This post was originally published in January 2011. It has been revised and republished! Check out my results here.
No Poo. Nope, we’re not talking about digestion. We’re talking about Shampoo. Which, when broken down, turns in to several very unsavory words: Sham and Poo.
I’m pretty convinced that my shower routine over the first twenty-(blah) years of my life was just that – a sham.
When I discovered Wheat Protein (aka, GLUTEN) in my conditioner, I was…curious. What about gluten was worth stuffing in to a hair care routine? Seemed to just be another processed product, not unlike processed food. So, I circled the globe (virtually) in an attempt to find a better option for shampoo. I found the fabulous Gluten Free Savonnerie, which caters to those with allergies to conventional products.
I loved their goodies, but I thought I could go even more natural than that. Plus, with having So. Much. Hair. I really needed to try to keep things affordable and save the lathery, luxurious stuff for special occasions.
I’d heard rumblings about something called the No Poo method for some time, where you simply use baking soda diluted in water to “cleanse” your hair and diluted apple cider vinegar to “condition.” I’d never been brave enough to try it. But suddenly, I looked down to find I was wearing a pair of rock-solid Big Girl Pants. What better time in my life is there to detoxify my beauty routine? I was going to do it.
The idea behind “No Poo” is to go 100%, completely hippie natural. To STOP letting commercial shampoo “confuse” your hair by stripping oil, replacing oil, and telling your hair it will call when it won’t.
Surprisingly, after a rough introductory period (headbands. Ponytails. More headbands.) my hair is doing extremely well. See my results page for more, plus a photo.
While your proportions of baking soda to water and dilute apple cider vinegar will vary, here’s what I do for my super-long hair:
- 1 Tbs. baking soda diluted in 1-2 cups of warm water (mixed in the shower). Shake mixture in a mason jar, pour over head, gently work into hair and rinse.
- 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar diluted in 1-2 cups of warm water (mixed in the shower). Shake mixture in a mason jar to blend, pour over head and IMMEDIATELY rinse.
- See “why isn’t no poo working for you?” to troubleshoot.
For this cheap, super simple routine, Baking Soda clarifies and removes build-up and Apple Cider Vinegar restores your scalp’s natural pH balance.
Remember, however, that the goal with this routine is to NOT have to wash every day. Just like you don’t use clarifying shampoo daily, you don’t want to use a powerful cleanser like baking soda every single day. It’s just more firepower than is necessary. I worked my way to about 3 times per week, and it’s all I need.
Once my scalp regained its ability to regulate its own oil production (a week or two) I had a much happier head. Now, I keep a huge mason jar full of baking soda in the shower and use it to exfoliate, de-stink, and gently wash my hair.
I worked this into my regimen slowly, alternating every few days with shampoo & conditioner from the Gluten-Free Savonnerie, until my scalp adjusted.
I’ve also taken to wearing my Birkenstocks and Phish T-shirt in the shower, but I’ve been told that’s a natural part of the hippie transformation and nothing to worry about.
The suck factor? ACV stinks. The smell will evaporate on its own as your hair dries, but I add a single drop of essential oil to my diluted vinegar (SHAKE WELL) to cover up the acrid smell from the get-go. I’m a bit biased, but the essential oils from Young Living seem to be the best by far.
Share your crap-free skin tips with me in the comments! If you’re hungry for more natural skincare secrets, I also share over 200 pages of clear skin secrets in my Purely Primal Skincare Guide. While I try to answer comments, if you’ve got a more in-depth issue, you might consider checking it out!
Thanks for reading!
Great post! Thanks for leading the way! I have a jar of baking soda in the shower, but have yet to use it. I’m waiting to use up the nasty stuff first. I’ll let you know how it goes! Oh, and the OCM is divine. There’s no going back now. Point me to the nearest drum circle 😛
Looking forward to hearing your experiences! And when you find that drum circle, call me – I’ll be there with Birks on.
where do you buy essiential oils?
You can buy them at Whole Foods, and a great online source – mountainroseherbs – dot – com.
Awesome! Glad you like it! Thanks for linking to my post 🙂
I’ve learned so much from you, Crystal! Love this blogosphere 🙂
I am in the process of writing a blog post for this same thing. I have been poo free for about two months. I am a guy so this wasn’t as big of a change for me. But I use the same process as you just a little less Baking soda and ACV. It works great, my scalp doesn’t itch, my hair looks thicker and isn’t greasy anymore.
Also, I put a little tea tree oil in the ACV.
Love the site.
I will keep an eye out for your post! I do like the Tea Tree – my husband used JASON Tea Tree Oil shampoo until we just started using the dang Tea Tree Oil. I’m recommending TTO in a post I just submitted for a Paleo Challenge. Today I forgot to dilute my TTO with water before I applied it to my face, and YOWZA! It was a little tingly!
Hey! Great posts. So, I’ve had psoriasis on my scalp as long as I can remember, and I’ve found two things help: Paleo diet + rinsing with vinegar as the last step before I leave the shower. I’ve gotten used to the vinegar smell by now (have been using white vinegar over 10+ years), and barely notice it unless I’ve just shaved my legs and it washes over them (it stings!)
I also tried the OCM last night. I have acne (again, it virtually disappears when I am strict with Paleo eating), and also am weaning myself off synthetic products.
One line of bath products I am pretty faithful to is called Lush. They use a high % of natural ingredients, and they are ever committed to finding more natural & responsible sources for ingredients. They’re not 100% perfect, but I trust them more than other companies.
I’m recommending Lush deodorant for a post I’m writing for CrossFit Love’s Paleo Challenge! I need to check out more of their products. I am a Cocoa Pink lover as well. I’m not surprised the vinegar helps with your scalp! From what I understand, it’s a powerful pH balancer. That vinegar smell is gnarly – I’m still getting used to it! Please keep in touch about the OCM!
