Instructables

How to Go No Poo

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To go No Poo is to stop using shampoo. Why would you want to do this?

1. Shampoo is expensive.
2. Chemicals in shampoo can irritate and dry out your scalp and hair.
3. Chemicals in shampoo can be hazardous to your health.
4. Your body produces oil to naturally condition your hair and keep it healthy. Using shampoo daily upsets the natural balance and causes you to produce more oil than necessary to compensate.

When you stop using shampoo, you will probably experience a transitional period while your body gradually adjusts to produce just enough oil to keep your hair healthy. During this time, which can range from a few days to a few months, you'll probably have some extra oil and grease that you may want to take care of to look presentable. The cheapest and most effective way to handle this is to use baking soda. The method I use involves a plastic cup, some baking soda, and a shower. You may also want to condition your hair after using the baking soda mixture, as sometimes it can leave your hair a bit dry. There are lots of different ways to do this; I use apple cider vinegar.
 
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Step 1: Cleaning

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Put 1-2 tbsp of baking soda into a 16oz cup (or close). The ideal ratio is about 1 tbsp of baking soda per 1 cup of water. When you get in the shower, fill the rest of the cup with water and stir until the baking soda is dissolved. You should have some cloudy water at this point. If the mixture feels gritty or pasty, either add more water or use less baking soda. Now apply the mixture to your hair. Ideally, you should aim to get most of it around your roots and work it in with your fingers, gradually distributing it throughout the rest of your hair. It won't lather like shampoo, but it does give your hair a distinct "smooth" feeling when it's properly distributed. Once you've rubbed it around a bit, you should be ready to rinse. When you are completely rinsed you are ready to condition.

Step 2: Conditioning

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The simplest way to condition is to use apple cider vinegar, in about the same way as you used baking soda: 1 tbsp of the vinegar per 1 cup of water. If you like you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, some honey, or some lemon juice. When you've mixed up your conditioner, pour it on and work it in just like you did the baking soda. When you're satisfied, rinse thoroughly.

Step 3: Closing Thoughts and Advice

I hate the smell of vinegar. However, apple cider vinegar isn't as harsh as white vinegar, and after you rinse and dry your hair, the smell is completely gone. Your hair will smell like hair, or maybe whatever you added to your conditioner.
The eventual aim of this process is to let your natural oils care for your hair, so you should use the baking soda and vinegar only as much as you need it, hopefully reducing your usage to zero eventually. Good luck, and don't give up!
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bkm42126 days ago

Did this. I am a diva, a princess, a spoiled brat, girly girl, high maintenance, call it what you will. I love getting my hair and nails done, wearing makeup, perfume, jewelry, nice shoes, clothes, purses, the whole bit. I am fortunate that I have good hair for which I don't have to spend a lot of money on shampoo, coloring, processing, or anything. I don't color my hair, never have, although will have to start at some point in the foreseeable future, thanks to a few grays... I have long, thick, straight hair, down to the middle of my back, and most of the time it is a little on the dry side, so washing my hair the traditional way involves copious amounts of conditioner, a once monthly deep conditioning treatment, and a bit of silicon product following blowdrying with a round brush to keep frizzes at bay.

I did this over a holiday weekend when I knew that I wouldn't be going to work or seeing anyone and had the time to either deal with gross hair or rewash it. Much to my surprise, ok shock, this method worked like a charm. I read in the other comments that there is an adjustment period, but their didn't seem to be for me. Also for my hair, because it is long, I used about 2tbs of baking soda and made it into more of a paste because it was easier to manage. I massaged it through like shampoo. Admittedly, the absence of lather was strange. When I put the acv in my hair, some got in my eyes, which stung A LOT, at which point I realized the point of diluting it. The scent of the acv on my hair was borderline disturbing because I felt like I was putting salad dressing on my head, but whatever. The second time I was more careful and didn't get any in my eyes. I combed through my hair with a wide-toothed comb as I would normally do so with my normal conditioner and I was floored at how easily it went through. Although the scent of the acv dissipates, I spritzed my brush with some scented body spray while I was blow drying, just in case. My hair was clean, impossibly soft and manageable, and blew out nicely. I still used some of my hair gloss silicone product, but my hair looked awesome. Yes, I said that. Awesome.

I'll definitely do this again. I don't know that I'll ditch the traditional shampoo just yet, but this is a good break for my hair, which can't be the worst thing in the world, and a good trick when I have to wash my hair frequently between workouts.

