The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

June 27, 2008

No more poo

No Impact Man did it.

Life Less Plastic did it.

Wait… didn’t I just write this post two days ago?

No, because this one my friend Axelle is doing. And a few days ago, I started to do it too. No, we’re not constipated. (Although that is the tagline for the No ‘poo forum.) We’re all just attempting to give up shampoo. And conditioner. And most hair products in general.

I’ve written about solid bar shampoos and how they can help us save plastic bottle packaging waste. But giving up shampoo altogether saves not only packaging but excess ingredients and a ton of money. And according to believers, it’s a lot better for our scalps and hair.

Inspired by Life Less Plastic once again, I asked Jeanne to write a few pointers on her experience going shampoo-free. This is what she had to say:

I know you’re probably feeling extremely skeptical right now. I was the same way. When I started my no ‘poo experiment, I kept thinking to myself, How could this possibly work? My hair is going to be so disgusting. I’m going to be hideous.

And to be honest, I was sort of right.

When I initially stopped shampooing, my scalp wasn’t used to my new routine, so my long hair got really oily. It was bad. Real bad. But in about two weeks, my scalp started to figure out that I’d made a change, and it stopped producing so much oil. That’s when things started to get good again.

Of course, that’s also when I started to feel completely deceived. All my life, I’ve thought that I needed to buy expensive shampoos and conditioners that generate mounds of plastic waste to have good hair, and it’s not true. I mean, I don’t even need ANY shampoo or conditioner. All I need to do is use a little baking soda and a vinegar solution now and again. Insane!

(My routine, by the way, is to shower as usual, and rub about a teaspoon or two of baking soda into my hair on Wednesdays and Sundays. You can also pre-mix a baking soda and water mixture, but I’m to lazy. Then I do a vinegar solution rinse on Sundays to condition.)

Anyways, now it’s been over a month since I stopped ‘pooing and my hair is pretty much back to the way it used to be. Sure, it feels a little greasy now and again, but in general it’s healthy, happy, and pretty nice-looking.

I can’t guarantee it, but I suspect you’ll have the same experience. If you thinking about ending your ‘poo days, please do! It’s worth it!

My routine so far (if you can call it that because I just started this experiment this past Sunday) is to use a premixed solution of baking soda and water (2 Tbsp baking soda mixed with 2 cups water in a sports bottle) and a premixed solution of apple cider vinegar and water (same proportions as the baking soda solution.) It’s a good use for the unused plastic sports bottles we had stashed in the cupboard once we switched to stainless steel Klean Kanteens for drinking. (Jeanne uses a glass pitcher, but we tend to be a little too spazzy to keep glass in the bathroom.)

[09/26/2012 Update: We still use this method and love it.  I now add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to the apple cider vinegar rinse because it smells good and is supposed to be good for the scalp.  Here’s a list of other essential oils used in hair care.]

I found organic apple cider vinegar in a glass bottle at Trader Joe’s, during the same shopping trip when I broke down and bought toothpaste. So while I may have given up the baking soda as toothpaste this week, I found another use for it in my personal care regimen.

The results so far are fine. Not brilliant or amazing. But I will say that for the first time, I have been able to style my hair without any holding product and have it keep it’s shape for the whole day. I have no idea why that should be, but it makes me happy. We’ll see what happens as I continue this process. I’m hoping to get to a point where I only have to wash my hair once or twice a week, like Jeanne does, and use the vinegar rinse once or twice a week as well.

Here is a post with much more detailed instructions for going “no ‘poo.” And once again, here’s the forum where participants discuss all the finer points and nuances of the practice.

Have you tried this method yet? If so, what’s been your experience with it? What kind of hair do you have? Jeanne’s a long-haired white girl. I’m a shorter-haired, white chick going gray on the sides (Yeah, I know, I didn’t add the gray bits to my little cartoon avatar. Sue me.) which is starting to add a bit of sexy older woman wiriness. No Impact Man’s a short-haired white dude. So I’d like to hear from folks of different ethnicities with different lengths and textures of hair. How can we all take care of our scalps and hair with as little environmental impact as possible. And still look hot? (Cuz you know that’s what’s really important.)

