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18 Days and Counting | My No Shampoo Method

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No Shampoo Method

It has been about 5 years since I first heard about this alternative method to commercial shampoos and conditioners, called no shampoo or the sometimes confusing no ‘poo. The no shampoo method means your regular shampoo is replaced by baking soda and your conditioner by apple cider vinegar also called ACV. In the last 5 years I’ve attempted to convert myself once or twice a year. On average my attempts would last 2-3 days because after just a few days, I was running back to my commercial and sometimes chemically drenched sudsy goodness.

When this month started I had just finished up my shampoo and conditioner. I had no idea what shampoo/conditioner I wanted to buy next (I’d been working my way through ‘healthier’ organic brands). Once again this no shampoo method popped up on my radar. I thought what better time to try this yet again. The big difference this time around is I made a commitment to do this for at least 2 weeks.

I one upped the experiment by also making a shower gel.

Something magical happened and it’s already been 19 days! I think I’m converted 🙂

No Shampoo MethodWhat to do?

Shampoo: Bottle 1 heaping tablespoon of baking soda with 1.5 cups of water and shake. Store in a former shampoo bottle or bottle with a narrow opening. When using focus on the hairline, crown area, and the nape area. Rub around in a circular motion and rinse. This lasts me 4-5 days. Use every day if you have to, but ultimately try to go for 2-3 days in between. Water rinses on the in-between days are okay.

Conditioner: Bottle 1-2 tablespoons ACV with 1-2 cups of water and a cinnamon stick (optional) and shake. Store in a former conditioner bottle or bottle with a narrow opening. Focus on just the ends of the hair. Rinse. This lasts me over 2 weeks. I end up doing this daily.

Body Wash: Bottle 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite Dr. Bronner’s liquid castille soap (mine is !almond!) with 1-2 cups of water and shake. Store in a bottle with a narrow opening. Pour a little onto a loofah and lather all your parts clean. The body wash lasts about 2 weeks. If yours doesn’t lather add another tablespoon of soap or decrease the water.

Below is the journal I kept, read through it for courage and inspiration.

5/5/13 – Day 1

I read some material then dove into making a solution. Which was different from my previous trials where I would use too much baking soda or ACV or just put them on my scalp without the dilution. Dilution is key for me, I think.

At first I put them in biking water bottles but then changed them out into rinsed out shampoo and conditioner bottles – these will work a little bit better as they have smaller openings.

They are both very watery but I poured them on my problem areas – kind of the hairline area all the way around with a douse at the very top of my head to try and grab the base. No sudsing feeling…obviously. It feels more dry or like you aren’t really doing anything BUT when you rinse that feeling changes and the hair feels smoother under the running water.

From reading I gathered that many do not need a.c.v., which brings the p.h. level of the hair back or if they do they use it on the tips/ends of hair. Too much a.c.v on the scalp can lead to an even oiler scalp than what the first couple weeks might be. I stuck with just a douse over the ends and then a rinse. I could already smell the cinnamon stick.

Getting out of the shower and I do have wavy hair, I used a wide-toothed comb to go through my hair. I read all the time that people say don’t comb your hair after a shower, but that’s the time when I grab any loose hairs otherwise it can be kind of a freefall later which is annoying. Even with the wide-toothed comb my waves are decent so I guess there’s that.

Back to feeling. My hair – yours maybe too – did not feel that pleasant while wet. It feels kind of starchy (this was only the first couple days) and ‘what did I get myself into’, but as it starts to dry and then I even used the hair dryer… it felt GREAT. Light but fluffy.

I remember that feeling from the other few times I’ve attempted this. The difference this time around is my scalp never felt itchy/dry from placing the baking soda directly onto my scalp. Dilution is key.

While showering I was looking at my cheap Dove ripoff from Kroger that I use with my loofah and became disgusted. Disgusted that I had bought such a watery chemically laden product because it was $2.99. Cheap.

After my shower, I placed the bottle in the cabinet for now (I bought it like a week ago – just can’t throw it out quite yet) and brought back one of the biker bottles. I filled it ¾ full with water and added probably a couple tablespoons of my Dr. Bronner’s liquid almond castille soap (didn’t measure it) and shook it up. Hopefully this will solve my loofah love.

