A few months ago, I shared our decision to stop washing our hair. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of complaints from people who’ve tried the ‘no-poo’ method and hated it. While I’m not in the business of reforming anyone to my way of thinking, I want to bring a bit of hope to the disappointed masses – and those who’re a little iffy about trying it. Please keep in mind, I can share only my experience and that of my spouse. Results differ per individual, which is part of the reason this can be so frustrating.
Q: What is ‘no-poo’?
A: The act of going without shampoo. Or at least going without a chemical-based shampoo. There are those individuals who choose to use completely natural / organic shampoos.
Q: Why ‘no-poo’?
A: Some of the big reasons are the environment and a desire to be as chemical free as possible. While I like both these reasons and they’re added bonuses, I found shampoo and conditioner to be too expensive. That may seem preposterous to you — like maybe I should’ve found a cheaper alternative or purchased a single bottle of combination shampoo and conditioner, but this wasn’t for me. Shampoo by itself and the combination shampoo + conditioner both dried out my hair — or did other funky things to it. The kicker was I required more product [gels, sprays, scrunch mooses *chuckle*] to “fix” what the shampoos and conditioners together did to my hair. And the brand name wasn’t the problem. The chemicals were.
Q: I want to go no-poo, but I have a job… and I might get fired for showing up with greasy / oily / icky / unwashed / stinky hair… or I’m just not cool with gross hair. Suggestions?
A: When I first went no-poo, I had zero desire to be gross. I was legitimately afraid someone on the bus would change seats or whatever because my hair stunk. However, I’ve recently been switching to a capsule wardrobe, meaning I often wear the same outfit multiple days in a row. Unwashed hair didn’t seem much different. So, rather than worry about it, I kept my conditioner until I ran out and switched to a less abrasive one; and whenever I felt my hair was gross or stinky, I ran a few dabs of the conditioner through it and it was fine. At worst, it looked like I’d added too much product to it. Here’s my recipe for healthy hair without shampoo:
It is important to note, I do not recommend any alternative means of hair cleanliness during this time. I explain why below.
Q: I heard about using baking soda / baking powder in my hair… have you tried this?
A: Yes. I’ve never used the powder / soda by itself… but I DID attempt creating my own conditioner using baking powder, lime juice, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and water.. No bueno. I got it into a dispenser where it congealed and I couldn’t squirt any out without heating it first… I do not recommend using baking soda / powder or vinegar, or the kitchen-based coconut oil in your hair unless you’ve had a ton of experience with various oils, are an excellent cook, and already know exactly what you’re doing. I didn’t have these skillsets. Lastly, I’ve seen several posts where people said the powder / soda or the ACV ‘burned’ their scalps. Whatever you do, please rinse thoroughly.
Q: How do you style your hair without product?
A: Play with it. Seriously, find what works for you! I learned that if my hair is damp, I can simply wind it round my fingers here and there or scrunch it for a curlier / wavier look. If you’re having trouble, maybe consider looking for ethically sourced products? In the meantime, here’s a Pinterest board I created for my favorite hair related needs, and another where I store styles I like.
Q: What is the biggest complaint from no-poo’ers?
A: Probably the yucky parts of the transition. We spend years washing our hair with chemical laden shampoos. These strip our hair of the natural oils, so when we go no-poo, our hair will over-oil itself.
Q: What about hairbrushing during this time?
A: I wouldn’t spend too much time brushing it. Just brush enough to get any tangles out, etc. I did find that my brush collected the oils and dandruff and was gag-worthy by the end of it — even Drew begged me to get a new brush… So maybe go ahead and purchase a backup brush, but I might not use it for at least 3 months just to be safe…
Q: Ewww! Is there a way to clean my brush?! Eww, eww, EWWWW!!
A: I feel ya. Use this to get all the hair out of your brush. Soak the brush in lemon or lime juice. OR for a more effective clean — buy a couple lemons or limes. Quarter them. Pour water into your clean bathroom sink or basin. Add a little baking soda / powder. Add lemon / lime wedges. Holding a wedge underwater, squeeze the juice out. Allow your brush to soak for a bit with the wedges. Holding your brush underwater, scrub it with the wedges and once the fruit is ripped to shreds, use the peel. Rinse brush thorgouhly. Allow it to dry. I LOVED using actual fruits on mine — it left the bush smelling wonderful!
Q: So do you use any actual products on your hair?
A: I currently use Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula conditioner. I do not use any form of shampoo. The conditioner keeps my hair feeling light and smelling awesome. I use about two finger-full dabs twice weekly to refresh throughout the week and in the shower, once weekly, I double the amount [clarification: I shower multiple times a week… but only wash my hair like that once weekly.] The conditioner lasts me quite awhile — I think it took nearly 3 months to go through one bottle. Occasionally, just for fun and a more ‘beachy’ look, I’ll add a very little sea salt [straight from the kitchen] to my water sprtiz.
Q: I like dying my hair, so… how does that work?
A: Pretty much just follow instructions on the DIY box or from your salon stylist to the letter. When it comes to cleaning the hair, just stick to your usual no-poo routine.
Q: What are some of the greatest benefits you’ve seen from going no-poo?
A: I don’t spend as much money on products. This has been a huge weight off my mind and spirit — before I felt like shampoo and conditioner were absolute needs 100% of the time. They’re not. I don’t spend as much time in the bathroom, though that point could be argued as I love playing with my hair and experimenting with different braids. I’ve more time to enjoy that now, for the right reasons. I have a greater appreciation for y natural hair and wear it down more. I’m not as worried about my appearance, though I still make an effort to be presentable.
During the first 6 weeks, my hair WAS:
- A bit unruly
- Feeling a little oily
- Dandruff is a real thing
In the end, I realized that it only feels yucky to me. It certainly didn’t stink. My conditioner smells like coconuts. It was unruly, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Dandruff was the grossest thing about it as the dandruff mixed with oils in my hair and the mess it left in my brush was less than appealing.
Styling Sans Products
Having purposefully lost my flat iron, hair dryer and various hair styling paraphernalia, one might imagine I’ve completely given up styling my hair. Maybe you cringed at the thought your own hair al-naturale [I’ll bet it looks amazing]. No. I’ve not stopped styling my hair or pinning it up. Though I enjoy wearing it down, too. But I’ve learned It’s entirely possible to fix hair without spraying, spritzing, blowing, ironing, curling or making your man wait 5 hours… [but do make him wait sometimes, there’s a certain romance to waiting for the lady].
- Rinse or spray [with water]. Rinsing gets it completely wet while spraying will dampen it. I use full rinses for any day I need a fresh slate, and spray for any day I want to define my curls and waves.
- After rinsing I towel dry and then air dry. I pause occasionally as it dries to scrunch my fingers through my hair.
- After spritzing, I scrunch the hair while it hangs upside down. From there, I usually go straight to styling how I want if I’m putting it up. I pin it with hairpins. I try to avoid elastics as they usually pull or weaken my hair.
I hope this has been informative for any wishing to try this out. Please don’t be discouraged. It’s truly worth it in the end. If you’ve any further concerns about the no-poo method, I would encourage you to check out this video.