No shampoo update: 7 months and counting

It’s been a long time since I mentioned the no-shampoo thing (I just can’t bring myself to call it no-poo), because I’ve adjusted very well.  The initial adjustment was tough, but that was largely because of the learning curve and my horrible hard water.  Maybe somebody out there can learn from my experience and have an easier time of it.

There are a few pros and cons, but overall I think my hair and scalp are much happier and healthier.  Saving some money is a nice perk, too.

MY PRODUCTS

soda water

To prepare my soda water, I boil 2 quarts of water.  Then I turn off the heat and slowly stir in 1/3-1/2  cup baking soda.  Once it cools, I pour into a large empty dishsoap bottle.  This makes it easy to open and close, and easy to apply.  I keep this right in the shower, like a bottle of shampoo.  2 quarts is enough for at least 8 uses, even with my long thick hair.  For those with less hair, it would go much further.

Try just stirring together baking soda and water first.  If you don’t have freakishly hard water, you probably won’t need to boil yours like I do.  But if you find that your baking soda just sits like grit on your head instead of dissolving while the natural oils stay in your hair, try boiling.  The soda water should feel slippery rather than gritty, and the oil should just rinse away.

vinegar rinse

My “conditioner” is just diluted apple cider vinegar in a second dishsoap bottle.  I don’t measure.  I just pour ~1/2 cup in the bottom of a 1/2 gallon bottle and add water to fill.

White vinegar works too but apple cider vinegar seems to be milder and has a more slippery feel to it, so it leaves my hair feeling more conditioned.

MY ROUTINE

Most of the time I put my hair up when I shower.  About every 3 days, I decide my scalp is getting oily or dirty enough to benefit from washing.  On these days, I use  soda water to wet it down.  I don’t know why, but I find it works much better if I don’t wet my hair first with plain water.  Although my hair is long and thick, it only takes ~1 cup to thoroughly wet my scalp.

I don’t worry about the rest of my hair – that doesn’t really get dirty, and does gets plenty clean in the process.  I just wet down my scalp and scrub gently to work in the soda water.  I have a tendency toward dandruff in certain areas so I pay special attention to those areas.

After washing with soda water and rinsing with plain water, I squirt about 1 cup of this throughout my hair and gently work it in.  It should feel slightly slippery.  One more rinse and I’m done.  I’ve learned not to worry about lingering vinegar smell.  It dissipates as my hair dry.

PROS AND CONS

My hair used to be so oily that even 24 hours between shampoos was a little gross.  I had dandruff nearly all the time, only barely hidden by frequent shampooing and trials with dandruff shampoos.  At first I tried to go a week between washings.  That was simply too much, and made the transition harder than it needed to be.  Now I wash about twice/week.   For the first time since I was little, after 3 or 4 days my hair just looks shinier than usual rather than having an oil slick on top of my head.

I have found that the occasional flakiness I get now can be brushed away.  I think this is more of a natural shedding than the unhealthy scalp I had before.

My hair has a subtly different feel now, and I like it.  It’s a bit heavier and more substantial.  It feels thicker and is more obedient, even though I use absolutely no styling products.  This always reminds me of the old saying, “I just washed my hair and can’t do a thing with it!”  Now I know what they meant.  My hair used to be so soft and slippery that I couldn’t keep it in a clip – it just fell right through.  Now it’s soft but has some body to it.  It also looks shiny and healthy, with none of the flyaway-frizzies that I used to get when I skipped conditioner.  Weather affects it very little.  No static, no frizzies, no flathead.  Just normal happy hair.

One thing I don’t like is that the natural oils make my scalp attract dust and lint.  I have to brush more often to keep it clean, and my brush gets a white greasy residue and has to be cleaned frequently.  Yes, kinda gross, but I just remind myself that this is the natural oil designed to protect my hair from the elements.  Frequent brushing helps distribute this oil to keep your head of hair sleek and shiny.

At first I missed the fragrance of shampoo and conditioner, but I quickly realized that I can add my own fragrances by applying a dab of perfume oil or a spray of cologne to my hair brush.  The funny thing is, once I realized this I stopped missing it.  Just knowing that could seemed to stop me from feeling “deprived.”  I rarely remember to do it now.

I’m not one to jump in with every trend that comes along, and I thought this one sounded crazy when I first heard it.  Now I have to admit there’s something satisfying about not being dependent upon commercial shampoo.  It feels like the way hair is meant to be treated.  Once I quit stripping my hair daily, it became hard to think about going back.

