go haywire to try and replenish the oils).

      I HIGHLY recommend the Skintervention guide to get all of the deets behind No Poo and natural body care. You can read a great post about No Poo Here: http://cavegirleats.com/2011/01/14/no-poo/

      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions

      Allison

      • smileysummer April 22, 2013 at 7:12 PM #

        Allison thank you so very much for your insight! It is truly appreciated…I am going to cut back on the amount of times I poo and increase my ACV to 1/2 as you suggested..I will keep you posted..I do have another question about dying my hair..I haven’t and need to color or should I wait until my hair reaches the balance it should be at? I am so gray…I use Natural Instincts hair color..or do you have another suggestion in a healthier hair color..thank you so much..am looking forward to more healthier and happier hair…blessings Theresa

        • Allison April 22, 2013 at 7:45 PM #

          Hi Theresa!

          I think you can go ahead and dye your hair while you’re still figuring out the No Poo thing– I color my hair with henna right now as I have some noticeable grays, but am not completely gray, and that works really well for me.

          I would try to steer clear of conventional hair dyes. In the Skintervention Guide, Liz recommends some brands to check out:

          Eco Colors
          Herbatint USA
          Naturtint
          Palette by Nature

          I would do some Google research on these brands and see what looks good to you. I’m sure that if you have a Whole Foods in your area, the people who work in the Whole Body section would be a great resource for what works best.

          Hope this helps!

          • smileysummer April 23, 2013 at 8:00 AM #

            Allison
            This information has helped me out so much..Thank you so kindly for all your insight and advice..I will be ordering the ebook today…blessings and have a great day..

  13. Desirae April 24, 2013 at 4:31 PM #

    I’m 2 weeks in to No Poo and so far, so good. My hair is a little on the greasy side between washings, but I’m attributing that to the “transition period”. Hoping it evens out with time and recipe experimentation. My hair is dark, thick, and wavy/curly. Before No Poo, it was super frizzy (doesn’t help living in the crazy humidity of south Louisiana) but I’ve noticed a big difference already. I wash with a baking soda/water/tea tree oil mixture and rinse from roots to ends with ACV.

    • Allison April 25, 2013 at 4:37 PM #

      Thanks for sharing, Desirae! I bet that it’s the transition period– it too me a while to get the ratios right so that my hair wasn’t greasy or too dry. Good luck!

  14. Lisa Q. May 19, 2013 at 11:46 AM #

    Has anyone tried washing with egg yolks? I have resorted to egg yolks as my hard water caused the bs and acv to be useless in cleaning my hair. I also own a restaurant, and work the kitchen from morning to night. Smells and grease coat my hair by the end of each day! I wash each morning with 2 or 3 egg yolks mixed with a couple tablespoons of water and a few healthy squirts of lemon juice. I works like a charm, and no chemnicals are involved!

  15. bohospirit June 11, 2013 at 9:21 PM #

    I just decided to take the no-poo plunge today!! We’ll see how it goes! I used to have a really oily face with random bits of dryness and by the middle of the day I could blot my face with a paper towel and have it covered in oil. GROSS!! I started washing with raw honey and it balanced my Ph of my skin, no more oil/dryness!!! The Eucerin moisterizer I use has actually made my constantly red face (once I touch it) go away as well!
    So that being said I’m super excited to balance the Ph of my scalp using no-poo!!!! I did have a question… during the first week or so how often should you wash your hair?? I used to have to wash it daily or it would get greasy. Should I no-poo every day, or every other day or once a week? Any thoughts? I have dirty blonde hair that is pin straight but thick and goes to my bra line. I also eat processed-free as I’ve found processed foods mess my stomach up. Anyhow any thoughts/advice would be very welcome!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Allison June 12, 2013 at 11:42 AM #

      Hi! Yay for taking the No Poo Plunge!

      The adjustment period is different for everyone, so it will definitely take some experimentation to find what method really works for you. No Poo should help balance your scalp’s natural oil production and keep it from getting greasy every day. With No Poo, you usually don’t need to wash your hair every day (I wash mine once a week or less, but my hair tends to be more dry than greasy). Maybe start by washing every other day and seeing how that goes?

      I might start with 2 Tablespoons of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of ACV– the baking soda will remove the residue from your hair, and the ACV balances the pH/conditions your hair. Personally, I find that if I use more than 1 Tbsp of ACV my hair gets a greasy feeling…but that might just be me (taking into account that I have shorter hair than you methinks).

      It’s really all about the experimentation. Here is another great article to read by Liz at Cave Girl Eats : http://cavegirleats.com/2011/01/14/no-poo/

      The bottom line is that it’s all about experimentation and finding what works for you!

  16. Jennifer Tomczak June 23, 2013 at 6:19 PM #

    How do you get the cocnut oil out of your hair? I’ve heard people say that you can’t get it out with no poo BS acv which saddens me!!! What’s your secret?!

    • Allison June 24, 2013 at 11:45 AM #

      Hmm…I haven’t had trouble getting coconut oil out with BS (I secretly like my hair a little bit greasy because it’s easier to style that way. Not overtly greasy…but just enough to hold)– BUT you could always use a little castile soap to get it out, and then condition with ACV…

  17. Caitlen August 5, 2013 at 1:39 PM #

    I’ve been doing the no-poo method for about a month now. My hair feels like there is a coating of wax over it, especially in my roots. Even after using the BS, my hair still feels super gunky. However, it doesn’t look greasy, it’s been exponentially less frizzy and dry than before, and it’s become super easy to style. My sister is a cosmetologist and I know she’ll say something about the feel of my hair the next time I see her. How do I get rid of the gunky feeling?

    • Allison August 6, 2013 at 11:29 AM #

      Hi Caitlen! That started happening to me a while back– I started washing with baking soda twice–and really making sure that I massaged the baking soda/water mixture through my hair thoroughly and that helped…you could always alternate with some castile soap for some suds. Let me know how it goes!

    • smileysummer August 6, 2013 at 1:15 PM #

      How I got rid of the gunky feeling by increasing my ACV..I started with 1/4 of a cup and realized I needed more..I use 1/2 cup of ACV mixed with 1/2 cup of water..make sure that you are really rinsing out the BS..it has been a while now, but I have stopped and started this, I have not used anything but BS and ACV for months now and my hair never looked this good..my hair is also wavy and it never has been all my life..straight and lifeless..not no more..I love it..I was only twice a week..I wait for the oily build up then wash..every 3-4 days..It took me a while to get to this point..I was always very anal about washing daily..but after seeing the results..wow!! I am hooked..no more crappy chemicals on my hair anymore..well except for hair color and I use the best I can find that is not harmful..stay with it..the rewards will hit you one day and you will be like wow..my hair looks great..

      • Allison August 13, 2013 at 9:50 AM #

        Thanks so much for this SmileySummer! I added some more ACV the last time I washed and it totally did the trick! I think for me, it was making sure that I really massage the BS through my hair from root to tip, and then letting the ACV sit on my hair a little longer. My hair is STILL soft and not gunky and it’s been about four days since I washed it…I’ve showered since then…I swear ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thoughts? Feel free to comment below!

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