I got quite excited after reading this and have just tried this now. I used white wine vinegar (couldn't find any of the cider stuff!) And baking powder. I didn't realise baking powder and baking soda were different things so I looked it up and apparently baking powder is basically baking soda but with an added acidic element. Do you think this will change anything? Also, I realised that after I rinsed out the baking powder mixture, my hair still felt a bit oily. Is this normal? Thanks!!
kliu84 months ago
Vermanen- what do you use to clean the area then? Water alone is not enough, the bacteria will love it, it's why the sink bowl is the germiest place in a public bathroom, because people often rinse their hands without soap thinking it's enough. Besides, the ph recovers, but I can imagine it being an issue if you have a skin condition.
kliu88 months ago
Also, about no soap thing, how do you clean your private parts with just water? Would just pouring water there make it more habitable for bacteria? What do you do if you got paint, ink, glue, or motor oil on your skin? The purpose of soap is not to moisturize but to remove lipid-based impurities such as bacteria, excess oil, grease, paints, resins, wax, etc that cannot be washed away from water alone. Yes it can strip the skin but in some cases it's necessary harm especially if you don't want something like printer ink sitting on your skin for a long time. Thankfully my skin and hair is very tough and hardy. One time I got a build up of castile soap in my hair due to using Dr. Bronner's for too long and I washed it with a natural, non-toxic all purpose cleaner, and my hair came out silky smooth and bouncy, I have also washed my hair with vinegar, dish soap, make-up removing face wash, hand soap, etc. To be fair though, I only take showers when I feel I need it which is about 1-2 times a week but once I went camping with someone and even though I had only gone two days without showering they said I stank too much and had to sleep away from them. But even with soap my skin's oils rejuvenate well on the drier spots. That's just me though hygiene is a huuuge concern for me and how it can effect others health.
Vermanen kliu84 months ago

I never use soap to clean my private parts.... because it conflicts with the natural PH value....

kliu88 months ago
Considering that vinegar is an acidic solvent, wouldn't it be terrible for your hair? I've heard of people using it on their face get their skin ruined and flaky.
Exocetid1 year ago
Frankly, all you need is the universal solvent to clean your hair and your body. If you get dirt or grease on you, then add nature's naturally occurring abrasive. These two compounds are amongst the most abundant on earth.

What are they? Dihydrogen monoxide and silicon dioxide. Both of these compounds can be very, very dangerous, even kill you. Use wisely.
Silicon dioxide actually is pretty bad for you, inhaling it can lead to silicosis, bronchitis, or cancer.

Sure you got your chemical name right?
Yep. From WiKi: Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings is silica (silicon dioxide, or SiO2), usually in the form of quartz.

Note that I said both compounds can be dangerous and even kill you, so use wisely. Nice wet beach sand rubbed onto grimy hands, soiled knees or other stained body parts will clean them up nicely.