Have you jumped on the no-shampoo bandwagon?

Comments

  1. I’m going to try this!

  2. Hi Kim! Thanks for posting this. I found the notion of going No-Shampoo from a link on Pinterest. I clicked through a few different blogs looking for information and details. Most of the ones I found had curly hair or thin hair. Not me. I have long, thick hair…like you! I’m so glad to have found someone doing this with my hair type and that has been without shampoo long enough to have a routine and long term feedback about the benefits. I’m really excited to start trying this out. :)

  3. Hi, thanks for responding! I have googled my static problem, and there’s not much information on it, which is why I asked. I made the mistake of over-oiling my hair once last week. I used some oil again today, and I still have a little bit of a static problem. My hair looked pretty good today, but the static drove me to put it in a ponytail. I don’t want to do that every day.. I like it down! Maybe I’ll try some aloe vera gel as well as the jojoba oil I’ve been using and see if that will make the static go down. As far as coconut oil goes, does it smell like coconuts? I like the taste of coconut, but not necessarily the smell! Lol! One thing I like about jojoba oil is that it is unscented.

  4. Hi, I just started the no poo routine about 11 days ago, with pretty good success so far, but for one thing: STATIC! Did you experience any static problems? I’m sure it’s not helpful that I started this in the winter and that I live in dry Colorado, but I can’t even run my hands through my hair without making it stand up in the air. I’m trying to go a week between BS washes. I went 5 days between my first and second BS washes.. Is this another one of those weird transition things and goes away after a few weeks, or is it just a product of starting no poo in a dry state in winter? Thoughts? Thank you!

    • B,
      I have found that without some special styling products, frizz is nearly unavoidable during dry winter weather. Regular shampoo and conditioner never really tamed the frizzies for me.
      Having said that, vinegar does a great job of conditioning and will help significantly with frizz, though it doesn’t entirely solve the problem. I’m sure there are other natural products that will do the job. Have you tried some google searches? A bit of coconut oil applied with a very light hand comes to mind…

  5. Thanks, I have been using Bragg’s ACV diluted for the rinse. Would more vinegar be better? I found the instructions I am using on another blog (simplemom.net) and she suggested 1TB in a cup of water and then use as much as needed. I used the 8 oz bottle in two washes. I upped the ACV to about 2TB for my second batch. I really don’t know how the ol’ hair is doing today, I put it up in bun wet. I’ll see how it looks when I take it down tonight. The top looks good, not greasy. :)

  6. Groovy:) thanks for the advice. Maybe I’ll get a natural brush. My hair is pretty long, too, middle-of -back to almost waist length. I washed today, so we’ll see how it behaves in the next couple of days.

    • Alice,
      I forgot to remind you not to skip the vinegar rinse. Baking soda alone is mildly caustic and will leave your hair feeling very dry. The diluted acid of a vinegar or lemon juice rinse is necessary to restore the natural ph of your hair.

  7. Alice,
    I think this does balance out as the natural oils in your hair work their way gradually down the shaft. I’ve heard that frequent brushing with a natural bristle brush will help the process along.
    In spite of my extremely oily scalp, my long hair used to be very dependent on daily conditioning as well since I never let the oil make it all the way to the ends. Now my hair stays nicely conditioned all the time.

  8. I just started this last week and have ‘washed’ twice now. I think I will really like it, but my hair is so used to being ‘deep conditioned’ every shampoo that instead of the greasiness I hear most complaining of, my ends seem to be incredibly dry. Will this also balance out as time goes on? Love the blog!

  9. I’ve bookmarked this and will try it–probably with the spray bottle like one of you suggested. I have such a hard time with dandruff and nothing works. I’ll try anything!

  10. MARINALOBO says:

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  11. cocolamala says:

    i’m glad to hear of your success with this!

  12. If I use any less baking soda in the water, my hair does not get clean.

    When I boiled it, nothing seemed to settle out at all. But a day later, these crystals began appearing, and kept growing.

    I really want to find a solution, and I believe there is one. I’ve tried 3 different types of regular shampoo after being off shampoo for a year, and I tell ya… that stuff is awful! I do not feel nearly as clean, and in just a few days, I feel like I need to be shampooing daily again! That, and dandruff! and itchy scalp! It took just a couple days to get that going!

    Yes, I believe any hair type can do this… but it is not an exact recipe. You have to be willing to try different things! That, and there’s that rough transition period right at first.

