I haven’t used shampoo for a year – and my hair has never looked better

Ditch the 'poo ... wash your hair using only bicarbonate soda and apple cider vinegar

Today I’m here to tell you about the last time I did a ‘poo.

Shampoo, that is!

For the past year, I’ve been following the excellently named no ‘poo method and washing my hair only with bicarbonate soda and apple cider vinegar.

There’s a bunch of environmental and health reasons to ditch store-bought shampoo and conditioner, but I was actually spurred into action by my horrendously greasy locks.

I used to wash my hair religiously every two days, otherwise the grease would so completely take over that I’d spend the day looking as if I’d dipped my head into a deep fryer. Pretty attractive, huh?

Thing is, I’m kind of lazy and I hated having to style my hair so often.

I did a little research and began to think shampoo might just be contributing to the problem. Because shampoo strips our scalp of its natural oils, sending it into oil production overdrive to compensate.

So I stopped shampooing altogether.

For the past year, I’ve washed my hair only with bicarbonate soda and apple cider vinegar. And it’s never been healthier, shinier and less greasy.

Truly.

These days I can easily go three or four days between washes. And my previously rather limp and lank hair seems to have a lot more natural body.

The bad news: it gets worse before it gets better

The one (only?) downside to the no ‘poo method is the adjustment period.

Your scalp needs time to stop freaking out and return to normal oil production levels. Which means you may have to suffer through up to a month of astonishingly greasy hair.

Don’t be one of those bazillion people who tries no ‘poo for only one week and then loudly trumpets about how it doesn’t work. Just, don’t.

You need to give this method time.

You’ll probably be tempted to wash your hair more often as the grease factor increases, but if you can hold out to just once or twice a week, you’ll help shorten the adjustment period.

I got through this period by wearing my hair slicked back (erhm, literally!) in ponytails and high buns. Scarves and hats could also help.

You might also find it’s a bit of a roller coaster in the beginning: sometimes a no ‘poo wash seems to work wonders, other days you emerge just as oily as before you showered.

Trust me, this passes.

How to no ‘poo: everything you need to know

Below is my tried-and-tried recipe for bicarbonate soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioner.

Why these two ingredients?

Bicarb soda cleans your hair better than most expensive store-bought products.

Apple cider vinegar is a natural conditioner that also detangles, defrizzes, prevents split ends and has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can calm and heal an itchy, dry scalp.

And no, using this conditioner will not leave you smelling like salad dressing. The vinegar smell dissipates within a couple of minutes, leaving your hair clean and smelling like, well, nothing really. (I’ve found I’m actually now quite sensitive to the horribly fake and overpowering perfume-y smells of store-bought products.)

I use this combination a couple times a week and continue to style my hair with a dryer or straightener with no problems at all.

If your hair tends to be quite dry, you may benefit from washing less often.

To keep the ends of my hair looking tip top, I use a deep conditioning coconut oil hair mask once or twice a month. You’ll find the recipe for that one below, too.

Here’s some other reasons why the no ‘poo method is ace:

  • You use far less packaging and therefore create less waste.
  • You save a bunch of money, because bicarb soda and apple cider vinegar are ridiculously cheap.
  • You skip the nasty chemicals and know that what you’re putting on your body is 100 per cent natural.
  • You don’t have to spend time researching cosmetic companies to make sure they’re ethical.

Convinced? Here’s my tried-and-tried recipes.

No poo ingredients: bicarb soda, vinegar, jars and water

How to go no poo

The no ‘poo shampoo and conditioner

Best used once or twice a week.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon bicarbonate soda
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 clean jars (mine hold about 500ml of water each)
Hot water and cold water

Method:

Dump the bicarbonate soda in one jar and the apple cider vinegar in the other.

Boil the kettle. Fill each jar about a third full with hot water. The bicarbonate soda will bubble and fizz; keep stirring until it dies down.

Fill the jars the rest of the way full with cold water. (Check the temperature to make sure you won’t burn your scalp!)

In the shower, slowly pour the bicarbonate soda mixture over your hair, starting at the scalp. This is your “shampoo”. Pause for a moment and massage the mixture into your scalp. Bicarbonate soda is great for your skin, too, so if you have problems with acne you can also gently massage the mixture across your face. Rinse well.