Ideas?

You might also enjoy...

ADVERTISEMENT

Etsy handmade and vintage

Leave a Reply

70 Comments on "No more poo"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest

Google how to make flax gel and be amazed at how easy it is to make and use. Good for your hair apparently.
I am waiting to get a shipment of soapnuts. Some have used it as a shampoo and recipes can be also found on the net. This is my last comment on what I have found and will try concerning hair.
Good locks and wishes to you.

I read a shampoo method that is as simple as your baking soda shampoo, but may be even easier on the hair, and that was fine ground Rye flour. Simply make a paste with water and work it thought the scalp. As you rinse the cleansing is said to work through to the ends. Rye is PH balanced approx 5 ph and contains b vitamins and many healthy benefits, to not damage the hair shaft. The shampoo user said she followed with a ACV rinse if needed. Have never used this shampoo method myself, as I am going to try… Read more »

will it work if I just use the BC solution and not worry about the apple cider vinegar solution?

Hello. I have been using BC and ACV for the past 6 weeks, and it’s been great. I think it helped that I didn’t wash my hair often to begin with, because through the process I haven’t had to wash my hair more then twice a week, except when I missed a spot. It’s a little harder to tell where I have gotten without the lather. The first two times was really weird for me, because I felt like I was getting out of the shower without having conditioned; it had that dry icky feeling till I woke up the… Read more »

I do still use the “No Poo” method to clean my hair, and it still works great for me. My hair is generally at its best the 2nd day after I wash it because the first day, it tends to be frizzy. But that’s true even if I use shampoo. ACV is a great detangler. Some poeple even mix it with water in a spray bottle and use it as a spray-on “conditioner” even if they don’t wash their hair with baking soda.

Edit: When I said “After that it started feeling almost normal.” I meant at the end of my shower. It doesn’t feel quite as moisturized and slippery as conditioned hair, but almost. After it dries, it feels completely soft again.

I tried “no ‘poo” for two months. I am in my early 20s with wavy brown hair. For the entire time I got really thick grease at the roots and lots of dandriff flakes; and I was breaking out like crazy. I ‘washed’ my hair every 3-4 days. I used diluted BS at the roots, rinse, then diluted vinegar on the rest of my hair. Sometimes I would make a rosemary tea to put on my scalp that definately helped with the dandruff. But any recommendations as to why the ‘no ‘poo’ did not work for me, or at least… Read more »

Do you color your hair? My wife had the worst dandruff until she stopped using ammonia dies and switched to 100 % Henna about 3 months later her dandruff stopped 100%. Her scalp is totally healthy as a matter of fact her doctor asked her what she did because in the past she had prescribed a medicated shampoo but it did very little. And was so expensive.

@anonymous – olive oil makes a great moisturizer. Just a few drops or a bit more should do it. Ntoo much and it will take awhile to absorb

For about two weeks now I’ve been washing my hair with bs and using fresh lemon juice (it’s nice having a lemon tree in the backyard) as a rinse. My hair is very thick, coarse, a little wavy, and has serious bleach damage. After two weeks of no-poo my hair is still thick, coarse, and damaged… but I was amazed that something as simple and cheap as bs and free lemons could compete with the shampoo, conditioner, and glossing spray I was using before. What I really wanted to comment about is my face washing regimen. For the past two… Read more »

hello, i make a great natural cream by simply using coco oil, shea butter and a bit of beeswax. you can add castor oil if desired for extra moisture. i simply add more or less coco oil to control thickness. any essential oil may be added but most times i love it as is. its also an excellent hair balm.

