“I haven’t washed my hair in 6 years.” sounds. . . intense. But the reality, is far less extreme. And much less gross than you’re imagining.
No-Poo is just a sick sounding catch-phase for No-Shampoo. It’s a big umbrella term that can actually end up meaning and referencing a whole lot of different techniques. But the main deal is avoiding using any commercial shampoo/soap on your hair. There are other names, ideas, and ways around doing this, and likely all of them have merit. Today I’m going to share a bit about my own no-poo experience and a few of the frequently asked questions I receive!
When/Why/How I No-Poo
I began flirting with this technique somewhere between 5-7 years ago. I’ve been consistently no-poo for 5 years, and that has morphed a bit in meaning throughout the years. A quick caveat; I’m not dogmatic! There have been times in the past five years that I have shampooed; after swimming in a lot of chlorine, at the hair dresser, and once when my kiddo rubbed a lot of chocolate cake on my head. I also use a little shampoo (Dr. Bronners usually) to rinse out coconut oil if I do a hair mask.
This answer is threefold; First is hair health. My hair feels thicker, stronger, and far healthier when I’m not stripping it of oils daily. Secondly, I have a dry scalp and this has totally eliminated that issue for me. And, finally, money-money. It’s WAY less expensive, but leaves me with healthier hair, Win-Win!
I began by using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I used the baking soda as a wash and vinegar as a conditioner. The key to success with this is using a VERY little amount of both. I used pint size jars and put about a teaspoon of baking soda and filled the rest with water as my wash. I focused on my scalp and scrubbed really thoroughly. Then I rinsed with the same proportion of ACV, and focused on my tips and ends. It’s a potent conditioner and using more than that can leave you both oily and a little smelly.
I slowly moved to only “washing” (in the way I just described!) about once a week, and then I gradually eliminated even that. And now, save for a very rare occurrence, I just ‘wash’ with hot water. It’s enough to move the oil around, wash some out, get any dust or dirt out, and keep my hair really healthy. It’s important to brush it daily to move the oil down your hair from your scalp.
Q: How long is the ‘adjustment’ period for your hair?
A: This varies from person to person. Mine was/is relatively quick, only about a week or two. But for some people it can last far longer (8-12 weeks) and it’s brutal and pretty oily feeling. We’re really conditioned to see our hair totally stripped of oil, so it’s a big adjustment. I have a few friends who have slowly cut back to just washing once a week, and I think that is a really nice, gentle and healthy way to move towards a less shampooed hair. It’ll give your hair some time without being stripped and is really great for it. I also know many people who switch to only conditioning once or twice a week, and especially for curly haired people, this can be great. But if you are wanting to go full on No-Poo or Water Washing, just jump. Braids, hats, and homemade dry shampoo is your BFF.
Q: Does it smell?
A: Well . . . no? It doesn’t smell bad. But it also doesn’t smell like soap. You stop smelling like you are freshly spritzed all the time, but the smell is very neutral. If your natural scent/hair smell bothers you (or your partner) you can always use a little bit of lavender (or whatever you love) essential oil and add that to your dry shampoo, or just to a spray bottle on your tips, or into a coconut oil hair mask.
Q: Do you smell the ACV rinse?
A: In my experience no, it dissipates really quickly. But if you are using more than a teaspoon in a pint of water, you may smell it. In that case, I would either add a drop of essential oil in a smell you love, or cut back on ACV quantity. And after you rinse it out be sure to do a long water rinse and rake your scalp thoroughly with your fingers.
Q: Do you EVER wash your hair?
A: I do! I’m not dogmatic about it. . . or anything really. So if I go to the hair dresser, or swim in a really gross lake or chlorinated pool? Lather me up! It means having to allow my hair to adjust a bit again, but it’s a pretty quick one for me.
Q: What is your dry shampoo recipe? And how do you apply it?
A: I use equal parts unsweetened cocoa powder and baking soda, I just keep a jar of it in my bathroom. For blondes use equal parts baking soda and corn starch. You can also add a drop of E.O. to this too if you want. I just sprinkle it onto my scalp and any oily parts, then I brush it through thoroughly. If you use too much it can leave your hair a little dusty, but once you brush it, it won’t be visible at all. Also, because it only absorbs so much, I am typically on-top of taking a good shower the day after I use it, so I can wash any residue off my scalp.
Q: Is your whole family no-poo?
A: Yes! My kiddos have been shampooed a handful of times (hair dresser, grandma’s house, and once during a lice scare here!). But never with any frequency. We do the same with them, brush through it relatively often, and they rinse with warm water sometimes. They still smell amazing, like honey, so I don’t want to mess with whatever magic is happening there. My hubs is also no-poo by choice. We have a container of multipurpose soap in our shower (it could be shampoo or body wash, or bubble bath) and we use it for bubble bath. . . always. Because that’s a soap I just can’t quit.
Any other questions? Any other great fun hair-care recipes you want to share? I’d love to hear all the tips and tricks!