Sunday, December 9, 2012

How to Wash Your Hair with the No-Poo Method (Video)

I have a confession to make. I haven't washed my hair with shampoo in months. Although this may sound odd to you, it's actually part of a big movement going on called, "No-Poo Method". With the No-Poo Method, individuals forgo using traditional shampoos and conditioners that are loaded with chemicals, toxins and fragrances, and instead use a combo of baking soda and vinegar to wash their hair.  When I first heard of this idea, all I could think of was the vinegar/baking soda volcano project I did in fourth grade, and the thought of putting that on my hair freaked me out a bit. But then I realized, the two ingredients are used separately on your hair, so no "volcanic" action is involved...whew!

On top of this, users of this method claim that after switching to the No-Poo Method, their hair seemed healthier, shiner, softer, and more manageable...not to mention that is was much cheaper than buying bottle after bottle of shampoo. So since I wasn't quite seeing the results as promised by my natural, organic shampoos  like being "moisturized, silky, and smooth" I figured the least it could do was make my hair look the same and just cost less (as $8 a bottle for shampoo was getting a bit old). So I dove in a gave it a try. The results?

After 5-6 months of using the No-Poo method, I can say that my hair is the healthiest it has ever been. It's growing faster, looks shiner, and is much softer. As you can tell from the pictures, I have thick, curly hair and I've battled frizzies and dryness for many years, and even though I still have my "days" and frizzes still come around, it's no where near as bad as it used to be. My hair also seems so much more healthy and is softer than ever. Clearly I'm hooked and will never go back to traditional shampoo or conditioner.

If you're interested in giving the No-Poo method a try, here's some quick facts about it and how I make it work for me...

What is the No-Poo Method?
The No-Poo Method involves avoiding sham-"poo" and conditioner and instead washing your hair with  a mixture of baking soda and water (this acts as the new shampoo) and vinegar and water (this acts as the new conditioner).

What's wrong with traditional shampoo?
Chemicals. That's what wrong with shampoo. As I touched on in this post about my favorite green soap, Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, shampoos now days are loaded with chemicals, preservatives, fragrances  and dyes. Some of the nasty ones include:

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)-This is what makes your toothpaste, shampoo, and body wash so nice and foamy.  Unfortunately, those soap bubbles aren't so innocent.  SLS can cause skin irritation, strips your skin of important oils, could affect eye sight, and possibly cause cancer.  SLS is has industrial uses too as engine degreasers...and you want me to put on your body or in your mouth, no way! (read more here)

2. Fragrance- This is one sneaky little ingredient because under the name "fragrance/parfume" manufactures can include a whole slew of ingredients, but not have to tell you because they are all part of the "fragrance"...not cool.  One common chemical used to preserve fragrance is phtalates,  (pronounced THAL-ates). Phtalates are a toxic petroleum-derivative that has been associated with cancer, disorders of sexual maturation in girls, and birth defects of the penis and desmasulinization in boys (when exposed to phtlates while in the womb).  Also causes asthma, liver and kidney damage.  Not to mention fertility problems in men.  Hmm...makes you wonder if that sweet little scented soap is worth it for all the health problems that might come from it. (read more here)

Now these chemicals are all fine and nasty on their own, but when we put them in our hair, their effects get even worse. Basically the "lathering up" that we all know and love with traditional shampoo is actually stripping our hair of their natural oils.  As a result, our body gets the message that our hair is dry and it sends the message: "We need more oil!" And as more oil comes, it begins to get greasy so we wash it again, thus stripping it of it's natural oils. The process repeats: strip the hair, send more oil, strip the hair, send more oil. As a result, we end up using more and more products, to try and tame the vicious cycle.

How can the No-Poo Method help?
Since the baking soda and vinegar do not contain harsh sulfates or other chemicals that strip the hair  a normal balance of give and take can be created with the hair and the oils will balance themselves out, leaving healthier, happier hair.  On top of this, the baking soda mixture is alkaline, and the vinegar mixture is acidic. Bear with the chemistry talk...all you need to know is that the combo of these two helps balance our hair out even more (for the better).

