Why isn’t No Poo working for you?

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I’ve had a metric ton of conversations with folks over the last few years about No Poo.

(For the uninitiated, that has nothing to do with digestive function. It’s all about quitting conventional shampoo!)

I’ve been “No Poo-ing” for awhile now, and continue to be totally in love with this simple, cheap solution. Yet it doesn’t work for everyone, and over time I’ve landed on a few main reasons why.

I wrote about it at my Purely Primal Skincare blog. Click here to read the full post!

Why isn't No Poo working for you?


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  1. Terri Brown says

    I found that when I first quit using shampoo I needed to do the baking soda/ACV thing every other day for about a week and then gradually less and less till my hair adjusted. Now I only do it about twice a month. I do rinse with just water every morning. My hair is curly and looks freaky after sleeping on it at night. It is also quite oily and needs the daily rinse.
    I love doing no poo. My hair was getting so dried out with shampoo and now it looks so much better. It is weird though how gunky it feels when it’s wet. The natural lanolin or something I guess, but once it’s dry it looks great!

  2. CYS says

    Can you also talk about why a lot of people who start using no-poo also start having dandruff problems even though they never had problems with dandruff before using conventional shampoo and conditioner? That is also a huge concern and why some people ultimately give up no-poo in the end. 🙁

    • says

      Hmm, I have never heard that before! Usually I hear of people RESOLVING dandruff with No Poo. I think this likely has to do with either truly dry scalp, which can be a hard water issue as well (most shampoos have “extra” junk that compensates for this) OR incorrect scalp pH, which would require playing with amount and timing of the vinegar rinse.

    • Rochelle says

      Thank you! I would get dandruff when I was younger and didn’t get in and wash my scalp well but I had it under control until starting ‘no poo’. I have city water so I doubt it is hard water. I’ve been rinsing the ACV quickly so I’ll try letting it sit a bit.


    • Dawn says

      I started no-poo about a month ago and cannot get rid of this oil! Now I have dandruff and I’ve never had dandruff in my life. I’m assuming the water is the culprit. I will move on to other options, but really wanted the no-poo method to work. My entire scalp is extremely oily, full of dandruff, and very flat… the ends are very dry. Any suggestions, please let me know. On a positive note, I bought the Skintervention Guide and it’s incredible! I refuse to go back to conventional anything, so I’m not giving up, regardless of the guck on my head!

  3. jen says

    Thanks for this post
    From the picture it seems that you just have really strong hair-the type of hair that looks good even when washed with dish soap! I am wondering if you have found on your travels if it works for hair that splits easily.


    • says

      Hi Jen! I can promise my hair doesn’t look good when washed with dish soap 😉 it’s actually pretty fine hair, and not especially naturally strong (but not weak either). It took a long time to find a balance because my hair would get very dry and brittle-feeling one day, then another it would feel sickeningly oily. If you’re not wanting to try No Poo, I think the Justnaturals line is good. Pricey, but good!


  4. jen says

    Thanks mucho. I think I will invest in the justnatural line for those times when I am getting my hair colored. I am week 2 in the no-poo zone and really, really want to make it work although I look fairly horrendous and consequently don’t feel so spiffy.


  5. Jane says

    I started “not poo-ing” in late April and, so far, so good. I am 55 and my hair is very thick, coarse, dry and about 50% grey. I used to use many products to tame this unruly mass and was stunned to see and feel the results of using baking soda and ACV. Stunned, I tell you. My hair and scalp feel clean and clear and I tame my frizzy ends with a small bit of oil. I used to wash my hair once a week (as long as I didn’t too sweaty in between) and now do the non-poo about every 5 days. I am sold!

  6. Lauren says

    Hi Liz,
    I’m thinking about taking the No ‘Poo plunge! I work out often and live in the hot desert, in between ‘washing’ days, what would you do to get rid of the scalp smell and sweat? Thanks so much!

    • says

      Hi Lauren! You might have to play around with this, and please let me know what you discover based on your climate. I often shower and rinse my hair in-between “washes” to get the yuck out! I recently moved to 15 acres full of wind and dust, so I totally understand and I’m learning too 🙂

  7. Colleen says

    Hi Liz,
    I found out about your site through the SCD guys.
    I was NO-POOing for about 3-4 months last year, but had an issue then just got lazy.
    I found that the baking soda was drying the ends, and the vinegar (used white vinegar at the time have since switched to ACV) left my hair (roots-midshaft) greesy.
    Have since switched back to a comercial (supposedly 98% pure) shampoo I had left over, but still rinsing (ends only) with ACV and water. I’ve found that a weaker (1:5) solution helps, as well as a spray bottle to target just the ends (temperature doesnt bother me as I’m not spraying any nerve endings).
    Now that I’ve cut my hair short (think Anne Hathaway), I was thinking of trying the baking soda again. Would you have any suggestions/tips?
    P.S. no hard water, but it is clorinated and floridated if that makes a difference.

