I Stopped Watching My Hair: My No-Poo Journey
Yes, friends, it is true. I stopped using shampoo three months ago. Please hold your judgements until the end and just bear with me.
When I tell people about my shampoo-free lifestyle, I tend to get a lot of the same questions. A question you probably have is why I tell people that I don’t wash my hair, which is a great question. It comes up in conversation way more than one would imagine.
So naturally, they first question is typically WHY?
Why I Stopped Washing My Hair
Well, I have super straight hair that is pretty thin. I used to have to wash my hair once and condition at least once or twice a day. My hair would get very flat and greasy almost instantly and I hated looking “dirty.” Also, my hair grows really fast but breaks off on the ends even faster, so gaining length in my hair was nearly impossible.
I wanted to switch to natural shampoos because I had heard that the were amazing for your hair, but $10-15 for a bottle of shampoo that would be gone in just a couple weeks, plus conditioner that would be just as expensive and gone even faster, was out of the question.
I’m a college student on a nanny’s budget. Spending $50+ a month on hair washing products was out of the question. I had to find another way.
I had heard of people who lived in the woods who stopped washing their hair and supposedly their hair just stopped being greasy. I tried quitting the shampoo cold-turkey for a while and my hair was so incredibly greasy. I had not done any research at this point, so I figured I might make use of my good friend, Google.
What is No-Poo?
Surprisingly, there is a whole online community of people who do not use conventional shampoos who go by the name of “no-pooers.” I found that there were so many people who used so many different no-poo methods but all shared a common rule: no shampoo!
By “shampoo” they mean all conventional hair products (conditioner, gel, mousse, hair spray, detangler). The only products I had really used before were shampoo and conditioner since my hair is very straight and very manageable, but my dependence on the two were uncanny.
Reasons For Going the No-Poo Route
In my research, I found more reasons why people use this method which has helped me in staying strong in the greasiest moments.
A major reason is for the environment. The shampoos sold in stores are jam packed with all sorts of chemicals that certainly are not good for your hair or the environment. When you use these products and rinse them off, they run right down the drain and eventually run into a body of water, such as a lake, river, or ocean.
Since you’re not spending that extra few minutes rinsing and washing your hair everyday, you save incredible amounts of time and water. Plus, the “no-poo” methods that I am going to share with you cost just a fraction of the price of the products you would typically buy (even if you are buying cheaper shampoos).
The next question I get is typically “SO YOU DON’T EVEN WASH IT SOMETIMES? DO YOU NOT EVEN USE WATER?”
I researched and researched and tried sooo many different methods. Any non-pooer will tell you that the process is certainly a trial-and-error sort of thing and you must do what works for you.
If you have gotten this far and you think I am crazy, the more “scientific” explanation of how this works may change your opinion.
Up until some point in the 20th century, daily washing of hair with these modern shampoos was unheard of. People used to clean their hair with shampoo to lightly clean it, whereas the shampoo we are sold today is intended to completely strip the hair of all oil, then coat it with a glossy substance to make your locks shiny. Our scalps overproduce oils to compensate for the oils stripped off since the scalp needs some oil to remain healthy.
How Does No-Poo Work?
How the no-poo methods work is by training the scalp to produce the proper amounts of oil. This is done by cleaning the hair with gentle methods as sparingly as possible. So, I do, in fact, “wash” my hair, and on the days that I do not wash I do rinse with water.
The next question is typically, “WHAT DO YOU DO? AND HOW DO YOU DO IT?”
Before I begin to explain, it is probably helpful to see what my “hair products” are.
My No-Poo Hair Products
Here are some of the alternative hair care products I use, but you can find a complete list here.
In the beginning, I used to use a baking soda and water solution to wash and an apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water solution to condition every other day, then every third day, then every fourth day, and so on. (I will include instructions for each of the effective washing and conditioning methods at the end.)
I went on doing this for a couple weeks before I did more research. I learned that the baking soda washes would dry my hair to the point of breaking if done too often. I decided that I would only use baking soda on my hair (in very small amounts) every two weeks. I ran into an issue as my hair was getting extremely greasy between washes.
I looked into other ways to wash my hair and here is what I came up with:
- Aloe mask
- Homemade aloe & honey shampoo
- Bentonite clay mask
- Herbal tea rinses
Baking Soda Wash
Mix 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda into 1-2 cups of warm water. Mix well. Apply to hair (either pour over or use spray bottle). Let sit for five minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Follow with ACV rinse.
**EDIT: I do not use this method at all any more.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse
Mix 1:2 ratio of ACV and warm water (adding or subtracting ACV depending on the need). For medium-long hair, use between 1-2 cups of water. Adjust to your specific needs. Let sit for five minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
Cut branch off of aloe plant and strip gel out. Hold in dish or apply straight to scalp. Coat scalp until hair is saturated, except tips. Let sit for at least 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly (this is most easily done in shower). Following with ACV rinse is optional. Note: aloe can stain clothes and surfaces depending on maturity!
Aloe & Honey Shampoo
Cut branch off of aloe plant and strip gel out into bowl. Add equal amount of honey (about 2 tablespoons of each.) Beat the two together (as if you are beating an egg). Use as you would a normal shampoo. Rinse thoroughly.
The No-Poo Methods That Worked for Me
I played around with these different methods and have found aloe masks to be the most effective. It really works out well because I have NINETEEN aloe plants in my backyard. (I absolutely love my aloe plants. I did a photoshoot with them earlier because I figured this is the perfect time to show them off!)
The aloe mask is a little more time consuming and tedious than the aloe & honey shampoo, but is much more effective. The last time I used the Bentonite Clay mask, it was not effective because I used it a few days after a coconut oil hair treatment (which went horribly wrong.) I may try the clay mask again, but have not had the reason to. With all of these methods, I follow with an ACV rinse.
When I am nearing a baking soda wash or the tips of my hair are really dry, I take a few drops of either my jojoba oil or tea tree oil on my fingertips and run it through the ends of my hair. If I can get away with it (meaning having no major commitments that I need “professional” or nice looking hair), I will have my hair done in two tight french or dutch braids and I will lather in as much oil as I can, multiple times a day for several days.
As for brushing, I use the comb if I have to brush out knots when my hair is wet or before I brush my hair normally. I NEVER use a normal brush on my hair when it is wet. The boar bristle brush is meant to be used to disperse oils from my scalp to the rest of my hair, but I do not do this religiously. I typically use the boar bristle brush for smoothing my hair.
The No-Poo Conclusion
So, that is basically it. At this stage, I can go almost a week without any sort of washes with no sign of greasiness. I have learned that it is okay to have greasy hair because it is a completely natural thing.
Having oils in your hair is NOT a big deal. I do shower, wash my body, and rinse my hair daily. I do not stink (which is another big question people have.) Some people think it is gross, but it really isn’t. I am not dirty, and I do not typically look “dirty.”
There were some really rough (greasy) times in the detox period. I rocked a ton of braids, ponytails and buns. I powered through and I could not be happier with the results.
The changes my hair has made in the past three months is great! My ends do not break off as easily. My hair feels fuller and thicker. My friend cut my hair for me in early July and it is still even across with minimal split ends. Plus, my wallet is loving it since it costs an average of less than $5 a month to keep up with my hair.
If you have more specific questions about my non-conventional hair care, feel free to contact me!
More No-Poo Resources
Also, here are some links to my favorite no-poo sites!