For the second time in my life, I’m making the move to no poo – no shampoo, that is. The first time I tried it, it was partially out of necessity, as we didn’t have running water or an easy place to wash my hair (which was long enough to require a large amount of water to shampoo). This time, it’s more from a desire to have a simpler (and cheaper) routine for my personal hygiene. I use Dr Bronners soap, which is safe, cheap, and effective, but I really don’t like washing my hair with it, so if I can get by without using shampoo, I’m a happy guy.
And after over a month in, the no poo method is working well for me.
[Just for background on this, my hair reaches almost to my waist, so if I can go no poo, just about anyone can. I also don't shower every day, so if you do that, and you have short hair, you really don't need shampoo anyway.]
This first couple of weeks of the no poo experiment, I just brushed my hair well before showering, rinsed it thoroughly, and dried and brushed it as usual. I could start to feel the oils building up on my hair and scalp, but it wasn’t obvious or noticeable to anyone else. If anything, the oils in my hair kept the little wispy flyaway hairs out of my face, and added body to my hair.
At the beginning of the third week, I felt like I really wanted to scrub my scalp, so I took a couple of tablespoons of baking soda, mixed it with a little water, and used that to “wash” my hair, rinsing it with plain water afterward. My scalp felt super-clean, but my hair felt a little dry afterward, as we didn’t have any vinegar on hand to follow the baking soda treatment.
This last weekend, we just got back from a two week road trip, so after almost 2000 miles in the truck, including camping just about every night, a couple of hot springs visits, and a sweatlodge, so I was ready to really clean my hair again. This time, I made sure we had apple cider vinegar, and did the above baking soda wash, rinsed that out, and then mixed a little vinegar with water and poured that over my hair. After a minute, I rinsed it out, and I could instantly feel the difference it made to the ‘tangle factor’ of my hair. There was a slight vinegar scent even after rinsing, but it quickly went away as my hair dried, probably helped by the fact that I usually sit in the sun until it’s dry.
Previously, I was making a strong batch of rosemary tea, sometimes with nettles or horsetail, and using that instead of baking soda and vinegar, so I believe I’ll alternate the two and see how that works out. I’ve also heard that fresh lemon juice is excellent, so if I see a good price on lemons, I’ll give that a go as well.
As it stands now, after 6 weeks of no poo, my hair feels and looks healthy and clean, so I see no reason to go back to buying shampoo ever again.
So why would you choose to switch to the no shampoo method?
1. It’s one less thing that you need to spend money on.
2. Even ‘natural’ shampoos have ingredients that aren’t so great for us, and many of them contain toxic chemicals as well.
3. If you use soap/shampoo every day, your hair gets dried out, so you need to condition it. Once it’s conditioned, it starts to feel greasy right away, leading you to wash it again and start the process all over. Why not let your hair and scalp reach a natural moisture equilibrium? (By the way, this is also my argument for giving up lip balm – because your lips get addicted to it, you always need to put it on. I don’t ever use it, so I don’t need it.)
4. Think of all the water going down the drain full of shampoo and conditioner, adding to the burden of needing to be treated to remove those residues (or to be leached into your yard through the septic system). Instead, baking soda, vinegar, rosemary tea, and lemons are food – pretty basic stuff.
Here are a couple of good resources to get you started: