Natural living

My experience with “no poo” shampoo

I’ve been aware of the “no poo” trend for a while, but haven’t been brave enough to try it myself until recently, when I was inspired by this article from Dreamworld Health. If you’re not familiar with the idea of no poo, it’s about giving up shampoo and simply cleaning your hair with baking soda. Proponents of the no poo method rave about having healthier, shinier, fuller, more manageable hair. I have a love/hate relationship with my thick, curly hair and am always looking for something to make it more manageable, so I figured it was time to give the baking soda method a try.

The idea behind the no poo method is that unlike shampoo, it doesn’t strip your hair of its natural oils, which then need to be replaced by conditioner. Many of us have gotten into the habit of washing our hair daily, which isn’t necessary and can actually leave it dry and damaged. And most shampoos and conditioners on the market contain chemicals that aren’t good for our hair or our skin.

I’ve been using the baking soda shampoo for about three weeks now, and have been really happy with it, although it’s required a little bit of experimentation. My hair is light and bouncy, which are not words I usually use to describe it. I’ll skip the detailed instructions, because you can find them on Dreamworld Health or DIY Natural, but basically it’s one tablespoon of baking soda per one cup of water. The purpose of this post is more about letting you know what to expect when trying this method.

What to expect from baking soda shampoo

  1. You’ll go through a lot of it, which is okay because baking soda is much cheaper than shampoo. I keep my box of baking soda in the bathroom, and before I get into the shower, I add a tablespoon or two to the water bottle I use (you could also use a repurposed, clean shampoo bottle). Then I fill it up with warm water from my shower, which is important, because if you let it sit overnight, you’ll be pouring cold water over your head, and no one wants to do that first thing in the morning.
  2. You have to pour it directly over your head, since otherwise the water would just run through your fingers. This can take a little practice to get it evenly distributed throughout your hair, so give yourself enough time in the morning.
  3. It won’t lather like shampoo. You’ll just have to trust that it’s doing its job. I kind of massage my scalp as I work it through my hair. I can tell that my hair is clean if I rinse it out and it doesn’t feel oily. If it still feels oily, I may wash it again.
  4. Your hair won’t be squeaky clean, which is a good thing. You actually don’t want your hair to be squeaky clean, because that means you’re stripping away its natural oils.

Apple cider vinegar rinse vs. coconut oil conditioner

You’ll need to follow the baking soda with a conditioning rinse to maintain the pH balance of your hair, otherwise it may feel greasy or sticky. Most advocates of baking soda shampoo will instruct you to an apple cider vinegar rinse for this purpose. To be honest, this was probably the main thing that kept me from trying the no poo method in the past, because I hate the smell of vinegar. And even though DIY Natural says your hair won’t smell like vinegar, I kept catching whiffs of it throughout the day. I tried the apple cider vinegar rinse for two days before I gave up on it. Fortunately, Sarah at Dreamworld Health suggested an alternative: coconut oil. I had never heard of this option before so I was really excited to try it. I would much rather smell like coconut than vinegar! If you decide to go this route, here are few things to keep in mind:

  1. You only need a small amount. The first time I tried this, I used about a dime-sized glob. Thankfully, it was a Sunday and I didn’t need to leave the house, because my hair looked like a limp greasebomb. I checked in with Sarah, who said that she uses only a tiny bit, and uses the coconut oil only every other day. (I was able to skip conditioning for three days after that mistake.) Now I just scrape off a tiny bit from the inside of the jar — less than a fingernail’s worth. It won’t seem like enough, but it is. Warm it in your hands and spread it over your hair, focusing on the ends. Allow it to sit for a minute and then rinse well.
  2. You may need less styling product — or none at all. This was an unexpected side effect that blew me away. I have always needed lots of styling product to keep my thick hair under control. But in addition to acting as a conditioner, the coconut oil keeps my curls nice and defined. On the days that I don’t use any coconut oil, I may apply a tiny bit of mousse to the ends of my hair for definition. Of course, the benefit of using less product is that it equals less buildup, which translates to cleaner hair. Win win.
  3. Your hair may dry faster. Again, this is a bonus if you have thick hair like mine, which often isn’t completely dry until noon. I can get my hair about 70% dry with a diffuser, and then let it air dry the rest of the way. Still not ideal in the winter, but better than leaving the house with hair that is about 40% dry.

The only issue I’ve noticed so far with the no poo method is that my second-day hair feels kind of dry and has lost all the curl. I used to skip shampoo and wear my hair up on day 2, but now I’ve been washing it every day to reactivate the curl. Maybe I need to try just rinsing with water on the days in-between.

Have you tried the no poo method on your hair? Let me know how it worked!

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2 comments

  1. I love your idea about adding warm water to the baking soda after stepping into the shower! Squirts of cold water aren’t too fun. I didn’t know your hair was as thick and curly as mine! Must be the genes. 🙂 This no-poo shampoo recipe works wonders on thick, curly hair.

    1. Yep, I keep it shorter, otherwise I get the dreaded triangle head! New hairdressers never know what to do with my hair, haha!

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