  13. Deanna,
    What do you mean you can’t back down on the ratio? And are you using the boiling water, or saying that you can’t do it that way because it gets crunchy?
    The way we figured out our ratio is because when we use more, the excess settles to the bottom of the pan. And boiled seems much nicer on my hair, since the baking soda is dissolved rather than gritty. It just makes my water super-soft so the grease rinses away.
    Not sure if this helps – sorry if I’m misunderstanding.

  14. Lisa,
    Based on my own experience and what others have said I don’t think there’s any reason you couldn’t make the switch. Some of the happiest people are those with very thin, fine hair – and the fact that you have scalp issues gives you even more to gain!
    Let us know if you decide to try.

  15. Kim, I have enjoyed reading your posts about not using shampoo, but have not gotten on board, because my hair is so difficult! It is thin, fine, and wavy, and it gets flat and oily quickly. It is all one length, exept that I have bangs, which I “rat”. I’m not sure how common that term is. It means that I sort of fluff and tease them, then use a mega spritz hairspray (on the bangs only). Do you think there are some hair types that must be shampooed, or could I successfully pull this off? I do have dandruff and scalp sores, so I’m sure my scalp would be healthier if I stopped using shampoo. I just hate to go through the trial period, if it isn’t going to work for me.

  16. I’ve been off shampoo for a year… and in most ways, I love love love it.

    Here’s the problem I’m having though.

    With my hard water, I can’t seem to back down on the ratio of baking soda to water. When I use the boiling water to make the soda water, it rapidly precipitates into a large hard crunchy crystal in the bottom of my container.

    And… the baking soda in this concentration is so hard on my hair, that my hair is breaking off….

    So, I tried catnip tea for a rinse instead of vinegar. That made my hair stronger. Then I got pregnant… I absolutely cannot tolerate the odor of the catnip tea….

    So I went out and bought “natural” shampoo and conditioner. Expensive stuff! And I HATE it! Absolutely hate it.

    Yesterday morning I stripped my hair with a baking soda wash / ACV rinse, and my hair is wonderful! Now I am trying to figure out what to do next. I will have no hair if I don’t solve the breakage! I’m debating whether to try the mexican no-poo method, water only (that scares me), epsom salt, shikaikai powder, or molasses….

  17. elizabeth says:

    2 quarts, 8 washes? You might want to consider buying a spray bottle — it makes it go so much farther. Now that we use a spray bottle, one quart of the mixture lasts us about 3 weeks. I use it 2-3 times a week and hubby uses it daily. It penetrates through my long hair to the scalp much better, too. But this may vary by what your water is like, too.

    Have to say, prior to no-poo, my hair was a greasy blob within 24 hours of washing, and always frizzy from the constant washing. After 8 months no-poo, I wash twice a week, and it still never looks that yucky. And no more frizz! Pregnancy (13 weeks here) has increased the greasiness, but still not like before.

    What’s more, hubby is convinced. If I get a couple days behind and we run out of baking soda spray, he’ll use shampoo but reminds me to refill the spray bottle because he really does prefer the baking soda! Now that is a frugal success story. :)

  18. I posted a few weeks ago that I went back to regular shampoo because pregnancy seemed to change my hair. YUCK!!!! I couldn’t stand my hair WITH the shampoo. I went back to the soda water and just do it a bit more often right now.

    Also, it seems like I read on the web one time that the vinegar is really good for brown or black hair and lemon juice is better for those with blonde hair. I have dark blonde. I tried the vinegar but the smell made me sick and I thought it left my hair dry. That was when I looking up the lemon vs. vinegar. My mom reminded me that she used lemon on my hair growing up. She said it helped with tangles. I started my 7 and 10 yod dds on lemon juice because every time I touched their hair with a brush they cried. That made all the difference in the world. Right now they use a natural soap for their hair. I can’t seem to convince them that the soda water is good. They think I am silly. hehehehe!!!!

  19. I am remiss in thanking you for your series several months ago. I tagged along, trying what you were trying, and have been quite happy with the results. Never would have thought to do this otherwise, and I certainly wouldn’t have had the tenacity to research and problem solve the way you did. Thanks for making it easy for me. Now if I could just figure out an easy, natural way to keep those combs clean . . .

  20. I was enjoying infrequent washings until I got pregnant with my 3rd child a couple of months ago. Then my hair went through this HORRIBLE oily stage and I had to go back to washing it every night. I haven’t been using the baking soda. I’ve been using JR Liggett’s all natural shampoo bar. In the last few weeks I’ve been able to to skip every other night washing but it still tends to get so oily. Urg. But of course babies are SOOOOOOO worth it. : ) Glad to hear your routine is still working all these months later. And praise the Lord on your newest blessing.