So I decided to try this “no poo” routine, as of the 5th of this month. I’m pretty disappointed about the baking soda. At first I thought I was doing it wrong but after alternating whether I dissolved it in water, diluted it, used it as a paste, or used it dry, for 3 weeks, it’s only made my scalp burn and itch like all hell. I decided to try using vinegar and water ONLY, today, to see if it would help. Sure enough, my scalp doesn’t itch or burn when I play with it. It still itches from time… Read more »

Oh and I have long white/asian girl hair :-)

The waxy hair that happens when I use the lye soap on all of my hair actually helps keeps my hair in braids and such.

I tried the baking soda and vinegar thing a year or two ago. It was good for a week but then my hair got oily. Now I know that if I would’ve stuck it out it would’ve been all right in the end! I started using natural shampoo (just random things from Whole Foods) and even that is a million times better than regular brands of shampoo. I only had to wash my hair every other day and it felt lighter. These days I use my own homemade lye soap on my roots, rinse and spray vinegar on my hair… Read more »

I’ve been trying the no poo method for about a week and a half. Its been great for my scalp – unlike some posters, my hair hasn’t been as oily as usual. The trouble I’m having is the length of my hair (I have long, fine hair and an oily scalp) is getting dried out. I tried putting a few drops of Vit E oil or an essential oil in the ACV mix, and it doesn’t help at all. Any suggestions? I really want this method to work for me too! :)

I just used the baking soda wash and vinegar rinse method for the first time, as I am forever on the search for all natural products to shampoo my hair with. I have to say my hair is naturally wavy/curly, kind of dry but a great tendancy to be oily at the crown, and fine. After using 1 tbsp baking soda into 2 cups of water to wash with, I rinsed with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar into 2 cups of water to rinse with and my hair has never looked so shiny, felt so soft, or had so much… Read more »
I’m a member of Long Hair Community, and yes, we do go on about non-commercial options for hair care. While I have not begun the no-poo method, I think the adjustment sounds like the same adjustment people have going from SLS shampoo to the soap based versions. I’d suggest someone trying no poo clarify their hair, which could be three treatments of BS and ACV/ lemon juice in one shower, or borrow a -cone free shampooo. That way, you are starting with HAIR, not hair and a bunch of products. I also suggest scenting the acv with herbs or a… Read more »
I was very hesitant to try this. I started washing my hair every other day, then every 3 days. So when I started no poo a month ago I had no melt down with greasy crazy hair. I have fine/thin a little past the shoulders curly white girl hair that tends to get frizzy and when using gels etc it gets weighed down and the curls are not defined. I spent so much money trying different shampoos and conditioners, hair gels, mousse and different combinations of all of these. Nothing seemed to work. Since going no poo the curls are… Read more »

my mother uses flax seed hair gel and it works really well for her and she has just above the shoulder medium hair. she boils the flax seeds for about 20 minutes.

Soap nuts. I use soap nuts for laundry soap (I buy the nuts in a muslin bag and steep them myself.) One day I ran out of shampoo and tried soap nut “tea.” I still needed a vinegar/water rinse, but it worked better than any no ‘poo I’ve tried. My waist-length, heavy red hair is very happy.

Wow, I’ve never heard this, and I’ve tried a lot of crazy green things… I’ve always thought there had to be another way, because every morning I wake up and think I’d love to not shampoo, but then I look at my thin greasy hair and get in the shower. I never really thought about the no plastic as the motive for shampoo bars, but I hate bars, they get everywhere and you have to clean out that little container, but maybe i’ll try and get over that (just not for travel). I will definitely try baking soda and a… Read more »

About a year ago, I dyed my hair blazing flame red. A totally unnatural color that would wash out if I put any product on it. To keep it bright, I gave up shampooing or conditioning my hair for a few months. Guess what? turns out that after a few days of not being washed, my hair naturally settles on the texture and style I used to use shampoo, conditioner, and three different stying products to achieve.

I think I’ve washed my hair with shampoo maybe a dozen times since discovering this.

Thanks for sending me over here. I might try it…I was just discussing with someone how showering and all that goes with it (like shampooing and conditioning) can be really boring if it's not what you're in the mood to do, which I'm often not.