5/6/13 – Day 2

I think I made a mistake today. Somehow I got the idea it would be a great idea to slather some coconut oil on the lower portion of my locks today while I was doing a workout.

Big mistake.

I repeated the same process from yesterday focusing on the hairline and a little at the top, thinking it would run down into where the coconut oil sat.

While wet, everything felt fine but my hair looks permanently wet today. I think the only saving grace is I did pretty good getting the baking soda solution in my crown and hairline so the top and forehead area doesn’t look greasy, but the ends? Ugh, terrible.

We’ll see what I have to do tomorrow to get this ‘feeling’ gone without relying on ‘bad’ shampoo.

5/7/13 – Day 3

Well I really flubbed things up with that over-do on the coconut oil. When I showered I used all of the baking soda solution just to try and get it out of the middle part/ends of my hair. After a rinse in water it still felt ‘not right’. I then pulled out the ‘body wash’ of diluted Dr. Bronner’s and with just a little bit I was rolling in suds.

Upon rinsing it felt very much of dry hay and hence the oil slick had been abolished. I couldn’t help but think, this is great, I’m going from one extreme to the other. The key though? Learning.

I did a little bit of the acv solution to the very ends of the hair and rinsed everything good.

The Dr. Bronner’s body wash is proving to be amazing – I even use a small slosh to clean my face at night. Working great.

My hair dried rather nice. It did feel drier than normal but it didn’t look dry which was pleasing. I did rub in the teeniest bit of argan oil to the ends. It’s strange how different coconut oil is compared to argan oil. I much prefer the argan oil to coconut oil for my hair.

That’s about it. The only other exciting thing was I switched my part and felt like a new woman. LOL

5/8/13 – Day 4

Today was my first day for skipping a shampoo. After the little bit of dryness yesterday, it’s sort of perfect timing anyway.

Popped my hair into a make your grandmother proud shower cap and had one of those nice but quick showers. I took the shower immediately after my workout which meant I was warm and able to take a cool shower. Cool showers equal perfection for my skin. My face is a million times less red/splotchy if I can manage a cool shower.

Grabbed a rounded boar hair brush that I’ve had in a drawer for over a year and straightened/smoothed out my tresses while blow drying. Seemed to do the trick pretty quickly compared to other times. I have to say, I love my hair today. Feels good. Looks good. Boom.

I read somewhere that the boar hair brushes help move oil from your scalp throughout your hair keeping everything moisturized. I wonder what makes a boar brush unique? Wouldn’t all hairbrushes drag the oil down the hair strand?

I’m not sure how I feel about using the boar brush as I have been committed to veganism since November 2012. While that focus is mostly on the food – I have been consciously, for a while, avoiding products that are tested on animals etc. This brush I’ve had for 3 years so it does feel good to use it vs throwing away or being wasteful. Are there vegan versions of the boar hair brush? How do they work/compare?

Will need to make another baking soda solution for tomorrow or the next day (haven’t decided when my next rinse will be). I’ll either skip tomorrow or test out a water rinse.

5/9/13 – Day 5

I decided to rinse my hair really well under a cool shower today. I used my fingers and worked that hair the best I could massaging my scalp all over and taking extra care around the hairline.

Due to the natural oils, it didn’t feel dry and wasn’t tangled when combing it.

I used the hairdryer and could tell that the lower hair (that’s hidden near the neck) was going to be oilier than I would have liked.

It looks okay and is probably seen better from an outsider’s perspective. It’s one of those things that feels more disgusting than it actually looks because you know you haven’t washed your hair in 2 days. I keep thinking that anyway.

It smells fine, dare I say good. So, that’s nice.

I wonder if it would’ve been better to air dry it? Hmmm. It’s only a day and worthy of this healthy experiment.

Body wash is still awesome as ever.

5/10/13 – Day 6

Hard to believe this is day 6! Am I half way through the questionable part? That would be nice.

I used about ¼ of the baking soda rinse today, concentrating on the crown, hairline and by the nape of my neck. Used some acv on just the ends (the cinnamon smells very nice – I highly recommend). All of this followed by a good rinse in a cool/cold shower.

So far, I’m letting my hair air dry today. That will mean waves. Haven’t decided if I’m going to put my Aveda curl stuff in, but I most likely will. I’ll try to stay near the ends. Hope that washes out well with just water tomorrow??

