The secret to ditching your shampoo…forever!

Image by ktpupp on flickrYou might remember when I started my quest for shiny, bouncy hair without shampoo … it was angst filled and stressful!

But finally, after a couple of months of bad-hair-days, I have solved the mystery to going shampoo-free.  My hair is soft, super shiny, and has good natural wave.  Amazing!

Before I get to that – let’s quickly recap why you might consider ditching your shampoo.

1) More shampoo = more greasies. The theory here is that normal shampoo is a detergent, so it does a really good job removing oil from your hair.  That’s why your hair is so bouncy & shiny right after shampooing.  But then your scalp freaks out because there isn’t any natural oil, and starts producing oil like crazy, giving you greasy hair … so you wash again, and the cycle continues.

You might have noticed that if you wash your hair daily, you HAVE to wash it daily. But if you start training your hair to go 2 days, or 3 days between shampoos, it doesn’t get all that greasy in-between.

Stopping shampoo has similar results – you still ‘wash’, but with baking soda & vinegar, and your hair stays in a happy balance.

2) Shampoos are loaded with chemicals. Standard shampoos usually contain icky ingredients like Sodium Laureth Sulphate, DEA, and artificial fragrances (which is a generic term that can hide a multiude of sins).  If you want to know more, here are some chemicals you might want to avoid in your beauty products.

3) Simplify your life! One less product to buy, store, carry while travelling.  Plus, needing to wash your hair less often saves tons of time!

4) Think of Grandma – all of this daily hair washing is a relatively new invention.  Somehow people lived for millenia without commercial shampoo, and without greasy, stringy hair either.  Remember how your grandma had her hair ‘done’ only once a week?  Seriously, if you let your hair do its thing, it might surprise you.

So how did I make the transition to no shampoo?

I tried the baking soda and vinegar plan before (see this article for complete instructions) but didn’t have much luck.  Then I switched to all-natural, organic shampoos while I was working up the courage to try it again.  This article from Crunchy Betty inspired me to give it another try.

What did I do differently this time?

* Give your hair an adjustment period before going No ‘poo.  First switch to natural (non-detergent) shampoo.  Then try going 2 or 3 (or more) days between shampoos and let your hair adjust to less-frequent washes.  Then you can eliminate the shampoo completely.

* Patience!  Pick a week when you don’t have any big meetings/events to eliminate shampoo.  You’ll need at least a week, if not 2 or 3, where you’ll have a lot of ‘ponytail’ days.  The first week  I didn’t wash my hair at all, and it was ugly.  Not horrible, I did leave the house, but a bit greasy and definitely not silky and shiny.  After that first week, things improved dramatically.

* Dissolve the teaspoon of baking soda in warm/hot water, and make sure it’s really dissolved!  Then pour it through your wet hair, massage into your scalp, and rinse, rinse, rinse!  At first I was using cold water so the baking soda never really dissolved – and it got all gritty on my scalp.  I suppose that could be an exfoliant of sorts, but not really what I was looking for in a shampoo!

* If you’re still struggling – check your water.  We moved house between my first and second attempts … and the water seems to make a huge difference!  In our old house the water was very hard, and my hair always felt tangled.  In this new house I can rinse out the baking soda and my hair is really soft & smooth.  If you do have hard water, try using boiled-and-cooled water to rinse your hair and see if it helps!

Are you thinking about ditching your shampoo? Have you tried it? Let us know your experiences in the comments!

32 Responses to The secret to ditching your shampoo…forever!

  1. Tracey says:

    I tried baking soda shampoo but unfortunately it didn’t really do it for me as I go to the gym 5 nights a week so my long hair is disgusting after I work out and the baking soda did nothing for this. Obviously reducing washes isn’t really an option either. I have tried the vinegar rinse though and while my hair gets very tangled once it’s combed out it’s very shiny. Any suggestions for an less chemical filled shampoo that isn’t ridiculously expensive in the uk? 🙂

  2. […] 1)      Baking soda (also known as ‘bi-carb soda’ or ‘sodium bicarbonate’) followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse – there are many converts to this, who state their hair has never looked better. Take a look at this site http://simplemom.net/how-to-clean-your-hair-without-shampoo/ or this one http://www.vintageamanda.com/2010/11/the-secret-to-ditching-your-shampoo-forever/ […]

  3. applemoon says:

    I just started going natural in the hair department. I rinse my hair massage scalp and actually rinse with beer and whoa” my hair is super shiny and my scalp is not itchy. I find the vinegar makes my hair brassy so the beer is awesome. My hair is super fine and wavy.

