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3+ months without shampoo

Sharing the last 3+ months of trying the no-poo experiment.

I posted about my first month of no-poo here and while I wasn’t sold back then, I wanted to continue the experiment. As all no-poo converts know, hair goes through an adjustment period to get used to not being cleaned by shampoo, and I figured my hair was probably taking a little longer than others.

However, after just over 2 months of doing no-poo using baking soda as my “shampoo” and apple cider vinegar (ACV) as my “conditioner”, I discovered something grave had happened to my hair. Or more specifically, my scalp.


It was not a pleasant discovery. I remembered in high school spying dandruff on the hair and shoulders of one of my schoolmates and being horrified that he didn’t know about it. Pretty superficial I know, there are other things to be worried about, but dandruff really isn’t an attractive look. The dandruff was mainly on my crown, and with my natural black hair coming through it was pretty obvious.

Although I could have played around with the baking soda and water ratio, I just didn’t have the time nor the patience to do that. I just wanted to get rid of the dandruff stat. I used my old clarifying shampoo to clear my scalp of flakes.

I started reading up on using Dr Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap as my no-poo alternative. I always loved using it as a body wash but hadn’t used it as a shampoo before. While the reviews were mixed I was willing to give it a try – hey, if it didn’t give dandruff, it surely would be better than what I was doing before!

The first time I tried using Dr Bronner’s I diluted 1/2 teaspoon in 1 cup of water, and used all of the mixture to wash my hair. Hello lather! – although certainly not as much as a regular shampoo. While Dr Bronner recommends using their Organic Hair Rinse to follow up, I didn’t have this on hand – some blogs and hair forums recommended using an ACV rinse (like what I was doing before) so I used that. However, despite all my best efforts to ignore it, the whiff of ACV was evident even when my hair was dry, so instead of using 2 tablespoons per 250mL of water, I reduced that to 1 tablespoon.

I was excited after patting my hair dry and giving it a quick blow dry to see what the result was. And it was… odd. My scalp certainly felt clean, but my hair seemed to have an oily look to it, even after the blow dry. And the next day, my hair felt even oilier.

I’d read that maybe I hadn’t rinsed my hair long enough after the shampoo, so the next few times I had my head under the shower for a minute, which is actually a pretty long time, especially when you’ve got kids screaming outside the bathroom. While this did make my hair seem less oily, there was no denying that there was an oily residue as a result of using Dr Bronner’s.

This might be because castile soap is an oil-based soap, so it was bound to do this to my hair. Or maybe my hair was going through that so-called adjustment period even with Dr Bronner’s. Maybe hair is meant to be a little bit oily to keep naturally conditioned.

But after a month of using it as my shampoo twice a week, I just felt Dr Bronner’s wasn’t doing anything worthy to my hair – yes it felt clean, but it also felt lifeless and dull. I wasn’t getting used to the oily look after shampooing and I spent most of the time with my hair up in a bun or hiding it in a hair clip.


Verdict on the no-poo/Dr Bronner’s experiment

For my fine hair that’s prone to oiliness, this is absolutely a NO. The baking soda/ACV no-poo left me with dandruff, and Dr Bronner’s just made me look like I had a hair helmet. I really wanted it to work as I love the idea of minimising the use of chemicals in my life, but I think exploring no-sulfate, plant-based shampoos and conditioners might be a better option than the former two that I tried. I’ll be trying these first and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be using shampoo again.


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2 thoughts on “3+ months without shampoo

  1. Oh no what a shame it didn’t work out for you – either method! It’s good you gave them both a go though.

    I’ll be interested to see what your review of Essano is – I’ve seen the brand before in store but haven’t looked too closely at it. I ended up picking up some Organic Care shampoo in woolies, it’s sulphate free and a bunch of other things free, because it was on special while I was pregnant. I loved it and thought it was the best thing in the world, and then quickly realised postpartum that it was the pregnancy and not the shampoo making my hair awesome. I’ve never found a good replacement. The one I’m using now is a salon one and I don’t think it’s free of anything, but it is making my hair soft and manageable again so I picked up a replacement bottle after the one I had for Christmas ran out recently.

    1. It’s always worth giving it go, even to realise that it’s not something that’s right for me! So far the Essano stuff is pretty nice, I’ll definitely give it a little review after a couple more weeks, but you’re right – pregnancy hair always looks fab!

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