Hey! I’m back. I’ve started using coconut oil at night to moisturize my face, and I apply a *very tiny* amount to my hair after getting out of the shower, while it is still wet. So far, seems to work well! The coconut oil calms some flaky patches on my face that were getting exacerbated from dry winter air.
Thanks! 🙂 (I might be convinced to try No Poo sometime – I am actually going on vacation in late March-that might be a great time to experiment).
Nice! I just remarked to my husband as I dried/styled my hair how irritating it is to think back on all the pricey shampoos and conditioners I bought over the years when baking soda and ACV provide the exact same results! Although it’s probably not easy to get through airport security with a baggie of baking soda 🙂
I am buying all natural shampoo today actually because I can’t stand what my scalp has become. I’m not sure my fine, limp, greasy hair can handle this routine without me looking like a homeless crackhead, and then what if they daycare people call DFS? lol
When you add the oils, do you add them directly your hair? Do they totaly cover up the smell or do you still smell like vinegar?
I’m thinking of shaving it all off and starting new. LOL It’s too bad I would look like grimace.
I’ve thought the same thing a few times, AA. Just shave it off and start over 😉
It was a real rough transition from regular ‘Poo to BS/ACV but it’s so cool to see how my hair is naturally balancing itself now. I did make liberal use of the ponytail in the interim, though. I’m doing a post for CrossFit Love’s challenge on Paleo Personal Care in a few days so you may be interested…I’m posting a discount code for one of my favorite natural retailers, Cocoa Pink!
I was adding a drop of Sweet Orange oil to the ACV (conditioner) mixture, but now I’ve added a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water and have used that on still-wet hair. Honestly, I’m still not happy until I dry my hair and the smell is irradicated. When I don’t feel like drying I’ve been using shampoo/conditioner from the Gluten-Free Savonnerie and I really like it!
I am so glad to see you post about this! I have been hemming and hawing on trying the ‘poo free movement for awhile now, I just may have to take the jump and do it. At least headbands and cute hats are plentiful this winter season, so I can try to keep the nasty stage of it underwraps for the most part. I have been doing the OCM this past week and I can not believe how soft my skin is now!
Gonna try it.
Here’s a paleoism that may blow your mind: It is not necessary to wash your hair in the wintertime more often than every 1-2 weeks. Try it. Saves time, effort, AND WATER! No way can your hair absorb so much dirt etc. that it needs daily attention.
GASP! Thinkaboudit. Give your hair time to self-adjust to winter conditions. If you’re streaming sweat from hard work, your smart little scalp-cover knows how to handle it.
Better the slight, sweet smell of a healthy head of balanced hair than a long future of water-rationing.
Lush has some great smelling bath items, and if you catch them the day after holidays you can get their seasonal products deeply discounted.
I haven’t used sham-POO in years and found my hair is so much happier without it! Not only am I saving money on not buying it but definitely taking time off of my morning routine. I have a head full of curls and not a one misses the poo. Thanks for the post!
That is awesome to hear! I think happy hair is my “unicorn.” 🙂 I will keep up with your blog – I just got L1 certified and I looove keeping up with all things CrossFit!
I have to quote a bumper sticker I saw once: “Down with the sham. Demand REAL poo!”
Hi! I love your blog…I have a random question. I really want to try the no-poo, but I get my blonde hair highlighted every 3 months. I know my hairdresser will look at me like I’m on crack if I ask her not to wash the bleach out with regular shampoo, and it would probably burn my scalp off ha…would washing with regular shampoo mess up the oil balance up again? I dont want to have to start all over. Do you color your hair? Just wondering if there were natural hair color options out there. Sorry for all the questions…thank you!
Hi Stephanie! I am going to write about this soon…but in short, I do dye my hair. I haven’t found a “natural” dye that does the job of all those horrendous chemicals 😉 so that’s one I just take for the team (as in, the I Hate Grey Hair team). I’m still working on finding a decent dye! I’d say just let the salon do their thing. I mix the No ‘Poo method with a day or two of using crap-free shampoo from Cocoa Pink (cocoapink.net, much like the products from Lush), and that does NOT mess up my hair; but if I use “regular” drug store stuff it does mess with the balance of my scalp and it’s hard to go back to No ‘Poo/Crap Free without yet another “adjustment period.” Hope that helps!
I love your posts, and LOVE, love, love the OCM! It has SAVED me!!! I was wondering what your favorite shampoo and conditioner is from coca pink and what other products you like from there? Thanks
Oh gosh, it’s so hard to pick! I love the protein-free conditioner and their citrus scents are suuuuper juicy! I also love any of the body butters. I’m not in love with their OCM products, but everything else is really fab. You really can’t go wrong!
Hi CaveGirl, How often do you wash your hair when you are doing the no poo? I have a lot of hair and hate washing it! I usually wash it every other day and by the end of the second day it starts looking a little greasy. I’m curious if going no-poo would allow me to maybe make it three or four days without washing. Thanks!
Probably only 3-4 times per week. I have pretty long hair (way past my shoulders) and dislike the daily was as well. After adjusting to the regimen (a few weeks) I found that I didn’t get that fabulous greasy halo after a day; I can definitely go at least 2 days without washing! Sometimes I’ll even go 3, in which case a ponytail is a good bet.
I will say, you’ve got to really make sure you get all the soda washed out. As my hair has grown out, I’ve found I’m really grateful for the detachable shower head because it allows me to really get in there and rinse well.
When I switched from washing daily to every other day I used oatmeal in a shower cap to help combat the nasty greasy yuckiness of my hair. Just put it on as you are sitting around in the evening or as you are getting ready in the morning,,, leave on for 20 or 30 minutes and it really helped. Don’t see why it wouldn’t help while transitioning to no ‘poo!