We are being tongue-in-cheek here.
cherierose1 year ago
I've recently started going 'no poo' after reading up on the positive affects it has had on peoples hair health and the environment, it's taken alot of adjusting of the method I use though, as not everyones hair is different, different methods work for different people. I've been documenting my no poo experiment on this blog to help out people looking to go no poo themselves heres the link if you want to check it out, you may find it helpful http://theno-pooexperiment.blogspot.com.au/ :)
Drielle1 year ago
Personally speaking, my hair is waist length & I found that the 'transition phase' can be avoided completely. I did my 1st 'no-poo' wash a couple days ago with horrible results... hair felt heavy & stiff with a waxy residue, that I felt when rubbing my fingers together. GROSS! So then I added a couple drops of dishwashing detergent to my mixture of water & baking soda and washed it. Now my hair feels OMG fantastic! I think all my hair needed was a degreaser (once or twice only) to get rid of the nasty residual coating that shampoo & conditioner had left behind.
You'll find using diluted lemon or vinegar rinse works well, it helps to smooth the hair cuticle making it slippery & less tangled. I hope this helps!
justme225 years ago
I was very excited about this concept. I tried this for about two months. I have very oily hair and skin and I feel compelled to shampoo at least once a day. This technique did the job and controlled the oil. I worked on varying the amount I used per day, trying to use less and less. However, it was rough on my fine hair and I had a lot of breakage and hair loss/shedding. Also, now that the cold dry winter has hit, I had big time static problems, and dry dull hair--- no longer looking healthy and pretty. I even tried to supplement this method with natural deep conditioners such as eggs, mayonaisse, olive oil, jojoba oil, etc. Yuck, time consuming, and didn't make much of a difference! While I haven't gone back to the big brand mass-produced, chemically-laden shampoo and conditioner, I am seeking out and trying different brands of organic, more eco-friendly shampoos and conditioners. This method just doesn't work for me for the long term. Perhaps a little vain, but to a "natural, low-maintenance" woman, the look of healthy shiny pretty hair is important! At least I tried it!
A really good brand that os a little more Eco friendly and does wonders for hair and skin is Fructis Pure Clean ... I and some of my family have bad psoriasis on our scalps and most shampoos irritates the fire out of it... we started using this after using coal tar shampoo and menthol shampoos ( menthol shampoos do work but are really irritating to the eyes and nose) and Pure Clean really worked!!!
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I've been using the conditioner only method for several weeks now and really love it. I use Suave Naturals, which is inexpensive and does not contain harsh chemicals or 'cones (silicon derivatives). I clean my hair about once every five to seven days and follow with an apple cider rinse. If my hair starts feeling a bit dirty in between washes, I can simply rinse with water and apple cider vinegar and it perks right up. I do not wash the vinegar rinse out, it doesn't smell once it's dry. My hair is very long and fine and now it's very shiny, as well! Just make sure any conditioner you use is 'cone free. You can google for an extensive list of cone free conditioners as well as the conditioner only washing method. Castile soap can work fine for any length hair, but it will make your hair dull if you have hard water. You can counter that by rinsing with apple cider vinegar and water. As for brushing, it's used to distribute natural oils through the hair. You use a boar bristle brush after you've combed and detangled. It's not brushing 100 times, it's 100 strokes, as far as the old standard goes. This isn't something you have to stick with, it's just a method for making sure you've thoroughly distributed the sebum along the hair length. Make sure, when using castile soap or shampoo, that you only wash your roots. Washing the length is unnecessary, as any soap/shampoo running down the length as you rinse is sufficient to clean it. Not only does this use less shampoo, it also helps keep your hair healthy.
In addition to using a brush to draw the oils thru your hail, it is import to use the brush to loosen the dead skin on your scalp. First brush down at your scalp to break off the dead skin, then draw the brush thru your hair to remove the loosened dead skin from your hair. Don't scrub your scalp with the brush, just start using light to medium force and over time your scalp will get healthier and you will find the right rhythm for your own hair.
Also, when starting out, you may want to do this before a gentle shampoo, depending on what condition your scalp is in when you start up and how much dander you break loose and how much oil gets freed into your hair.
After cleaning your hair with the brush, it's a good idea to clean the brush before doing the "100 strokes" (I used two brushes when I had long hair, stiffer for cleaning).
Once your scalp is healthy, from time to time when there is too much oil in your hair, instead of a shampoo, you can brush a little baby powder or talcum powder thru your hair during brush cleaning.
Factors that may alter your usual routine are how much your scalp was sweating and how much dust or floating debris from the environment got in your hair.
In effect, your healthy scalp and hair become a micro environment where conditions vary by days, activities, and seasons, and your grooming adapts to those conditions, including when it's time to wash it.
Don't confuse the above with detangling your hair for whatever reason (see next post) and do trim your split ends.
ever try the "100 brushes" method? before you go to bed, run a brush through your hair 100 times. this distributes the scalp oils through your hair. when you see those 18th century period movies with the lady in her bed clothes brushing her hair, that's what she's doing.
Skai copycat423 years ago
instead of using a brush you could just use a washcloth so that your not tugging away at your hair too much. Not to say that the brushing probably wouldn't work either - those 18th century girls prob had some good D.I.Y knoweledge themselves! But to update their style, using a washcloth i think would appease anyone with concerns about brushing their hair too much, while still adhering to the commitment of not giving those beauty stores so much money!!!!!
copycat, i've heard of it. but brushing your hair is one of the more damaging things you can do to it, especially brushing improperly. it contributes to hair breaking, splitting and creasing (which leads to breakage later on). i only brush my hair as much as needed and spend the time to work through knots from the bottom, rather than pulling through them. its an essential part of growing thin hair to any length at all without having it look ratty. i don't even want to begin to imagine how bad it would look if i brushed it 100 times a day, since i left this post i have found a solution to my issues, based on a recommendation here at instructables and it's rating as one of the best value based brands. that "austrailian" conditioner line definitely does the trick! best solution i've found so far.
Some health food stores (and regular supermarkets with bulk sections) allow you to purchase small quantities of their shampoos from a bulk bin. It might help your budget if all you have to buy is enough for one month at a time. Also, you really don't need much shampoo when you wash your hair. I cut it down to a teaspoon (for shoulder length hair) and it's more than enough.
BDMama justme223 years ago
I THINK the idea is to use the baking soda and vinegar only till your hair normalizes and then wean off those, too. Also you don't need to use the vinegar every time you use the baking soda. At least that is what I picked up from other instructables.

