“No-Poo” Life without Shampoo

So, I don’t wash my hair.

“WHAT?!” is the reaction I often get followed closely by “Why would you want to do that?” and “What about the smell?”. So, here’s what I have to say about that….

First let me clarify – I do wash my hair, I just don’t wash it in the traditional sense. I “no-poo”. Maybe you have already heard about “no-poo” – I’m really not reinventing the wheel here. There are a lot of great blogs that have already successfully covered this and have inspired me to stick with it.

If you haven’t yet heard of it then I’m in luck and feeling quite honoured that I can share my experience with you. “No-poo” (I know what a terrible name – I am in-fact quite regular) simply means not shampooing your hair with commercial shampoos which are full of nasty chemicals that rob you of your beautiful natural oils, pollute our bodies, environment and who know what else they are responsible for.

Officially I’ve been using the “no-poo” method faithfully for about 7 months…unofficially it’s been much longer. Before I get any further into this I’ll start off saying that everyone loves my hair, I have been graced with a great head of hair. It’s long, thick and wavy. I have always received compliments on my hair even now being ‘au natural’. Even before “no-poo”, I have always tried not to fuss around with product too much – traditionally I would only wash my hair every 3 or 4 days. I mean really…what are you people doing that you need to wash that much? Perhaps if you are an avid swimmer, gym rat or West Virginia coal miner you can make a case for washing your hair everyday…but even then you shouldn’t under-estimate the cleansing power of straight up H20 and a good scalp massage.

Anyway, about a year and a half ago I decided to jump on the “no-poo” wagon. I had a good experience for the first 6 – 8 weeks (after the initial first 2 weeks of super greasy hair and accompanying looks of revulsion from my peers). After about 8 weeks though my hair was not looking luscious and was becoming dried out and frizzy and people who had once loved my hair said that it lacked lustre, so I gave up and went back to traditional shampoo (I’ve realized I was trying to use it too often). Since then I’ve gone back and forth but 7 months ago I gave it another try and finally discovered what works for me.

For me it is to simply wash with baking soda once every other week and use basic water and a good finger scrub to the scalp the other days (which still only consists of 1 and sometimes 2 days a week). Baking soda works to clean your hair by degreasing it. My routine is to mix about a tablespoon of baking soda with about a cup and a half of water and slowly pour it over my hair massaging it into my scalp the same way as I would shampoo. Rinse well and no need to repeat. Sometimes I mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with a cup of water and a few drops of my favourite essential oil and pour that over the ends of my hair to “condition” it, balance out the ph and add shine but if I’m being honest, most of the time I don’t – I don’t find I need it. I get compliments on my hair and experience ‘shock and awe’ when people discover that I just don’t give in any more to the colourful packaging and beauty ads which try to convince me that I’m more beautiful by spending more money, poisoning myself, polluting the environment and filling landfills.

I did not love my first experience with this method but I’ve found a rhythm that works for me and you can do the same. Work out the kinks until you find what’s right for you. For me, using the vinegar all of the time made me greasier quicker. (For the record…the vinegar does not make your hair smell like vinegar). On occasion I enjoy pouring a quarter cup of buckwheat honey in some hot water and shaking it up in a jar and washing with that before the baking soda wash, it keeps the frizzies at bay and feels good (honey is anti-fungal so I do it about one time per month).

As for the questions

No, my hair doesn’t smell ‘gross’…it simply doesn’t smell. We have been so brainwashed that we think that things that don’t smell fruity, flowery or like other weird fake fragrances aren’t clean. You will never walk past my hair and say it smells nice but I don’t miss it because you’ll never get a headache from huffing my hair either.

My hair is not greasy. My scalp, just like yours, produces sebum and it is your natural lubricating oil that will keep your hair healthy, shiny, growing and flowing. Don’t waste it. Just grab a boar bristle brush and pull that sebum right down from root to tip. Sometimes I do have days that I produce more sebum and on those days I will dab a dusting brush into a mix of arrowroot powder and cocoa powder that I keep in the bathroom and give my roots a bit of a dusting and brush through and voila…dry shampoo and fluffy hair.

To answer the funniest question…”Why?” I ask “Why not?” There are many reason why people should want to do this. How about lowering the amount of toxins that we are putting into our bodies and over burdening our livers with or lowering the amount of toxins we are putting into our water or how about cost savings? I’m saving at least $50 a year and likely more…and those that shampoo more than I did would save even more. Not to mention that simple ingredients are less of a burden on the environment and resources and I don’t have hundreds of bottles ending up in the landfill every year. I know many are recyclable but does everyone actually recycle them and what is even better than recycling is simply not consuming.

Because I have been doing this for longer than I have had this blog. I don’t have any before or during photos or commentary…but there are a couple of blogs that are trying the “quitting shampoo for a month” challenge starting in February and I encourage you to check them out and try it along with them.  See more from Beth at Red & Honey or Lauren at Serving from Home. There is also a great one from Allyson  over at Fulfilled Homemaking with progress photos . Amanda over at Living in Another Language has a great 2 part FAQ section for those with a lot of questions.

Try it and you might just be pleasantly surprised. Beware though that it has to get worse before it gets better. Your body is used to having to overcompensate for all the beauty you are stripping from it and at first you will get very greasy but don’t give up…it gets better. I work in a law office as a receptionist by day and I am often the first person the client’s see and if I looked like a huge greaseball I think my bosses would have something to say about it.

Good luck and may happy hair freedom be yours. Let me know how it goes.


    • 2

      Shannon Weir says

      Hey Dena, I have darker hair too and that’s why I use the cocoa powder with the arrowroot powder and it leaves my hair smelling like chocolate and looking soft and fluffy. Try it and let me know what you think. I don’t have any specific amount to recommend because it varies by hair colour. Thanks for checking us out.

  1. 3

    Wendy says

    I love this website Shannon, great job! I look forward to reading more of your blogs and trying your creative solutions for myself and my family. I’m starting my “no-poo” adventure today, wish me luck!

    • 4

      Shannon Weir says

      Hey Wendy, glad you like the site. We’re looking forward to writing more posts about reducing waste and toxins in our lives, gardening, cooking and simplifying our home and food. Good luck with the “no-poo” and remember it gets worse before it gets better. I love not having all of the bottles hanging around my shower that I once had.

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