All baking soda is aluminum free, even the dirt cheap stuff. Don’t bother spending the bucks for Bob’s! All baking soda is sodium bicarbonate — NaHCO3. No Al sneaking in there, or it wouldn’t be baking soda!
Nice! I figured. I think I was confusing baking soda with baking powder? Or perhaps it’s a cross-contamination thing due to processing or transport? (Kind of like gluten contamination of oats?)
When you first put the baking soda/water on, are you putting it on your dry hair or do you wet your hair first and then do the baking soda?
I get in the shower, wet down my hair just as if I were using regular shampoo, mix the BS and H2O, pour over my head, massage in/around, then rinse as if it were normal shampoo! I am pretty religious about rinsing since it’s hard to tell if you’ve gotten it all out in the absence of suds.
Do you add the essential oil to the ACV or put it on your hair after? I’m still in the starting phase with my hair and the smell is kinda gross, and my hair is doing the frizzy thing but I’m trying to stick it out. Also do you ever use a tiny amount of the coconut oil like a anti-frizz serum? My hair is real long and hard to manage. Thanks for all this again its so nice to have someone to ask questions, my best friend and I are doing this at the same time, and so far her hair never went thru the crazy stage (lucky snach). SHe also does’n t dye her hair and I just did, can that affect it?
Hi Heather! I had no problems with my dyed (highlighted/colored reddish-brown from mousy brown) hair. I haven’t dyed it in months and don’t plan to use (conventional) dye again. I haven’t been able to figure out whether No ‘Poo is problematic for lightened hair, but I really suspect it’s not! I really like Tara’s advice RE: the boar bristle brush. Genius! Also, I blow-dry my hair usually, which gets rid of the ACV smell quickly…but I have to admit I’ve just gotten used to it and don’t usually worry about the essential oils anymore.
You can use Coconut oil as a spot-frizz reducer, just be super careful with it! A tiny bit goes a long way!
If you have prolonged trouble with this method, it could also be that your water isn’t within a “hardness” range that’s optimal. I’ve noticed that this method works differently depending on the part of the country I’m in…but it always works at least “ok!” I apologize that I can’t offer more of an explanation on that angle…I’ll work on that…
I have found that if I spray in a leave in conditioner that I don’t have as much of a vinegar smell. I do add essential oil to the ACV but it didn’t get totally rid of the smell as much as the leave in did. I never had the really the frizz problem and I have curly long hair. Before I started this I only washed my hair every other day or so, if you were a daily washer that might affect you more. I also brush my hair with a boar’s hair brush BEFORE washing. This helps distrubute your natural oils to protect the hair as you cleanse it. You might try that and see if it helps.
Well I’ve just started trying the ‘no-poo’ method on my VERY long hair (it nearly touches the top of my pants). I am in day 2 of the ‘adjustment phase’ and it’s not too nice, but I’m planning to stick with it for 30 days to give it a good go.
The top is fine, but the length feels a bit chalky. I did spend a good 5 minutes rinsing, do you think I haven’t got all the BS out? I’m also finding it VERY difficult to comb and detangle after washing. Any hints for that?
On a positive note, the last time I tried ‘no-poo’ was with a natural clay wash, which left my hair in a HORRIBLE static mess (I looked like I’d been electrocuted!) and so far not a hint of static. Will keep people posted on the results….
Well I’ve been doing the no-poo method now for a month and I have RESULTS! I went through a VERY rough transition phase (dull, lank, frizzy, dry even sticky) and it has only just come good. My very long (down to the top of my jeans) hair is now shiny soft and light!
One big problem I had with having such long hair was that it was easy enough to wash the roots and ends with the BS solution, but I had major trouble working it into the mid-lengths. This left me with oily, sticky grossness and made it really hard to manage (I just kept it up in french braids most of the time).
The way I managed to solve this was by thoroughly combing all the tangles out and then sectioning my hair into 6 and clipping them out the way. Then in the shower I unclip and wash each section one by one (working up from the bottom) and combing the solution through with a detangling comb. Dividing it into sections also makes it easier to wash the BS solution out. It all takes a bit more planning and time but it gives a MUCH better result for long hair.
I’m happy to post photos of the results if anyone wants.
While we’re on the subject of hair, what do you suggest for coloring? I don’t want to go back to using all of those chemicals, but I need something!
I have been no poo for 17 days now and I am having a HUGE issue with flakes! I have been using just under 1 tbsp BS to 1 cup water and 1 tbsp ACV to 1 cup water with a few drops rosemary EO. It’s so flaky that I wont leave my house. Please HELP!!!
The terrain of everyone’s scalp (and the mineral content of their home water) is so different that it’s hard to say exactly how to help you! you could stick it out for a bit; you could add more ACV to the routine; you could switch to something like castille or lye soap instead of baking soda. (keep the ACV, though!)
I am curious about something. For those of you who have already tried this, do you live in the city of the woods?
I am on day two of my No Poo (Without using the Baking soda/AVC..I will!) and I feel like my pillow cases are filthy and this may just be a mental thing but, I think I feel things crawling on my scalp. haahaa I live in the woods so it is very possible to have bugs.
Would my bed be a breeding ground for bed bugs if my hair isn’t clean? I really am concerned about the city/woods life style differences. I’d appreciate any and all comments.
I hope this works out for everyone!! -Rose
Hi Rose! I don’t have much advice for you, as I live in the city…but I know people in more rural settings who are able to implement the process with no trouble. It could be mental…I’ve had similar experiences 🙂
I’d like to give this a try, but I’ve found that if I don’t use conditioner, my hair gets very snarly. Any suggestions?
The Apple Cider Vinegar is used as a conditioner in this regimen, but you could also sub a mix of castille soap and coconut milk as your shampoo rather than baking soda. This might help keep the snarls at bay. Personally, I have to make sure my hair is very well-brushed before I shower – otherwise I’ll be in for it after! (My hair is VERY long!)
