No ‘poo

I have not used shampoo in a little over a month.

Google “No poo method” and you will find over one million search results teaching you how to clean your hair without using shampoo and conditioner.  The miracle ingredients are two of my favorite things: baking soda and vinegar.

The general recipe is this: one heaping tablespoon of baking soda per cup of water, and one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water.  I eyeball mine, partly because I don’t have measuring spoons but mostly because I can very easily adjust as needed so I don’t need to bother being super precise.  You can adjust the baking soda or vinegar more or less depending on how your hair and scalp respond.

I use a plastic bottle (I had it lying around in my donate pile and salvaged for this operation) with a pull-top spout to mix the baking soda solution. The small spout makes it easy to get the solution into the roots of my hair.  I use a spray bottle for the vinegar mixture.  I use organic apple cider vinegar, but you can use distilled if that’s all you have.  I encourage the organic stuff though, it has given me better results.

The good: This method is free of nasty chemicals that hide in conventional shampoos and conditioners, which strip your hair and scalp of its natural oils.  You won’t have to wash your hair as often either!

The bad: People will probably think you’re a weird hippie, but it’s okay because your self-esteem is awesome.  It will fade your hair dye, but you don’t want those chemicals on your head anyway, right?

The ugly: There is usually a breaking-in period when switching to this method of haircare.  Because your scalp is used to being stripped of its oils, it may overcompensate for a while and your hair might get greasy pretty fast.  This is usually over within a couple weeks.  I didn’t even have this adjustment period, my hair just got awesome.  Your mileage may vary.

My results: I love it, and I have no plans to go back to shampoo.  I think my hair has better volume than it did when I used shampoo and conditioner, because the shampoo weighed down my hair with buildup, and there is no residue or buildup with this method. My dyed color has lightened, and it appears that my natural color, which I hate because it’s a dirty mousy brown color, actually seems brighter and doesn’t make me as upset when I see my roots — perhaps there is hope for a totally chemical-free head.  I also use the very same baking soda and vinegar solutions to scrub and tone my face in the shower — my acne is nearly gone!

Next project: DIY toothpaste from baking soda and salt.

What DIY bath products do you make at home? 

18 thoughts on “No ‘poo

  1. I think I’ll try this when all my products run out. Right now I use sulfate free shampoos, but my hair still feels greasy the next day. I’m also starting to get hairline acne so I need to figure something out.

    1. Thanks for commenting 🙂 I hope you find something that works for you; the baking soda has been great for me but I know it’s not for everybody. Good luck!

  2. Great to hear that it’s working for you!

    I did this for a year and a half, but then got bored and have been using shampoo again for like a year or so. I also used baking soda and organic apple cider vinegar 🙂 and was very pleased with the results, for the most part, but it didn’t free me from washing my hair every few days. Don’t know why. However, I noticed a difference in that my hair seemed brighter, the ‘splash’ of red pigment in my brown hair showed more and my hair had a really nice texture. Now that I’m back to using shampoo, I use organic shampoo bars (I’d been using them even before I tried the no poo thing), which last a long time and don’t have any nasty things in them and an organic conditioner, as well. I only use natural cosmetics, anyway, and a lot less than I used to. Did you ever try shampoo bars? They’re wonderful in that one bar lasts a really long time. I may get back to using baking soda and vinegar again sometime, but what’s stopping me is the fact that I couldn’t find a simple way to store (and use) them. Your spray bottles sound ideal, though.

    1. I haven’t used shampoo bars but I want to try them!! Let me know what brand you used. Maybe if no ‘poo stops working I will give those a shot too.

      1. It’s a Finnish brand called Flow (they recently changed it, since it used to be in Finnish) and I know they do ship to the US, but perhaps only Finns living there buy them, as their website is only in Finnish at the moment…And anyways, presumably you won’t be needing them with the ‘no poo’ 😉

        And to get back to the issue at hand: when I was using the baking soda/vinegar wash, I regularly had to sort of gently ‘scrub’ my scalp with my fingers to get the dead skin etc. out, since it doesn’t foam. I think I read this on some blog when first trying it out, and was really grateful for the info. Have you heard about/noticed this? And right now I’m starting to think why on earth I ever went back to using any sort of shampoo, no matter how nice! Thanks for putting the vibe out there, maybe I’ll give it another go very soon 🙂

      2. I sort of instinctively scrubbed the scalp, I guess. I did it to make sure I got the baking soda in all over the roots. Didn’t read about it but maybe that’s what helped me avoid a transition period!

