The No Poo Method – How to Manage your Hair with No Shampoo

When you begin looking around the internet searching for information about homemade shampoo and beauty products (or is that just me?), a strange term may appear. “NO POO” or NO POO METHOD. What? Of course after a moments reflection and wonder, you should realize this refers to a no shampoo method of managing your hair. Thank goodness for that!

The no poo idea isn’t exactly new – a quick look at history and you soon realize that in olden times people didn’t use shampoo; in fact they pretty much didn’t wash at all. Shampoo didn’t really take hold for the masses until the early 1970s, before that most people just used soap on their hair maybe once a week. After the seventies and the mass marketing kicked in everyone started buying shampoos, conditiono poo shampooners and all manner of concoctions for beauty treatments – and the industry keeps on growing today. But now people are beginning to recognize that the daily use of these products can have a damaging effect on our hair. Add in other factors such as the use of chemical hair dye, hair tongs and straighteners and blow drying – the state of our nations hair! Complain to your local representative!

The No Poo Movement

Don’t you just love that term – I couldn’t resist. Now there are two ways to look at this – some people are happy to just stop using chemical shampoo and others want to go further and stop shampooing all together. The hair does actually become self cleaning eventually if you stop washing it but for most this is a step too far. Personally I have chosen the route of using only natural homemade shampoo and conditioner and reduced the frequency of washing to every other day. This works for me and my hair is better than ever and I feel comfortable in terms of personal hygiene. Technically I suppose I’m not a real no poo-er, but I’m happy with that.

The Reasons Behind the No Poo Method

This is where I totally agree. The method is based on the fact that commercialno poo hair method shampoo, and how we use it, is actually damaging our hair in the long run. So what’s wrong with shampoo?

  •    Washing your hair every day isn’t good. Strong commercial shampoo strips the hair of natural oil (sebum). The scalp then works to replace this oil making your hair more greasy and oily in appearance. A vicious circle.
  •    Chemicals! Look at the back of your favorite tipple – you need to be a chemist to make any sense of the ingredients. Sulphates, silicone derivatives, surfactants, mineral oils and even alcohol to name a few. The irony is that most of these chemicals are used to counteract some negative impact of the other chemicals and so the list grows longer.
  •    PH – without reaching for your periodic table, just know that most shampoo in the stores is alkaline, often strongly so, not good! Good shampoo should be close to a neutral PH.
  •    Bad for the environment on many levels. From the pollution of the water run off, to the massive production of chemicals and packaging – you get the picture.
  • Yes indeed the world would be a better place without commercial shampoo!

No Poo Recipe

Most people starting off with the traditional no poo approach tend to use variations of the same recipe. It uses baking soda and water to wash and apple cider vinegar to condition. Now I know this doesn’t sound great but I have tried it and it is quite good – open your mind! As I said my hair care routine uses natural homemade shampoo made with essential oils, herbs and an organic shampoo base, but in the interests of research I tried this method.

No Poo Shampoo Recipe

1 tbl spoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 small cup of water

No Poo Conditioner

1 tbl spoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup of water
Optional – 2 drops of essential oil – tea tree is good

These are the hardcore ingredients some people like to add an essential oil or coconut oil to the conditioner.


Mix the baking soda well in the cup of water; it should look like a cloudy water solution not a paste. Simply pour over the hair and work into the scalp like any other shampoo, allowing it to sit for a minute or two. Then you rinse well with water.


Same again with the apple cider vinegar, add to a cup of water and repeat as before. Rinse well. The vinegar is important to the process, it closes the hair cuticle and helps to neutralize the PH. If you wish to add an essential oil just put a few drops into the vinegar mix. Some people use organic coconut oil combed through the hair and then rinsed off.
Try it for yourself it actually feels quite nice, not my favorite method but good just the same.

Problems With the No Poo Method

Now as I said I’m not a huge fan of this method and I’m certainly no expert. From talking to others who have used this method there is a mixture of results. Some can make the transition from commercial shampoo to not shampooing at all with no real downside or discomfort. On the other hand some users find the same problems cropping up.

  •    Hair starts to look dull and flat. Mainly down to the changes but can be helped with a good conditioner such as coconut oil.
  •    Dandruff. Try conditioning more and using essential oils such as tea tree and peppermint can help with dandruff.
  •    Curly hair problems. People with curly hair often have minor problemsno shampoo hair when switching to the no poo method. Going frizzy or really dry are common. Mostly this is down to the change the hair will undergo when stopping using traditional shampoo. Over time with good natural conditioners the hair should settle down again.
  •    Bad smell. This isn’t as common as you might think but for some can be a problem. Make sure the hair is rinsed properly when using the no poo shampoo recipe and try adding a fragrant essential oil. If you are going the hardcore no washing route, try simply massaging some tea tree oil into the scalp a few times per week.

Poo or No Poo?

It really comes down to your personal preference. For many people stopping washing their hair is just unthinkable (includes me!). The best approach for most is to try using chemical free, homemade organic shampoo recipes. The no poo way is just too extreme for many folks but by going the chemical free way everyone can enjoy the very real benefits – to hair and the planet.

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