And several good hairstylists have told me that the key to good hair is washing it less often. Maybe the key to *great* hair is washing it not at all.

At any rate I love the thought that maybe the whole fancy shampoo and conditioner industry is basically unnecessary.

I have long, newly curly hair. After I had a baby my hair became straighter and limper, and I missed my old hair of crazy curls. No shampoo is a lot easier for me, and it gave me back my hair =). For me that is the fascination; it was not just hormonal changes that made my hair limp and flat, but my beauty routine. Like so often in life, less is more. I do bs and acv about 3 times a month, brush with a wooden brush to move oils, and use olive oil on the ends. I wet… Read more »

I haven’t tried the baking soda, but I rinse my hair with vineger every time I wash it. I have light brown hair the is past my waist.

I’ve got typical straight, fine, white girl hair, and I’ve been going no shampoo for 3 weeks strong! I miss lathering up a little bit, but it feels so good to break free from another consumer trap, so it’s worth it. I do a little BS every other day and then ACV rinse once a week. My hair gets a little greasy by day 2, but I think it actually feels worse than it looks… so no one knows! I’ve been brushing and using a wash cloth to try to distribute the natural emollients down the length of my hair.… Read more »
You found some great information. I was apparently using WAY too high a concentration of apple cider vinegar. I also read somewhere that the baking soda is only for the roots. But I noticed instant results when I switched to using baking soda on my whole hair (I’ve got short hair), and a lower concentration of ACV. My hair is much lighter now, more like when I use shampoo, but more manageable. It also doesn’t get as much greasy buildup, and I think it dries quicker, but I haven’t been paying much attention to that (it’s summer and 85 degrees… Read more »

I have been doing the “no poo” thing for about 2 weeks. I am excited about doing it but am not enthused about my hair – yet. It is brown curly white girl hair and looks very dry and frizzy. I am determined to stick with this until my hair and scalp become accustomed to the new routine.

I want to write about “no poo” in my blog but figure I must walk the walk first. I see this as another case of the consumer being marketed into thinking we need a useless product, like bottled water.

I went no ‘poo a couple months back, and my hair has never been better. I’m still using the rinses nearly every day, but my stringy curly white girl frizz has calmed into curls with far, far fewer flyaways… so in addition to being just as clean as ever, I also don’t feel the need to add gel or other styling product to keep the frizz down. I am so happy I heard about this and tried it. I anticipate doing it forever and ever. peace.

blondeoverboard–I can second the comment about shampoo and acne. I had awful acne as a teen and going on the pill finally fixed that. But after going off the pill, I began washing my hair just every other day, with no conditioner. That took care of it, with exception of about 3 days out of every month, which is little enough to handle. I’m a late-20s white chick with a very light complexion and very dark hair in a pixie cut. No way can I do the no-shampoo thing. Any oil on my head and it’s instantly obvious, because the… Read more »
I’ve been having really horrible dandruff ever since last year. It was a very stressful year for me, though I’m not sure if stress was the only (or root) cause of the dandruff. I’m willing to try anything, but having two weeks to make the transition is an issue. Oh well. Regarding plastic – I was eating out and the bartender spoke to a couple sitting next to me that the tangerine juice he uses which comes in a carton no longer sports a plastic gabletop spout fitment (not his exact words but the industry uses those terms.) In my… Read more »
I’ve been using a tablespoon of baking soda in water, followed by a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water for about two months, and I love it. I’ve had no transitions problems whatsoever, although I do use it pretty much every day. I gave up conditioner two years ago. I realized that the small improvement it was doing for my hair (fairly straight brown hair) did not compensate for the horrible breakouts on my face and back. With the new routine, my hair is softer than it’s been since I gave up conditioner, and totally tangle-free. I was completely… Read more »
I use baking soda for shampoo and cider vinegar for conditioner, too, and I love it. I’m trying to transition to using is less often. I currently do it about 3x/week and am experimenting with just rinsing with water sometimes instead. On a related note, if you’re looking for a very natural, no-plastic-involved styling product, try making your own flaxseed hair gel. It’s so easy. I just boil about 1 c. of water, then add about 1 T of whole flaxseeds. I simmer it, stirring, until it has a consistency about like hair gel (but not too thick), then strain… Read more »

I’ve been poo free for about 6 months now. It was a bit icky for the first few weeks and i did squeeze a little poo at neck level just to break it up. (For the record I have long fine grey hair.) After that I have only needed to use baking soda twice a week – I never got around to the rinse and haven’t missed it. My itchy allergic scalp is now itch free…Yay!!!

