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I have a confession about my hair. I don’t use shampoo. Awkward, right?
You may have heard it referred to as “no ‘poo”, the nickname for the increasingly popular trend to go without shampoo. If willingly giving up shampoo sounds like a form of self-torture to you, let me persuade you to believe otherwise. There are a few reasons why this method is used by so many.
First, what it is not: it is not a movement to forgo washing your hair. That would be gross. I am not pro-gross. The no ‘poo method is a commitment to using only natural products in your hair, to avoid all the chemicals and toxins that come in most store-bought shampoos, but also because it is so good for your hair. Another reason to go no ‘poo: once your hair adapts to this method, you can go longer periods of time without washing your hair (using homemade dry shampoo to help you along the way). To be honest, that is probably my biggest reason for using this method.
Enticing, isn’t it? Or maybe not.
Maybe you are not sold on giving up your favorite shampoo. No ‘poo is certainly not for the faint of heart. But if you are willing to open your mind to the possibilities of healthy hair and a healthier you, let my experience be of some help to you.
I will admit that I trashed my shampoo after researching the ingredients listed on the back of my shampoo bottle in a fit of panic. I was scared. Now, I am not a scientist and I may be needlessly paranoid over the ingredients whose names I cannot pronounce and their possible harmful natures, but I am not convinced of that yet. And because I was afraid of the contents of my shampoo bottle, and because I began to imagine all the time I would save not washing and styling my hair every other day or so, I decided to give it a try.
Here’s what you need to know if you try ditching shampoo. It is imperative that you remember this: everyone’s head of hair is different. There is no magical formula that works for everyone when it comes to how exactly to go no ‘poo. It will take a lot of patience and a lot of trial and error. But, it can be done. I gave up completely in frustration before giving it another shot a few months later. And it paid off. Now, I’ve been doing it for about one year.
Because I promised that “no ‘poo” does not mean not washing your hair, here is the homemade shampoo and conditioner you will use: baking soda and water for shampoo, and Apple Cider Vinegar* and water for conditioner. Seriously.
The trial and error part comes when you have to decide how much baking soda, and how much Apple Cider Vinegar you will use. This is what works for me: two heaping teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in one cup of warm water. For conditioner, 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar in one cup of water. Most people will use similar measurements. It won’t vary that much. However, the slight variances make a big difference.
You will have to try it a few times before you figure out what combination your hair likes best. I have thick, long hair, so two spoonfuls is a good amount for me. If you have shorter, or thinner hair, try using less.
The squeeze bottles are the best way to apply the solutions to your hair, in most people’s opinions. This is how I use them in the shower: wet hair and apply baking soda solution all over your scalp. I focus on my hair line and the crown of my head. Now move away from the water and scrub scrub scrub. Then, shave your legs or sing a song so the baking soda can do its thing for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Rinse again just in case you weren’t thorough enough. Then, squirt the apple cider vinegar (your new conditioner) on your hair. This is where another trial and error aspect comes in. My hair prefers this solution mostly just on the ends of my hair, and not for long. I pretty much rinse immediately.
When you first start no ‘poo, your hair will kind of freak out. It may look greasy for a few weeks as your scalp re-learns how to produce the proper amount of oil. The thing about store-bought shampoos is that those chemicals strip your hair of its natural oils. This causes your scalp to go into over-drive and create more oil to make up for the dryness, which in turn makes your hair greasier, and in need of more washings. No ‘poo allows your scalp to function as it was made to, and once it adjusts back to its natural inclinations, your hair will be less greasy between showers. Make sense? So, the beginning of no ‘poo is not the fun part, I admit. But if you want to do it, it can be done. Stick with it.
A lot of people on the internet will tell you to wear hats in the first few weeks of your experiment to conceal your adjusting (greasy) hair. Since that was not an option for me in my place of employment, I simply had to wash my hair as frequently as normal (as opposed to washing it less right from the start–which does actually help your hair adjust faster), using the no ‘poo method and dry shampoo.
When you start, I suggest washing your hair with this method on your normal hair-washing schedule. Then, slowly add a day, going a little bit longer between washing your hair very gradually. Some people are able to go an entire week without washing their hair, while still looking great!
Troubleshooting: if your hair feels too dry afterward, try using less baking soda next time. If your hair is too oily afterward, use less apple cider vinegar.
Need more troubleshooting help? This girl has a great post with lots of helpful no-poo advice.
If you need convincing that no ‘poo actually works, here is photographic evidence. This is my hair after almost one year of no ‘poo (does someone want to come up with a better name for it??) I’d say it looks pretty normal. I don’t look too crunchy, right?