I went no-poo and my hair says thank you.

8:00 AM

Did you know we actually don't need shampoo to have a clean and fabulous hair? Until a few weeks ago, I had no idea either.

I would still be washing the fast accumulating grease off my hair daily if it weren't for a casual girl talk session and a bit of curiosity.
It all started when a friend of mine told me an another couple of friends how she has been allergic to soaps and shampoo and found herself having to stop using it.

We were all highly skeptical, after all, the idea of not washing your hair with shampoo goes against what every TV channels, magazines and more importantly the cosmetic industry want you to believe.

Like many of my friend my first reply to this "You don't need shampoo to clean your hair" statement was the good old, almost cliché:

But, my hair gets super oily and looks dirty after 24 hours of not using shampoo.

Sounds familiar? This very sentence has been uttered to all my friends present at that chit-chatting session. We were all slaves to the bottle, finding ourselves slathering and foaming our hair daily to banish the gunk. Gunk that kept coming back the next day. 

It took me a few weeks to let my friend's statement sink in. I wasn't quite sure I should take the plunge. After all I have a life long history of grease, frizz and tangles with my hair. Ditching the bottles seemed a bit drastic if not completely nuts. 
To make up my mind, I read. I read a lot: the testimonials of ladies who've done it, and the opinion of various experts. 

And I figured out that I had absolutely nothing to loose trying. The worst that could happen after all was going back to using commercial shampoos. 

According to everybody who've done it before me, it takes about 4-6 weeks for the hair to look its old self and feel great again once you kissed the poo goodbye. 
With that knowledge in mind, I gave myself a month. A month during which I would ditch the bottle, and turn to natural alternatives to wash my hair. If after this month my hair still felt horrible with not even a hint of improvement, I would pull the plug on the experiment. 

It's been nearly 7 weeks now, and I am never going back to shampoo. 
The first thing you need to know if you plan on going no-poo is what alternatives to commercial and chemical shampoos you have at your disposal. 

The most common is mixing baking soda (soda bi-carb) with water and wash your wet scalp with it. I found it to be the most efficient technique for my hair, but some of my friends didn't. What you absolutely need to be careful with this method, is to not do it too frequently. There should be a gap of at least 5-7 days between uses. 

Another great natural shampoo is mud or natural clay. In India, you can turn to "Multani Mitti" aka Fuller's Earth. I got mine on Amazon. In the beginning, I used it every other hair treatment session to avoid using the baking soda method too frequently. 

One of the method many of my friends swear by is the egg wash. For this method you need to whisk a full egg with a fork in a bowl, plomp it on your wet scalp and massage. Leave it for a few minutes and rinse off with cold water. It didn't work for me, but apprently it will absorb the excess oil  nd leave your mane bouncy and soft. 

Last but not least, rinsing your hair daily with water at the end of a long day of sweat, dust and pollution is ALWAYS a smart move. Water alone is all you need to remove most of the daily dirt off your scalp. 

The proponent of no-poo all speak of their hair feeling wonderful, feeling thicker, growing faster and being more manageable. And before I share my own results with you, let me take you on my no-poo journey week by week. 

What I started with

My hair is long (as in brushing my lower back long) and wavy (borderline on curly). The root oils very easily, and it was the reason why I was shampooing daily since puberty kicked in. The length are dry, and tangle very easily. Without conditioning my hair after a shampoo I end up with massive knots that border on dreadlocks. Those knots usually come back within a few hours of me getting them out. 
This my dearies is what I started with. When I decided to ditch the shampoo I decided to keep the conditionner in my routine because of said situation

Week 1

As expected, my hair got greasier than ever. This is something that ever person stopping commercial shampoo ends up going through. The reason being that shampoo strips the scalp of its natural oil and the body is tricked into thinking it has to produce more. 
On day 2 the situation was so desperate I decided to do a baking soda wash, it was followed by an egg wash that didn't work 2 days later, and a clay wash another 2 days later. I still had to rub tissue paper to get the excess off in between...Yes it was THAT bad. And my scalp hurt from being weighted down from all this grease. 

Week 2

I started noticing a slight change, the oil would build up a tid bit less quickly. I still ended up having to do one baking soda and one clay wash during that week. The biggest change though is that I noticed that my hair would no longer knot and tangle into near dreadlocks during the day. I ditched the commercial conditioner at the end of that week not feeling the need for it anymore. DH also pointed out that my hair felt softer and better. It was reassuring to hear it because I still felt like my scalp was weighted down by a lot of gunk. 

