Thursday, July 17, 2014

That Time I Didn't Wash My Hair For 3 Months: My Experience With The "No-Poo" Method

I can almost guarantee there are three types of people who read this title and what their thought processes were:

1) Um. Ew. That's disgusting. And weird. Why would you do that, much less admit to doing that?

2) Hmmm...interesting. What is this "No-Poo" method of which Ashley speaks?

3) Yay!! I LOVE the no-poo method! I have been doing it/wanting to try it for a long time!!!

If you fall under any of these categories, you might just find this post interesting and informative. Or, you might still just think it's weird. Either way, it's okay.

As I have slowly come to realize that I am, indeed, a huge hippie (except for the part about free love and feminism and basically all the ideologies that hippies believe in), I have become more comfortable in sharing my naturalistic attempts and approaches. Someday I'll write a post about my experience with cloth diapers, my journey to eat only unprocessed and made-from-scratch food, and making my own cleaning products. And how much joy all these things bring me. And how I use them as an excuse to not do laundry.

No-Poo Method
This does not involve anything with toilets. Poo is short for Shampoo. Hence, the "No-Poo" method. The idea is that commercial shampoos strip your hair of its natural oils, which is why you have to use conditioner. Supposedly, it makes your scalp over compensate with oil production, which is why most of us have to wash our hair at least a few times per week. There's also the claim that the chemicals in many shampoos are dangerous for our skin, although I personally was not worried about that (I think you'd have to bathe in those chemicals every day for many years in order for there to be some adverse effect). Plus, and this was the biggest reason for me, the cost of shampoo (especially the good quality stuff with less chemicals) is $$$EXPENSIVE$$$. I get my kicks on saving as much money as possible, so I've been wanting to try this for awhile.

Instead of using commercial shampoo and conditioner, most websites suggest using a mix of water and baking soda for shampoo replacement, applied only to your scalp. You then typically spray the ends of your hair with a water, apple cider vinegar, and essential oil (just to get the vinegar smell out) mix to replace conditioner. It is suggested to do this as minimally as possible...if your hair will allow it, try to go once a week with applying these mixtures.

According to the theory of "no-poo," once you get through the Transition Phase (a period of anywhere between 3 weeks-2 months when your hair looks very oily and not that great, since your scalp is freaking out that it is no longer being stripped of its natural oils), your hair will all the sudden be soft, shiny, beautiful, and perfect. There are many, many different ways to go about it. Here's what I did, what happened, and how it all turned out.

I stopped using commercial shampoo and conditioner, cold turkey. Ironically enough, I actually didn't intend to do the no-poo method when the process began. It actually came from a really, really busy week when I was too exhausted at the end of each day to actually exert the energy to wash my very long hair. I'm sure all you long haired sistahs can relate. So I went about five days without washing. Don't worry, I still showered. Just no hair wash.

After five days, when I was used to an every other day wash, I realized that my hair didn't even look that bad. I couldn't really wear it down at this point, but in a ponytail or nice bun, it was fine. So my laziness encouraged me to go a few more days. I then made the decision that, well, if I've made it a week, I might as well try that no-poo method I've been wanting to try for awhile. So I made the baking soda and vinegar mixtures, and away I went.

The Transition Phase
Not a fun phase for me. I think the second and third week were the worst. I washed my hair once a week with the baking soda/vinegar mixtures. On the day I washed, my hair looked great. I just let my hair air dry, with no product, and the curls were not frizzy or out of control like they typically are. However, as the week went on, it looked drab. I personally don't think it ever looked dirty or oily, but I couldn't do much with it except put it in a ponytail.

The "oh my gosh my hair looks amazing now phase"
I really wish I could say I got to this stage. But I never did. I tried this method for three whole months. The problem, I think, was that I initially did not want to use any product in my hair. So after wash day (always on Sundays), when I brushed my hair out, it just looked like a frizzy mess. I ended up getting my hair cut really short (not at all because I was using this method...I had been planning on doing it for awhile) and then decided that I would start using natural products to just help my hair retain its curl, since I could no longer just throw it in a ponytail. I'm not sure if that messed anything up. But I really never did feel like my hair changed for the better. So I was kind of disappointed with the whole thing.

I stopped taking pictures after this point...oops

Going back to shampoo
I decided last week that I wasn't seeing any positive results from the process (except saving money, I suppose), so I went back to my normal shampoo. I commend myself for trying and for sticking it out for three solid months. But I really like to style my hair whenever possible (which for me involves 30 seconds of wetting it, putting curl enhancer in, and a few spritzes of hairspray). Plus, I just didn't like the way my hair felt. It was kind of dry and not very soft. Exactly the opposite of what the internet said would happen.

The cut...yay for hair not being in the way while breastfeeding!!

Perhaps I should have tried more methods. I only stuck to one. Perhaps when I decided to use styling products, it did me in. Perhaps I should have rinsed my hair with water more often during the week. Who knows? But it didn't work for me. Maybe I'll try again in the future, with a different method.

Have any of you had success with the No Poo method? Any non-successes? I'd love to hear about them!


  1. Hi Ashley! I am a fairly new subscriber, about a month now. I love your blog! Anywho...I almost died when I read the title of this post. I started the no-poo method almost exactly 3 months ago too. Lol. I did the same wasn't really planned, I had heard about it and wanted to try it and my hair had been kinda crappy lately (frizzy, very dry and just not pretty) and I figured I would try it. At first it was not bad - my hair felt soft and less weighed down. I stopped using all heating tools also because I'm growing my hair super long. I haven't had it cut since Thanksgiving 2013 and now it's finally a little shorter than yours was when it was long. Anyway, my hair is straight with a slighty (wonky) wave and medium thickness so it tends to get greasy after a couple days of no washing (with reg shampoo or the no-poo method). I think the longest I went without washing (w/baking soda/vinegar) was about 4 days and my hair was Gross. Fortunately I was able to go this long because I work from home and only have to take the kids to daycare and I can wear a hat for that or going to the store. The first couple months weren't bad but I was missing my hair smelling good and since I read you shouldn't use any "products" when using the no-poo method because baking soda doesn't really wash that stuff out, my hair was just very limp and dull. After 3 months, just like you I went back to regular poo. My hair is soft and shinier again and actually smells good. I think I'm going to try to use a lot less poo going forward and see if my hair gets less greasy. I don't know if that will work or not. I just don't think no poo works for my hair unfortunately. :( It's nice to know someone else gave up too!

    1. I thought that the curl product might have done me in....but it just looked so bad without product I couldn't stand it anymore! Especially when it wasn't long and I couldn't just throw it in a ponytail. I IS quite wonderful to have nice smelling hair again that is soft and shiny!


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