No Poo – 1 Year Anniversary

(photo taken today, day 4 of weekly wash cycle)

No poo means no shampoo. I refused to post about this before, largely because  the entire world does not need to know my hygiene regime…also I wanted to see if this worked. This month marks my one year anniversary shampoo-free (mostly); and I would say it has been largely successful – but I have a few complaints.

First,  let me say very clearly that using no shampoo actually causes your hair to be LESS OILY. I know that seems hard to believe, but its true.

For those of you who know us, or have followed this blog for a while, you know that my son Jasper has a detergent allergy. He had horrible eczema as a baby – and it took us a while to figure it out. Once we did figure it out, we cut out detergents as much as we could. We stopped using regular toothpaste, soaps, dish detergent, laundry detergent and even deodorant – all which have detergents in them. I had never used shampoo on the children, and my husband has minimal hair – so really I was the only one using shampoo. So while we cut out almost every other type of detergent – I kept using shampoo. You can read about our changes HERE.

We have gradually introduced some detergents back into our home with no impact on Jasper. Largely I decided dish soap was a must – otherwise everything seemed greasy. I just couldn’t get by without it. But other than that, the rest is perfectly doable, healthier for our home, as well as the environment.

I have super thick, wavy/curly/straightish hair (depending on the day and the part of my hair you are looking at). Before I started I was having to wash my hair at least every other day, if not daily due to the amount of oil and buildup that accumulated. It was driving me crazy. My hair was much drier in my teens and only needed to be washed every 3 days – by my 30’s I was needing to wash it daily.

But last May I took the final step and cut out shampoo – the few friends and coworkers who knew I did it gave me some crazy stares for quite some time. My hair was a grease ball for 4 months. I spent the summer with it pulled back in clips and ponytails. Finally everything changed.

I spent the first 2-3 months rinsing my hair, a lot. A whole lot. Every night I was rinsing it out. I was trying to use just water to get everything balanced out.

Finally, I introduced 1-2T of baking soda mixed in a cup of warm water – this did the trick.  No more greasiness. And the apple cider vinegar works great as a conditioner. I found it works best if I mix it also in warm water and then pour it on my head. My hair finally looked better – not the silky soft, good smelling hair you get from shampoo – but it didn’t look like I hadn’t washed it anymore.

It was indeed 4 months or more before I saw drastic improvement. By 6 months I could go a week between washing my hair with baking soda if not longer. I love that this has dramatically cut down the work I have in the shower and in doing my hair each day. (time is pretty important when you work full time and you are the mom of 4 youngsters)

However, this only worked because I pretty much have always had a no-style haircut. I have always let it dry by itself, used little to no products and simply let it go as it does. This doesn’t describe a lot of women though.

I only think this worked well for me because I am not interested in sleek, stylish hair. However, because I wasn’t using shampoo, I didn’t have anything stripping my hair on a regular basis. And while it was always soft – it was also always dirty feeling to me. It doesn’t have the same silky soft feel you get with shampoos and conditioners.

And so this complaint led me to a MAJOR hiccup.

I decided to see if maybe I could just shampoo my hair once a week. IT WAS A DISASTER.

The shampoo made my hair feel great. But it made my scalp SUPER dry and itchy. I was miserable.

So of course, I tried to wash it again with shampoo thinking maybe I just didn’t get all the soap out well enough. MORE super dry and itchy scalp. It was really horrible. Day 1 was not so bad, day 2 I was itching, day 3 I was about to claw my scalp off.

So back to the baking soda. I had to readjust my hair and scalp some.

But since I was generally unhappy still – its not quite how I’d like it – I bought an all natural shea based shampoo. And well, I can’t stand the stuff.

So its back to baking soda and vinegar – this seems to work best.

While I love coconut oil for a gazillion other uses – I have only tried it once to help moisturize my hair. It made it look greasier, sordof like I had put gel in my hair while it was still damp. And then I needed to wash it again sooner.

And for anyone interested, I have had color and highlights added to my hair this spring and had no problems with the hair or method. In fact, my hairdresser said I had the healthiest hair she had ever seen – which I believe translates into no split ends, flyaways, etc.

So here is my routine for the time being:

  1. I take 1-2 T baking soda in a cup to the shower with me. During my shower I add about 1 cup of warm water, stir, and pour onto hair and scalp and scrub.
  2. 1-2 T of apple cider vinegar mixed with water – pour over hair, work through some and rinse.

And that is it! Super easy. And only once a week. Then usually about half way through the week I rinse my hair once. I continue to let my hair dry naturally.

Pros: Hair is naturally clean, no man-made chemicals, no carcinogens, hair is soft, my hair is not excessive oily anymore, and washing is only required once a week – when we went on vacation I washed my hair before we left and didn’t have to worry about it again while we were gone – that was a super plus and once less thing for me to pack.

Cons: Hair is soft but not silky, would not recommend this for people who want to straighten their hair.

I’m open to any other suggestion – as long as it doesn’t require me to brew up some concoction in my kitchen. It must be easy.


6 thoughts on “No Poo – 1 Year Anniversary

  1. Hi Sherri!

    Thanks for sharing your no-poo story.

    I’ve been using Baking Soda for a couple of years now and I love it. I completely agree that you need to try different ingredients/ratios etc. to find what works best for your own hair though.

    I hope you stick with it!



  2. Hey Sherri! You knew I would be in here to read … so let me tell you what I’ve been experiencing. I’m 3 1/2 weeks into the no poo method … and honestly, I’m not having the greaseball issues. That said, I think I cleanse my hair more than you did initially. Since I already knew about the baking soda and the vinegar … I was using those straight away. I have reintroduced and organic conditioner as I read that many conditioners have enough surfectants to actually CLEANSE the hair, but are providing more conditioning. As it stands, I am currently doing baking soda twice a week …. vinegar rinse every other day, followed by a cold water rinse of my homemade rose petal water (adds a lot more moisture to my dry curly hair) and then once a week … I cleanse my hair only with my organic conditioner. Technically, I am still no poo but I feel like my hair, scalp, and honestly the skin around my scalp are super healthy. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

      1. Hey! I use a specialty conditioner from a company out of Texas called Belegenza, though I typically order it from Abe’s Market out of San Francisco. I use their Romance Deep Conditioning treatment. I’ll be honest though, I really believe the rose water has made the most difference in the “soft” feeling being present even though I’m not shampooing and conditioning as I did before. 🙂 Another conditioner that I’ve used in from Aubrey Organics (I used the White Camillia – it’s for dry coarse hair – not necessarily curly). Also, something I’ve noticed … days when I put a few drops of an essential oil on my hands and work it through my wet hair … my curls are much tighter and they look/feel healthy and shiny. I’ve been using a pure lemon essential oil, about 3-4 drops on my palms and then work it in. Plus it smells great for the next few days!

  3. I am very impressed Sherri! I am going to have to try out your homemade shampoo. Remember when we put mayo in our hair? That was ages ago but my hair really did shine after that.

  4. This is awesome Sherri! I wonder if it would help Stephen and his scalp issues. As is, I don’t wash my hair but once a week anyways (always have done that), but maybe I should try your method. Love the rose petal water addition that April wrote about as well as the essential oil trick for shininess.

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