My No-Poo Journey

If you’ve been following along on Twitter or Instagram you may have noticed that a little more than two weeks ago, I gave up my shampoo habit. Now, I know you’re probably thinking “gross, how can you not use shampoo?!” but hear me out … I gave up shampoo for two reasons: (1) I’m trying to reduce my exposure to chemicals; opting instead for natural cleaners and (2) since I was a kid, I have been plagued by oily hair. As a teenager, I had to switch shampoos every few weeks because it seemed like they would just stop working. I could wash my hair and when it dried, it would look like it hadn’t been washed in a week. Over the years, the issue seemed to level out, but I still couldn’t use ONE brand of shampoo, each time a bottle ran out, I would purchase another brand. And if I didn’t wash every day, I looked like I stuck my head in a bucket of grease (except for maybe the ends of my hair, which are super dry from washing every day). I have used everything from $1 to $40 bottles of shampoo, all with the same end results. I tried clarifiers, sulfate free shampoos, vinegar rinses to remove build up, I’ve scrubbed my scalp like a crazy women, let shampoo sit on my head for 5+ minutes and then scrubbed some more in an attempt to get all the shampoo residue out so that my hair would look clean, all to no avail.

Then I came across a pin on Pintrest about giving up shampoo, it’s called the no-poo method. Intrigued, I did some more research.

The no-poo method uses a combination of baking soda and vinegar to cleanse and condition your hair. I learned that the greasy roots I have been experiencing for as long as I can remember are a result of shampoos stripping natural oils from the hair. In response to shampoo, the scalp goes in to over drive producing more oils, thus making the hair appear oily. As you can see, it’s a vicious cycle and one I desperately wanted to break. The no-poo method does just that! The baking soda cleanses the hair without stripping it of its natural oils, while a vinegar rinse restores hair to its natural pH.

No-poo has many benefits, from less oil to increased body, shine and new hair growth!

Want to go no-poo? There are two important things you are going to want to know:

  • There is a transition period. This can range anywhere from 2-8 weeks, depending on your hair. During this period, your roots may appear oily (or oiler than normal) and your ends may feel dry, like straw. BUT, hang in there, it gets better!
  • Start by clarifying your hair. When doing this, chose a shampoo without silicones. Clarifying your hair will reduce the length of the transition period. After clarifying, wait the normal length of time you would between shampoos and then begin the no-poo method. 

So, how do you no-poo?

There isn’t an exact recipe out there, you have to find what works best for your hair. The trial and error part of this is trying, but you’ll get the hang of it! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • baking soda
  • apple cider vinegar (or distilled white vinegar)
  • water
  • 1 squirt bottle
  • 1 spray bottle
  • a boar bristle brush

Using the baking soda, create a solution of 1 tbsp of baking soda to 8 oz of water. If you have hard water, go for 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda in 8 oz of water. Put this solution in your squirt bottle. Next, using the vinegar, make a solution of 1 tbsp vinegar to 8 oz of water. Put this solution in your spray bottle.

In the shower, apply the baking soda solution to your roots only and scrub, scrub, scrub away. I recommend allowing the solution to sit on your scalp for a minute or two (this gives the solution time to work its magic on the scalp). Rinse your hair well. To condition, spritz a SMALL amount of the vinegar solution on your ends. Some people recommend rinsing the vinegar solution out, others don’t. Personally, I rinse mine out.

A few things to note here: the vinegar smell will dissipate once rinsed. If it doesn’t, you used too much. Also, using too much vinegar can make your hair look oily. Some people have better results using distilled white vinegar over apple cider vinegar, you have to find what works for you. If your hair is too oily, reduce the amount of vinegar and/or increase the amount of baking soda in your solution. I don’t use the vinegar rinse with each wash, I have been doing it every other wash or so. If you hair appears dry and frizzy, reduce the amount of baking soda and/or increase the amount of vinegar (this is the trail and error part I was referring to, this is where it gets tricky and you gotta find what works best for you).

Now, you don’t want to no-poo wash every day, the baking soda can cause dryness. Go as long as possible between washings.In between washings, I highly recommend applying a bit of cornstarch to your roots to absorb the excess oils. If you have dark hair, mix a little cocoa powder in with the cornstarch before applying it so that it blends into your hair better, otherwise you will be brushing it FOREVER to get it blended in. Bonus: the cocoa powder will make you smell like a chocolatey dream!

Use the boar bristle brush to brush your hair for 5-10 minutes every morning and night. The boar bristles help to redistribute the oils on the hair. I highly recommend doing this! By redistributing the oils, it helps the ends of the hair not feel so dry. (side note: I wasn’t doing this initially and my ends felt like they were going to break right off. In an attempt to remedy this, I applied some coconut oil to the ends. NOT a good idea. My hair was super, super, super oily. It took rinsing with HOT water for several days to remove all the coconut oil, only making it drier in the end) … Also, if you’re worried that your hair smells, you can apply a few drops of essential oil to your brush for scent.

So, as I said, I’ve been no-pooing for a little over 2 weeks now. I’m not at the point that I can wear my hair down, but I’m getting close. Pony tails, buns, hats and headscarves have been my best friends lately. Each time I wash, I notice an improvement. There seems to be less and less oil. For the first week, I was washing every other day and even after a washing, I would apply cornstarch to the roots (once my hair was dry). But now, I can go about three days between washings. Yesterday, I washed and once my hair dried it didn’t look terribly oily (only slightly) so, I didn’t have to apply any cornstarch (though I did still wear it pulled up).

In researching no-poo, I have come a cross some great resources. If your interested in giving no-poo a try, these blogs contain a lot of valuable information (also, read the comments to the posts, there are some great tips and troubleshooting advice in them):

I will keep you guys updated on my progress. And, when I’m further along, I promise to post some before and after shots! But because no post is complete without a picture, here’s one of me rocking a head scarf to disguise my transitioning hair from the world:

my no-poo journey

Are you trying the no-poo method? How is it working for you? What’s your go to hair style to help you through the transition phase? Let’s swap war stories ;)

Live Fabulous.

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7 thoughts on “My No-Poo Journey

  1. I tried this for a bout 2 months and then my hair started to get really limp and lifeless. I reintroduced shampoo and its been ok. I wonder what I could have done differently. Great post.

    • thanks (: I would say with two months you have no poo ample time to work. And, in the research I have done, I’ve learned this isn’t for everyone. The link referenced in the post to the Code Red Hat blog discusses the low-poo method which uses shampoos that don’t contain harsh chemicals, maybe that would work better for you!

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