A few years ago, as an engineering student living in shared housing, I read an article that blew my socks off. It proposed something radical, daring and completely unexpected. It promised to revolutionize my routine – and save my poor student self some money.
The article profiled a woman who had forsaken shampoo and conditioner – and apparently her hair looked amazing. She was part of this wider “no poo”, or “no shampoo”, movement. These no poo people forsook commercially produced shampoo in favor of baking soda and vinegar, or just plain old water.
Immediately seeing the cost and environmental benefits, I embarked on the journey. This post documents that journey to the current day where (spoiler alert) I have joined into the ranks of no pooers!
Shortly after reading that article, I did a bit of research on how to proceed. Following in the footsteps of no pooers before me, I abruptly stopped using shampoo and conditioner one day and simply scrubbed my hair with water during my showers.
The result? After 3 weeks, my hair was a disaster. Greasy, matted and full of dandruff.
I ran back to shampoo/conditioner like a cat to tuna.
I should have been patient: this horrible hair is supposed to be the normal transition period. For the first month or so after giving up shampoo, your hair is supposed to be super greasy as it readjusts to no shampoo. Then, it bounces back and looks better than ever before.
I couldn’t wait that long.
This cold-turkey method was – and is -impractical for most people. For years, I sadly admitted defeat to my shampoo overlords.
Now I’ve discovered a better way of going no poo. Instead of just cutting out shampoo out all at once, I slowly phased it out over 3 months.
How I did it:
- I opened a new shampoo bottle and told myself it would be the last one.
- I stopped foaming the shampoo so much, softly massaging it into my hair instead.
- Every time I’d shower, I’d pour out less and less shampoo.
- When I ran out of conditioner, I stopped using it.
- Eventually, I was only using around 2 teaspoons of shampoo per wash.
- In the end, I started smoothing shampoo over my wet hair, without foaming it.
One day, I just wet and scrubbed my hair with plain water. For perhaps 3 days after that, my hair was a little bit greasier than normal. Nothing like what I had experienced the first time I had cut shampoo out, and definitely very tolerable.
It’s been a little over a month that I haven’t used shampoo, except for a small amount after I went swimming in a lake. Otherwise, I simply scrub my hair with water. The results? Check this out:
As I said in the video, my hair looks good and feels better than ever! Why does it work? Well, there is a whole eBook written about it, and I’ll just quote them here:
Regularly using shampoo and conditioner washes out our hair’s natural oils and forces our hair to act strangely – most commonly massively over-producing oil resulting in hair that gets greasy really quickly. Cutting out shampoo, either gradually or swiftly, gives our bodies chance to produce the correct amount of oil. This may happen in a couple of weeks or a few months- but eventually our hair gets with the program. (AitkenRead, Lucy (2014-08-02). Happy Hair – The definitive guide to giving up shampoo: Save money, ditch the toxins and release your hair’s natural beauty with No Poo (Kindle Locations 166-170). Kindle Edition.)
The downsides? None yet, but I may incorporate some kind of minimalist hair wash now and again. As I’ve mentioned, using baking soda and vinegar is a popular option among no pooers.
Why Should You Go No Poo?
For the Love of your Health!
Shampoos contain a host of chemicals. The health risks of these chemicals remain debated, and I don’t feel justified to speak on these until the jury is in. However, what bothers me about chemicals in shampoo, and other cosmetic products, is that there seems to be very little data and research on their potential harmful effects on human health.
Let’s take a common class of ingredients in cosmetics, called Parabens. I quickly looked up official documentation on this chemical and it’s effect on human health. I found this fact sheet by the CDC stating “Human health effects from environmental exposure to low levels of parabens are unknown.” It seems counter-intuitive to me to use something before we know it is safe, right?
Personally, I really don’t need to do a ton of research on this to know that the less chemicals we introduce into our bodies, the better. Oftentimes, chemicals that are deemed safe even in small amounts are later understood to be very harmful. Example: lead. It was deemed safe at low levels for many years. Now, no level of lead is deemed safe. Adding chemicals on and into your body is clearly risky.
For the Love of the Environment!
First off, it’s important to note that lots of ingredients in shampoo are actually derived from petrochemicals. That’s right, it takes oil to make your shampoo. So that’s one thing.
Secondly, nothing hurts my heart like plastic packaging. Every year, tons of plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles are produced and thrown away.
Plus, don’t forget all of the energy used to manufacture and transport shampoo and conditioner to stores and then to your home.
It’s a heck a lot of waste and fossil fuel usage for something non-necessary.
For the Love of your Hair!
Many no pooers on the internet attest that their hair has never looked better than after dropping shampoo. Going no poo might be the best thing that’s ever happened to your hair regiment!
Can YOU No Poo?
Yes you can!
If this is just TOO much for you, try decreasing the amount of shampoo you are using per wash. I found that even when I had more than halved my shampoo usage and stopped foaming, my hair still came out clean.
SO ARE YOU WITH ME?! Are you joining the NO POO revolution? Comment below!
UPDATE 25/08/2015: The roots of my hair were a bit greasy compared to the ends, so I’m now using baking soda as shampoo, accompanied with a 3:1 water to Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar mix as condition around once every two weeks. Hair is doing swell!