I am officially two full months into No-Poo, as in, no more commercial shampoos and conditioners for this bad bitch! Gross, you say? Think again! All the nasty chemicals in “regular” hair products are what is gross! Still a skeptic? I don’t blame you. I was too, at first. Let me tell you a little bit about how I got here.
Three and a half years ago, I had to part ways with my hair. It was about the length it currently is in these pictures, although it looked nothing like this. I had bleached it over and over again, colored sections blue, then purple, and applied countless boxes of red hair dye. I washed it every day with the cheapest shampoos and conditioners available at Target. It was a nightmare. I could hardly step outside without it becoming matted. It needed to be brushed multiple times per day to keep dreadlocks from forming. It cracked and shed like crazy. The worst was, it simply looked bad: damaged, frizzy, and dull. Anyways, I had to cut it after a rowdy (and apparently windy) New Years Eve in Chicago in which my hair became matted in one giant chunk. I couldn’t brush it out sanely. I knew it had to go. So I cut it all off, up to my chin.
My thought was that all the hair left on my head had never been bleached or dyed. I promised myself that if I was going to have long hair again, I needed to learn how to take care of it. So I joined the Long Hair Community on LiveJournal (back when LJ was a thing!) I found out about evil SLS and -cones and ditched traditional products. I learned that washing your hair daily is bad for it. I gradually cut down from daily to every other day to three times a week to twice a week to once a week, over the course of a year. I started using Giovanni products exclusively, which I highly recommend (especially if you aren’t ready for full on no-poo). And you can forget about blow dryers and straighteners – I straight up threw them in the trash can. Alas, this was my hair regimen for a solid 18 months.
My hair looked and felt great, but my wallet did not. The longer my hair grew, the more product it required during each wash. Giovanni’s products are not cheap, namely because they are high quality, vegan, and eco-friendly. As I decidedly love my hair when it’s long, I needed a permanent solution for a hair care. I was also struggling with only one wash per week, as my job is dirty as all hell – literally, I work in the dirt. I didn’t want to compromise the quality improvements I had achieved by cutting down washing to once a week, but I needed something different. I knew plenty about no-poo, so I said to hell with it and gave it a try. I was doubtful it would work though, and I would have to start ordering Giovanni products in bulk gallon jugs.
There are many different ways to practice no-poo. Some people only wash their hair with water. Others, only with conditioner. There are tons of homemade shampoo/ conditioner recipes that utilize natural ingredients, and they all sound amazing. Thing is – I hate wasting time fussing with my appearance. I wanted something quick and cheap that required few ingredients and no prep.
How to Go No-Poo with Your Hair
- baking soda
- apple cider vinegar
- two mason jars or cups
Here’s the regimen I have followed over the past two months:
- First Friday of the month: wash hair with baking soda paste, followed by ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse
- Baking Soda: This is the “shampoo.” Mix three parts baking soda with two parts water. I use three TB of baking soda for my long hair and that is plenty. I mix this in a small mason jar and set on shelf in shower. I use store brand baking soda – nothing fancy.
- ACV Rinse: This is the “conditioner.” It is very important that any time you apply baking soda to your hair you follow with vinegar. This is to neutralize the pH. I typically fill a pint sized mason jar 1/4 of the way with ACV and set on shelf in shower. I am currently using store brand ACV because I wanted to test the waters. Once I run out, I will switch to the mother of all ACV, Bragg.
- Method: Begin shower with warm water. Give scalp a good massage, running fingers through wet hair. Make sure your whole scalp is drenched. Pour baking soda onto head and work into hair, beginning at roots. I don’t bother going too far down the length. Rinse once finished, and roll hair up while washing body and face. Turn water to cold. Let hair down and re-wet. Fill ACV mason jar to brim with water. Pour over head. I tend to pour 1/4 on top of head, 1/4 on each side (tilting head to side), and then flip my hair and head over and pour last 1/4 on back of head. Run hands through hair to ensure rinse is distributed, especially down to roots. Rinse immediately with cold water.
- That’s it! I only using baking soda once a month because it can be damaging to hair and should only be applied sparingly. I’ve noticed it helps to “reset” my hair … by the end of the last week of the month, my hair is particularly oily, flat, and heavy. Baking soda breathes volume back in.
- Every other Friday of month: As above, except ONLY ACV RINSE.
- One other night during week (as needed): wash hair with water only. Sweat, dirt, and grime are all water soluble.
- Every night: massage scalp briefly and brush with boar bristle brush to help distribute natural oils (I am an idiot and did not realize that BBB’s are made with actual boar hair. I know, slap me. I bought one and used it before I figured this out, so it cannot be returned. When it comes time to replace it, I will buy a synthetic version that is cruelty-free/ vegan.)
Pretty freaking easy! And I think the results are fantastic. As noted in pictures, the before pictures are taken right before a baking soda/ ACV day. The after pictures are what my hair looks like afterwards (duh) – it’s very light, voluminous (for me), and clean. I actually like it the most during the middle weeks of the month, when the oil is built back up and makes it sleek, but it’s not heavy and greasy yet. I wear my hair in a French braid every day for work, so you can’t even tell that it’s greasy the last couple days of the month.
I can’t imagine going back. Honestly, I thought the whole no-poo thing would be a worthy effort but not up to my cleanliness standards. It’s ridiculous how good of a job our media does at convincing us we NEED real shampoo and conditioner to be neat and clean. The truth is, humans survived for millennia without that crap – it’s all just a big marketing ploy. That stuff won’t make you happier, cleaner, or more beautiful – it will just make you poorer and exposed to more harmful chemicals. I can’t believe I used to spend upwards of TEN HOURS per week washing, blow drying, and styling my hair. Now I would say I spend one hour per week, tops.
Ok, I’m off my high horse 🙂 I’m not going to lie, I don’t totally understand how no-poo works. It has to do with stabilizing your scalp’s oil production (which traditional beauty products wreak havoc on) and distributing the oils evenly down the hair’s shaft. This keeps your hair naturally conditioned. The water washes help to further distribute oil, but primarily to clean the hair. Good ole water, that’s all you need. The baking soda is for additional cleaning, and the ACV for additional conditioning.
The no-poo method is drastically different for different people. I would love to hear if any of you practice this method, and if so, what has and hasn’t worked for you!
EDIT: I meant to point out that if you are interested in trying this method, you should certainly do some research to familiarize yourself with no-poo. There are a number of peculiarities, the number one being that everyone’s hair is different and there is an adjustment period to the method. Sometimes it can take months for your hair to adjust and start looking fabulous, especially if you are washing multiple times a week with traditional products. I had virtually no adjustment period. due to using minimal product for years and washing only once a week.