I know the title of this post probably has about half of you turning your noses up and doing a little shudder. I get it. The idea of ditching what is widely considered a personal hygiene staple might seem totally bizarre. I mean, I’m sure I thought it was crazy the first time I heard about the whole “No Poo” thing (that term is so gross).
But, as with most things, I was slowly pulled towards it until I finally decided to brave it. And you know what? I haven’t washed my hair with shampoo in nine months—and not once has anyone questioned my hair routine (and believe me, there are people in my life who would have no problem asking why I’m such a greaseball).
I’m sure you’re probably wondering what could possibly possess me to ditch the shampoo bottle. Some people (like my mother) would refuse to be paid to do such a thing. But I found plenty of reasons why it made sense for me.
- I’m cheap. I don’t have a ton of money and I hate parting with it—especially if there’s even a tiny little thought in the back of my head that tells me I might not really need to spend on something.
- Shampoo and conditioner can be expensive. I mean, I know there are plenty of cheap versions in drugstores. And some of them are totally fine. But my hair required a lot of shampoo and conditioner (more money literally down the shower drain) and it’s a difficult beast to tussle with. Which brings me to 3…
- My hair is a beast. It’s thick and course and in between curly and wavy. It frizzes at the first sign of humidity and turns into a poofy 80’s ball of ugh if I even consider running a brush through it. It dries out easily yet can still fall weirdly limp with product build up.
- I’m a fan of natural and DIY anything. If I can eliminate chemicals in my daily routine, I’m all for it. And if I can do that myself without spending extra money to do so, I will do pretend somersaults in totally real elation.
- I wasn’t thrilled with the state my hair was in. I had cut back on washing it and heat styling in hopes of not drying it out so much. But it was limp and weird and I was unhappy. Why not try something new?
So around Thanksgiving last year I was in a sort of perfect storm moment. I was unhappy with my hair. It was getting close to the holidays and I wanted to save money.Going shampoo free seemed like a totally reasonable experiment.
As soon as I finished off my bottles of shampoo and conditioner (I am not the sort of girl who is going to waste the end of a bottle), I dove in head first. I picked up what I can best describe as one of those Parmesan cheese shakers you see in Italian restaurants at the dollar store and a squeeze bottle. I filled the cheese shaker with baking soda and the bottle with apple cider vinegar and threw both in my shower caddy.
The next time I washed my hair, I poured a handful of baking soda into my palm and added little splashes of water until I had a sort of paste (in case you can’t tell, my process is very precise. Ha!). Once I had a paste, I rubbed it into my hair, concentrating mostly on my scalp. I let it sit for a little while before rinsing and then squeezing some apple cider vinegar onto the top of my head (while tilting back so none got into my eyes) and then working it through to the ends. I rinsed that and then towel and air dried per usual.
I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Honestly, at first I couldn’t tell too much of a difference between cleaning my hair with and without shampoo—except that my hair was less limp and unhappy looking, if that makes sense.
Slowly I went into the oily phase that no pooers always talk about. Your scalp has to get used to not being stripped of oils so there’s a weird period of adjustment that turns a lot of people off. I decided to stick with it. I just washed more often than usual (which means I used my baking soda concoction a few times a week instead of just once or twice) and sometimes sprinkled a little bit of baby powder onto my head and massaged it into my scalp to soak up excess oil.
I’ve adjusted my routine slightly since that first go at it—I think it’s sort of key to adjust according to what your hair needs—and I couldn’t be happier.
Since my hair and brushes don’t get a long, I generally don’t brush it. Before I wash my hair, I work a little bit of coconut oil through to help detangle and condition it. I still do the baking soda the same way, but I now add 10-15 drops of peppermint oil into the apple cider vinegar bottle (it makes me less paranoid that I smell like a walking side salad when I have to rush out post-shower). I wash my hair as needed, just rinsing it with water when it’s not oily and in need of a real cleaning.
For those of you who are skeptical but still reading, here’s why I use the ingredients I use:
- Baking soda neutralizes odor, lifts oil and gently exfoliates your scalp.
- Apple cider vinegar balances the alkalizing effects of the baking soda, kills bacteria and is a natural humectant (which is fancy talk for locking in moisture).
- Peppermint oil has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It also can help get rid of dandruff and is an energizing and stress-relieving smell that I happen to love.
- Coconut oil is not only a great moisturizer, but it can help prevent dandruff (it has both anti fungal and antibacterial properties).
I’m by no means an expert on this subject. I just know that people are generally interested when they find out that I no longer use shampoo and want to know more—whether they’re grossed out and want to talk about me later or they’re truly interested. 😉
The biggest piece of advice I have for anyone thinking about trying to go shampoo free is simple: listen to your body. Like most things, you may have to adjust for what works for you. My hair has never been the type that looks greasy after a day without washing, so obviously what works for me might not work for someone who has fine, oily hair. You might have to adjust a bit.
All I know is that I’ve found a (cheap and easy!) routine that works really well for me and I’m planning on sticking to it. Would you give it a try?
If you’re looking for other ways to go green and save money, check out my posts on DIY Green Cleaning Recipes, 20 Tips for DIY Green Cleaning with Lemons, How to Remove Sticky Residue Naturally or Spring Cleaning Tips, Tricks and Ideas.