  21. Is there a similar regimen for the body? A no soap routine?

  22. I did the no-poo thing for quite a while (maybe 9 months or so, starting gradually by reducing shampoo) and loved it. I’m 11 weeks pregnant now though and about week 8 I had to give it up – my hair was just too oily and I didn’t have the energy to work on adjusting my system. I’m sure once the baby is born and my hormones level off again I will want to try again because I already notice that my hair is not as soft.

  23. I haven’t gone completely shampoo-free, but I have been using less/washing my hair less often and I have seen a terrific improvement in my hair.

    Back in April, our dog knocked me off my feet and my arm broke at the shoulder and I absolutely couldn’t shower and wash my hair every day due to pain. I was miserable at first with the extreme oiliness (sp?) and frizzies and finally had my DH cut about a foot off the length until I could get back in a normal routine. After the cut, my hair suddenly became so healthy and pretty and manageable with twice a week washing that I’ve decided not to go back to daily washing even though I can use both arms now. I used to always lament washing my hair in the morning as my hair was at its best at the start of each day and now I know it can behave itself for days and not look greasy or frizzy. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve been tempted to ease into a baking soda wash routine and your posts about the experience make it all the more tempting…

    Thank you for sharing. :)

  24. Annchan,
    I’m looking forward to “pregnancy hair,” but I’m only 9.5 weeks along . My hair has been different for much, much longer. :)

  25. I am so happy I found you blog. I wanted to go shampoo free. We tried Organic Shampoos and they were expensive and left my hair greasy. We tried tea rinses and vinegar rinses. I was afraid of BS washing because my water is hard and everything I read scared me. Then I heard about Egg Washes and I googled it and found you.

    I read your egg wash experience and then happened on your method of BS washing. Although I think I got it wrong, cause I was using 1 quart to 1/2 c which seemed high and I wanted to reduce it.

    Now my hair felt clean and shiny after the first wash and it had the usual dandruff I have been dealing with on day two. I have been washing with BS every other day or so (I can go three days over the weekend if I am not seeing anyone) and it always feels clean. No oily residue. I have notices the powdery residue getting worse, but I suspect that is because I am using to much BS in my mix.

    I also noticed on the third wash my soda water felt gritty and got grittier for the 4th wash. So I was planning on boiling another quart of water and adding the current mix to it. I think that might work. I store mine in a sport water bottle (because it lets me put it where I want it). I should do the same for the vinegar (As I have only used the vinegar once now) I have followed each BS Wash with organic conditioner (that we might as well as use up). So I figure by the new year I will have it all worked out.

    Dandruff – glad you mentioned it. My scalp is always itchy (not so much so the first few days I tried this message, but something terrible today, and again I think it relates to the BS separating from my water- I may have to make smaller batches or keep reheating it in between uses). I could just do 1 cup to 1Tbs the night before I need it. That might be my best bet. But DD is going to start using it (once I get everything figured out, so I will see what happens when I heat it again).

    Thanks again for this post. I would have gone back to shampoo with out it.

  26. Your hair could be feeling fuller and nicer because of the pregnancy though. Not that I doubt your findings and this is a great report for those of us scared to try it.

  27. Thanks for this update – with the “recipes”! I tried this a few months back when you and Kimberly (Raising Olives) were doing it, and finally gave up. My hair is past my waist, and I usually only wash it twice a week. But when I went back to using shampoo, it’s been getting greasier faster, and I’ve been having itching and dandruff back again. Thanks for showing me how to have the soda water and vinegar rinse ready in bottles in the shower! It’s funny, but my scalp just starting tingling as I was typing this – probably in anticipation… :-)

  28. Our family of 11 has been using the baking soda and vinegar for about the same amount of time as you and was thrilled when you discovered the hard water factor (it really helped us!). I had my hair cut a few weeks ago at a salon and the hairdresser commented, “Your hair is so healthy; what products do you use?” I hesitated before answering because I just knew she’d think I was goofy. But she was very interested and said she was going to try it herself!

  29. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to switch to no shampoo, but the idea of using vinegar makes my mom nervous, because she doesn’t want it getting in my eyes – any suggestions?

    • Kyleigh,
      I did a google search asking if vinegar damages eyes, and every result seemed to indicate that while *does* sting, it doesn’t do any damage. I’ve accidentally gotten it in my eyes more than once, and when it’s diluted for use in your hair it’s really not strong enough to hurt much. It’s MUCH better than getting shampoo in your eyes!

