September 5, 2013

How To No 'Poo

Remember when I posted a couple weeks ago about adding baking soda to your shampoo to get rid of build-up? Well, I have taken things a step further into granola country. I have replaced my shampoo with baking soda and my conditioner with raw apple cider vinegar. And guess what? Its A-MA-ZING. My hair is softer, less tangled, and I'm going 5 DAYS between washes! (Yes, I still shower daily, I just don't wash my hair.) I took a picture of my hair every day this week to prove it.  Washed it on Saturday, and I washed it again today (Thursday). And enjoy the selfies... I hate posting them. But I wanted you to see that I'm serious that it works. And that my hair doesn't look like a hippie.

I used a bit of my spray/dry shampoo on days 3 and 4 to help with the kinks and separation around my face. And I know, hello dark roots!

My Hair Story:

I have been gradually increasing the time between washes for almost a year now (while still using commercial shampoo/conditioner). I had been a faithful every-day washer since I was a teen, but last fall I started washing every other day, then every third, and then every 4th. I used my spray/dry shampoo to help me get through the greasy days.

Recently I started adding baking soda to my shampoo (like I talked about here), and then I started adding vinegar to my conditioner. And I liked it! My hair was easier to comb and dried faster, felt smoother, and was less greasy (I only used spray shampoo once in the 5 days between washes). Last week, I completely omitted conditioner and used just raw apple cider vinegar (ACV). The result was amazing. Soft, easy to comb through (which is a big deal for me, my hair is usually SO tangle-y), feels clean and no, it doesn't smell like vinegar.  The smell pretty much disappears when you blow dry it, and is completely gone after a few hours.

Today I washed/rinsed with JUST baking soda and vinegar. I think I need to increase the baking soda, but overall, not bad!

I hesitate to set myself as too much of an authority, because I'm so new to the club. But I am so happy with the results, I just have to share! I'll put some links at the bottom for more reading from the pros. There is lots of info about "no poo" (no shampoo) methods and tips.

Why switch?

The basic theory is that commercial shampoos and conditioners strip your hair of its healthy/natural oils, and then coat the hair with synthetic chemicals. This strip/coat cycle creates all kinds of scalp issues because the scalp works overtime to replace the stripped oils, making the hair feel dirty, and requiring shampooing more often. A vicious cycle. The coating from conditioner actually makes it harder for moisture to penetrate the hair, leaving your hair even more damaged. (wikipedia - no poo)

There are LOTS of variations on the methods and theories, and since there are so many different types of hair, what works for one person may not work for another. A lot of it is trial and error.

The most popular No 'Poo is using baking soda/vinegar because they pH balance each other.

Another consideration is the "transition period" when you start washing less and/or stop using commercial shampoos and conditioners. The scalp has to adjust to not needing to produce as much oil, but until it does, it kinda sucks.  My friend, Traci, did this cold turkey and can attest to the transition period.  But she powered through, and now she is a few months into it and loves it. My friend Andrea reported the same experience. Since I did it so gradually, I didn't notice much of a transition at all.

But again, please remember I'm new at this! I am sharing whats working for me because people keep asking me about it, but you might need to tweak things a bit for your own hair.

And since nobody wants to see step by step pics of me doing this in the shower, I'm just going to have to describe it as best I can.

How to No 'Poo:

1 - Get 2 squirt bottles (mine are from Sally Beauty) and fill one with:
  • 1 Tbsp of baking soda
  • 1 cup of water 
This is the "wash" to replace the shampoo.  I also add a few drops of melaleuca oil to the wash to keep my scalp happy.

In the other bottle, put:
  • 1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
This is the "rinse" to replace the conditioner.  The baking soda and vinegar amounts can be slightly increased or decreased, depending on your hair type. It takes some trial and error. I think I'm going to increase the baking soda for my hair, because its so thick and tends to be greasy. But the measurements I gave are a good starting point.

2 - Brush your hair out really well before you get in the shower, making sure to gently scratch your scalp.

3 - In the shower, squirt a couple ounces of the wash directly on your scalp.  I try to focus on areas that are usually greasy for me, my hairline, part and the back of my head. I avoid the length of my hair. My understanding is that it can be really drying on the length.  Then rinse it out really well (I used to let it sit for a few minutes, but now my hair is pretty clean and doesn't need the BS to remove that much junk). It will feel pretty dry at this point.

4 - Then take the "rinse" and drizzle it on the length of your hair. Its awkward at first, but I just drizzle it around as best I can. I hang my hair over to the side and pour a little on the underneath, and a little on the outside, then repeat on the other side.  Then pour some on the back side.  I try to avoid the scalp because I've heard that it can make it too heavy. I use a couple of ounces.

5 - I do let the ACV sit on my hair for the rest of my shower, and then rinse it well before I get out.

How to Ease into No 'Poo:

You don't have to go cold turkey No 'Poo. Let's say you're an every day regular shampoo/conditioner type of person. If you go suddenly switch to the baking soda/vinegar rinse every 3-4 days, you're going to hate life. Your hair will be in freak out mode, because its used to being washed all the time. Your scalp will be on oil-producing overdrive! Yuck.