Now it’s “conditioner” time. Slowly pour the apple cider vinegar mixture over your hair, avoiding your scalp and focusing on the ends. Let the mixture sit for a minute or two before rinsing thoroughly.

Done. And without a shampoo bottle in sight.

How to stop washing your hair with shampoo

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Deep conditioning coconut oil hair mask

Best used once or twice a month.

Ingredients:

2-4 tablespoons coconut oil (the longer your hair, the more coconut oil you’ll need)
5-10 drops of your favourite essential oil, optional

Method:

Rub the oils between the palms of your hands then gently massage into the ends of your hair. Avoid going too hard on your scalp, especially if you have naturally oily hair.

Leave for about an hour before rinsing using the no ‘poo method detailed above.

For extra deep conditioning (and lovely coconutty dreams), wrap your hair in a towel and leave overnight before rinsing.

Tip: Some people find it difficult to wash the coconut oil out of their hair (others, like me, find it washes out really easily). If you’re having trouble (and you’re not vegan), try this egg wash.

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12 steps to cosmetics so natural you can eat the ingredients

This little how-to is the fifth instalment in our series on how to green your bathroom by swapping to completely natural and cruelty-free cosmetics.

Going no ‘poo means you know exactly what’s inside the stuff you’re a-slathering all over your body.

No more nasty chemicals. No testing on animals. Much less packaging.

Stay tuned for part six, where we’ll be talking menstrual cups. What they are, how you use them and why they absolutely are not gross.

We’re also volunteering to be your human guinea pigs, so if there’s something natural cosmetics-related that you’ve been a-ponderin’, hit us up in the comments.

Check out the other steps via the links below:

Koren

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8 Responses to I haven’t used shampoo for a year – and my hair has never looked better

  1. Kirsty Lee July 9, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    OK, I was seriously skeptical about this after trying Castille Soap for my hair with no success. BUT, I am pleased to say, this really works for me. My hair didn’t take long to adjust and it doesn’t get as greasy as quickly. I swim laps and I was concerned it wouldn’t get the chlorine smell from my hair, but it actually works fine! Nice work ladies x

    • Koren August 12, 2015 at 12:52 am #

      Oh! I somehow missed this comment until just now. But that’s so cool to learn that no ‘poo works great on fresh-from-the-pool hair, too. Awesome! So pleased to hear this is working for you. 🙂

  2. Anna August 12, 2015 at 5:40 am #

    I tried going no poo a few years ago and it didn’t work for me! I really want it to work, because I think it is great to stop using shampoo. I do use quite natural shampoo and conditioner, but still wish my hear would accept the baking soda (or just water)! During the no poo, it stayed greasy and didn’t get better. I don’t remember exactly how long I tried, but it was at least three weeks. My husband has got short hair and no poo works great for him. My children have never washed their hair with shampoo, I wash it with water. And that works great too. If you have any tips for me, I would love to know!

    • Koren August 12, 2015 at 6:48 am #

      Hey Anna, my only suggestion would be to try it for longer, if you can bear it. My hair took about five weeks to settle down and there’s a chance yours might be the same. That said, I reckon if you’re choosing a natural shampoo and conditioner from an ethical company, you’re still doing very well! And how cool that your children’s hair goes perfectly on water only. Incredible!

  3. spoonfulloflife November 20, 2015 at 6:14 am #

    This is great! I have been washing my hair everyday for ever, im not sure why, some OCD thing I think! Anyway…. Ive been cutting down my use of products lately in a bit to reduce the toxin load on my body & decidied to stop washing my hair so much, so I went 3 days with no washing! Then I used your nopoo, it worked so well! Love nopoo!

    • Koren November 20, 2015 at 10:53 pm #

      Oh, that’s fabulous! So glad to hear it worked so well for you. 😀

  4. Tillukka January 31, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

    Hi lovelies! Just discovered your blog and I am LOVING it! Ive already ordered a menstrual cup online after being convinced by your post and am dying to go no poo now! Just a quick question – can I used baking powder or does it have to be baking soda?

    Keep up the great work! 🙂

    • Koren February 11, 2016 at 5:53 pm #

      Hello, hello! How awesome to have you here, lovely. How goes the menstrual cup adventure? As to your question, I’m not 100 per cent sure but often in cooking you need far more baking powder (up to three times as much) when substituting for baking soda so perhaps it’s the same here. Try it and let me know how you go! 🙂

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