  30. Your descriptions are very accurate.

    My scalp/dandruff experiences are very similar to yours. I had to use scalpicin to even keep the dandruff under control and before I did that, it got so inflamed that I took my head to a dermatologist because my lymph nodes were swollen!

    When I switched to the baking soda cleanser and apple cider vinegar rinse, all that “allergic” reaction stuff stopped. Since I’m a lap swimmer, chlorine is a huge factor in my game, and I rinse with the ACV rinse after swimming every day, and only use the BS (ha ha, BS) rinse about once a week or when my hair starts to feel tangly. I also put aloe vera juice in my ACV rinse for moisture (again with the drying effects of chlorine). So that’s my routine.

    I live in the city, and it’s remarkable how many people (including the lady who trims my hair) compliment me on my hair. They never used to before, at least not as often.

  31. I stopped shampooing in about May and went over to baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I had no transition period (I had previously used “natural”-type shampoos) although it did take me a while to figure out what to do with my hair because the texture of it was completely different than what I was used to – it used to be “rabbit” hair, that is fine, straight and extremely soft and slippery. Now my hair is still soft but has a slight curl to it and can be sculpted into all sorts of weird shapes (it looks completely mad in the morning).

    I kept having problems with my scalp and it took a little trial and error to figure out that the baking soda was too harsh on my scalp. I usually rinse my hair with warm water every time I bathe, and now I occasionally make a tea from a powdered herb called shikakai and use that to rinse my hair (occasionally = once every 1-2 weeks).

  32. I have been “no shampoo” for a while now. I think my hair is much healthier. It took some time in the beginning for my scalp to regulate its oil production…that was a bit icky. Once it didn’t have to work so hard to make up for the stripping I was giving it with the detergents I was using, it’s been great!
    I have tried both white and cider vinegar…personally, I prefer white.
    I have curls, so I also use a bit of coconut oil before drying to keep them tame.
    Lovin’ the NO sham-POO life!

  33. I have used baking soda and vinegar for a few month now and am very pleased with my hair. I still tend to wash my hair every other day(being blond my oiliness shows more quickly), but like that I am no longer putting rubbish on my hair. I wouldn’t mind being able to leave it for one more day between washes.My kids use it too and they look great. Hubby loves my hair but is not ready for the baking soda wash. I buy him a good organic shampoo now to replace his previous one and he seems happy with it. I love trying out all things natural, so it did not take me long after hearing about using baking soda before I started trying to use it.

  34. Actually, I have never heard of no shampoo. When I saw the title of the post, I said “now I gotta read this one!”

    Sounds very interesting and I definitely love the idea of spending less money. Thanks for the info!

  35. I have hair like yours, very oily. I’ve been on and off the no-shampoo band wagon. I’m off right now. I was actually going to email you and ask you how it’s going and what exactly you do. You must have been reading my mind. Thanks for the information.

  36. Rebecca from Texas says:

    I too do a baking soda wash. I use lemon juice and commercial conditioner though. I may try the apple cider vinegar and see how it goes. I have dry hair so this time of year especially I only have to wash it once a week. It is great. It saves so much time.

  37. Well, I’m learning something new all the time on the internet. I wasn’t aware of this movement, but have been a long-time closet “rare shampooer: I only wash my hair once a week. I have very thick hair and it’s so puffy and unruly the first day I wash it that I started doing this out of necessity. My kids are swimmers and are in the water several days a week so I don’t feel the need to wash theirs more than once a week either. Glad to know I’m not the only weirdo out there:)

  38. I have not used shampoo in months (I don’t know how many, maybe 4), but I do use a very mild, homemade soap to gently wash every few days. I was just using apple cider vinegar and water to rinse, but now I am using a vinegar tea with some herbs for added benefits. I just started so I don’t know it it’s any different. This site http://www.chagrinvalleysoapandcraft.com/shampving.htm
    has a lot of good information about rinsing this way.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] go!  Maybe I’ll try it again someday.  Until then, you’ll have to let other people tell you about it… It seems to work best on hair that has some wave to it.  If you try it, let me know how it [...]

  2. [...] Shampoo, called the No ‘Poo diet, takes a little bit of time.  I first learned about it from Life in a Shoe a few months ago, then continued to see it pop up in online blogs since.  MSNBC called it a [...]

  3. [...] December I decided to try No-(sham)poo method, with baking soda and apple cider vinegar for every other wash day. Now my routine includes non-SLS [...]

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