My hair isn’t fully dry yet so hard to tell what exactly it will be like.

5/11/13 – Day 7

One week. Yay. I don’t hate it, I’m just not sure. Wavy haired days look much better than hairdryer days, IMHO.

Today I did the baking soda rinse and acv rinse followed by a blow dry session. It was just okay and I’m sure all of this ‘okay’ lack of enthusiasm business is pretty much just my own opinion. I honestly don’t think anyone else would notice either way – which is a great thing. It was also very hot today.

5/12/13 – Day 8

I was really really really tempted the last 2 days to use my Yes to Cucumbers or Aveda for Curly hair shampoo. I just wanted to feel that lathery sudsy euphoria that might momentarily transform me into a bubble goddess. But I didn’t. I mean I am pretty proud that I made it a full week plus a day, so it kind of makes it easier to see this commitment through.

Today, I did a little baking soda rinse and then the acv rinse both followed by water rinses. I then let my hair air dry which means curly wavy day. I pre-empted any frizz casualties by just putting some of my Aveda Be Curly enhancer in my hair and it looked good.

In the last week I’ve often found that I may not like the way my hair feels but I will LOVE how it looks. I’ll take that.

5/13/13 – Day 9

I’ve still kept up with the cold showers. The ONLY way this is happening is because I shower right after my workout and it is bliss.

I realized today that I really haven’t been doing much of ‘no pooing’. I feel that ‘no poo’ means multiple day breaks without adding anything to your hair as much as it means not shampooing with traditional shampoos and conditioners.

I get points for staying strong and not using traditional shampoos and conditioners but I would also like to accept the challenge of going 2 days in between baking soda/acv rinses with say a shower cap day followed by a water rinse day. To do this I don’t think it will be wise to put the curl enhancer product in my hair but instead a touch of argan oil.

Today I did baking soda rinse, acv rinse followed by curl enhancer. I had that above epiphany after I completed my routine. Tomorrow.

5/14/13 – Day 10

Another cool shower that consisted of a little Dr. Bronner’s rinse (not so much on the scalp and more on the length of the hair) to remove some of the curl product. I followed this up by a little acv rinse near the ends and that was it.

I used a wide tooth comb when I stepped out of the shower and only had my hair towel wrapped while I dressed. I scrunched it a little bit and put the teeniest amount of argan oil in the tips. It looks great right now and feels really good too. I think that’s from the Dr. Bronner’s rinse.

I’m really glad my scalp hasn’t been dry or broken out like previous times I’ve attempted this process. I attribute that to the dilutions in water. Grateful.

I also washed my nightgown in the shower with the Dr. Bronner’s rinse (that stuff is just good at everything). When I get up in the morning I go straight to my workout hallway and start. I don’t change, or put on a bra or anything. I’m not doing any jumping around due to our floors and being on the 2nd floor, which is the only reason this is feasible. Hence my nightgown was getting a little ripe. Dr. Bronner’s fixed that and now my nightgown is drying in the shower. Washing it while showering reminded me of our backpacking travels a little over 2 years ago and washing our Icebreaker in the hostel showers with our Bronner’s bar. Ahh memories.

5/15/13 – Day 11

My hair never usually does good being 2nd day wavy. Part of that is just the way it is and the other part is I could probably use some styling tips. Last night knowing I didn’t want to wash or do a water rinse, I put it in a loose braid that I half ass started near the crown of my head. It stayed in overnight and during my workout so that was good.

When I showered I didn’t tuck my hair in a shower cap because I thought a little moisture might be good.

It looks decent but not sure. It definitely doesn’t look or feel disgusting so that’s even better. The ends look shiny but not oily and the hairline is dry and nice.

I blow-dried my bangs with a round brush and I’m off. 🙂

5/16/13 – Day 12

I said I was going to go 2 days between actual ‘rinse’ stuff going into my hair but I LIED! 😉 Today while enjoying my cool/cold shower (yes I’m crazy) I put a little baking soda rinse around the hairline, crown, and nape of my neck. That’s it though! No acv. It feels good, looks shiny and nice.

I let it air dry and scrunched it with a little of the aveda be curly enhancer. I just couldn’t not use it. I swear I tried yesterday and it was frizzier than I’m comfortable with. Today, there’s no frizz, just smooth, shiny, wavy awesomeness.

