About two years ago, I tried ‘No Poo’ for the first time and failed miserably. ‘No Poo’ is the term coined for nixing sham’poo’ (and conditioner) and washing, instead, with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. If you’re crazy hardcore (I like to think I am, but in actuality I’m not) – you skip shampoo and conditioner altogether and just use water.
So back to what I was saying. About two years ago, I attempted this feat with high hopes, only to have them completely crushed. Half of my hair was left feeling greasy, while the other half was dry. But, I chalk this up to a few reasons:
+ I was just about to start working and didn’t really want to risk nasty hair at a brand new job – I think I’d scare all of my new co-workers – so I only gave it a few days
+ My hair was super long then and I don’t think I spent enough time scrubbing in the shower
+ We lived in a different rental house that had extremely hard water
This time; however, I am absolutely loving the results. My hair feels so much lighter and seems to dry way faster than it did before. Plus – it looks healthy!
I know what you might be wondering…why skip the shampoo and conditioner in the first place? Isn’t it fine to use a natural, biodegradable variety? Where’s the harm?
Well, if you’re using a great product then technically there is no harm per-se, but you’re actually not doing what’s best for your hair and scalp. You see – even if you use a product free of nasty chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment, you’re still stripping your scalp of it’s natural oils. I mean, it makes sense – the job of shampoo is to clean your hair…but what you might not realize is that at the same time, it’s washing away all of the beneficial oils your scalp creates naturally.
But, how come hair gets oily so fast when going a day or two without shampoo? This is me exactly. I have crazy fine hair and by the end of the day the roots look nasty. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, I can stretch it out to washing every other day – but that’s pushing it. You see, shampooing your hair creates a vicious cycle:
By allowing your scalp to go into overproduction when it comes to oil, you are (unintentionally) making the problem worse. There’s a reason why your head produces oil, or sebum as it’s technically referred to, in the first place — it makes the skin balanced and moisturized while keeping the hair sleek and shiny. When you continuously wash it away with shampoo, you’re causing the skin to get dry and flaky which results in an overproduction of oil. See the pattern here?
Cutting out the use of shampoo will help to regulate this cycle so that your hair doesn’t become overly dry or greasy. But, you don’t want your hair to be dirty…so you need something to keep it clean. The answer is a baking soda and water mixture. Baking soda absorbs oil without stripping the scalp completely. It’s also mildly abrasive so it’s great at scrubbing away dirt and grime.
If you wash with only baking soda, your hair will eventually start to dry out a bit, so you need to add something to keep those ends conditioned. For this, the solution is apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar applied to the ends of your hair works as a great conditioner without causing excess oil build-up. I’ve also been using the vinegar over my entire head of hair once every 4-5 washes so that my scalp doesn’t have a chance to get too dry.
Another way to to help prevent oil build up is to use a hairbrush with natural bristles, and then brush at least twice a day for 5-10 minutes at a time. The natural bristles help to distribute the oil throughout your hair so that it’s not concentrated at the roots giving it that greasy look.
I do miss the smell of my shampoo and conditioner, but I’m starting to get used to the idea of just smelling clean. If you can’t get over the pungent smell of apple cider vinegar, you can add a cinnamon stick, essential oils, or herbs to cover it up. I promise, though, as strong as the vinegar smells while you’re in the shower – you won’t smell it anymore once your hair is dry.
If you google ‘no poo’ you’ll come up with a ton of results and various ways to mix your baking soda wash and apple cider vinegar rinse. For me, I found that the following ratio to work well — 1:8 (baking soda to water) and 1:4 (apple cider vinegar to water.) The other key to this recipe is finding containers that allow you to apply to solution exactly where you want it. The first time I did this, I mixed the solutions in cups and not only was it hard to get good coverage, I wound up wasting product because I was using way more than I needed. I’m currently using an old Dr. Bronner’s bottle for the baking soda wash and an old peri bottle for the apple cider vinegar rinse. They both seem to last me about 4 washes.
As far as routine, I’ve found that it works best to apply the baking soda mix to dry hair. I squirt it all along the hairline and on the routes. Then, I let the warm water run over my hair for literally half a second, take my head back out of the water, and then massage it in thoroughly. Since the mixture won’t foam up, you need to really scrub those roots. After that, I go about the rest of my shower and save washing it out for last. Once the baking soda is rinsed out, I grab the apple cider vinegar mixture and squirt it on the ends of my hair. Some say to rinse it off with cold water, but I can’t bring myself to do that, and I find rinsing with warm water works just fine.
Right now I’m washing every other day. On the second day, my hair is starting to look greasy, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was when I was using shampoo (and I’ve only been doing this 2 weeks!) I’ve read that a lot of people have to go through a transitioning period in which their hair looks greasy all of the time because it’s so used to producing all of that extra oil. Luckily, I haven’t experienced that (yet.) But, I have also read that if you want to extend the time between washes, you might need to deal with some greasiness at first. A lot of people have such success using this method that they’re able to wash only once or twice a week. I’m hoping to get to this point eventually, but for now I’m happy with my every-other-day routine.
After failing at my first attempt with ‘no poo’, I was hesitant to try it again…I actually waited two whole years! Now, I’m sold and have a feeling this will be my regular wash routine for a long time. I’m excited to see how it holds up. In the last couple of weeks, here are all of the ‘no poo’ benefits that I’ve discovered:
+ Great on the budget
+ Good for the environment (ingredients are non-toxic and I’m not regularly purchasing shampoo/conditioner which reduces waste from both product and packaging)
+ My hair feels lighter (maybe because all of the product build up is finally gone?)
+ My hair dries much faster
+ It seems that the extra scrubbing in the shower helps to get out all of those loose hairs that I’m losing post-pregnancy (seriously…sometimes it seems like fistfuls) – so it comes out in the shower rather than all over my house
Now…while this post seems very upbeat and it sounds like I’ve found the perfect method for washing my hair, I’m still not 100% convinced. I keep thinking that one of these days I’ll get out of the shower and that my hair will feel a mess. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I’ll be sure to update as the weeks go on.
My hair before attempting ‘No Poo’:
My hair the day after washing with an all natural, organic shampoo and conditioner (told ya it gets greasy fast):
Immediately following my first wash/rinse with baking soda and apple cider vinegar:
Two weeks of washing every other day (so 7 washes total) using baking soda and apple cider vinegar:
Are you an avid ‘no poo’er? Did you have a transition period? Am I being overly excited too soon? Should I expect things to go sour? Any tips for extending length between washings? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
February 24, 2012
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