    • says

      CUTE haircut! And welcome to the site!

      I would just jump right in and see how the standard No Poo works for you with your shorter hair. For some people, hair’s structure changes a bit as it grows longer, so you may find more success with the new haircut. I’ve recently bought a Berkey shower head that’s supposed to filter out chlorine, though I don’t know whether that makes a difference in No Poo. http://amzn.to/12F47lY

      You might also be able to go REALLY No Poo and try water-washing only!

      I also really like Just Natural products, especially this vinegar rinse cleanser. They are pricey, but with shorter hair you would get great mileage from them. http://amzn.to/SPQzR9

      • Colleen says

        I’ve started using the BS and water again this week, and it’s going well so far. I wash every 2-3 days because I have naturally oily skin. I find with very dense hair the solution has difficulty finding the roots, but I’m going to try using one of those Barbecue condiment bottles, maybe that will help.
        I read somewhere (maybe here) that leaving the ACV on too long can cause greasy hair so I’ve tried rinsing right away, which seams to help.
        Thanks again 🙂

  8. says

    So, I am about to try this but I’m wondering about conditioner? I have very long, thick, frizzy hair that is somewhere between wavy and curly. It’s always a mess! 🙂 It is almost always dry, and I sometimes get dandruff/dry scalp, (though I think that may be a hormonal imbalance problem) but it gets oily super fast (sometimes overnight if I wash it before bed, super weird). I wash it now 3-4xs a week to try keeping the natural oils there. I have put countless amounts of hair products in there to tame frizz and none really work that great. I NEED conditioner in my hair or it’s dry as straw and no chance of taming any frizz… or leaving the house for that matter, lol. Have you had any commenters talk about a conditioner alternative, or is this regimen supposed to take care of moisturizing enough that you might be able to stop using it? Thanks!

    • Colleen says

      I don’t know if this is helpful. Try leaving the ACV on a little longer. If I dont rinse my hair right away it gets greasy, maybe it works the opposite way as well.
      Also I have oily roots/dry ends. and find if I concentrate the BS (Baking Soda) on the roots only, and ACV (apple cider vinegar) on the ends only it helps.
      Though I’ve only recently started up again, so far it’s working out.

  9. Toni Cooper says

    Hi Liz, I am 54 and have been moving toward a paleo way of life over the last 1 1/2 years. I have been using the ‘no poo’ method of cleansing my hair for about 2 months now and I LOVE IT. Although I find using a lemon rinse is much better than ACV for me. I love the way it feels squeaky clean. I have very long hair (now) and have no problems styling it. I only wash my hair once or twice a week. Now that I know this will work for me I will be giving away my shampoos and conditioners. I will not miss the expense of these purchases.
    You know – it’s funny – we had a large family growing up and when the shampoo and conditioner ran out – guess what our mom made us use – that’s right – baking soda and ACV. But back then I was embarassed because I thought it was because we were poor (well we kinda were- 6 kids) But now I see my mom was way ahead of the curve – who knew LOL. Thank you Liz for all the information and assistance you provide.

  10. says

    It took me a while to find my no-poo sweet spot. One thing that I swear by is rosemary oil with the typical baking soda. I tried tea tree for a long time, but for some reason rosemary really gets my hair nice and clean. I still use regular conditioner, however, because I always end up with so much left over when I get shampoo/conditioner sets. Once that runs out, I will start experimenting with other things again (I was not a fan of apple cider vinegar.)

  11. Maureen says

    I found it hard to stick to the vinegar and baking soda rinse. Instead, I started using a little coconut oil in the evening, about a teaspoon, rubbed into the scalp and then worked out to the ends. I sleep in it, then take a hot shower and comb the oils through my hair with a very fine toothed comb while the hot water is running through it. I’ve been doing this for about a year now. My hair ends up feeling thicker, shines beautifully, and fly-aways are tamed… and it bounces. I’ve never had hair that bounced and moved with me before… at least, not as an adult. For reference, I am 47, and my hair is a little below shoulder-length, very fine (but fairly thick), wavy/curly, and about 40% grey.

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