Hi Liz! You’re website is great and so is the podcast that you and Diane are doing! Thank you! I’ve been trying no poo for 2.5 weeks now and today I broke down and used my regular shampoo (insert sad face) b/c my hair was uber oily AND super staticky (sp?). I really don’t want to give in to “the man,” so I’m hoping you can help. First of all, do you do any heat styling to your hair – blow dry or straighten? Do you have any issues the static when you do this? Secondly, I’ve been reading that the BS might be what is causing the static b/c of how it throws off the ph balance. Do you think the coconut milk/castille soap that you recommended above would be better? I’ve tried to add honey into the BS, but that doesn’t help. I think I’m also going to order some gluten-free shampoo and alternate between that and BS for awhile. When you were first adjusting your hair to the regimine, did you shampoo every day?
Thanks so much for what you do, and for all of your princess bride, SNL and other hilarious references. It makes me chuckle.
Thank you so much Amanda! I hope I can answer some of your questions…
I do heat style my hair – blow-dry, straighten, curl, you-name-it. No static issues, except when the air starts to get more dry in the wintertime. I can’t speak to the pH issue with regards to baking soda and static, but I do know that the point of the Apple Cider Vinegar step is to re-balance the pH of the scalp/hair, which it seems to do for me (still don’t know how that relates to static, though)! Lately, since my hair has gotten so long, I’ve been adding a splash of Dr. Bronner’s Castille soap to my baking soda step to make sure I “get” all the hair. I find that the coconut milk makes for a nice, soft lather, and you might like it better! What I’ve concluded about “No ‘Poo” overall is that some people just can’t get adjusted to it – and my theory is that it’s because of the varying mineral content of different peoples’ water supply, and how hard/soft their water is. It seems to change how the baking soda works on the hair. When I stay in hotels, for example, my hair reacts totally differently to the regimen than the way it does at home – so when I travel, I’ll often use what I call “crap-free” shampoo from CocoaPink.net or GFSoap.com. It’s just a safer bet than having a rat’s nest on my head when I go do workshops. And another important point – I do NOT shampoo every day. Every other day at most, at this point. With the Henna, which can be a bit drying, I shampoo even less. (I kind of like it that way! No more grease mop!) At the beginning I probably shampoo-ed daily, but I was worried my hair would dry out and wanted to transition out of the “rinse natural oils out” process. When I condition overnight with coconut oil, however, I have to use a heavy-duty shampoo to make sure it all comes out. Not sure if that’s defeating the purpose 🙂
I hope this helps! Don’t feel bad if you can’t seem to adjust to the No Poo regimen. It’s not going to work for everyone, and it’s certainly not within your control! I definitely suggest looking for a wheat-free (gluten-free) conditioner, and I know Cocoa Pink and GF Soap both have those. Interestingly, when I use more chemically-oriented hair products now, I get headaches and just feel…buzzy. It’s strange. That stuff really does have an effect.
Keep in touch!
I have been no ‘poo for just over a year now. Suddenly in the last month or so my hair feels yucky. Kind of oily and like there is just “gunk” on it. I haven’t changed anything other than I am now taking a bath instead of shower,,, remodeling the bathroom,,, but I have made an extra effort to rinse well. Even before I went no ‘poo I was only washing every other day or so but now I really want to wash daily,,, it just feels ewwwie.
Hm, not sure Tara! I can say that sometimes, just like food, our bodies have different needs. I always tell folks that there will be times in life when you need more/less protein, for example, so perhaps your needs have just changed a bit! There’s no shame in tweaking and changing things if they stop working. Also, I’ve found that when I travel, if the water is more/less mineralized, my hair will react differently to the regimen. It may just be a change in your water, if you’re remodeling your bathroom! You may want to try a new cleansing method – castille soap, maybe lye soap, or a gentle shampoo bar. You may even want to add a shot of castille soap to the baking soda cleanse. Let me know if you experiment and how it goes!
I am a guy with very short (shaved) hair. You think this method would be of any use to me? I’m trying to de-crappify every aspect of my life and like the idea of ditching the chemical-laden shampoo I currently use. I’m thinking a healthy scalp is beneficial no matter the length of your hair.
Also, I’ve been using the OCM (at your advice) for about a week now and LOVE it. My skin has never felt and looked better. Thanks!
Hey Jeff! I think this could absolutely work for you, and it’d me amazingly cost-effective given you have less hair. My husband uses the method. You probably would only need to cleanse your hair MAX once or twice per week. You could even try just using water! Keep in touch!
I will, thanks.
Can I ask how often you have to wash your hair? I attempted the No Poo method a few years ago and it was horrible, but the goal of that method was go eventually get to where you didn’t wash your hair at all. I have used the baking soda/ACV before with great results. From reading this article and the results article, this method still allows for you to eventually get to where your hair regulates the oil production?
Hi Ashley – I wash my hair about 2-3 times per week. I generally only wear my hair down when it’s fresh-washed, but the rest of the days’ ponytails are not dirty or greasy by any means. I just find the effort of curling and/or straightening more intensive than a nice sock bun or low pony 🙂 This didn’t used to be the case – I used to have to wash daily whether I planned on a ponytail or not. I imagine it took about 4 months before I realized that was the case. I think some folks’ goals is to stop washing altogether, but that’s never been my goal. For me, it’s just a great alternative to gunky shampoos…and I’d definitely say my oil production is better-regulated than before. Hope that helps!
I tried No ‘Poo last summer. I washed my hair dutifully as outlined above and… ugh! NO WAY!
There was much wailing and nashing of teeth. Birkenstocks and Phish T-shirts appeared in the garbage the next day.