The Dream Team: Baking Soda + Apple Cider Vinegar

Is the transition to the No-Poo method easy?
For some, yes. For others, no. After years and years of being stripped of oils, our bodies are used to serving up quite the large allotment of oil to repair the damage. When you take away the stripping shampoo, the body takes a bit to catch up, leaving you with lots of oil and no where to go...but your hair (which doesn't need it anymore).

It's kind of like supply and demand, say you have a factory that produces a product that is needed in high demand. So production goes up and stays up. But say one day production stops at a jolting halt, what happens to the factory that is on auto-pilot? It keeps producing products, which start to pile up, and pile up, and pile up. The same goes for the oil in your hair, in the beginning your body will continue producing it's usual amount of oil, but eventually it will learn  that it does not need to produce as much so it scales back (cue "end of transition period" here).

Some say this transition time can last from a few days, to a week, to 3 weeks. Keep with it, it's so worth it!  Before trying the No-Poo Method, I used a natural shampoo that was free of sulfates, and traditional "stripping" ingredients. So I think that helped ease my transition period, as it seemed like it was only a little bit "off" for about a week or two. On top of that my hair is curly, thick, and unruly on most days, so the results seemed more like I could just chock it up to a bad hair day than being caused by the new baking soda/vinegar wash.

Other ladies have said that during this transition time they wore their hair up more often, wore baseball hats, or just stuck it out. I know that probably doesn't sound desirable at all, but the end result is so worth it. When I was going through the transition phase, I used the financial savings as my motivation just because I'm frugal like that.  I told myself, "If I can stick this out, I will never have to buy traditional shampoo or conditioner EVER AGAIN." I'd add up the savings, $16 total and think about how nice it would be not to spend have to spend that money on a monthly basis.

If you've ever gone through the switch to the No-Poo Method, share your experience below about what your transition period was like. How long was it? How did you get through it?

Now that I've probably scared you off with the "transition talk" let me bring you back in with a discussion of the benefits of the No-Poo Method (that I've experienced and that other bloggers have mentioned):
  • hair is softer and shiner
  • less frizz, more body
  • can be helpful for dandruff and even cradle cap in babies (specifically the apple cider vinegar portion)
  • cheaper (1 box of baking soda $1.24, 1 jar of acv $3-4) given the ratios listed below these two ingredients alone would probably last me many months!
  • less toxins (no icky "poo" from shampoo, so long sulfates!)
  • greener (less products, packaging, trips to the store)

How to do you make the ingredients needed:
The ingredients are simple and cheap and I just store them in small spray bottles that I found in the "travel size items" section at Wal-Mart so they are easy to use in the shower. You can use any type of container you like, I just found I was washing most of the ingredients down the drain by pouring them from a bottle or jar to my hair, so I like how the spray helps me keep more in the bottle. *I wish I could have found a greener option like BPA-free bottles, or a special glass spray bottle, but was unable to find one. And as for the glass, I've learned it doesn't go so well in the shower...slippery hands and glass=bad combo! These spray bottles are easy and convenient for me, but if you find something that works for you...go for it!

My travel-size spray bottles for holding the "shampoo"
and "conditioner".

Baking Soda Shampoo
  • 1 Tbs. baking soda
  • 1 cup of filtered COLD water (to keep baking soda from clumping)

A funnel helps get the baking soda
in the bottle.

Traditional Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner 

Funnel comes in handy once again.

*Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner for Dry, Thick, or Curly Hair  * This is the recipe I use for my thick, curly hair and it works great. Even with all that apple cider vinegar, I've yet to see my hair look greasy, one positive of dry hair I suppose. ( :
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/cup filtered water
Note: The quantity mixed up in these recipes, usually last me a month or so, in case you were wondering.

Here's a video of me making the ingredients needed for the No-Poo Method and a "PG-version" of how I wash my hair with it in the shower....

As you saw from the video, I wash my hair with the No-Poo Method in this order:

1. Wet hair and then apply baking soda shampoo.
If you watch how much I spray in the video, that is the amount
I use. You can vary it if you would like. Then scrub throughout, 
especially in circular motions on
your scalp.

2. Rinse it all the way out.

3. Now spray on the apple cider vinegar conditioner.
I spray all over and everywhere. Some people just spray
the tips or ends of their hair because it makes their
roots oily. I've never had this problem (probably because
of my thick, dry hair), so I spray everywhere. Again,
watch the video to see exactly how much I spray, feel
free to vary the amount to fit your hair.

