How I Became No Poo and You Can Too!

July 3, 2015 – Assya Barrette
no poo

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!
First Attempt

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.
Second Attempt

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.

More pictures!

no poono poo
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!
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12 thoughts on “How I Became No Poo and You Can Too!”

David W
July 30, 2015 at 6:37 pm Reply

I did this a few years back and managed to go a bit over six months before experimenting with coconut oil (for smell). Years later I use shampoo once every few months, but not much, and really only out of interest to see what changes I can note.

I’m in support for sure!
Assya Barrette
July 31, 2015 at 6:14 am Author Reply

Right on David! What reactions do you get from other people?
August 19, 2015 at 5:34 am Reply

I’m not exactly no poo, since I use soap. Simple, home-made soap. A friend of mine makes her own soap now for over 25 years (only pure vegetable oils, some salt and what’s necessary to get the soap process going but no petrochemicals) and so I am well taken care of with wonderful home-made soap. And I use only this soap. For the face, body and hair. I’m in my 20th year now and had everything from very long to very short hair and never had any problems with kinks or greasy hair. (I wash my hair about every other day, not every day. I think the frequency in which you wash the hair is significant as well. Most people wash their hair too often.) But I have very thick and strong, wavy hair. DH has very fine hair and he uses liquified soap. (You know, add some soap shavings in boiled and cooled down water and let them melt. Dilute with more water.) He doesn’t like the soap block feeling. Otherwise, no further problems.
Assya Barrette
August 19, 2015 at 10:02 pm Author Reply

Awesome to hear! Ya, I think we are all different, and different things work for different people 🙂 Great to see that this simple method worked for you!
Gleb Babkine
August 19, 2015 at 11:28 pm Reply

Great article, great advice.

My wife and I both use two tbsp non aluminum ($1.29 per kilo) baking soda per water bottle (0.5L) for shampoo – leave it for a minute – rinse and repeat with a squirt of organic apple cider vinegar per water bottle for conditioner.

No greasy hair, my wife has long hair that is absolutely radiant with vitality! And as for the old shampoos – those chemical ‘sweet’ smells just smell awful now.
Assya Barrette
August 19, 2015 at 11:44 pm Author Reply

I’ve had the same good results from using baking soda and vinegar from time to time 🙂

But I do miss the nice smells of shampoos haha!
Patti Grant
August 20, 2015 at 5:51 pm Reply

Hi Ayssa, I just received your first post and look forward to learning a lot more. I do wish that the lettering were in black instead of gray because there is not much contrast to the background. I turned the background light to minimum level and it is somewhat easier but still challenging (want to let you know for future postings). BTW, I am on day 81 of my new no-clothes-shopping plan and am giving away or donating a whole lot of clothes and miscellaneous “stuff.”
During this time I have only purchased two pair of summer pants that I (arguably) didn’t NEED, and I am seeing a real change of heart. You have the right ideas. Thanks much, P. Grant.
Assya Barrette
August 20, 2015 at 9:24 pm Author Reply

That’s awesome Patti, keep up the good work. Buying too much clothing was a huge issue for me, but now I’ve toned it down thanks to 200 days.
Thanks for your feedback about the text colour, I will fix this up 🙂
RV Chua
September 30, 2015 at 4:52 am Reply

I did the no poo experiment a couple of years ago with disastrous results. I always found a layer of oily crud on my scalp and suffered from dandruff. I endured this for more than 6 months before I finally give up from the stress. I read that it sometimes does not work for everyone. Now I wash my hair at most once a week
Assya Barrette
September 30, 2015 at 5:04 am Author Reply

It’s true, it doesn’t work for everyone! It’s good that you have reduced your use of shampoo though 🙂
Nahrissa Rush
January 11, 2016 at 12:19 am Reply

Do you use any styling products at all? My hair is curly and fine (sounds weird right?) and really prone to flyaways and this really weird fluffiness if I don’t condition and use styling products. I don’t use a TON of products, just curl cream and a little hair gel to try and tame my stubborn cowlick. I’m just curious how not shampooing would affect this. Would I still be able to use styling products? Or do you stop using them since you’re not washing them out every day? Honestly, I’ve really only seen people with straight medium-to-thick hair go the “no poo” route, I’ve never heard about anyone with curly hair doing it, so that’s why I’m curious as I’d like to try this. Thanks!
Assya Barrette
March 18, 2016 at 3:22 am Author Reply

Hey Nahrissa! I don’t know anyone with curly hair who has gone the no poo route – however, I have heard of them, and it seems like many have been successful.

I hardly ever use products, so unfortunately I have no advice for you here. But I guess the best way for you to find out is to try it yourself 🙂