One Month Without Shampoo: The No-Poo Method

Sharing my thoughts on my month without shampoo by using the no-poo  method.

If the thought of not washing your hair with shampoo makes your stomach turn, it’s best to close your browser or tab now. However, if you’re interested in my personal experiment of using baking soda and apple cider vinegar as a shampoo and conditioner respectively then read on.

Why wash with baking soda and apple cider vinegar?

Proponents of the no poo method say that using baking soda and apple cider vinegar is a much more natural way to clean hair, or more specifically the scalp. Traditional shampoo with all its sulfates strip hair of its natural oils, causing the scalp to produce even more oil. Conditioner and the silicons in it simply coats hair in chemicals.

You typically wash your hair with baking soda, rinse it out, coat your hair with apple cider vinegar solution, then rinse that out too. The aim is to be able to wash your hair very sparingly with the baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and possibly just do a water wash in between baking soda washes.

However, don’t let me put words in other people’s mouths, I’ll let them explain how and why they clean their hair with apple cider and vinegar:

I don’t use shampoo, and haven’t in over five years
What I’ve Learned From Three Years Without Shampoo

Of course, there are those who say the no-poo method doesn’t work:

What Years of Baking Soda “No ‘Poo” Did to My Long, Healthy Hair
3 reasons why baking soda and vinegar destroy your hair

My reason for trying the no-poo method? Quite simply, I had run out of shampoo, and I had a heck of a lot of baking soda and apple cider vinegar. And I had something to blog about.

My Hair Resume

My hair is stick-straight, fine and thin, and gets oily typically 24 hours after shampooing. I had my hair highlighted in December last year and whatever chemicals the hairdresser put in wreaked havoc to my hair. It looked great at the time, but 3 months down the track the highlighted part became super dry and frizzy. I did a home hair colour in the hope that the new colour would coat the frizzy ends but they became frizzy again after about a month. With my virgin hair growth, my hair took on an interesting shape in that the new growth was straight and slick, until the coloured part which would then frizz.

I shampooed my hair every other day, that is to say if I washed my hair on a Monday the next time I washed it was Wednesday. I changed my shampoo and conditioner brands frequently but at the time of starting this experiment I had just finished using Organix Healing Vitamin E.

The Baking Soda Shampoo and Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner

I wanted to make this in a large batch so I would have some handy in the shower whenever I needed to wash my hair. At first I used 1/4 cup baking soda (BS) to 2 cups of water, which is probably too much BS in retrospect – 2 tbsp would have been fine. I added about 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil.

I did 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (ACV) to approx 3 cups of water (I was using on old passata jar to mix). Here I was a bit more liberal with the essential oil as the ACV smell was strong.

Week 1

I used the BS shampoo and ACV conditioner on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, basically following my previous washing routine with shampoo. I decided to go two days without shampoo on Saturday and Sunday – but man I felt gross on Sunday. My hair felt so oily and greasy. No poo proponents say this is normal as the scalp is getting used to not having the oils stripped so is producing more oil to regulate itself. However, I did not like this line of reasoning when my scalp felt like a chip fryer that day.

However, I did notice that my frizzy ends were not so frizzy as before. I had a lot less tangles in the frizz, and what tangles I did have were a lot easier to comb out.

While the no-poo method proponents argue that the ACV smell does go away, I personally had a whiff of the ACV every now and again, which wasn’t unpleasant but I certainly did not want to emanate eau de salade.

Week 1 of no poo

Week 2

Despite feeling gross after two days of not washing my hair I decided to increase the number of days between BS and ACV washes. I washed my hair on Monday and Thursday.

My hair on Tuesday started looking greasy around 3pm, and on Wednesday I was definitely in chip fryer mode. I couldn’t wait to wash my hair on Thursday. At this point I was also wondering if the no-poo method was even worth it.

Having a fringe also meant the oiliness seemed a lot more obvious, so I had to be creative with my hairstyles on the no-wash days.

Week 3

I had washed my hair on Sunday and I noticed as I was getting ready for work on Monday that my hair looked surprisingly OK. Of course by the time the afternoon rolled around it was looking a little mucky but not as bad as Week 2.

Instead of using BS and ACV on Wednesday (when I was due for them), I decided to try a water wash instead. While my head was under the shower I used my fingernails to scratch and massage my scalp for about 30 seconds. My hair felt waxy (because of the natural oils) but my scalp did feel clean, and my hair once dry actually looked pretty decent, if still a bit piecey.

Water wash day selfie – sorry for the toilet in the background

The day after my water wash my hair looked OK, but as per other days it was resembling an oil slick by 3pm. However, it meant that I could potentially go four days without washing, with only a water wash in between the next round of BS and ACV.

Week 4

I changed the proportion of my BS shampoo so that it was 2 tbsp to 2 cups of water, and I think this was a better mix for me. I also changed the ACV mix so it was 1/4 cup of ACV to 4 cups of water, to see if this would minimise the ACV whiff I would get now and again. I also added peppermint essential oil to both BS and ACV solutions, and actually preferred this to the lavender oil as it felt quite refreshing.

I washed my hair on Monday (I was due for it) and Friday. On Wednesday I did a water wash.

You can see how happy I was with my hair on the day I washed it with BS and ACV.

Aaah, clean hair!

Was the oiliness of my hair regulated at this point? I can’t say. To me my hair still felt greasy 36 hours after the BS and ACV wash, but I don’t feel as gross as I did in Week 1. No poo supporters would say my hair is probably still adjusting.

The Verdict

Unsure. At this stage I’ll say that I’m not completely sold on the idea. I do miss the scent of shampoo and the sudsiness of it (because BS is definitely not sudsy!).

However, like all good experiments, one month probably isn’t long enough to make the judgment call. I will probably write a follow up post two months from now (so three months of no-poo) and let you know how I go.

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4 Comments

  • You’re so brave powering through with it! I’ve heard that too, it gets oilier before it gets better, and as someone who has to use dry shampoo in the days off between washes to stop my hair looking too greasy, I’ve immediately assumed this challenge isn’t for me. Will be interesting to see what you think of it after another month!

    • I still have my WTF days I have to admit, but I’m powering through! I do miss my dry shampoo, I relied on that to stop my hair from looking too greasy too. I’m curious to see how my hair will be after three months!

    • Yes, even after all these years I don’t think I’ve found the right shampoo for me! I find that I have to wash my hair more often because it’s so oily, but I don’t know if that’s because of the shampoo or environment… anyway it’s worth trying the experiment out! Thanks for stopping by xx

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