Week 3

There was a significant enough slow down in the oil production, the top of my head felt and looked clean and bouncy for 4-5 days at a time. The hair at the back of my head still had a very waxy feeling. There has been absolutely zero nasty tangles to deal with that week, NONE, despite my not using conditioner. The quality of the tip has improved too, probably due to my brushing the hair a couple of times a day to spread the natural oils. 

Week 5

This probably has been the game changing week. I went an entire week without using any alternative shampoo. On day 7, I did a baking soda wash as the hair was starting to feel a bit weighted down but it didn't feel gunky, oily or greasy like it did the other weeks. 

Week 6

I went another week without anything but just water. The heat of Summer made me sweat a little, and my hair would look a bit sticky but it would rinse off under plain water just fine. 

Week 7

The sweating makes the hair look a bit flat, but not dirty looking. This is the time of the year I find myself having to pull my hair up to avoid looking like a wet mop. I rinse the hair twice a day but still am managing with one alternative shampoo treatment. My hair has the same texture from root to tip, without the use of any conditioner or oil. 

What my hair looks and feels like now

As mentioned, the first thing my hair stopped doing was frizzing and tangling, this happened after a week of not using shampoo. This was the thing that kept me going in the beginning when going back on the bottle was ever so tempting. Not having to battle my wavy mane on a daily basis felt really good. 
The second thing I noticed as the week went was that my hair had more volume. I attribute it to the fact that once the production of sebum is normalised, the hair is coated with just what it needs to be bouncy and full. 
I also noticed that my natural waves/loose curls looked much better and were more defined and yet felt softer than ever before. 

Overall, my hair has benefited greatly from my no-poo experience. I can't comment on the growing faster yet, or the claims of them growing thicker. I guess only time will tell if it bears any truth in my case. 

One thing that did help me a lot during my greasy day is the brushing to spread the excess oil to the length. I still do it daily, and for it I recommend you invest in a good quality shinning brush. They are usually made of wild boar bristle. I have used that type of brush my whole life. I had to replace my old one last year and went for this one. It is a bit pricey (was cheaper when I bought it) but it was the closest to my old half broken brush and it works wonders at detangling AND giving shine to your hair. 
If you are going no-poo, you'll save tons on hair products, so the least you can do is invest in a high quality brush. I kid you not, I would spend about 600 rupees a month on both shampoo and conditioner to tame my long hair. I have gone to only using a table spoon of baking soda a week...you do the math...

And with this lengthy blog post, I give the blogosphere and Internet yet another testimonial in favour of no-poo.  

Are you tempted to join the club yet?

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  1. Anonymous11:27 AM

    I found this wonderful natural way of preparing a shampoo using Amla, Shikakai and Reeta. Looks quiet good to me.



    1. I know some ladies who use it, like the ones I use, they aren't to be used daily. Once you start looking into the commercial shampoo alternatives there are quite a few out there. I have a friend who mix amla powder with multani mitti too.

      I also tried washing with rye flour, but that wasn't my favourite, a lot of the flour got stuck to my curly hair, for days.

    2. Anonymous3:53 PM

      I think multani mitti is more used as face pack than for hair.


    3. It is advertised as a face pack true, but trust me it works wonders on the scalp and hair and it absorb the excess sebum without disturbing the oil glands balance. After all the scalp is part of the skin too

  2. Anonymous2:11 PM

    OK. I'd like to join the club but I have very long hair which I style only on special occasions and the rest of the time leave it in a braid. I don't use conditioner at all but I need to oil it a little to keep my hair from getting tangled. So if I'm not gonna use shampoo then how am I supposed to get rid of the oil. And since summers here already I shampoo it twice a week. I guess it won't work for me.

    1. My advice is to stop oiling them before washing to begin with. Oil them only afterward if you feel they are dry. It takes 4-6 weeks for the hair to get the right balance of natural oil back after you stop using shampoo and that natural oil builds up at the root and need to be spread to the length.

      I have long hair myself, they reach my lower back, and they are borderline curly. My hair used to tangle really really bad when I was using shampoo. As I said in the blog post it was dreadlock bad. A week into the no shampoo experiment and I stopped having to deal with them. I quit conditioner, I quit the "silk serum" as well.

      I used to shampoo EVERYDAY because my root would get oily to the point of sticking the hair together if I did let more than a day pass without using shampoo, that bad. Now even after a week, my hair doesn't even near as oily as it did then. They are a bit greasy to the touch, but they don't look oily, and that is after 7 days of doing a baking soda wash.

      Wondering if it will work or not is normal, we have all been brainwashed to think hair needs shampooing, the cosmetic industry has it all in its advantage for us to believe it.

