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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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A Year Without Shampoo

A Year Without Shampoo

 

I have gone one entire year without using shampoo! I wrote about it last December, after I’d been without shampoo for 3 months.  That article was called “A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo, ” and it has been the most popular article on this blog for many months!  Thousands upon thousands of people have visited the article, many have commented or emailed.  A few months later, I wrote a revised method called “No ‘Poo: New & Improved!” and that is currently the sixth most popular article here, with several thousands more people reading it.


I know several of my co-workers have started going no ‘poo as well – one has been no ‘poo for about 9 months now, and he loves it.  It’s a good feeling, knowing that I’ve helped others a little bit along the way!


How do I like it?  I LOVE it.  It’s my new normal.  A few times here and there I’ve added a bit of hand-made soap to the baking soda for a little wash, but I haven’t needed nor wanted to try shampoo again!


Sorry about the pictures – I should know better than to try to take photos of myself with a cell phone camera under florescent lights.  But I wanted you all to see my hair before I cut it, because I haven’t cut it since I stopped using shampoo!  Now it’s time, though, it’s just getting too long.


But there you have it, folks.  One year, no shampoo!

 

A Year Without Shampoo - Back of My Hair

 

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31 comments to A Year Without Shampoo

  • We are still working on this one. I started by buying organic shampoo (but that just left my hair greasy and hard to deal with). Then I did my internet research and was promptly scared away from Baking Soda. We have hard water, and no pressure.
    I tried tea rinses, water only and vinegar rinses. The problem is that in Hard Water your natural oils combine with hard water to make soap scum, and this is the greasy layer left on your hair. Then I found a couple of Hard Water solutions ; wash with distilled water – to much work; boil the water and add the BS.
    After reading this again on Life in a Shoe, I decided to give it a go. So two days ago I boiled up 1 quart of water and added 1/2 c of BS (I am going to get this down to as little as possible). Then I washed with the cooled mixture (which I store in a water bottle) and finished with some organic conditioner we had lying around.
    My hair felt smooth and clean (but a bit thin – I have a ton of hair and am not used to it feeling light and thin). I went 1 day without washing (which has become my norm over the last 4 months) and found I had quite a bit of white powdery residue (but no grease). So this morning I washed with the BS and finished with a vinegar rinse. I am hoping that this will cure my powdery residue (dandruff, but not big flakes) and my itching.
    So far so good.

  • Your hair looks fantastic! I was no poo for several months yet my hair kept looking greasy at the scalp. We do not have hard water (or too soft) so I’m not sure what’s going on. Even after the vinegar rinse my hair felt very… dirty. Like a coating. *bleck* Perhaps I’ll try Tree’s thing of boiling the water and then adding the baking soda.

    suggestions?

  • Its really easy. Boil 1 quart – I used a quart jar to measure. when its boiling turn off the heat. Add 1/2 c baking soda (I am going to try with 1/4 c next time). Allow it to bubble and fiz and then cool. When cool pour it into a container. I like a water bottle (because it helps me direct the mix where I want it) and put it in the shower. Shake it really well before each use. Your hair should feel slippery when you have the mix on. I put the mix on my dry hair (before I get in the shower) and work it through, then I turn the shower on and rinse it out in cool water. The first day I didn’t use the vinegar, just put some conditioner on the ends (to prevent drying) and went about my day. Yesterday my hair was fine, but I started to notice my powdery dandruff residue and decided that I would need to wash again today. But absolutely no grease at all.

    Good Luck.

  • katecontinued

    I am just a few months shy of my 2 year mark. It goes without saying – I am converted. My advice is to give yourself a month or two to let your hair, your system adjust. A bad hair month is completely worth it over the long haul. If you wash your hair every single day, I suspect it will be even more difficult for your system to settle down. As odd as it might sound, I think washing daily is invasive. I have absolutely nothing factual to back up that last sentence, but my own experience has been that my backing off the constant cleansing feels just fine.

  • That is just flippin’ amazing.

  • I tried this for two months and it just didn’t work that well for me. I tried a variety of things, and some days my hair looked GREAT and other days — not so much. Eventually it just became impossible to manage. I have very fine hair (and a lot of it) and it’s wavy — my hair just looked terrible (clumpy, greasy, flat with frizzies) and I couldn’t handle it. However, what I did come away with is that I can get away with only washing my hair once or twice a week, with a minimal amount of shampoo (natural, non-chemically shampoo). So that is working great for me.

    However, I did make my own deodorant and THAT has been a complete success for many months now! Not only is it better for me and the environment, it works a million times better (for me) than any store bought kind I’ve ever used, mainstream or natural.

    So maybe the one balances the other?

  • I found those posts via google when searching for no-poo and found them wonderfully helpful! I’ve been no-poo for over 6 months now I think. It’s been wonderful, and I’ll never go back. It was hard initially. I have long, fine, oily hair that use to be washed every day with commercial shampoo. I did a lot of tying my hair back that first month or so. lol
    Now I’m washing about twice a week with bicarb and vinegar, and it’s been great. My hair feels 100% better and stronger. I no longer have itchy scalp (big thanks to using tea-tree oil in the vinegar mix) and I must be saving a fair amount of money, too.
    Thanks heaps for your help, you’ve changed my hair! ;)
    Now, I’m also making my own deodorant, using bi-carb for toothpaste (not full-time yet!) and I’ve ventured into cutting my own hair. :)

  • Daphne and Manda, would you post your deodorant recipe? Or is it already on your blog (going out to check now). . .

