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The No Poo Method Doesn’t Stink!

In the ’90s we rocked some horrendous bobs.

Anyone who knows me—or just knows this website—is well aware that I almost never claim that natural, healthy stuff works as well as conventional stuff. I bemoan the loss of Tide in my life, surreptitiously takes whiffs of Herbal Essence in Duane Reade, and fantasize about an alternate reality where I slip my hands into a big sink of foaming Dawn to wash dishes.

Thus it was unsurprising that while testing safe shampoos for an upcoming section of this site (to be posted next week), I was less than thrilled with the condition of my hair, which has basically looked bad since I gave up my Frederic Fekkai Glossing Shampoo about two years ago. Update: I’ve since discovered Acure Organics’ shampoos–these do actually work and are safe.

I have read about the “no poo method” everywhere from The New York Times to mothering.com, so I decided to try it for the sake of research. (I’m assuming you all know that the employing the no poo method means skipping shampoo, not holding your bowels indefinitely.)

I was quite confident that I’d soon be blogging that the no poo method left my hair that stunning combination of greasy, heavy roots and crunchy, crispy ends, with plenty of fly-aways in between.

The No Poo Method in Action

For the past month, my mom and I have been “washing” our hair twice a week, and that’s with baking powder and apple cider vinegar (see text box below for the no poo method we’re employing).  Believe it or not, our hair looks great! Two caveats:

  • Neither of us has particularly nice hair to begin with, so “great” is a relative term.
  • We’ve been using natural shampoos for so long that our standards might be a little skewed.

But seriously, both of our hair looks better employing the no poo method than it did using natural shampoos. And weirdly enough, it doesn’t smell gross. It doesn’t smell sweet and nearly edible like it did with certain shampoos in our pasts, but it doesn’t have that gross scent of a teenage boy’s baseball hat, either.

Even with our hair professionally blown out, neither Mom nor I is blessed with gorgeous tresses.

Basic No Poo Method

 Just google “no poo method” for a wealth of resources on washing your hair without shampoo.

Below is what my mom and I have been doing:

  1. Stir one tablespoon of baking soda into one cup of warm water (increase the amount of each if you have very long hair).
  2. Pour over your scalp and massage thoroughly (this is important).
  3. Let sit in hair for at least one minute.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Stir one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into one cup of warm water (increase the amount of each if you have very long hair).
  6. Pour this over all of your hair, and especially the ends, and allow it to soak in for at least one minute.
  7. Rinse thoroughly.

If the no poo method leaves your scalp dry or you develop dandruff, use less baking soda. If your hair seems greasy right after washing, use a little less apple cider vinegar.

Yikes. Getting bangs in 2007 was a horrible idea.

To minimize the time that your hair needs to “detox,” (read: be incredibly greasy), people recommend that you do the above routine as much as necessary (maybe every other day) and slowly wean yourself off of it all together, until your hair stops producing so much oil. I don’t see myself ever getting to that point, but I’ll obviously report back if it happens.  Neither my mom nor I noticed increased greasiness when starting the no poo method—quite the opposite, in fact—but I’ve heard of enough people experiencing this “detox” to believe it happens to some.

A good place to learn more about the no poo method is on Nature Mom’s blog.

Have any of you tried the no poo method? If so, do you care to share tips or disaster stories?

Stay sane,






10 responses to “The No Poo Method Doesn’t Stink!”

  1. What do you think about Aveda products?

    I love Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo and their Damage Remedy Deep Conditining Treatment.

  2. Oh my gosh, I’m so frustrated but I can see I’m not alone in this. Theses preservative free options are just awful. My hair is puffy and crunchy and horribly dry. I feel hopeless. I’ll give this method a try. I’ve read where some people only do the baking soda like once a month and simply do an ACV wash twice a week. Does that make sense? Also, do use use a hair conditioner after the no poo?

  3. Anyone know how this method works on coloured hair? Does it strip the colour or make it fade quicker?

  4. Just a little advice with No Poo-ing:

    You are only supposed to cleanse you’re roots, this means that the amount of baking soda/water “shampoo” mixture shouldn’t need to change regardless of hair length. When you rinse it out it should gently cleanse the length of your hair.

    Good luck!

  5. I just read your article regarding shampoo and an too curious about Pureology. This shampoo is sulfate free and vegan. I like it because I only have to wash my hair once a week, sometimes 2 depending. I don’t get greasy or anything. I also use coconut oil on it after I blow dry it, don’t need a lot, and my hair has never looked more healthy.

  6. Thanks, Teth! I love the apricot-kernel oil idea…will definitely give it a try!

  7. I love the no ‘poo method, I have eczema so I have a very dry scalp, but my scalp is less itchy since starting about a month ago. I run about a dime size amount of apricot-kernel oil through my hands and then run my hands through my hair after I shower to add a bit more of a conditioner. I have also heard honey is a good conditioner. I have yet to try that though.

  8. Heh. I must be a 12-year-old boy, my brain immediately went to the Harry Potter "U-No-Poo" ditty! For me, sometimes it varies with the water type too….

  9. Thanks for this info! (And we think your hair DOES look great!)

    We linked up to you on our blog, because we're doing a No Poo Challenge this month and wanted our readers to see this great resource that you provided. Thanks again!

  10. So I just read your review on shampoos for moms–what about Pureology? I love the stuff, though a bit pricey; but I pay because it claims to be sulfate free. Have you tried it? It's probably toxic, ha.

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