Very good post, I like how you got into detail about what you did and why. I have not gone ‘no poo’ but have drastically cut down my shampoo usage and looking into making my own shampoo. I do the vinegar rinse occasionally, which is awesome for my very long and thick dreadlocks.

I have very thick curly hair and skin allergies that make many cosmetic products off limits for me. This is an unhappy combination. There are not a lot of fragrance free/hypoallergenic hair products out there to choose from, especially not for curly hair. Shampoo bars gave me the most miserable skin rash of my life. “Normal” commercial hair products often give me eczema and cause my eyes to swell shut. There are a million and one hair products for curly haired people but I can’t use most of them, and I’m not convinced they’d really work in the long run… Read more »

My understanding is that the raw versions of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, orange juice, and honey work better on hair–due to their enzyme content–than the cooked/pasteurized versions.

I’ve been doing this with mixed success. A little tired of the routine, I started washing my hair with regular shampoo once a week recently. This worked for a while, and allowed me days when I had very light, very non-greasy hair (which didn’t hold it’s style as well, though). Now, my hair seems to want me to go either all shampoo or none. I’m going to try none.

I’m a 65-year-old mostly bald guy, and my head (including the bit of fringe of hair I’ve got left) gets the same soap I use for the rest of my shower. Works fine.

Ms. Crunch, To respond to your question about the benefits over soap from my experience… Everyone’s hair is differnt, but mine just doesn’t seem to like bar soap, and I’ve tried several different brands. They all seemed to leave residue on my hair (excluding the Lush brand bar soap, which unfortunately has SLS in it). After several consecutive days of washing with any of them, my hair would get a bit crazy–and almost wet-looking sometimes it was so filmy. Twasn’t good, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to get better (although I guess I have no evidence since… Read more »
I have medium-short, thick, mostly straight with a little wave when it gets humid red hair (with some “yellow” — the redhead’s version of gray). I’ve been using the baking soda/apple cider vinegar method for over six months now and will not go back. My hair has more body than it did before and needs “washing” far less frequently. I did try a shampoo bar in the middle there for a couple of weeks and it cleaned okay but I found it left my hair far too straight and limp looking. If anybody is considering trying it, I say go… Read more »

I have been shampoo free for years- of course it helps that i have no hair, and what hair i do have i keep shaved. Good luck fishy!!!!

Hi there I stopped using shampoo altogether a year ago. I only use water and it works extremely well! You do not need anything at all, vinegar, bicarb etc – you are actually much better off using nothing but water. Mind you, I do use rainwater, so the water is very soft, not sure how well it works with hard water. At first I had to wash my hair a bit more often (twice a week instead of once), but now I am back to my weekly hair wash. It take a couple of months until my skin had reached… Read more »

ecodea – I want to hear more about the mint, please share!

Thanks!!

Hey great minds look alike ! I’ve reduced the frequency of washing since I got my Barbie-like blond hair cut 2 years ago. Now one shampoo per week is enough – during last winter I made it to 17 days without shampoo.I must confess I got addicted to Lush’s “the blonde” bar I recently adopted but I think I’ll try the vinegar rinse soon when the last drop of my organic conditioner is spent.By the way my mum does it every week, it is a marvel on her short grey and very thin hair.keep going you have such wonderful suggestions…By… Read more »
Ms. Chicken, O.M.G. You want us to give up toilet paper. You want us to pee on our plants. You want us to freeze our asses off in the winter and melt in the summer. And you think this is hairshirt environmentalism? ROTFLMAO! Okay, assuming you’re not kidding, I’ll list a few pluses: 1) You spend way less money on shampoo or soap. 2) Your hair and scalp end up much healthier after going through the transition period. 3) You spend much less time washing your hair because, after the transition period, you don’t have to do it very often.… Read more »

P.S. I wanted to the link to Sarah’s posts on no-poo and forgot:
They are very interesting and also great reads!