My very fine, very straight hair looked like I washed it in the Gulf of Mexico circa Deepwater Horizon. It was a total non-starter and I went right back to my pricey, natural/organic shampoo.
Fast-forward 14 months and I started flirting with the idea of doing it again. I really liked the idea of saving some major denaro and well, they were threatening to revoke my Treehugging-Hippie card. I did a little more googling and found a website devoted to trouble-shooting No ‘Poo. I picked up an interesting nugget of information- wash the roots with baking soda and only apply ACV to the TIPS!
I tried this the other night, and golly-gosh-be- it worked! Beautiful, clean, shiny, BUT NOT GREASY, hair! That was two days ago. I’ve been using a sprinkle of organic cornstarch on the roots to keep the Exxon Valdez disaster away before it’s time to wash it again. Needless to say, I’m really excited! I’m hoping this time No ‘Poo will be successful. I can do ponytails at work, but baseballs caps are a no-go, so I don’t have the luxury of a long & terrible ‘detox’ period.
*crosses fingers* Hopefully, I will be able to report more good things in a couple of weeks. 🙂
oh!! this might solve my issues!! I have fine/straight hair as well so sounds like it could be a similar issue… THANK YOU !!
I have also heard of using Kombucha as a hair rinse. Has anyone doing “no-poo” heard or tried this?
I need help I think. I am struggling with the no ‘poo method… I am not sure what I am doing wrong exactly. I am really working the baking soda into my scalp and massaging it in. I have been told that if this isnt done well (and let it sit a couple minutes) then you will have a greasy scalp. I am doing this but my hair still isnt coming “clean” and it is also VERY static-y too… so I end up keeping it tied back all the time. I have started alternating with the gluten-free shampoo just to ease my stress level (only a couple times a week max)… help!! The first day I did it, it was a magical experience with magical results… it has been spiraling since
Hi Jaime…could be the mineral content of your water…are you conditioning with ACV as well? That’s important. Also, keep in mind that there’s an adjustment process (mine took 2-3 weeks if I remember correctly). It doesn’t work for everyone, so don’t feel bad! My skin/body care guide coming out in the next few weeks will hopefully help.
my neighbor recently told me that our water has a higher salt content (issues with my orchids)… I am using ACV as a rinse afterwards. This morning I tried using a liquid rather than paste version of the baking soda, thinking maybe it wasnt adequately covering my scalp. the first couple weeks I added some essential oil to my ACV to help with the “lovely scent” and it hasnt helped, so today I switched things a bit and added it to my argan oil that I use after (on the strands and ends, not near the scalp). I think I am going to have a couple week period for my hair to adjust as well but I am not sure how I am going to deal with this amazing pickle scent I now have lol. I like pickles, but I dont want to be THAT girl at the office… oh, and I am single so this might be a not-so-fun dating conversation piece lol…. aaahhhhh! help!
Too funny! Yes, the mineral content of your water can definitely make a difference. I’ll address alternative options in my guide, which should be out in a few weeks. Do you dilute the ACV? I use it diluted (~2TBS in 2 cups water at this point, rinsing immediately after I pour it over) and don’t have a problem with the smell because it evaporates rather quickly!
I have been doing no-poo for about 2.5 years. I love it, but I have the driest scalp ever. By day 2, it is itchy, by day 3, I have to shower and wash the head just to get the dry skin out of it. Anyone else doing no-poo with super dry scalp issues? I keep doing it because I have never found a shampoo that really did a much better job. I just think there is something I can tweak. I am going to try the OCM for my face, which I don’t have much trouble with, except that I live in the driest, high altitude (and now super cold and windy) environment.
Sounds like your skin probably loses water at a REALLY high rate based on where you live. Are you using the ACV to restore the pH after you use the baking soda? Hopefully you’ll find something useful in my guide coming out in a few weeks 🙂
AAAAHHHH! diluted… lol yeah, I have just started doing that since you mentioned here – definitely helps with the smell the oiliness of my scalp is getting better over the last couple days but my hair is dry. I am still figuring and testing this process – THANK YOU for your help!
Keep in touch!
Jaime! Your issues sound just like mine a few weeks ago. I live in Sweden and am home for the holidays in North Carolina, and I felt like my adjustment period was lasting forever (2 months) but i didn’t want to give up. I DO think it’s all about the water. In Sweden, I tried the paste version of the BS, and the 1 TBsp to 1 cup water. Both ok..but again a 2 month oil/dry period would make anyone quit. I read on another blog about boiling the water first adding the baking soda to make the rinse, letting it cool, then using. Genius!!!!
Now that I’m home I realized just by smelling our tap water in NC (in a city/not far from farmland area) that there’s so much chlorine in tapwater here in the US.
So i’ve decided that no matter where you live, you have to get your baking soda to dissolve into the water before using, that way the (+) and (-) ions in the salt work with the polarized water molecules (freed up from the minerals once heated). Long technical story short, you’ll maximize the experience by letting the BS dissolve into heated water (mine actually fizzed) let it cool, put it into a old ketchup squirter from Walmart, use the nozzle to get to your scalp, and go from there. I’ve had no problems with the ACV rinse (I put that in the mustard bottle) and voila!
Note: I also attribute the 2 month transition period to having long hair. I do NOT suggest combining this method the Moroccan Oil or products that have argon oil and silicon. If anyone is curious why, just reply. I have several sources and first-hand experience
Anna, that is absolutely brilliant! I am going to try it. thank you SOO much!
Hi Liz! Thanks so much for your awesome blog and all the great info. I just started the no poo thing and I have a question…how important is it to use the raw unfiltered ACV? Is it awful to use the stuff that comes in the jug for like 2 bucks?
I think it’s much more important to get unfiltered for skin and digestive use, but not as much for the hair! Feel free to grab that giant jug of filtered and let me know how it goes!