      I was a huge skeptic myself, and I decided that I had nothing to loose trying it, but to keep in mind that I had to hang in there for at east 4 weeks. I decided that if after 4 weeks there was no significant benefits of using alternative ways to wash my hair, I would go back on using regular store bought shampoo. It's been 7 weeks and I seriously don't see a valid reason to ever use shampoo ever again.

      Since you are washing twice a week, try making one wash a baking soda wash, and the next one a clay wash and see how long you can stretch between them.
      And brush brush brush those hair to get the natural oil to spread. Our great grandmothers were told to give their hair a hundred brush stroke before bed, the reason was probably to get the sebum to spread and coat the strands nicely and give them the natural protection our body has been designed to give them.

    2. Anonymous9:16 PM

      I think I'll give it a shot. I shampoo my hair only once a week so it shouldn't be that difficult. During summer its twice a week and just after today's wash I already feel sweaty and greasy thanks to the super hot weather of Hyderabad.
      Even during styling my beautician adds all kinds of Goop and conditioners to make my hair behave. That's how it is.

    3. It shouldn't be difficult since you already shampoo just once a week, you could totally substitute it with a natural alternative. I feel sweaty and greasy in the Summer in Mumbai too. Right now I just rinse the hair twice a day to removed the sweat stuck to my hair. Sweat being salty it could be a bit harsh on the hair if left there, but the good new is that it comes off nicely with just water.
      Try brushing your hair with a shinning brush at least once a day, from root to tip, one portion at a time. This will help spreading your natural oil evenly on the hair shaft. If for some reason you find out that your hair still look dull, massage your scalp with just your fingers and no added oil of any kind, the scalp massage stimulates your oil glands to produce some. Do this for about 5-10 minutes and then brush immediately to spread.

      I think even if your goal is not to stimulate oil glad, massaging the scalp with your fingers regularly is a good idea, it increase blood flow to stimulate better hair growth. I was doing it even before quitting shampoo, plus it is relaxing. And I never used oil, because most oils including coconut oil do not agree at all with my hair

  3. I have really dry hair that is fine & curly. Like you it becomes a dreadlock like tangled mess if I shampoo it. I can see how the fullers earth would absorb the excess oil but I'm not sure what alkaline baking soda does for your hair.

    I don't use shampoo either, I do the "conditioner only" routine & it has worked for me for the last 6 years. Instead of shampoo I just work conditioner through my hair in the shower, comb it through & leave it on for about 3 minutes & rinse. I have a lot less tangles, breakage, & frizz. I do have to shampoo if I use styling products containing mineral oil or silicones though.

    1. I am not sure how baking soda works its magic but it does for some reason, it helps degunk the hair when it gets a bit too out of control, right now I use it once a week, I'm hoping to be able to stretch it in the long run. I am at a point where I don't need anything else in the 7 days between soda scrubs. With Summer making me sweat again I have a feeling I will have to use fuller's earth during the week a bit more often to help cool and soothe the scalp.

      I don't really use styling products anymore, the only hair style I do is gather everything into a messy bun when it gets too hot to wear my hair down

  4. I use rye flour more than a year now, because when I looked for altervatives to a shampoo, I read that baking soda bleaches hair. Haven't tried clay, but have some at home for facial masks, will give a try, too. :)
    My hair were damaged and sometimes I wanted to wash them twice a day, they felt oily so fast! Now very happy with the experience.
    I read somewhere about people, who wash their hair with water only, tried for some weeks, but could not get my hair to the feeling that they are clean.

    1. The lady that introduced me to no-poo pretty much only washes them with water now, it took her two years to reach that point it seems.
      I don't think baking soda bleach the hair, at least not on its own, that said using it too often is not recommended because it can make the scalp itch. every where I read about it it is recommended to at least put a gap of 5-7 days between uses, so in the beginning it is important to have another alternative shampoo to alternate with.

      Funny rye flour didn't work for me, I tried it once and I kept finding bits of it in my hair for days afterward LOL it wouldn't rinse off well, or my hair is the wrong texture for it to find an easy way out LOL

  5. Anonymous1:25 AM

    I have heard of not washing with shampoo, but I'm skeptical because the cleaners in shampoo clean the scalp and remove (often too much) oil. I'm wondering how water can remove oil and build-up from the scalp. I color my hair, so I use a color-preserving shampoo every other day. I think baking soda would be too harsh and strip the color from my hair. I used to have a really oily scalp, but in the past few years it has calmed down quite a bit. Instead of washing my hair daily, I can stretch it to every other day or every third day with the weekend in between. I'm intrigued, though, and might try this during the summer when I don't work. Do you find that your hair smells bad? I ask because when I go more than a day without washing my hair, one of my sons will tell me that it smells bad/stale.