In addition you can make your own conditioner so much more cheaply than buying it. I like this one: http://www.instructables.com/id/Eco-friendly-low-cost-hair-conditioner-and-gel/

My hair is curly and, therefore, dry and this conditioner has done wonders for my hair this winter. My hair usually doesn't curl in the winter, it just dries out and frizzes no matter what I used. But with this home-made conditioner it has been soft and curly.
JenHen BDMama3 years ago
I am new to all the new home remedies. How do you get your hair clean if weaned off of shampoo and baking soda and vinegar? I sweat and also am sometimes in places where my hair will pick up the odor. How do I get these out w/o the above products? I also have dyed hair. Thanks in advance!
mcowgill BDMama3 years ago
Actually, the Vinegar is a pretty crucial part of the process. I haven't tried this method yet, but it's essentially the same as why you're told to "condition" after you color your hair.

The outer layer of the hair, the cuticle, can be raised by heat and changes to elevate pH. The natural pH of your skin, hair, and nails is 4.5-5.5 on a scale of 0-14. Shampoos and soaps are more alkaline in nature, falling above the "neutral" 7 marker. This means that the sulfates (detergents) in these things, like that lovely smelling Pantene ProV shampoo in your shower, or your "antibacterial" soap (ALL soap is antibacterial) attach to the unwanted molecules so that the grease and dirt can all be pulled out of your hair and rinsed away. Sadly. these harsh chemicals don't discriminate. They strip your natural oils too. (I'm not going to go into health effects because I'm not qualified to do so, but I don't exactly think they're terribly healthy either.)

So your cuticle is raised, right? All the dirt is gone and you can just get your happy self out of the shower and everything will be okay? Wrong. You must CLOSE your cuticle, or your hair will be dry, probably very brittle, straw like, and break very easily. All because you chose to leave it's natural defense system open.

This is where the acidity of the ACV comes in. Or, you can use lemon juice, lime juice, or anything else nontoxic that is gentle enough to use, or that you can dilute to be so. Oh, hey, did you know that a lot of people rinse their hair in beer? (: I don't necessarily think it's the hops and barley that women (and even men) enjoy so much that makes their hair so soft and shiny. It's pH? 4.5 :D

So, my suggestion would be, (if you're 21 that is) buy yourself a 12 pack, and make yourself a deal. Before or after your shower (which, shouldn't involve cleansing your hair more than 3 times a week), take a mental health break and drink a beer, and use one more on your hair. And, notes to any other ladies out there reading this, I think it's a beer a week can help to prevent yeast infections. Win-win-win? I think so.

I hope this has helped. I'm an aspiring cosmetologist (which is why I have all this information. That, and I'm addicted to knowledge), so I thought knowing the ins and outs of the process might be useful. :)
its expensive, but the shampoos and conditioners from the body shop are pretty eco freindly and work so amazingly well you will never go back to anything else.
I went to the body shop, and asked for something to wash my hair. They looked at me funny, and pointed me to the bathroom, to something called GOJO. It works great! It has these little beads of pumice to really get that deep clean. It even has a clean citrus smell. Anyway, they sold me a tub of the stuff. They said that they were out of the conditioner, but they said the muffler shop down the street was supposed to get a shipment next week. I can't wait.
ROFL (in case anyone doesn't get it, GOJO is a brand of heavy duty cleaners for people who have dirty jobs like car mechanics and have to wash a lot of grease off their hands)
LOL! Probably the best solution in all seriousness though. MOST (not all) hand/ dish soaps have only the chemical that adheres to oils and washes away with water, without the extra ingredients. 
Wow! THANKS for the info!!! My Mom and I both have pretty oily hair. Hers is more oily and more fine. I am glad you told me this so that I do not have to hear later down the road that I suggested for her to do something that "ruined" her hair!!!
Thank you for saving me alot of pain in my ear! :)
When I weaned myself from shampoo, I was already skipping days between shampoos, often only shampooing about 2-3 times a week, since washing my hair every day was really harsh on it.  Also, the feel of your hair is not going to be as squeaky clean as shampoo gets it, but rather a nice, silky feel instead.  Maybe switching to a milder shampoo (and only lathering once, if you're used to relathering to get everything squeaky clean) will help your hair and scalp transition, as they get used to not having to produce so much oil to make up for what is scoured away.  I like the smell of Avalon Organics, though it's pricier than I care for.  I also used a hemp-based shampoo that was really mild, but I forget the name of.  Health food stores often carry some mild brands.

