I haven’t used shampoo or conditioner in over a year.
I first started reading about no-poo online a few years ago–the basic idea is that the hair’s natural oils are continually stripped out by shampooing and the scalp tries to compensate, which leads to oily hair, which leads to needing to shampoo more…you get the picture. No-poo is also recommended for curly hair, where keeping the natural oils intact is important to keep away frizz.
Being greatly biased toward the wisdom of the systems of the body, all of this made sense to me. So over a year ago, I ditched my shampoo (and conditioner! if you have curly hair you know that was the bigger sacrifice) and I can’t imagine ever going back.
My primary motivation in “going no-poo” was simplicity. Secondary motivations were to eliminate chemical exposure, cost, and waste. I was going through a ton of conditioner before, trying to keep my hair soft and untangled. (I also had hopes that my hair might start to look better too, but honestly if it looked the same as it had before, and not worse, I would consider it a success).
How was the transition?
Most of the stories I read about going no-poo are from people with straight hair, usually fine, which gets greasy when they go without shampoo (my friend Amber has a great detailed report here). My hair doesn’t get greasy like that. It’s thick and wavy, and going without shampoo and conditioner means it gets really tangled and dry and frizzy. So it’s really the opposite problem from most of the stories I had read.
I’d say it took a month or so of no-pooing for my hair to get to a good state. I think I started last summer. I honestly don’t remember, that time was kind of a haze: at home with an infant, my mother-in-law in hospice, and a sick dog to care for. So I guess I didn’t care much what my hair looked like at that time!
But I don’t remember it being dramatically bad. There was definitely a period of adjustment, but I have to say mine wasn’t as bad as most of the stories I had read from people with fine/straight hair. Or perhaps I just have lower standards (this is likely).
What’s it like now?
Conditioning was super-important to my routine before, I really couldn’t run my fingers through my hair without using conditioner.
Now, amazingly, when I simply rinse my hair with water it feels like there is conditioner in it. I don’t know how else to describe it, the natural oils are just totally in balance. It feels great to just be able to just rinse my big old chunk of hair with water and have it feel soft and easily detangled without using tons of products.
Most days when I take a shower, I just rinse my hair with water, run my fingers through it to get out any tangles, and that’s it.
I ”wash” my hair once every 10-14 days, with baking soda and an apple cider vinegar rinse: I take a mug filled about 1/3 the way with baking soda and a squirt bottle filled about 1/3 the way with apple cider vinegar into the shower with me.
Once I’m in the shower, I fill the rest of the cup with warm water, mix with my finger and pour the mixture onto my scalp, scrub well and rinse it out (I don’t worry about “washing” anywhere but at the scalp.) For “conditioning” I fill the rest of the squirt bottle with warm water and squirt over my head as I use my fingers to de-tangle and rinse. This operation doesn’t take any longer than washing and conditioning took previously.
I also blow dry on occasion to get some more body at the roots, since I don’t like the flat hair look around my head that I get when I air-dry. And on a very rare occasion, if my hair is feeling a little dry I will put the tiniest dab of coconut oil in it (like just a whisper, any more than that and my hair will get bogged down in oils, it’s a very delicate balance and I find it best not to mess with it at all.) No other styling products whatsoever.
Does my hair look great every day?
No, I don’t think so (does anyone?). But it doesn’t look any worse than it did when I used bucketloads of shampoo and conditioner every month, so I consider it a big win. I don’t have to worry about the chemicals in commercial shampoos (or the expense of all-natural shampoos) or adding to landfills on a regular basis.
If anything it looks the same as before, but it feels softer. I’ve noticed that the day after a “wash” my hair is a little fluffier than I like (almost frizzy but not quite), and then as the oils settle back it seems to have more defined curls, which I like better. My “look” isn’t perfectly coiffed, it’s not for everyone I know, but it works for me.
Any questions about no-poo-ing? Have you gone no-poo with a different hair type? Let us know in the comments or link to a blog post!
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