  4. Erika says:

    Amanda this is really helpful! I’ve been thinking of going shampoo free for a while now but have never had the guts to try! The week long grease ball look is a little intimidating… But I think you’ve inspired me to try now. What’s your recommendation on the best non-detergent shampoo to use? And where do you buy them?

  5. […] The ultimate goal is to switch to a non-detergent shampoo, or for the DIY fans – Baking Soda / Apple Cider Vinegar […]

  6. […] Go ‘no poo […]

  7. Janice says:

    I recently tried the coconut milk shampoo, it’s 1/4cup coconut milk, 1/3 cup liquid Castile soap, And 1tsp olive oil, but it left my hair with a weird texture, I used wen and liked it but didn’t at all like the price, any suggestions?

  8. naniepoo says:

    I was going to suggest collecting rainwater and rinsing with that. It makes your hair incredibly soft.

  9. Christine says:

    I’ve been no poo with baking soda for several months. My hair is fine and thin and looks GREAT! (BTW, not all baking soda is equal. My dh bought Trader Joe’s last week, and it is much finer than Arm & Hammer. My children have varying degrees of course hair and use Avalon Organics Lavender conditioner with great success. I have also used this on my hair and it works well too. So, it seems to be a good choice for all hair types.

  10. LaDonna says:

    I have tried the No-poo and actually was disappointed. My hair became really dry and frizzy…not sure if I used too much baking soda? Also did the cider vinegar with essential oil as conditioner and my husband HATED the smell of it, so opted to quit. Do you or anyone else have any other good recommendations for the conditioner?

  11. Debs says:

    Hello! I just discovered your blog, very fascinating. When I was forced to go on unemployment I switched from Matrix to a grocery store salon brand. The first time I used it I lost clumps of hair. I’ve been told it was the alcohol and did not lose any more hair. But, it’s left me thinking a lot about what’s in my shampoo. This has me curious about this method, and I’d like to see if you have any suggestions about my concern. I don’t do well with heat. (One of many reasons why I loved my timing living in the blighty.) I really feel that if I don’t wash my hair, I am more hot. And, since I struggle with body odor, this is bad. I can see myself skipping shampoos in winter, but not Colorado summer days. So, with this method, can I wash it daily?

    Also, I’ve noticed some recipes for shampoo use vodka. I can see that it wouldn’t be as drying as isopropyl, but does it really give positive benefits? I would love to hear any suggestions you had. Thanks for reminding us of the wonderful remedies long forgotten.

  12. Krysta N. says:

    I’ve been using natural organic shampoo for almost 2 years but wanted to try to be even more frugal and natural so I tried the baking soda water a few months ago – but not with hot water, so I should try that again. The baking soda seemed to make my scalp itchy so I stopped using it and tried a mixture of castile and coconut milk. It lathered beautifully but when it came time to rinse I was horrified to discover that our hard water prevented the castile from rinsing cleanly and in fact, gunked up my hair. I moved on to natural shampoo bars and got a water filter for our shower. It seemed to be rinsing better but I just couldn’t get past the transition period (I gave up on day 10 -day 16 if you count the baking soda and castile week- after having a bit of an emotional breakdown when my mom *bless her heart* commented on my greasy hair). I caved to traditional shampoo to remove all the grease and am back on my organic shampoo now. I am still wanting a change though, so I think maybe I’ll start washing with the shampoo every 2 or 3 days and trying the hot baking soda water in between as needed…I’m hoping I can minimize greasiness because my hair is shorter now so I can’t hide it with a ponytail. One thing I have kept from that adventure is using diluted apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse every so often. I add peppermint essential oil to it for an invigorating scent.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Krysta, I agree about the apple cider vinegar rinse, it’s great! No one believes me until they actually try it themselves, really leaves your hair clean & soft without a filmy coating like normal conditioners. Good luck!!