    1. I haven't noticed any bad smell, I wet my hair daily with water to remove the sweat and dust that will normally accumulate. The natural oil on your scalp is supposed to be there. The shampoo strips it all away and it send the signal to your oil glands to produce more of it to compensate. When I first started the challenge, my hair was a hot mess. My scalp would hurt from being weighted down by the oil build up...that bad.

      Right now I am at the end of week 8 my hair doesn't get super oily like it did before, what's more brushing diligently at least once a day with a boar bristle brush helps spread that oil to the length and has made my usually super dry and thin tips soft, glossy and thicker because it is properly coated with the oil it was meant to receive all along.

      If you are concerned about smelling, you can add a few drops of tea tree oil, or rose water to the rinsing water.

      With hair colour I think I would give the baking soda method a miss, but give the egg wash or the clay wash a try. I am not a fan of the egg, but I have friends who swear by it. There is also the rye flour wash method that is worth giving a try. I think rye, like soda acts as a scrub on the scalp and dislodge the excess gunk from the scalp.

  6. Anonymous5:16 PM

    I ditched the shampoo and in just 2 weeks I could notice the difference. Sure it felt a bit flat like you said but it wouldn't get tangled and I didn't have to spend 15 minutes on unknotting it. I just use baking soda wash once a week and it helps keep my scalp clean. Hey , I also heard baking soda can be quite harsh more than shampoo?

    1. Baking soda can be harsh indeed, which is why you should not do it more than once a week. In the end cleansing the scalp with baking soda once a week is less damaging to the hair than washing it daily.

      I think for me the best reason to continue no-poo even when my hair was still producing tons of grease was really the fact they would not get tangled and have me wrestling knots daily.

  7. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Ah, so you've joined the club too! From the above comments and reading about the various experiences we all can come to the conclusion that no shampoo has solved our HUGE problem of tangles and frizz. Can you believe how much our hair was getting DRIED out due to the nasty shampoo? Conditioners serums hair masks were of no use. Some one above has suggested using natural soap nuts. Ummm people please stay away from any kind of soap natural or chemical. If you do not know how soap works i ask you to read it up. Washing the hair with herbal soaps isn't the answer too! If you're really gonna use soap nuts then I suggest you might as well use shampoo because soap nuts not only wash out the natural oil out but also makes your hair way rougher and coarser than it already was. Everyone's body differs so find out what cleanser works out best for your scalp and stick to that. I've been happy with baking soda once a week so far and since washing your hair with just warm water everyday like cyn suggested helps to keep away the sweat so the hair isn't that much dirty.
    Also I wish I'd have known about this earlier because I've lost a fair bunch of my lovely hair to knots and tangles. :-(

    1. Even more amazing is the answer from the cosmetic industry for all the hair problem that was essentially started by them in the first place : buy more products.

      There is also this idea that sweat is such a dirty thing that it needs harsh chemical to be removed from the scalp. How can salty water be so hard to remove with just warm water?

      I lost a lot of hair to these stupid knots myself and I am glad to be done with it all yesterday I found myself dealing we a new, rather welcome problem: my giant hair clip claw with I use to keep my hair up in the Summer has become a bit too small, because my hair has gained some volume back from not being stripped thin by shampoo. I might have to find another solutions to keep my hair from sticking to my neck now :-)

  8. I wash my hair everyday too as it turns super oily within a day! I am tempted to go no-poo as my once silky thick hair is now dry on ends, oily on top and full of greys.:(

    1. That is exactly what my hair was like when I used to shampoo daily. If you take the plunge, be prepared for a few weeks of oily hair though, this is normal and it will happen as your oil glass will need to relearn what appropriate amount of oil is normal to produce. Definitely invest in a good hair brush to help spread that good natural oil to the length.

  9. Anonymous8:25 PM

    Hey cyn,
    Baking soda wash works quite well for me and I can literally feel my scalp clean compared to the other days I just rinse my hair with warm water. The hair looks pretty too. But since I use it only once a week I'm tempted to wash it with fullers earth the rest of the week since its available on amazon. How are the results with the clay wash?

    1. Clay wash works great, but I would not do it daily either. I usually do one baking soda wash a week, the rest of the time I use just water, and I do a clay wash if my hair starts feeling greasy or sticky too quickly between baking soda wash. I found that there are two ways that work well with fullers earth:

      Make a paste and use it as a regular shampoo and massage the scalp, let it rest for 5 minutes and rinse.


      Take dry fullers earth powder and apply to your scalp like a dry shampoo powder, let it be for 10-15 minutes and then rinse profusely in the shower


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