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It worked! I just found your website a few weeks ago and thought this whole idea sounded silly. But life provides opportunities to learn and I had a sudden onset of severe dandruff.
Anyhoo, I just did this. I had some vanilla musk oil to my half ACV/half water mixture to really clear things up after the baking soda.
My hair smells and feels amazing. And it’s the first time in over a week that there are no flakes when I touch my scalp!
I will cut back on ACV as it will be too drying over time but great for a few initial rinses.
Simple and cheap are great. 😉
I love this, Tessa! Thank you for taking the time to leave your feedback, I LOVE when people do that!
FYI – I rinse the ACV out immediately after I pour it over my head. Quick pH adjustment and rinse out before it has a chance to linger!
First, I just have to say that I have easily been 100% sold on every product, method, regime you have recommended, except the No Poo. I never thought in a million years I would consider doing this, but here I am 🙂 I honestly believe this is the best method for me, but it’s a struggle with how awful my hair is looking :-/ I’m in need of some suggestions! I have really long blonde hair, and I really take pride in how it looks and smells.
I just recently purchased the shampoo bar from Primal Life Organics. The first day I used the bar was Sunday (1/27/13), and I rinsed with ACV. My hair looked and felt super greasy. It was horrible. Day #2 I used it again, but diluted the ACV (under Trina’s recommendation). It seemed to be a little bit better, but still extremely greasy. Day #3 I just rinsed my hair with water. Still greasy. Day #4 I used the shampoo bar and rinsed with ACV, leaving it in for a few min (under your recommendation with the No Poo method). My hair is still really greasy. I do understand that it’s going to take time for my scalp to normalize itself, now that I’m not using all these crazy products. However, I was hoping to get any suggestions you may have. I noticed a lot of people have made comments that their hair is really dry. Mine is the exact opposite. Am I using too much soap? Too much ACV? Should I use the shampoo bar and ACV every day? I’ve thought about alternating the shampoo bar with the No Poo method. What would you recommend, Liz?
Your blog, podcast, and skintervention guide have changed my life! I cannot even begin to thank you enough.
Hi Kiley, I was reading in another blog (sorry Liz! lol) and the author stated that the baking soda is for the scalp and the ACV is for the actual hair. she recommended scrubbing and taking some time to work the baking soda into the scalp or oil can be an issue. when rinsing with the (diluted) ACV, try to get less on the scalp than on the hair (it is ok if they touch). my water content is pretty gross so I have to heat and combine the water and baking soda to combat that, to ensure they combine thoroughly… it is quite an adjustment for me but I am happy to get rid of yucky chemicals!
Thank you, Jamie! I’m currently using the shampoo bar from Primal Life Organics instead of the baking soda. I’m considering going back and forth between the shampoo bar and baking soda though to see if that helps. Thanks again!
It’s ok Jaime! Haha. Actually, this is interesting, because the way I understand it, and what I believe, is that the baking soda is for releasing dirt and oil (almost like gentle exfoliation rather than using a surfactant like SLS or saponified oil), but it drives the pH of the scalp too alkaline, and so ACV must be used (quickly) to return the scalp AND hair to its normal pH. It matters because the proper pH is required for the scalp to keep the proper balance of bacteria. Any thoughts on that idea? Seems to make sense to me, but I’m open to alternate perspectives!
Often when the mineral content of your water is super high, it helps to combine and heat up the BS/H2O mix, just like you’re doing! (I think that’s what you were saying, right?…)
This is just to make sure I know when a new comment is posted. I forgot to check the box earlier.
Hi Kiley! It is absolutely a process of adjustment. Here is my immediate advice…if this isn’t the ticket, let me know and we’ll brainstorm more!
I would recommend diluting the ACV with lots of water, pour it over (just so it makes contact with the hair and scalp) and rinse IMMEDIATELY. Leaving it on too long seems to cause an odd greasy/slippery feeling, and I’m thinking that’s what’s going on here. As you probably read in the guide, some of how this works is also determined by water hardness, but my gut feeling is that the issue here is the ACV rinse. But it also took about 2 weeks for my scalp and hair to fully adjust and normalize. I need to check my recommendations to be sure I’m not telling people to leave ACV in! I’m so sorry if I said that, it wasn’t intentional. I’ll go back and re-read my posts and the guide to be sure I phrased things right.
Let me know how that goes!
I will definitely start trying that! Should I be washing my hair every day? Today I just rinsed my hair in water, and it’s still super greasy. I’ve noticed that blow drying and using any sort of heat on my hair tends to make it feel and look even greasier too.
Before using this method I was washing my hair everyday with Head & Shoulders shampoo and Tresemme conditioner. If I didn’t wash my hair every day, it would start to get really greasy. I’m assuming this is just going to be an adjustment for my hair since I’m using much cleaner and healthier “products”. At first I was ready to give up, but now I’m just playing around with different ponytails until it can figure itself out. 🙂
Thank you so much for your suggestions, and for taking the time to help me out!
No problem! Honestly, at this point there’s no telling where this will all shake out in terms of how often you’ll need to wash. I would TRY to go at least 1 day without washing in between, if you can make use of headband and ponytail, just for the sake of allowing oil production to normalize. A little scalp massage never hurts either! If all else fails, there ARE some “clean” shampoos out there…but don’t give up just yet!
Hi Liz, I was also wondering what you used in your hair after you washed it? Do you use any styling products? I am thinking about going no-poo or at least using the g-free shampoo products but I feel like I need to put styling products in my hair after I have showered to give it body and help with curling etc. Any suggestions?