So make a plan (I love plans). Start slowly. Start by shampooing/conditioning every other day, and adding in the baking soda/vinegar on top of your regular shamp/cond. Use spray shampoo to help with the greasies on the second day. Gradually increase the amount of baking soda/vinegar, while decreasing the shampoo/conditioner. Then after a week or so, try going to washing every third day. And again, increase the baking soda/vinegar. Until you're able to stop using your shamp/cond completely.

Whew! That's a lot of No 'Poo info!! If you still want to read MORE about No Poo, here are some links:

Crunchy Betty - No 'Poo to You Too!!!
Almost Exactly - No 'Poo Resource

Soooo..... Are you going to do it?!?

***Click here if you would like to read a review and update on my No Poo journey***


  1. This is so interesting! I only wash my hair every third day because my skin and hair is so dry. I wonder how this would be for those of us on the dry end of the scale. Such good info!

    1. I imagine it would be great for dry hair, but you probably wouldn't need much of the baking soda mix at all, and you probably won't have much of a "transition" since your scalp is not overproducing oil anyway. The Almost Exactly link at the bottom has TONS of posts about No Poo, and hot to tweak it for different types of hair. There is a raw honey rinse that is really popular as well.

  2. I never thought of this great post very interesting

  3. I've heard about this in the past but I've been too chicken to try it. :) Thanks for sharing your experience. I just may give it a try! Love your blog, by the way. You've got a new Facebook follower. And you may want to start linking up your pins to the Saturday Pin-It Party that I cohost on my blog with 7 other bloggers!

    1. I was scared too! It does take some trial and error, but I'm glad I tried it. :) Thanks for commenting, I'm looking forward to checking out your blog!

  4. I went no 'poo six months ago and have never looked back. I love how it makes my hair and scalp feel.

    I use an all natural shampoo on my kids and a few weeks ago decided to try it to see how it felt. It completely stripped my hair, leaving it feeling squeaky and fragile and just awful. I immediately went back to the baking soda and apple cider vinegar and it felt much more natural.

    Good luck! I hope you have the same great experience I have had.

  5. I have been doing this for almost two years and this has worked wonderfully

  6. What about color treated hair? I wash my dyed red hair every 3-4 days to help keep the color from fading but I so want to try this. I wonder if the baking soda will fade the color.

    1. Angela, I think this is best for un-treated hair. I've stopped using baking soda, except for the occasional clarifying wash because my blond hair breaks off too easily. The vinegar is probably fine, but I would be careful with the baking soda. I would check some of the links at the end of my post, they might have more info!

    2. Hey Angela! I am a hair stylist gone no-poo :) (personally, I still use shampoo on my clients!)
      I wouldn't recommend using this on your colored hair. Because baking soda is so high in alkalinity, it will really mess with your color. Basically, it will blow your hair shaft wide open and your color can just slip on out. BUT you can still do the vinegar rinse. It is highly acidic, so it does just the opposite. Not only does it break down mineral build-up that can dull your color, but it also seals the cuticle back down and locks your color in longer!
      Hope that helps :)

  7. I need to start doing this again. I was for awhile but think I was using far too much baking soda and vinegar. I loved my hair though and now im back on normal shampoo and conditiner its squeaky oily and horrible. Gonna start tomorrow !!

  8. I need to start doing this again. I was for awhile but think I was using far too much baking soda and vinegar. I loved my hair though and now im back on normal shampoo and conditiner its squeaky oily and horrible. Gonna start tomorrow !!

  9. I need to start doing this again. I was for awhile but think I was using far too much baking soda and vinegar. I loved my hair though and now im back on normal shampoo and conditiner its squeaky oily and horrible. Gonna start tomorrow !!

  10. Can I no-poo every day?
    I know it's not ideal, but I have to wash my hair every day. I'm super active and I can't stand the way my head and ears feel if I skip even one wash.
    I guess I should ask it like this:
    Is it better to do the BS/ACV every day or the regular shampoo every day?
    I don't color my hair currently.
    Thank you!

  11. I have recently started this and am loving the results! My dry hair is softer and less brittle. My only suggestion would be to put the vinegar mixture in a small spray bottle instead of a squirt bottle. It makes it so much easier to apply to the length of your hair.

  12. AnonymousMay 03, 2014

    I've tried baking soda and acv a few times and love how it feels after the first wash, but always go back to shampoo and conditioner b/c after about a week, my hair always feels filmy...not oily, but like there's product in it. Anyone know what I might be doing wrong?

  13. AnonymousJuly 22, 2014

    Has anyone tried this with curly hair?

    1. Yes! My hair is curly/wavy and this made my hair so soft and bouncy. I cannot sing the praises of 'no poo' enough!

  14. I tried the ACV to see if it would put an end to my frizzies because I was assured it would. It did absolutely nothing at all. My hair is on the dry side and I only need to wash it every 4-5 days. If anyone knows how to get rid of frizzies, please tell me. I am about to pay $400 to have a Keratin Treatment at the hairdressers which they say will get rid of them for about 4 months.

  15. I've started doing no poo this week. I've wash with B'S and ACV every other day and plan to cut down. I have thin and curly hair and what I've noticed so far is that my hair isn't as dry in the top layer as usual but it feels dirty. Is this going to resolve or do I need to change something? Any suggestions?

  16. I have been only Baking soda to wash my hair for 4 years. I love it! My hair feels instantly super clean. I also love that I have saved $$$$$$$$$ by not buying shampoo!