I can’t believe I’ve done this well! Two more days and it will be 2 weeks!

5/17/13 – Day 13

Today I used a little splash of the diluted Dr. Bronner’s – just in the crown/hairline area and a little acv for the ends. Beautiful hair.

5/18/13 – Day 14

Cool shower with baking soda rinse and acv rinse. So proud I’ve made it 2 weeks!

5/19/13 – Day 15

No shower.

5/20/13 – Day 16

Today I took a cold shower and just used a little baking soda rinse around the hairline and acv rinse on the ends. All was good.

5/21/13 – Day 17

Sunday and I didn’t shower. Hair was pretty manageable. The wavy parts really don’t do that well 2nd day but I pulled back and pinned the upper part with bobby pins and it was pretty.

5/22/13 – Day 18

Today I used the baking soda rinse and a little acv on the ends. Hair air dried with a little Be Curly enhancer to tame the frizz. Hair looks and feels great. The locks seem shiny and soft. 

Well I’ve made it over 2 weeks with a penchant to continue this strange, thrifty, minimalist practice of hair care.

No Shampoo Method


  • My shoulders, neck, chest and upper back all seem softer from this change. Could be a combination of using the diluted Bronner’s body wash and the lack of chemicals on the hair itself.
  • Shorter showers = good for the environment.
  • Feeling satisfied about committing to something and following through.
  • Happy that my scalp hasn’t been dry or broken out.
  • I’ve only blow-dried my hair twice otherwise left it wavy, I think this has meant a lot for my locks and cuts down on hair styling time.
  • Hair smells great, never smells old or oily.
  • I think my scalp has definitely adjusted oil production and I like how it’s behaving.
  • I’ve always had medium thick hair but it feels even thicker.

I’m thrilled I made the commitment to do this for 2 weeks. If you’ve been like me where you try it once or twice a year, why not try it again but commit to 2 weeks. I’d love to hear if you do this and how long you’ve been doing it. Does anyone use essential oils? I’d love to try that in the future.

No ‘poo Update.

Thanks for reading! xo

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    • michellelfelt says:

      That’s great Georgia! Best of luck and remember, google is your friend, anytime you’re trying to figure out why your hair is doing/feeling x,y.z. – whatever it is, there will most likely be a forum with others experience and suggestions. 🙂

  1. Lyra Byrnes says:

    Thank you for this! I made a ton of soap-nut liquid for laundry, dishwashing, general household cleaning, etc., and am about to wash my hair using it. It’s another alternative and I would like to compare it with your no-shampoo method. Science!

      • Lyra Byrnes says:

        Hey! Thanks for asking. Well, the liquid is very useful (I also put in argan oil, because my hair is very long and dyed) between no-shampoo. No-shampoo is something I am easing into and have had trouble with nasty tangles, oily scalp, general feeling of thick gloppiness and heaviness. So I back off using the soap-nut liquid, which seems to “refresh” my hair. Of all my crunchy experiments, the hair one has been the hardest.

  2. Kaitlyn R. says:

    Hey I just recently heard about the no ‘poo method. I really like all the info you gave and I am really considering trying it out. And I am gonna try the body wash idea too. This sounds awesome. I am very low maintenance when it comes to my hair so finding a way that it looks nice letting it air-dry sounds amazing. I will let you know how I do

  3. Jaime says:

    Thanks for this. Recently went no ‘poo and wasn’t loving it. I was putting baking soda directly in my hair and it was really squeaky and not fun. Just tried your diluted recipe… Much better!

  4. katie says:

    I’ve been trying no poo for a week and two days and my hair
    is beyond oily! is there any way to speed up the transition process?
    I really just want my hair to be soft and shiny again without oil!

    • michellelfelt says:

      Ugh oily does not sound like fun! I didn’t experience that exactly but I would say google no poo and oily and see what has helped other peeps. I would guess that washing your hair multiple times would slow the process down. A water rinse might be okay. Are you using any hair products after or have really hard/treated water?

  5. John says:

    Have you read about the effects BS and ACV have on your hair? I was thinking about using this method, until I did some research, and found out how it damages hair in the long run.