  13. regina says:

    I have really hard water, and that made things really hard the first time I tried. This I did and was free of shampoo for 3 months. Then, there was an outbreak of lice at my children’s school and I became paranoid and started washing with tea tree oil shampoo. Then the weather changed and my hair weird-ed out and I gave up. I’ve been at it again and am down to washing with a natural shampoo once a week and I feel that I am close to getting rid of the shampoo again, hopefully forever. I might have to try the boiled water. Thanks for all the great tips (and for posting to me in your newsletter!!)

    • Amanda says:

      Let me know if the boiled water helps if you try it!

      No problem about the link, I’m a regular reader of your blog! 😉

  14. Jeanette says:

    I tried going no-poo a while back but didn’t like the grittiness of the baking soda. Finding your tip on dissolving it first is Brilliant! I have looked at several no-poo pages and yours is the first I’ve seen that recommends doing that. I will definitely give baking soda a try again.
    I’m so glad that Crunchy Betty shared you with us!

    • Amanda says:

      HI Jeanette, definitely give it a try again with dissolved baking soda. That’s made such a big difference for me. The best is if you dissolve it in hot water – it fizzes up and really dissolves nicely. Then add more cool water to make a comfortable temperature, and pour on your hair. Let me know how it works for you!

  15. Anne-Liis says:

    I’ve tried the baking soda and vinegar routine – it was ok, my hair was clean and shiny but all the split ends ruined the overall look.
    Currently I’m giving a try of washing my hair with rye bread soaked in chamomile infusion. Before washing my hair I use a hair mask made of eggs, olive oil and honey – just let it sit at least 30 minutes.
    For me washing hair with bread works better than the baking soda-vinegar version of shampooing. But I do recommend you find a 100% whole grain rye bread without artificial yeast.
    For allover body lotion I use homemade potion made of calendula, olive oil and beeswax. Usually I exfoliate with coffee grains and honey. The best nourishment for your face after exfoliating is just plain honey – smudge your face and rinse with cold water after 10-20 minutes.

  16. Sat says:

    you can wash your hair with water-lots of warm water and massaging after combing and brushing with a soft natural brush. you can then massage apple cider vinegar mixed with rosemary or thyme oil throughout scalp and hair-good for dandruff, fungus and excess oil. Detangles, conditions, removes minerals from tap water. Rinse. Then allow conditioner-organic, natural, your favorite-to sit on hair for 30 minutes to several hours if you have thick or textured hair. Can sit under the dryer for deep conditioning for dry hair. Thin hair may only need the vinegar.Raw Shea butter is good for your ends or broken off hair, almond oil is good for moisturizing. You can wash once a week or every two weeks with castile soap on the shaft. Apple cider vinegar can be spritzed on hair in-between washes for a freshening up. you have to experiment for your hair type.

    I use castile soap only for bathing. Kirk’s castile bar smells really nice-not strong. Shea butter or green tea soap are very good for your skin and add variety. shea butter soap comes in lavendar and other flavors. Target sells different varieties of organic and shea butter soaps. goat milk soap is excellent for your skin-you can find these on line, in dollar stores, department stores, grocery stores, boutiques, at Ross, Homegoods, all over. It is impossible to get bored.

    If you have dry facial skin, eczema or aging skin-wash your face with a cotton ball soaked with rose water, or a couple of drops of almond oil rubbed all over your skin. then apply a warm wash cloth to remove the excess. your skin will improve quickly. I use distilled water or filtered water-tap water has so many minerals, chlorine, and contaminants plus recently jet fuel was found in tap water. these are irritating to the skin. Tap on a drop of raw shea butter, grapeseed oil, or almond oil at night-do not forget the throat area. Once a week do a gentle baking soda
    scrub and an appropriate mask for your skin type. Rose water or vitamin C toner is used after washing and before moisturizing.