Ones diet also has a big effect on hair, so if nothing seems to be working, maybe making a change in what you're eating could help out.  I notice that when I get all of my minerals and vitamins, my skin and hair and nails are much healthier than when I'm too tired to prepare food and eat processed stuff.
I like the products that are made by Jane Carter and by John Masters and by Devacurl (No-poo and Lo-poo). Also, if you have a Whole Foods store near you, their policy is for you to buy their products and if they don't work for you, you can return them for a full refund. Also, their staff can often be very helpful in determining products that are good for you.
I have been using a vegetable based shampoo (without conditioner) that I get at the health food store for a couple of years now. The only time I've used something else is when I've run out of it. To cover my gray, I have my hair colored and highlighted four to five times a year. When I was younger, this used to leave my hair dry and tangled, but since I've been using the vegetable based shampoo, I don't even have to use conditioners any more! My hair stylist and friends are amazed at how healthy my hair is. Here is what I discovered: try different brands of natural shampoos until you find the one that works best; use just enough to clean, not strip your hair- if you have a head full of suds, you've used too much (even though the brand I buy costs around $10, a bottle last me for months, and I don't have the additional expense of a conditioner, so I think I'm actually saving money); if you need a conditioner after washing, you washed your hair too well- leave a little of your own oil in- it's a free and natural conditioner. It'll take a few hits or misses before you find the perfect balance, but believe me, it's worth it!
Would you mind telling me the exact brand of shampoo you use? I'm not sure what you mean by "vegetable based". Thanks, Rebecca
Rebecca, The brand I finally settled on is called BWC. BWC makes different shampoos and conditioners but the one I use says "organic aromatherapy shampoo, moisture plus, benefits dry / treated hair; 100% vegetarian." The last time I got my hair colored caused it to dry out, but after using the shampoo for a month it was silky and soft again. I also have soft water so I don't know if that makes a difference.
Thanks for the tip, I'll give it a try.
I wonder if you are brushing your hair to distribute the natural oils produced by your scalp? Using a natural bristle brush is key. Old fashioned 100 strokes, being gentle too. Just a thought. Jean
jenbair3 years ago
Can't wait to try this. I have icky dandruff no matter what shampoo I use. Right now I am using Bronner's and rotating between that an another organic shampoo but this might be a better option. Thanks for posting. Baking soda and vinegar works wonders for my laundry to the point I don't need bleach or fabric softener at all any more so it could work for most people's hair too.
Jenbair, can you tell me how much Baking soda and vinegar you use in your laundry as I would like to try it. x
How do you use baking soda and vinegar in your laundry? Is it in addition to traditional laundry soap, or instead of? Do you have a link to refer me to?
use about 3/4 or 1/2 cup baking soda in the wash cycle. You can also use Borax or washing soda. In the RINSE cycle, use about 3/4 or 1 cup of white vinegar. I buy the cheap stuff in a gallon jug to use for cleaning everything. There will be no vinegar smell if you use it correctly...just a clean smell. Use your regular detergent or try a "green" brand which is not made from petroleum and has no optical brighteners, additives, scent, dyes etc. I like Method and Seventh Generation. You may find you don't need pre-rinse products, stain removers, fabric softeners, dryer sheets any longer! I have a front loader so i put the vinegar in the compartment for fabric softener to make sure it gets released int he rinse cycle.
I am writing a book with all these sorts of idea for natural health care and I would love you all to get involved and comment on the experminents I will be trying.

kingsdaughters21.blogspot.com/2012/01/natures-way-experiments.html
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