4. Then I clip it up and let it sit while I do other shower
 "tasks" like shave, or wash my face or body. I see the
vinegar like a conditioning treatment, so the longer it's on,
the better!

5. Then I rinse it all out. Don't worry, the vinegar smell
comes right won't smell like a salad, I promise!

6. Now you've got clean, poo-free hair!
Dry and style as you would normally.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will my hair smell like vinegar?
No, it will not, as long as you get it all rinsed out. Once you start to rinse it out of your hair, the smell will go away. I have noticed that the smell is a bit stronger when I apply it in the spray bottles, since  because more of it is being released into the air that just on my hair, but it goes away quickly. Trust me, once you get out of the shower, your hair won't smell like vinegar!

Are there other ratios for different types of hair?
I've read that if your hair is more oily, that you can increase the baking soda or decrease the apple cider vinegar.  Now if your hair is more dry (like mine) you can decrease the baking soda and increase the apple cider vinegar.  I just keep the baking soda the same, and increase the apple cider vinegar. Feel free to experiment.

How often do you wash your hair?
I only wash my every 2 days or so. I wish I could go longer in between washes, but my curl starts to "die down" and become flat after 2 days, but when I wash it, it springs right back up. You could easily go several days if you wanted.

What other products or styling tips do you do?
I never blow dry my hair, I just let it air dry. Blow drying just added to the frizzy-ness. I only use one product on my curls, Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Curl Activating Cream ($14 at my local health food store)

I would love to find a homemade curl gel/hair gel to use in place of this store-bought one, but most recipes have coconut oil in them and although I love coconut oil on my skin, it just makes my hair greasy and stringy for some reason.  Anyone know of a good, homemade curl gel without coconut oil?

Update: I have been making my own flax seed hair gel and loving it! Here's the recipe (only 2 ingredients!), "How to Make Flax Seed Hair Gel"...

Can I do the No-Poo Method if I color my hair?
From what I've read and experienced myself, yes. Granted everyone is different  but I get minimal highlights in my hair (which I do with caution to keep from touching my scalp) and it hasn't affected my color. I've read about other bloggers that color their hair to cover gray, and it works just fine. If you have any experience with using this method with dyed hair, share your experience below.

My hair is still really dry? Any suggestions?
Try filtering your shower water. This simple tip worked wonders for my hair and skin, especially now that it's getting colder outside and the air is drying out.  Here's a video about how and why I filter my shower water. (Here's my favorite shower filter too $60)

Want to learn more about the No-Poo method (and see that I'm not the only crazy person doing this) check out these other cool bloggers who have jumped on the No-Poo bandwagon as well:

So that's the low down on the No-Poo method, as I've mentioned above, feel free to share your experiences below. Maybe it worked out great for you or maybe you just couldn't get it to work with your hair. I get it, we all have different hair, sometimes it's just nice to try something new! Have fun getting rid of that poo!

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  1. Ooh I'm so glad I found this! I've just started the no poo method, and I was unsure of how often I should be washing my hair! This is the first time I've heard someone mention that, so thank you! :)
    Very interesting post, useful to know what to change if its too oily/dry!

  2. I am in the second week of the no poo method and my hair is VERY dry and breaking off. I was washing everyday, but read you can wash every other day. I started that 5 days ago but not much difference. I was using distiller apple cider vinager. I bought organic ACV to try this week. I am about to give up if this doesn't work. Any suggestions?

    1. Try adding more vinegar toyour rinse. i use a 1part vinegar to 1part water. The first time i no poo'd i used just vinegar and my hair was so silky and shinny I couldn't stop touching it. You might also be using too much baking soda. If your hair is soooo dry try skipping a wash or two with baking soda and just use the vinegar rinse. Whenever I'm dry and brittle I just add more vinegar. Hope this helps

  3. I am a 30 year veteran in the hair dressing industry and decided to do this & unlearn everything I thought I had knew.
    So, I just started the no poo method 2 weeks ago & recently colored my hair w/what I consider a gentler, salon color. I washed my hair with no poo on I used honey to deep condition it and then finished with the apple cider vinegar rinse and my hair feels really good so far, I'm sticking with this!
    Also, looking into doing all sorts of other kitchen found natural remedies


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