I don’t use any products at all, except now and then a dab of oil to smooth flyaways (more in the winter when there’s so much static electricity!) A super light oil would work well too. I was surprised by how much more body my hair had naturally after I started No Poo! There are a few recommendations in the Skintervention Guide too, if you have it. Specifically some of the JustNatural products (Amazon) and also homemade hair spray, which is just sugar dissolved in water! If you find anything else out there you like, let me know 🙂 I plan on having a few correspondent “experts” who can help with different unique aspects of hair care (african hair, curly hair) eventually!
I’ve been doing the No ‘Poo for about 3 weeks now and I think my hair is starting to adjust, although it still feels waxy…
But my question is… how do you get all the baking soda off your scalp?? No matter how long I rinse for, I still see it all over my brush and my scalp and hair when I’m brushing… Any advise??
PS: I’m LOVING the Skintervention Guide!!! I am 100% primal on the inside AND the outside now thanks to you!!! Typing this while warming up with some homemade chicken bone broth and loving it!! THANKS!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Thanks you Soledad! Love hearing this! It made my day – I shared your quote on the Skintervention Guide facebook page!
You may simply be using more baking soda than your hair needs…that said, when you use the ACV rinse, any baking soda that’s left should be neutralized and removed! I’m not totally sure what’s happening here…play with proportions and how much you’re using and report back if you can. Cool?
Cool. I’m currently using 2 T baking soda. Will use 1 next time and see how it goes! I’ll report back next time I wash my hair!!
I have scrolled through the comments here, but I have not seen my issue with “no poo” raised…so here it is.
I have been trying the method for three weeks and, while my scalp feels really good, my thick, very curly hair has gone absolutely whacko and is out of control! I don’t have an issue with an oily scalp; it is the reverse. Prior to this, I only washed my hair once a week, but conditioned every other day. Now I don’t know what to do. I use the BS first, mixed in water, followed up with ACV in water. I am doing it once a week, as I am afraid my hair will be even worse if I wash it more often. I have tried coconut oil afterwards to help with the dryness, but that leaves my hair flat and greasy looking. My husband, who seriously notices nothing, just said “what is going on with your hair? It looks a little dry?” So I know I look really funny!
Any thoughts on how to modify this method for people with really thick, dry hair? And any thoughts on how to get the curls back without resorting to gels?
Hi Amy! You don’t have to do this every day, so I think you’re tackling the regularity the right way. Here’s where my mind goes upon reading your question:
1) are you spritzing the coconut oil, or adding it in larger quantities? Sometimes the heavy/flat look can be because a bit too much is being applied. I like using a spritzer with melted oil, or you could try the lighter combination oils from Tropical Traditions.
2) are you brushing differently? Generally I don’t see curly hair go too “nuts” as long as the brushing/finger combing remains the same.
3) You MAY be a candidate for REAL “No ‘Po…” as in, water-only to let the natural oils of your scalp stay on your hair!
Let me know your thoughts and we can dig in to your question more from there.
Hi Liz, me again 🙁
Now I can’t seem to get my hair clean… it’s been a month of No ‘Poo and my hair is still waxy and even dirty looking and I just washed my hair yesterday… I’m using less baking soda because of it all not rinsing out, so i used 1.5 T and it still doesn’t all rinse out… And it looks dirty… What could my problem be?? should I shampoo with my old Nioxin to get it clean and start over?? It’s my father-in-law’s birthday today and I don’t want to look like I haven’t bathed in 3 weeks… :/
Sorry to keep posting all my questions!!!
Thank you again!
It may just be your water’s mineral content! As I said in the guide, some people just have water with mineral content that doesn’t allow the No Poo to work. I’m working on a few new ideas/alternatives for no ‘Poo, which I’ll put out there as soon as I have them better developed. For now, don’t feel bad if you can’t make this work! It’s not perfect for everyone! It may be time for you to try one of the other options in the guide 🙂
I am just starting my OCM and No Poo! I am super excited! My question is… do you have any suggestions for a natural volumizing product to put in your hair after you no poo.
Thanks! You Rock!
You might find you don’t even need it! My hair has much more volume than it ever used to! Other than that, I think if you style with a round brush as you blow-dry you should be able to get lots of good volume. JustNaturals has a few products that might work too. As far as homemade – not sure! I will do some digging!
You rock too!
I’ve been doing the no poo method for several months and LOVE IT. I guess I’m one of the few who tried it and IMMEDIATELY had wonderful results and felt so much better about my hair. I’ve been doing a little different formula though, Honey/BS/ACV (after wetting my hair I massage honey into my hair and scalp, rinse, pour mixture of water and 1 tablespoon baking soda through my hair, rinse, pour mixture of water and ACV through my hair, rinse).
I had really bad eczema and read that honey would calm it. So, one night, in desperation, after a really bad week of burning, itching outbreak, I washed my face and had immediate relief. So, decided I’d try it on my scalp and not only did it sooth my scalp but made my hair look really nice. After a little internet research I discovered I was not the only person crazy enough to wash their hair naturally!!! YEAH!
I’m not really sure what the honey does (you might be able to explain that) but I’m sticking with it. Good luck to all the newbie’s, stick with it, you may have to modify it a bit to fit your hair, but it’s worth it.
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How do you add the essential oils to get rid of the smell? Do you mix it in the routine or just apply?
Just put a few drops in the vinegar rinse before applying. I don’t tend to bother any more, as the smell evaporates anyway 🙂
I would love to try this method for my hair. But I’ve read elsewhere that hard water can reek havoc on the results and prevent my hair from ever adjusting. Any tips on how to do this with hard water? I’m working on getting a softener, but that’s still at least 6 months out.
