I stopped using shampoo for a week. I don’t think I’ll ever use synthetic shampoo again.
You’re probably thinking, “I hope I never see this writer on the street because she is probably a nasty, oily ball of disgusting.” But trust me for a minute. I promise I do not smell weird.
“No Poo” requires that you wash your hair only with a small amount of baking soda and condition it with a small amount of apple cider vinegar once or twice a week. Baking soda is a natural cleanser that leaves the natural oils of your hair intact, and the acidity of vinegar helps balance your hair and skin.
According to a vast amount of blogs and websites, your hair will eventually naturally regulate its oil-producing processes—something thrown askew by standard shampoo—and allow you to shampoo less often. It’s low-key, low-maintenance, and environmentally sustainable to boot.
I’m a born skeptic. Despite the reviews on the web, I wasn’t sure it could be so easy to switch from standard-poo practices. Many people complained about weeks and weeks of slimy hair in the midst of a transition. Thank god my deadline only required me to do it for a week, I thought.
But I think it may have changed my life.
My hair is fairly light-weight and prone to frizz, especially in humidity or rain. My frizz is rarely the dignified, lion’s mane type. It’s more like cat-crawling-out-of-a-bathtub-and-began-to-dry-a-little type. My hair has some natural bounce, especially at the ends, but it’s not curly.
Do your research first. No Poo will fry many hair types. Baking soda is no joke.
I only wash my hair every other day, which may give me a slight advantage in waging war against an oily scalp.
Online reviews are highly mixed. Some of them speak of deep conditioning practices involving raw eggs. Pass.
1 tbsp of baking soda
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
A plastic 18 oz. cup of water for diluting the “soaps”.
Something to stir up the baking soda and water—any utensil or stick will do.
A touch of scientific curiosity.
(Monday, Oct. 13) Day 0
Gave my hair a good washing with my typical shampoo and conditioner—Tresemme Keratin Smooth and anti-breakage keratin oil conditioner. Taming the wet cat, I like to say. Afterwards, I sprayed it with Argan oil, like usual.
Hair feels like thoroughly cleaned hair. No oil to speak of whatsoever.
(Thursday, Oct. 16) The wash
I let my hair go for a blissful extra day of non-shampooing. So much time saved. But I have a visitor coming tomorrow, so today, I must wash.
I measure out my ingredients into two separate cups before I get in the shower. Those in it for the long-term could do this with a single glass Mason jar and rinse it out between shampooing and conditioning while in the shower.
Once in the shower, I fill the baking soda cup with water and stir it up with a butter knife. I then unceremoniously pour the mixture of cloudy water on my head.
When I start scrubbing, my hair feels smooth and clean. It doesn’t lather, but you do get the sense that something is cleansing your hair. It took less time than washing with standard shampoo because I didn’t have mounds of suds to rinse away. I typically try to cleanse my hair of every single bubble of soap, so it takes me a while. Not this time.
Time for the vinegar.
The smell hits you in the face at first—hence why some people suggest an essential oil, honey, or lemon juice for the mixture—but I pour it on like a champ. This time, no scrubbing. Immediate rinse, to ensure the smell doesn’t stick. My hair feels smoother, as if calmed after the intense baking soda cleanse.
Shower continues as normal. After the shower, I smell my hair. No hint of vinegar whatsoever.
I spray on Argan oil like usual. My scalp feels a little tingly and itchy. Brushing my hair out feels smooth and easy. I was afraid of crunchiness or a sense that my hair wasn’t clean—none of that.
I don’t blow-dry. I stay up late and let it dry on its own for the first time in probably years.
(Friday) The day after
I’m picky and worried. I ask my roommates if my hair looks weird. I ask my visiting friend to touch it. I’m afraid it feels sticky, like globs of oil are stuck in it. Some of my research reveals that trying No Poo before cleansing your hair of the silicones and sulfates that are in most shampoos may leave your hair feeling sticky.
“It feels fine,” he says. In fact, he adds, it feels softer than usual. Probably because I didn’t blow-dry it.
I remain partially unconvinced.
(Saturday-Sunday) The first weekend
Despite my concerns, my hair does not feel oily or look any different. So I am free to leave it alone.
I begin to realize how freeing this is. How liberating and natural to let my hair do its own thing and take care of itself. How often do we let our bodies do this? How often do we give our bodies the freedom to regulate itself naturally? I don’t have to think about it, and I feel good because that is the healthy thing to do.
“This is ridiculous,” my friend says. “You’ve been thinking about your hair all weekend.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever.
I’m researching ways to do the No Poo alternative, Low Poo, where you use all natural shampoos to wash your hair once or twice a week. Low Poo may be the right balance for me.
(Monday) The Conclusion
My hair feels dull and flat, and I’m starting to wonder if it smells weird. It’s been four days since I’ve washed it. So I wash it again that evening, for the last time for this experiment, and consider what has happened.
My hair feels a bit thicker and I enjoy not washing as often, that’s for sure. But I am concerned about doing this for the long-term. Dryness may be a considerable problem, especially since I am absolutely against putting raw egg in my hair.
I am instead switching to Low Poo, and indefinitely. I found a good brand with entirely natural ingredients—no sulfates, silicones, parabens, synthetics, or animal materials—and am pretty excited about it. It’s a little pricey at 10 dollars a bottle, but since I won’t be shampooing every day, it’s a good investment.
Think about it: humanity went thousands of years with only natural shampoo practices. We have sung about beauty and grace since before Pantene. We don’t need to condition our hair with crazy ingredients for us to write ballads about it.
If you are willing to take the plunge, do it. It’ll encourage you to believe in your hair’s natural beauty—and I can’t think of a better reason for a beauty regimen than that.