How to No-Poo

No-poo is a slang term for washing your hair without shampoo. You may choose to do it because the ingredients in shampoo can be toxic to you or the environment or just because it leaves your hair more natural and healthy.

To begin, assemble your ingredients. The first few times it is helpful to put everything together out of the shower and bring it in with you. Once you have a routine you can just bring  the ingredients and put it together as you bathe.

Ingredients

First timers should start with about a tablespoon of baking soda and enough water to make a watery mixture. Pour it into a small cup or container. Next put about 1 oz of apple cider vinegar in an 8 oz cup and fill it up(white vinegar works fine also). When you get in the shower, wet your hair well. Stir the baking soda and water again and apply the baking soda solution to your scalp and massage it in with the tips of your fingers, not the nails (if you have very long nails you might need to scrub with the pads of your fingers, where your fingerprint is). It should not feel gritty. Your hair  will soon become slippery and clean feeling. Now rinse well.

Next, carefully pour the vinegar and water over your hair, but not your scalp. I usually tip the cup over my hair just below the hairline on my neck, or just below my ears. I let it stay on my hair for at least a minute – often I use a wide toothed comb during this time. Rinse well and towel dry.

Recipes

  • Water only – massage your hair and rinse without adding a thing
  • Vinegar only or conditioner only – choose a good conditioner and check the label for “unknowns”
  • Add a teaspoon on conditioner to the baking soda and water mix
  • Use lavender essential oil and water in a spray bottle to tame frizzy hair
  • Lemon and honey rinse – mix 2 tsp honey and ¼ cup lemon juice in a container with4 cups of water.  Apply after washing and leave in
  • No poo balls – by MaryLang on mothering.com
    • No-poo balls are a lot easier than mixing everything together in the shower. Just mix together baking soda, water, honey, and your essential oils, roll it into about 1/2″- 1″ balls and let them dry for a few days. When ready, bring one into the shower and cup it in your hand, let some water mist over it and work it into your hair.
  • Olive Oil hot oil treatment – heat ¼ to ½ cup of olive oil.  Apply to your hair but not scalp.  Leave it in for up to an hour – cover with a shower cap or bag. When done, wash out with baking soda.

Troubleshooting

  • To counteract dry hair, try a tiny bit of oil (olive, coconut, or jojoba) smoothed on bottom of your hair.
  • Frizzy often means dry hair. Try using less baking soda, shorting your washing routine, or washing with baking soda less often. You can try to add honey to the baking soda.
  • Greasy hair can be helped by switching to lemon or lime juice. Do not use honey! You might still be adjusting to the no-poo (it often takes 2-3 months).  Cornstarch can be added to your roots if they are greasy – massage in a and brush out
  • An itchy scalp can be helped by adding tea tree, lavender, or rosemary essential oils to your baking soda mixture. You may also want to add some brown sugar during your wash to help scrub – it shouldn’t dissolve as readily as white sugar.
  • For chlorine exposure, try to get your hair really wet before you enter the pool and rinse after with vinegar. A recipe to limit damage after exposure calls for 1 egg, 1 eggshell’s worth of olive oil, and 1 quarter of a peeled cucumber.  Blend the ingredients and spread over hair. After leaving it on for about 10 minutes, rinse well.Blend the egg, olive oil and peeled cucumber. Spread evenly through your hair, leave on for 10 minutes, and then thoroughly rinse.

Finally, experiment!  Each person’s hair will react a bit differently.  I find I only have to wash my hair at most once a week, but others might want to wash every 2- 3 days.  Try to use less baking soda one day, or add honey, or try lemon juice instead of vinegar.  Find what works for you and then spread the word!

Comments

  1. kleiner says:

    Thank you!
    I found your post very helpful, simple but precise information.

    I have one question though, when you say:
    “Greasy hair can be helped by switching to lemon or lime juice. Do not use honey! You might still be adjusting to the no-poo (it often takes 2-3 months). Cornstarch can be added to your roots if they are greasy – massage in a and brush out”

    Do you mean switch the BS to lemon or lime… OR switch the ACV to lemon or lime?

    Thanks in advance :)

    1. Koofie says:

      Thanks for asking! You keep using BS and switch the vinegar for lemon or lime juice. Happy washing!

  2. Jody says:

    I started the baking soda and apple cider vinegar in April and my hair still seems a little greasy but even worse than that is it feels almost filmy. After I run my fingers through my hair I have to wash my hands to wash whatever it is off. Do you have any idea what this could be?? I’m also getting dandruff which I have never had before in my entire life! I’m thinking about maybe trying the lemon juice instead of acv. Any thoughts would be appreciated

    1. Koofie says:

      Keep with it! Try other things – condition with vinegar, skip conditioning, try a recipe. Try to wash with castile soap instead. Each person is different and you need to try to find what works for you. I switch between baking soda and castile soap. At times I condition with vinegar and sometimes I skip it. If my hair feels dry I wash with just water. I had dandruff for a long while, and then it disappeared on day. I don’t know why. I started washing with castile soap more, but I’m not sure if that is what helped.

      The greasy feeling you feel on your hands is natural oil form your hair. You may need to wash more, or less (hear me out). Your hair is going through transition. If you wash too much, your scalp may try to produce more oil to protect your hair. Everybody that I know who has gone no-poo has gone through a greasy period, which can last from a few weeks to months. Most people just work thought it – wear your hair in a ponytail or a bun until your scalp figures out what to do.

  3. heather says:

    I was using the baking soda/ ACV method successfully for a few months and loved it.
    Then we moved and something is different about the water, because now my hair feels like it has a residue that I cannot get to go away.

    Do you have any idea what could be causing this?
    If any of the no poo methods work better in hard water than others?

    Also, I know the baking soda is to absorb the dirt and then the ACV is to condition the hair.
    Is baking powder the same or does the added elements in it change the reaction? What about cornstarch? Does it act the same as baking soda?

    Is honey a cleaner or a conditioner? Doesn’t it make the hair sticky? Do you put it directly on the scalp or in the hair?

    What about lemon juice rinses or tea? Are they for cleaning or conditioning? Do they need to be rinsed out after putting on? Are they good for the scalp or just the hair?

    1. Koofie says:

      Hard water and no-poo is hard from what I have heard. You may want to try boiling the water you use to mix with your baking soda, or try rain water. Both will be softer and you may be able to rinse with your regular water. Baking powder and cornstarch are generally used as a dry shampoo – they are supposed to clean it without water by soaking up the grease and dirt. I’ve tried cornstarch and it does work – just put a tad on your roots. However, I use it more for just-in-case rather than as part of my routine. I’ve never heard of using baking powder.

      Honey is used as a conditioner – mix a bit with warm water to make a rinse. I don’t use it much because my honey is precious! Lemon rinses are similar to ACV, but some like it more than ACV and some less. It can be drying and can lighten your hair too, but it smells better! Tea is also used after baking soda, but since there are various kinds it takes some trying to find what might work for you. The fun thing about no-poo is trying different things :)

      Finally, one end result of no-poo is eventually you can cut down actual washing. I now rinse with water mostly, and just play with things as needed. I have found my hair changes based on what is going on in my life – stress and hormones change my hair, so I’m still playing with things because as soon as I figure out a good routine, something changes!