It’s true, hard water will prevent you from getting the results you want 🙂 I think I’ve answered this Q before, so this may be redundant as you may have seen this on my site already: the only real solution I know, if you’re REALLY committed to doing it, is to boil the baking soda solution first, let it cool (of course) and then use that as your ‘Poo. Something about boiling changes how it works. No clue why – I’m no chemist 🙂
Hi Mandie, I live in Phoenix and we have terribly hard water. I have been on and off with this method because of the transition period and laziness. I tried the boiling method, it is ok if you are going to do that each time before you shower (that isnt going to work for me because I barely give myself enough time to get ready for work in the morning… not a morning person). I tried having a couple days worth of the boiled stuff in the shower, after the first day, it crystallizes on the bottom and the the baking soda is not actually part of the water and will not dissolve (unless boiled again). what I have found to work currently is making a paste of the baking soda in my left hand and using my fingertips on my right to methodically massage the paste onto my scalp. I let that sit while I do the rest of my shower duties, rinse thoroughly and then use the diluted (this is key or you smell gross!) ACV rinse. I do this for about four days, then a do a day of using Wen (rather than regular shampoo)… it breaks things up but helps my scalp transition to the new method. I will be eliminating the Wen soon (though, I do love that my hair smells like Thin Mints!) and just using the No-Poo method. it has taken me a LONG time to get to the point where I am not frustrated with my hair… so far so good. I recommend the paste over the rinse where hard water is concerned, and who doesnt like a scalp massage! 🙂 I hope this helps!
Thanks for jumping in on this, Jamie! I’m like you…don’t think I’d be in to boiling the mix every time. Not for me!
I am still a little scared to try the no poo method, although I LOVE oil cleansing. What I have been doing instead is gradually cutting back on how often I shampoo, and using better quality shampoos (John Masters Organics and Dr. Ron’s). I used to shampoo and style every single day. In the fall I cut back to every other day, and then gradually added more and more time in between. I have gone as long as a week, but generally shampoo and condition about twice a week. I have chin length, very fine hair that is highlighted. The condition of my hair has really improved with less washing. In between I brush well with a natural bristle brush to distribute the oil. I also use a little cornstarch as a dry shampoo. My hair used to be super oily, but cutting down on the shampooing has actually regulated the oil production, which is great. Might eventually go no poo, but this is working for now
Love it! Thanks for sharing that!
Just tried your no poo method for the first time and I’m beyond sold. I was already using a sulfate-free shampoo before so I think that’s why I’m having a better experience than some of the ladies above, but I can still see a difference after using BS and ACV. WAY less frizz, and I noticed my moroccan argon oil I apply after I wash my hair absorbed to tresses waaaay better also. I have medium length balayed hair so my ends are particularly difficult to deal with because of the bleach. So I’m still struggling with that, but otherwise I am so excited to continue using this method!
That is AWESOME! Please keep in touch as you continue to use this method and let me know how you’re doing!
Hi! I’m switching to a poo free lifestyle and I realised I’m still using Dove shampoo and conditioner! I will will most definitely give your bicarb ACV method a go but I’m curious as to what you use for conditioner? I’m not cool with coconut oil on my haor so that’s out of thr picture! What dk you use/recommend?
I’ve done the No Poo thing on and off for about a year, and I love the idea of it. I understand how and why it works. However, I never get to the point where my hair feels… nice. The baking soda leaves my scalp feeling chalky no matter how much I rinse, and once it dries it just never feels fully clean. I usually put up with it for a couple months before giving back in to shampoo and then I feel like a failure. Any suggestions?
Hey Liz! I really want to start going no poo but I have a few questions I was hoping you’d be able to answer for me. 1. I don’t know much about essential oils but I’ve heard they can’t all be used topically, I’d hate to mix the wrong one in with my ACV and idk burn my scalp or something…which kinds are safe to use for this?
2. I have color treated hair and I’m not ready to part with those harsh chemicals yet can I still use the no poo method on my hair? Thanks in advance and thanks for all you do! I love the book and the pod cast!
Hey Jackie! Lavender or rose would be awesome, I think! Check out LearningaboutEOs.com for TONS of info on EO safety. You can definitely try it on dyed hair – I did for almost a year before I grew out my dye and switched to henna! Check out this post too! http://purelyprimalskincare.com/skincare-saturday-why-isnt-no-poo-working-for-you/
Hi, Liz. Thanks for this post and all your great resources and recommendations! I’ve started this method and have loved it so far but hoping to get a bit of advice. Whenever I wash with the baking soda, a LOT of hair comes out just to go down the drain. Then I’ll rinse with ACV and the same thing happens. I’ve been going with this method for a few weeks now (maybe 3?) diluting a tablespoon baking soda with 1 cup water, and a tablespoon ACV with 2 cups water. I use about a half cup of each mixture when I wash every other or every third day—starting to move to every 3 days now. I googled this problem and started panicking with all the articles titled MAJOR DAMAGE FROM BAKING SODA. I haven’t seen any science backed advice about this because, you know, this is the internet, but hoping you know something about this and can perhaps refute those crazy articles? This never happened with my old shampoo (Nature’s Gate) and I’m not really concerned about it at this point but don’t want it to turn into something cray. Thanks in advance for your help!
Hey Jaime! Long story short, there aren’t any scientifically backed articles because there’s no one-shot explanation as to why this might happen. It’s just individual body chemistry, it seems. This method works amazingly for many but not so great for others, and if it’s not working for you, then stop 🙂 Just like some amazing skincare products end up being disastrous for some but miraculous for others, there are just certain things – environment, pH of scalp before washing, that kind of thing – that just end up being manipulating variables. The only way to know is to try it, and you did, so don’t feel bad giving it up! There are lots of clean shampoos out there you can use! (On another note, some people are more aggressive with baking soda since it doesn’t suds up and end up really working it into their hair and pulling their hair out.)
Just wanted to follow up with this and say thanks for answering. The “no poo” was working well except for the hair falling out (obviously a big deal) so I wanted wanted wanted it to work! I have since switched to mint and kelp shampoo and it’s doing all the good things of the no poo method but without the bad effects. Thanks for taking the time!