  6. nigaiwithginger says:

    I started doing this the beginning of this year, and I really do like the results, but, even though my hair doesn’t get as oily as fast as it did with SLS shampoo’s, it still gets very oily. Coupled with the fact that I take cold showers, it takes two or three runs of the baking soda mixture to get my hair clean. And interestingly, if the hair is oily enough, it will “lather” a bit. That usually how I determine if I scrubbed enough. Then, due to my oil pit, I tend to use more baking soda than the normal 1 tbsp baking soda to 1 cup water. Also, until my hair dries, it will clump weird (I think anyway, I could just be being overly concerned) and feels oily, but once it dries, it’s light and feathery. My hair has never been unhealthy, as I don’t style it, and dye my hair once in a blue moon when I suddenly desire color. It’s short (I like it around 2 inches on top, but I dally on getting it cut again so it will range to about 5 inches before cutting) but it really does seem a whole lot healthier than before.

    But I really do miss lather. While I know that was just a damage factory, it just felt easier, and man, I really miss it. My face has been biggest personal proof I’m better off though, as it always got more oily after washing it with face wash than just rubbing warm water on it and drying it. (I use a bit of the baking soda solution on my face now.) However, I miss scents (Has anyone given any good tips for mixing in natural oils or something for scents. The blog I went off of for the recipe and tips, like sticking with it through detox mentioned lavender essence or something, but I don’t like lavender, and adding oil seems to me like it would defeat the purpose.

    Interestingly, I managed to skip the detox period. Or maybe I didn’t notice it, cause my hair has always been incredibly oily. My biggest problem, is I have a really dry scalp, and my dandruff has gotten WEIRD since I started this. But every single shampoo on the market for dandruff (Even coal tar based things like T-Gel) have SLS in it. I’m considering switching from “no poo” to a COMPLETELY organic shampoo. (My research on It’s a 10 led me to your blog. Luckily, it’s my mothers and I didn’t just waste 15 bucks on a lie haha.) Just unfortunate. I love that 1 buck buys me many many many bottles of shampoo, plus dish and laundry assistance. Stuff I’m looking at for dandruff/oily hair that’s organic is almost 20 bucks for 8 oz. Maybe I could alternate.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. Hope your hair’s doing good~ Longer you use it, nicer the results are, that’s for sure. My hair is so light and feathery, yet full. (Always been thick, but it’s just, so very much better now.)

  7. Gail says:

    I haven’t tried the no poo-maybe should as my hair is not oily. I have been using a shampoo bar a year or more. Get that lather we love. But, my hair is all split ends-does not look good .I only wash it once a week.
    I have been using Dr. Bronner straight as body wash for at least two years. I refill from a bulk bottle at the co-op, but will start diluting as suggested. Thanks for that tip.

  8. Christine B says:

    I used to do baking soda, etc no-poo (http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.ca/2012/01/natural-cleaning-for-body-and-home.html) then made various shifts along the way and have since shifted to most-often just water – easiest thing in the world for hair cleaning. I don’t know whether or not it would have “worked” earlier on. Maybe it works now because I’ve been away from the usual commercial shampoos for awhile and eat mostly as cleanly as possible (mostly whole foods/organic/not processed/etc). I’d be interested in hearing about experiences other folks have had with just water and to know if there’s a diet connection. All the best on your journey 🙂

  9. Dianne says:

    I started no poo about two weeks ago and my scalp has been so dry. I made the mistake of putting coconut oil to relieve the itch but now my hair is oily and my scalp is still itchy. I have been diluting the baking soda a tsp per cup of water (started with a tbs per cup) but I think the damage is done. What do you recommend? Sounds like you had a similar experience previously?

    • Hi Dianne…my routine now is shampoo/conditioner with a natural shampoo/c every 3-4 days. I don’t know if I could’ve made it to this point without going through the no poo method first – haha. I would wash with shampoo to get the oil out/reduced and then try to start extending the time between washes start slow and work your way up to as long as you can take it – the scalp adjusts. 🙂 If you’re still using baking soda shampoo maybe try reducing the baking soda and then just conditioning the ends. My biggest thing was moving away from silicone in my shampoos and conditioners – it’s in so many of them especially the ones for wavy/curly hair. Best of luck! xo

  10. Audrey Avrit says:

    I’ve been on no poo for about 3 weeks and there seems to be no end in sight. My hair is so greasy and always looks wet. I’m at the point where I just want to cry and give up.