  3. i use shampoo but an organic option (same as organic hair colour about once a year) and i only wash my hair once a week. thats my hippie option but it works and other people i’ve told try it and what a difference. hair is much heathier less oil builds up and time and water saver. also make my own toothpaste, just baking soda and coconut oil. Salty but does the trick and super easy.

  4. I have perfected my no-poo routine finally as well. I tried making a paste, but didn’t like that so now I do the same as you a heaping tablespoon in a cup of warm water. I also use a spray bottle for the vinegar rinse. When I started washing my hair this way the first few times I couldn’t stop touching my hair, it felt so different and I had been using organic shampoos (no conditioner) for years. My hair looks better, feels better, and where my hair used to take all day to dry on its own, it now dries faster. I had no problems, like you, with a transition period.

    Baking soda and salt is how I too brush my teeth. The first couple of times the taste had me near gagging, then I became adjusted to it and have no problem. Love to hear how you do with it.

  5. I tried this once, but with only water. Not good. I might have to give it another try and do it properly.

    I used straight up baking soda as toothpaste for months. When I went for my hygiene appointment, I only told the dental hyigenst after that I used just baking soda. She was impressed. 🙂

    Now I use Weleda salt toothpaste. No idea why I changed. Baking soda is cheap! My salt toothpaste not so much!

  6. Hi Caitlin,

    I was interested to read about your no-poo success. I tried it myself for a while, but couldn’t get on the baking soda paste option. Can you explain your method please? I currently use a DIY pre-treatment mix of honey & argan, coconut & grapeseed oils (a little on the lengths of dry hair, leave for about 5-30 mins then shower & shampoo as usual) and shampoo with a lovely solid shampoo bar (from Lush). This works terrifically well on my long hair, but I do have to shampoo everyday. Thanks for the interesting post!

    1. I just put a heaping tablespoon or two into about one cup of water, and shake it up to mix. I put the solution in my hair at the roots and work it into my scalp to remove buildup, then I rinse it all out before a brief spray of the dilute apple cider vinegar solution. I hope that helps! Your hair care method sounds like it works for you, even if you do have to wash every day. At the beginning of my no ‘poo adventure, I did a baking soda paste and scrubbed it into my roots, but it made my scalp very dry so I switched to the diluted stuff. Still gets rid of the buildup and oil, and I only have to wash it about three times per week!

  7. I love no ‘poo! Another blog had posted the science behind no ‘poo: they said our hair has a natural acidity, and the baking soda cleans but alkalizes our hair; the ACV helps bring the ph back to normal. Apparently your reaction to no ‘poo depends on your type of hair as well, according to Rinsing with cold water has helped me a bit with dandruff. It also helps close the cuticle.

    1. Good to know about the cold water, thanks for sharing! I wash and rinse in warm/hot water, because I am frequently freezing and I try to warm up in the shower. I know cool water is better for my hair and skin though… Sigh!

      Thanks for the ph science behind the soda and ACV too!

  8. Hi. I just came over after seeing your comments on 🙂
    I have short hair (about 2″ long) and don’t use anything at all to clean it. I just run my hands through my hair in the shower (hot water).
    I was shampooing less and less often when I had long hair a few years ago – twice a week, then once a week, with a few days of too clean, then several days of good hair, then too dirty. Then I cut it all off. I used Dr Bronner’s once every few weeks, usually just before my haircut (“dirty” hair guilt?) and my hairdresser would wash and condition it. After that it would take a week to get back to normal, even with liberal applications of coconut oil – I have fine, soft hair when it’s clean – ugh! I was cutting it every 5-6 weeks, so I would only have 3-4 weeks of good hair.
    So I talked to my hairdresser and found that she personally uses baking soda, so is sympathetic to and understanding of no ‘poo… so we tried not washing it before she cut it. She just rinsed it out in hot water. When she got to the end of the cutting and styling and said she thought it looked much better than usual (it was laying flat, not fluffy) and she wouldn’t even bother with styling products! woohoo! So I’m pretty much done with all forms of cleaning my hair. But I feel weird telling people that… no shampoo, no conditioner, no baking soda, no comb… but it’s awesome! I feel lucky that I can get away with this.

    1. Very awesome! I think I want to do short hair again but I am enjoying the length of mine. I’ll probably do it curly a few times and then hack it off again. So cool that you don’t even need soap!!

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