    • Amanda says:

      Wow thanks for all the great tips!! What do you use for a body moisturizer? Do you make your own or just use almond oil?

      • Amna says:

        I have a great recipe for moisturizer:

        Combine these ingredients on low flame, double bath: 1 ounce beeswax/vegetable wax, 1 ounce expeller-pressed shea butter,1 table spoon raw honey, 1/3 cup expeller pressed coconut and/or olive oil. Keep stirring on low flame till dissolved. Meanwhile mix 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoon oatmeal powder, 1/2cup lukewarm raw milk in a food processor. Pour the melted oil/honey mixture and blend well. Add 2 tablespoon of lemon juice and give it one more buzz and it’s ready.You can also add essential oils of your choice.

        Will last up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator(since no preservatives). Freezes well too.

  17. Suzanne says:

    Just discovered your site. I’ve been making my own soap for 11 years now, and haven’t used shampoo since. About 12 months ago, I made some beer soap, and it’s brilliant. I know some people don’t find soap good on their hair, but mine is short, and not coloured, so I have no problem. It’s worth a try. It leaves my hair silky soft. I also made some eggyolk hair soap a few years ago, but didn’t find that any different than my other soaps.

  18. Peggy says:

    At one time I had beautiful shiny hair and my secret was
    using beer as a rinse and occasionally using an egg treatment. really……….beat up an egg or two, work it into wet clean hair, wrap with plastic bag or wet towel to hold in moisture for up to 30 minutes. Rinse really well in cool water (don’t want to cook the egg – ick).

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll have to try these! Maybe I’ll have to start showering at night so I can drink half the beer and use the other half in my hair… 🙂

  19. Kathy says:

    I know it is not as natural as you are trying for, but what is your opinion on washing your hair with conditioner?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Kathy,

      I’ve heard about people doing the conditioner-only wash. I tried it a few years ago but didn’t stick with it long enough to get over the breaking-in period, so I can’t say how it works!

      I think in terms of haircare, if it works for you, it would be better than shampoo. I only say this because conditioner wouldn’t contain detergent. And detergent seems to be what sends you into the endless ‘remove all the oil, so your hair overproduces oil’ daily washing cycle.

      If you’re trying to lessen your chemical load though, make sure to read the ingredients list, or maybe try one of the ‘natural’ conditioners available (again, read the list, because ‘natural’ doesn’t have an official definition!).

      Let us know how it works for you, if you try it!

  20. Rozenn says:

    Hey girlie! A big well done for nailing that one challenge!! I find it really hard not to give in to the quick option that makes me look good straight away, although I often try my best cause I can’t be doing with washing my hair every day.
    Which brings me to my question… What are your best tricks to ‘cover’ your hair on bad hair days? I’m really struggling to disguise the greasy, unruly hair while waiting for shampoo day. I have the one hair band that seems to suit OK but it’s getting a bit boring and not so elegant. I would love it if you (all) would share your tips xx

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Rozenn, have you tried dry shampoo? That is AMAZING for extending the time between shampoos. Before the ‘detox’ I was using Batiste dry shampoo which comes in a spray can – you can buy it at Boots in the UK. Just spray it in your roots, let it sit for a couple minutes, then brush out. I’ve gotten a bunch of people hooked on it!

      Of course now that I’m ‘beauty detoxing’, I can’t use that. I’ve been experimenting with arrow root powder (use it the same way) which works OK so far … maybe I’ll post on that soon!

      • caitlin says:

        An old roommate gave me this dry shampoo idea: cornstarch! she’s a blonde, so i think she used it straight, but i added some cocoa powder so that it wouldn’t turn my brown hair white/grey.

        Just sprinkle a bit (start with 1/2 tsp and see what you need) in the roots of your hair and kinda ‘tussle’ it in. It takes a few minutes to notice the difference, but i find that it really helps. I use an old spice jar to sprinkle it in – super easy!

        Thanks for all the great ideas/reciples/comments!