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No Poo: The Basics

Updated on December 3, 2014

What is no poo?

No poo is the name given to the methods of washing hair without the use of shampoo. This can range from washing your hair only with water, to washing with gentler, more natural substances.


How do you wash your hair?

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Why do no poo?

The Basics:

The basics of how most shampoos work is simple. They clean your hair by stripping it of all the oils and dirts. However, this means stripping natural oils which benefit your hair as well. The use of conditioner replaces these oils, but they are not natural. Your scalp reacts to this oil stripping process by producing more of its own natural oils to try to compensate for the shampoo. This can dry out your hair and cause damage over time.


Many who practice no shampoo choose to do so because shampoo can often contain chemicals that are harmful to those with sensitive skin. These chemicals include Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Many shampoos also have a silicon component that coats the hair and keeps natural moisture out.


Some who practice no poo choose to do so because of the environmental effects of washing chemicals down the drain and disposing of shampoo bottles. Some of the chemicals in anti-dandruff shampoo have been shown to be detrimental to plant and algae growth in water.


Some individuals choose to do no poo because the costs of repeatedly buying shampoo and conditioner can be rather high.

How to do no poo:

In the purest form, no poo involves washing your hair solely with hot water. This is what I personally do, and I have not run into a problem with dandruff, foul smelling hair, oily hair, or dirty hair.

However, there are other methods that involve baking soda and vinegar, which can be found in most households or online.

To wash your hair, mix baking soda into water with a ratio of one tbsp of powder to one cup of water. I like to use an empty spray bottle for this so I can spray the solution into my hair. Let the baking soda dissolve into the mixture before using. This baking soda solution will be the washing agent for your hair. The solution will not lather like shampoo does, but it will clean your hair. Just spray it on and massage your scalp and rub it through your hair, then rinse. Another option that is less precise is to just pour some baking soda powder onto your hand, and put that in your hair while in the shower. You don't need a lot, and this will also get the job done without the need for a bottle.

To condition your hair, you will need vinegar and water. The ratio of this mixture is one tbsp of vinegar per one cup of water. I prefer to use a spray bottle for this solution as well. Mix your ingredients into a container of choice and you will have the solution. Then, when in the shower, you can use it to condition your hair after using your baking soda mix. Let it sit for a minute before rinsing thoroughly.

The smell of vinegar will leave your hair after you dry it.

My boar bristle brush.
My boar bristle brush.


  • Invest in a boar bristle brush. I have one and it has done wonders in spreading the natural oils evenly throughout my hair and in keeping my hair healthy.
  • Try to avoid hair products that are not water soluble as they will not rinse out easily without the use of shampoo. This includes a lot of hair gels and pastes. However, I found that when I started doing the no shampoo method, I did not need gels or paste as my hair was much more lively and moldable than it had previously been.
  • Your hair will be oily for the first week or so of no poo until your body adjusts and stops over producing oils.


How often do you shampoo?

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Thoughts and personal experience:

I started going no poo 8 months ago and since then shampoo has not touched my hair. My hair has much more volume, is much healthier, and looks more natural. I wash with only water, as baking soda tends to make my hair straw like, though it will work for most people. Overall, I do not regret going no poo and would recommend at least trying it.


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