|Does the idea of washing your hair withOUT shampoo sound a little crazy? Despite an open mind to all things crunchy, I’ll be the first to admit — I was skeptical.
My friend Ashlee over at The Crunchy Moose, however, has done LOADS of research and dove into the “no poo” world three years ago — and she made it out unscathed (and with GORGEOUS hair, to boot)! I asked her to swing by and share her experience to help us to better understand why the “no poo” method works for some and not for others — and how YOU TOO can get lustrous hair like hers.
Have a look at what she has to say:
There are an average of 15 toxic chemicals in a bottle of commercial shampoo. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, allergies, fertility problems, autoimmune disorders, and hormonal disturbances. I chose to avoid those chemicals by using the no poo method. Lots of people attempt no poo. And lots of people fail. I get lots of emails from people asking me to help troubleshoot their method. Here are the most common mistakes I see.
I started my no poo journey almost three years ago. During that time, I have done a lot of research and trial & error to find what works and what doesn’t work. I have compiled all of that information together in an easy-to-follow guide that will answer all of your no poo questions.
What Is No Poo?
“No poo” simply means that I don’t use commercial shampoo. Natural, nourishing, healthy ingredients are what make natural, nourished, healthy hair. The idea that your hair needs chemicals to be healthy is crazy! And frankly, the commercial shampoo marketers are genius to convince us of that.
Mistake #1: Too much baking soda
Baking soda is the most popular no poo wash. But too much, too often will damage your hair. And it will damage it quickly. How much you need will vary from person to person.
- Paste method, baking soda: I keep a small plastic containers of baking soda in my shower. When I first started the no poo method, I would put about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon in my palm and then massage that into my scalp. For the 1st 6 months, I did that about every 4 days. Then for the next 6 months, I did that about once a week. Now, I use about 1 teaspoon of baking soda about once every month or two (I do other washes in between my baking soda washes).
- Spray method, baking soda: This method is more popular. Mix about 1 tablespoon of baking soda in about 1 cup of water. Store in a spray or squirt bottle (non-plastic is best). This amount is 1-3 applications (depending on your hair).
For either method, be sure to focus the application of the baking soda to your scalp, not the shaft of your hair. Rinse completely.
- Mix vinegar with water and store in a spray bottle. I use a ratio of about 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. You can adjust to your needs. Some people use as little as 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water. But more than a 50/50 ratio is not recommended.
- Spray generously on your hair focusing on the ends, let sit for a minute or two, rinse. The vinegar smell is gone before your hair dries. If you are worried about the vinegar smell, see the FAQ page for tips.
Too much baking soda will damage your hair. If your hair becomes dry or damaged from using this method, then you are using too much baking soda, too often.
Mistake #2: Using the wrong method for your hair type
The phrase “the no poo method” is a little misleading. There isn’t just one no poo method; there are lots of different methods. When I say “no poo”, most people think of the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method. However, I could interview 100 no poo-ers and there is a good chance that not a single one of them follow the same routine. Everyone has different hair needs and wants different results.
Many people start no poo with great intentions but quickly quit because they were using the wrong method for their hair type. Baking soda is not for everyone. A major factor in no poo-ing successfully is finding the right method for you by finding out more about your hair characteristics. The important characteristics are:
- Curl Pattern
Find out more about your hair characteristics and needs here and in the ebook. I have low porosity, low density, fine, straight hair. My personal favorite method is the rye flour method. Simply make a past with equal parts rye flour and water, massage into your hair and scalp, rinse. Easy peasy. Read more about rye flour and other methods here.
Mistake #3: Not making it through transition
If you have been using commercial shampoo for your entire life (and most of us have), your hair has a lot of buildup and toxins. It took a lifetime for you to accumulate it, it will take awhile to get rid of it. It took my hair 3 full months to transition. It takes most people 1-6 months to fully detox their hair. This is what I experienced (everyone responds differently during transition):
- The 1st month: My hair was very, very, very, very greasy. Always and constantly.
- The 2nd month: My hair had a lot of static.
- The 3rd month: A lot better, but still a little frizzy.
- The 4th month: My hair was back & better than ever! It was a long 3 months, but it was worth about 90 bad hair days.
Many people that start no poo quickly give up because they think it isn’t working for them. Actually, it’s the transition phase that isn’t working for them. Transition is hard and may take a long time. Most people that make it through transition never go back to commercial shampoo.
Mistake #4: Thinking it’s dandruff
Often it’s not dandruff.
- Make sure you are rinsing your hair completely. Many of the products used in no poo are grainy. And if they are left in your hair, they could be mistaken for dandruff.
- Too much baking soda too often can and probably will damage your hair and scalp causing dryness. So try cutting back on the amount and frequency of baking soda.
- You can use a deep conditioner to combat a dry scalp.
- A big part of the transition period (my transition lasted 3 months) is your hair and scalp detoxing. Sometimes this results in products actually and physically being released from your hair. So you may just be detoxing (which is a good thing!).
Sometimes it is dandruff. Dandruff can be treated with anti-fungal products.
- Essential oils – there is a dandruff essential oil recipe here
- Honey – Massage into your scalp and allow to sit for several hours. Rinse. You can do this as often as needed but at least several applications over a 2 week period.
- Apple cider vinegar – Mix with water, about a 50/50 ratio and use as a hair mask letting it sit on your scalp for 20-60 minutes, rinse. Do this up to twice a week, as long as needed.
- Probiotics – Probiotics are the good bacteria. Read all about them here. A kefir or kombucha are both full of probiotics and make an excellent hair mask. I use one of those monthly. Simply massage either kefir or kombucha into your scalp and let sit for 20-60 minutes. Rinse. Repeat as often as needed. Yogurt will also work. Taking a probiotic supplement can also help eliminate dandruff.
Mistake #5: Thinking your hair is falling out
It is normal to lose up to 150 strands of hair a day. If you go a week in between washing, rinsing, and brushing, you will have a week’s worth of fall out at once. Many no poo-ers think they are losing more hair, but really it’s just they aren’t shedding their hair everyday anymore through daily washes. So when they do wash, it comes out in bigger clumps.
Several things could cause losing hair:
- hormones / pregnancy
- thyroid problems
- transition / detox phase
- dry or damaged hair (but this usually results in hair breaking instead of falling out at the roots)
- seasonal changes (we lose more hair when it is hot outside)
Blood circulation helps with hair growth. So massaging and scritching & preening helps (read about scritching and preening here with a how-to video). Eating omega 3’s and drinking plenty of water reduces hair loss.
If you are experiencing larger amounts of hair loss, it is usually a result of stress and / or diet and you should seek medical attention.
So There You Have It
Correcting one no poo mistake at a time! Since I have used the no poo method, my hair has been healthier, shinier, more manageable, and grows much faster. I’m wishing you all healthy, happy hair!
Ashlee Mayer is a blogger at The Crunchy Moose & The No Poo Method and the author of The No Poo Method ebook. She started her natural journey several years ago after 3 years of back surgeries. Making some simple changes in her life stopped the seemingly endless back surgery cycle immediately. Now she is stronger and healthier than the doctors said was possible. One of those changes was ditching her toxic shampoo. She has been a no poo-er for almost three years.