Sarah on goingbananas.blogspot.com has done it too and because of her I started trying too :) I’ve tried baking soda, apple cider vinegar, mint tea (from my garden), and diluted lemon juice (which works the best for me).

I haven’t had a shower or used soap or shampoo or any kind of moisturizer on my body in a week. My skin feels great, my hair is great, I smell fine. It’s all about baking soda. I don’t use vinegar or lemon juice rinses. I wash my dishes, which include a lot of clear glass jars for storage, with baking soda and by golly, it works! My stainless steel kitchen sink stays shiny. Baking soda comes in a CARDBOARD BOX. No frills. We’re not paying for advertising. What do you bet that all this will change once the word… Read more »

Life Less Plastic inspired me to go no poo. It’s been a very easy transition for me and I am pleased with the results. I just posted on my blog about my experience over the last couple of weeks.

I never washed my hair in the summer time when I was growing up. We had a pool, and we went swimming every single day. My mom would tell us we didn’t need to shower if we swam, so obviously we opted to swim. Maybe that’s why we always wore bathing suits under our clothes in the summer… My hair was long, way past my waist, and blonde. In the summer, it was bleach blonde (probably a combo of the chlorine and sunshine), but never greasy. I still go by the rule that if I swim I don’t need to… Read more »

The Living Small house has been ‘poo free since February (see my revelatory post); it’s been fantastic. No more greasy hair, no more dry-straw hair, no more chemical-coated hair. Good stuff.

What’s more, I’m a curly-headed white girl whose curls have gotten softer and springier since the switch. I’m a convert, to be sure.

Good luck, Beth!

this year my 13yo son’s face exploded in a salvo of teen angst and acne. after much experimentation we reasoned it was his shampoo routine (he has longish, “fluffy” bright blonde hair that after a washing sat atop his head like a dead rodent). he agreed to try baking soda and vinegar for a week. not only did his hair look, feel and smell much better but due to the reduced amount of oil on his scalp(i’m guessing), his forehead cleared up beautifully. for our vinegar rinse i mix up 3/4 C white vinegar, 4 C warm water, a sprig… Read more »
I am never ever running out of shampoo I don’t think. I still have shampoo leftover from my pre-green days, and I only wash my hair once (maybe twice at most) a week. When I’m done with the shampoo, I’ll probably just wash my hair with my Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. I don’t use conditioner. I am not entirely sure about this, but I believe in the motherland, people just wash their hair with soap about once a week and do a hot oil massage in their hair once a week. I know it seems counterintuitive from a Western perspective… Read more »

Wow, I just posted on that today – along with no toilet paper and no paper towels – titled, Yuk Factor.

I stopped using shampoo 3 months ago on my white person short wavy hair and I am not going back. The hair and scalp were initially as confused and rebellious as an junkie without a fix. As with everything, the body adjusts.

The biggest obstacle for any of us (IMO)is the fastidious filter we are fitted with in our culture. It can be a shackle.

Remember the character Ricky in the TV show “My So-Called Life”? Sometimes on here I feel like Ricky, hanging out in the girls washroom. Why not sham instead of poo? I’m not shammin’ sounds better than I’m not pooin’ To cut to the chase, though, I have survived a lifetime (almost 58 years) of using Zest bar soap only and I still have hair! My huggybear has a whole collection of bottles of stuff for her hair. I have to admit some of it makes her hair smell great but she’s probably spent zillions on all that stuff…almost as much… Read more »
wpDiscuz