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No Poo: The Real Experience

Updated on June 18, 2014

All Natural Hair Care

What is no poo?

Anyone who is trying all natural beauty has seen blog posts and articles about No Poo. What is no poo you ask? Well no poo is a way of shampooing and conditioning your hair using all natural alternatives to traditional store-bought products. There are many different ways to eliminating your chemical filled hair products, but what will be in this article is what was most effective, and most ineffective, in my no poo experience.

How I started

My entire adult and teenage life I have had dry frizzy hair. It seemed that the only solution was to style my hair using heat tools. This was so unhealthy for my hair, but I thought that I didn't have a choice. One day I was browsing through beauty blogs and sites and came across the idea of using all natural products in your hair. At first I was very tentative; I thought that if my hair was so unmanageable with expensive store bought products, that it could only get worse if I transitioned to something else. I was afraid my hair would fall out. After doing extensive research I decided to try it, and I have to say it is one of the best hair related decisions I've ever made.

The Recipes

To start off: Shampoo only

  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups all natural liquid castile soap

Traditional No Poo:

  • 1 Tsp Baking soda per 1 cup water (shampoo)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar per 2 cups water (conditioner)

My First Attempt

The first thing I did was that I stopped dying my hair. I know it seemed hard for me at first to, but the health of my hair increased tremendously. I also cut back on my use of heat tools. I did not know exactly what to do to keep my hair tame, so I started wearing my hair in all sorts of braids. Eventually I started washing my hair at night, and braiding my hair while it was still wet. I didn't exactly get those gorgeous waves your supposed to have in the morning when you take your hair down, but it wasn't completely awful. I also stopped using hair spray and mousse, which honestly wasn't as heartbreaking that I thought it would be. I instead stuck strictly to argan oil. Once I had successfully stuck to these guidelines, I found the courage to try no poo.

Transition Period

Because I was so nervous about switching my hair routine, I had tried new ways of washing my hair that are not the typical no poo recipe. Most of the other individuals who have gone no poo seem to have just jumped right into it, meaning that they started the baking soda and apple cider vinegar rinses(these are described in the recipe section). I found a different recipe that seemed less daunting. I had used a mixture of all natural liquid castile soap and coconut milk(also described in recipe section). What I didn't know then but do know now is that by using this recipe, my transition period was almost eliminated. When you switch to the no poo method your hair goes through a transition period which can be very discouraging. During this transition, your hair may do a variety of things; some people get a very greasy scalp, and hay-like ends, while other experience the hay-like texture throughout their hair. This is because your hair is ridding itself of the product buildup and silicone that is in traditional shampoos. What happens when you wash you hair with traditional shampoos and conditioners? Well your shampoo strips your hair completely of all its natural oils. This is why you have to use a conditioner, because the conditioner adds back artificial oils and silicones. The silicone is what makes your hair look nice and shiny, when in fact it's all fake and underneath your hair is suffering and dry! When you do this, it throws off your hair's natural oil production and is the main cause of the transition period. When you take away all the products that give your hair a fake healthy look, what's left over is what your hair really looks like. Your scalp has no idea how much oil to produce. Because your hair is being completely stripped of oil, your scalp produces way too much, or very, very little. This transition period lasts a different amount of time depending on the individual. Usually it lasts about 2-3 weeks. This is the scariest part because the no poo method does not work unless you follow through for a long period of time. Back to my original point, the original recipe I used was much less shocking to my hair. I had a transition period, but I hardly noticed! Then when I finally got the guts to try the real thing, the transition period was also hardly noticeable.

Benefits of No Poo

The most obvious benefit to this method is that you eliminate all the harsh chemicals that are being applied so close to your face and respiratory system. You also save a ton of money, especially if you buy the salon brand products. Because your hair is being brought back to it's natural healthy state, it grows super fast. I can honestly say my hair grows more than twice as fast as it did before.

Cons of No Poo

If you don't have patience, you may not make it through the transition period. Also as I said before your hair grows very fast, so if you enjoy keeping your hair short this means you are in for a lot more haircuts. If you enjoy dying your hair and want to keep dying your hair while doing the no poo method, you are going to be very disappointed. Unless you are bleaching you hair or going lighter than your natural color, the baking soda is going to suck out all that precious color of yours. I personally have found that I have developed some dandruff as well.

How to

To start your process you have to make the 'shampoo' and 'conditioner'. Now go ahead and buy or find a squirt bottle that you would use in the kitchen for ketchup, no the spritzy kind for cleaning. You need to have one for each. You now follow the recipe that I had posted towards the top of the recipe. I usually add some lavender and peppermint essential oils because I like my hair to smell like something; with this recipe your hair doesn't smell like anything. When you get in the shower, wet you hair thoroughly. Take the baking soda bottle and shake it up first, then poor the mixture on the hair that touches our scalp only. Keep in mind that this recipe is not for one time use, so do not try to use the whole bottle's worth in one shot. It should last you a week or two. Now let that mix sit there for about a minute. Then I find it helpful to massage my scalp a bit. Don't be alarmed when it doesn't lather because it's not supposed to. After you massage your scalp for a few seconds, rinse out the mix completely. Now pour the vinegar rinse all over your hair; this means roots to ends. You wash out this rinse almost immediately after you apply it. You can leave it in for a few seconds, but beware if you leave it in too long, you hair will feel waxy and heavy. When you get out of the shower, only towel dry. I've heard, but not yet tried, that if you brush your hair with a boar bristle brush, it will distribute the oils on you hair better. As I have said I haven't tried this yet, but if you gently comb your hair while its we with a wide toothed comb, it will be effective at detangling. Now it is very important to use a little oil on the ends of your hair. I personally use argan oil because I find it to be light on my medium/thick wavy hair. If you have very thick curly hair, feel free to experiment with other oils like tea tree oil, and coconut oil. Your thick hair may be able to handle it better. Now you wait for it to air dry and then style as you wish. It is very important to keep in mind that this is not something you do everyday. If you wash your hair like this everyday, it will become brittle, frizzy, and develop a lot of breakage. There is no definite amount of times a week to do this, so I find it easiest to just keep an eye on my eye. If my hair looks a little greasy, I put it in a braid or updo and then wash it the next day.

Myths of No Poo

The no poo experience is going to be different for everyone. Don't believe it when someone tells you that you'll only have to wash you hair once a week. You need to see it for yourself. I can honestly say that's the only thing about going no poo that disappointed me. I still have greasy hair on the second day, however my hair has become much more manageable since I started. If you read my article and decided that maybe this isn't for you, stick with your instincts. This is not something to do if your completely satisfied with your hair routine; it takes a lot of commitment and a lot of time to see results. Also you can't expect this to be the end all savior for your hair like I did. I thought by just going no poo that my hair would be perfect. I had to change my whole routine before I saw results and started understand all the other unhealthy things I've been doing to my hair.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your no poo experience! Don't be discouraged; if you push through the first few months, you will see a significant change in your hair that you'll love!

Written by: Emily Jadus


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