I’m back! I have to apologize for my long absence. There have been some big transitions in my life recently (one of which is very exciting and I will write about soon!), but I am full of new blog ideas and will be writing more often from now on!

I work at a health food store and I often have people ask me about options for natural shampoos. They know they want something less harsh than conventional shampoos, but don’t always know what are the best ‘natural’ options. We do have a range of organic and sulfate-free shampoos at work. Inevitably, they will ask me, ‘Well, which one of these do you use?’ And the answer is… none of them. The cleaning method I use for my hair is something I’ve done for a little over a year, and let me tell you, I will never go back to the way I washed my hair before. It’s that big of a difference.

What I use is a method sometimes called “No ‘Poo”, and it’s simply baking soda and apple cider vinegar. That’s it. Nothing else. The baking soda acts as the ‘shampoo’, and the ACV as the ‘conditioner’.

Here are the reasons why I love No Poo and will continue to use it over conventional shampoos:

  1. It is by far the cheapest method. Some of the so-called ‘natural’ shampoos are upwards of $10 a pop, and even conventional shampoos cost a few dollars each for shampoo and conditioner. This costs pennies. To make it even cheaper, I buy the materials in bulk: I bought a big bag of baking soda from Costco and a gallon jug of Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider vinegar. I use both of the materials for other things, too, like my homemade deodorant, homemade mud masks, and homemade toothpaste, so for me it makes sense to buy in bulk.
  2. It’s the least harsh option. It has the fewest ingredients of any of the ‘natural’ shampoos, and actually, a lot of the ‘natural’ shampoos still have scary ingredient lists. I have pretty sensitive skin, so this is ideal for me. Baking soda might seem ‘harsh’ because it feels slightly more abrasive, but in actuality the chemicals used in a lot of conventional shampoos are far more harsh.
  3. I can wash my hair far less frequently. This is by far the most appealing aspect, because I am lazy. And let me tell you, before I started using the No ‘Poo method, I was the kind of person that had to wash my hair every 24 hours, at least. It would get greasy and stringy after one day of not washing it. When I switched to this method, after a couple weeks of a ‘transition period’, I feel like the oil glands in my head kind of ‘calmed down’ and I wouldn’t have to wash my hair as often. Once I wasn’t completely stripping the natural oils from my hair every day, then they produced far less oil. This means that I only have to wash my hair about once every five days. Usually by day three I wash it with just water, which gets rid of everything but the hair’s natural oils. Normally, this gives me about two more days until I need to wash it again with baking soda and ACV.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. I put two tablespoons of baking soda in the bottom of a glass jar and set it on the side of the bathtub. In the shower, I hold the jar up to the water and fill it up with two cups of water.  I’ve marked lines on the side of the jar in Sharpie so I know the correct amount for two tablespoons and two cups. I might stir it a little with my fingers to make sure the baking soda is dissolved.
  2. I pour that over my head, and massage it into my scalp just like I would with normal shampoo. It doesn’t lather like normal shampoo, but it still cleans the hair. I rinse that out, and rinse the jar thoroughly as well.
  3. I pour two tablespoons of ACV into the jar, and again, hold the jar up to the water to fill up the jar to two cups. Then, I pour that over my hair and immediately rinse it. You don’t want to let it sit on your hair like with regular conditioner; just pour it and rinse it out thoroughly as soon as you set the jar down. And that’s it! And no, the vinegar smell goes away when your hair dries, so you won’t smell like a salad!

A couple extra things I want to mention:

  • There certainly is a ‘transition’ period when switching to this method from conventional shampoo and conditioner. The length of the transition period will vary from person to person, but mine was about two weeks. I decided to switch about a year ago after reading The Skintervention Guide by Liz Wolfe (which I recommend highly for all things skin care), and she said in the book that this might be the case. My hair felt simultaneously greasy and like straw, so I wore my hair up in a topknot with a plastic headband to pull my bangs back for a couple weeks while my oil glands had time to stop freaking out. It was not the most attractive look, but at least it was only temporary. The boyfriend at the time (bless him) asked sweetly, “So… how long are you going to keep doing this hair style? Because I like the way you did it before better.” 😀 Luckily for me (and him!) it was only temporary.
  • There are times when it’s not always practical to No ‘Poo, such as when travelling. If this is the case, I try to wash my hair right before the trip (if it’s a short trip) and again when I come back. If it’s a longer trip, or if it’s a normal day at home but I’m just too lazy (I told you I was lazy!) I might sometimes wash my hair with Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap. But, I don’t really like the way my hair feels after using it as a shampoo, so I only use it if I’m in a pinch. (I have read that Dr. Bronner’s + ACV is another way to do it; I haven’t tried the method but I bet it would work better than just the Dr. Bronner’s alone.)
  • It can take a little tinkering to get the No ‘Poo method down in terms of the right baking soda/ACV ratio for you, but I promise you it’s worth it. It is so effective that I feel a bit silly that I ever used anything else (let’s not talk about the money that I spent on fancy shampoos, which pale in comparison to what No ‘Poo does for my hair!).

If you do run into some difficulty, Almost Exactly has an excellent, extensive No ‘Poo Troubleshooting Guide which will help you!

Have you ever given No ‘Poo a try? What have your experiences been? Let me know your thoughts below, and as always, let me know if you have any questions for me!