  • There is this thread on Aussies Living Simply:

    http://www.aussieslivingsimply.com.au/forum/viewthread.php?forum_id=32&thread_id=9611&rowstart=0

    And I saw a recipe on someone’s blog too….. but I’m having a great deal of trouble remembering who’s! Basically, cornflour and bicarb (I use way more cornflour than bicarb, it’s quite strong apparently!) and I use a powder-puff to apply.

    Occasionally I’ll use the crystal stick and the bicarb together – for added security – but it hasn’t been an issue. It lasts a couple of days! Not to mention it’s cheap. ;)

  • katecontinued

    Must report something funny . . . Following this morning’s reading / commenting, I went on a walk with my son. I announced to him what I wrote in the comments – I was several months away from 2 years of No Poo. Completely deadpan, “And . . .?” He then added, “What do you want me to say? Do you want a cake or something?” I said I wanted the cake, but alas . . .

    Vital to keep some perspective as so few seem to get it.

  • Thank you all for the conversation! I’ve never heard that method before, Tree, very interesting.

    Annette, I’ve posted my recipe here: How To Make Your Own Deodorant (A Very Simple Recipe).

    Kate, hilarious – I want cake. :( Maybe we all convene here to receive figurative cake from one another…

    Manda, thank you for your comment – made me feel very good!

    For those of you who are just not getting it to work, you might try adding some liquid soap to the baking soda mixture. But I agree with Kate and others, that it takes time for your hair to get used to it, particularly if you have been washing daily for years. Shampoo strips/dries out your hair and scalp, and your scalp reacts by producing more of it. So it will take some time for your scalp to learn that it won’t be stripped all the time.

  • katecontinued – now that is too funny! cake. tee hee

  • I finally used up my little bottle of shampoo that I began using about when you first posted about going without shampoo in the middle of the summer and since then have been using baking soda and water – 1 tbsp with 1 cup water as per the babyslime.livejournal.com link in your original post. I think I tried 1 part baking soda to 3 parts water before that and it didn’t work at all as well. My hair was too greasy with more baking soda! Strange, huh? Anyway, I really really really love going without shampoo too. I think it’s one of the easiest changes I’ve made!

  • Really great to hear that, Stephanie!!

  • So one week or so later (I don’t keep track as well as I should), because of the flakies I have been washing with BS every other day. The first 2 washes the solution was great. The third wash I noticed it was harder to mix in (shaking) and felt gritty. So I am going to try boiling another quart of water and adding what’s left of my solution to it and going from there.

    Right now I have no oily residue (which is tops for me), but I do notice dandruff, and its getting worse. From what I have read this may actually be a result of to much BS and not enough Vinegar. So by diluting my solution and making sure to use the Vinegar rinse each wash I may be able to solve this. Its no worse than if I was using shampoo so I am willing to keep going with it. I hope to have it worked out before my daughter runs out of the organic baby shampoo I bought her so she can switch to this method.

    She is begging me, but the last thing a 6th grader needs is to be the dirty hair girl or the flaky girl.

    Any suggestions, am I on the right trail?

    Thanks

  • Tree, like you, I would work out the ratio prior to letting my daughters try it out. Mine are in high school and are VERY conscious of how they look/smell/dress and as of yet, are unwilling to try anything new. LOL As they get older I believe that will change.
    Keep us posted on how the ratio works out.

  • So I made a second batch. 1 quart water and 1/4 cup BS. It still gets that slippery feeling and I don’t have the oily residue. I do still have the flakes, but its not bad, and no more itching. I am hoping that the longer I stick with it the less and less the flakes will be, and that I could eventually go more than every other day with the Soda Wash.

  • Tree, for some reason this winter my skin has become incredibly dry – I think it’s all the walking I’m doing outdoors. :) At any rate, my scalp has become just as dry as the rest of my skin. I just tried adding a few drops of tea tree oil and a small amount of vegetable glycerine to my vinegar rinse, and it is remarkable how my scalp feels after just using it once. My hair still looks great, and my scalp is no longer dry. Maybe that will help you?

  • I can’t do Tea Tree Oil, which is a shame because it has so many great uses. I have recently purchased Coconut Oil (for DH dry skin). I am going to warm it so its liquid and work that into my scalp (on the weekends when no one sees me) and see if that helps. I have also read about Rosemary Tea (which I am guessing is just Rosemary Essential Oil in water – but I priced it at the store and it just wasn’t in the budget this month). The glycerin is intersting – I might try that with the vinegar.

    The good news, one day last week because I didn’t have any soda water made and I didn’t feel like making it, I used my daughter’s shampoo. My hair was clean, but just felt off, then about noon my scalp started itching, it was aweful, the flakiness was the same. So 2 days later I returned to Soda washing and no more itchies.

    My youngest has really hard hair to keep clean, oil clings to it and it mats and gets sticky so she has been washing weekly with a stripping shampoo and every other day ish with a semi natural shampoo. She ran out of the everyday shampoo and because we had the strippin shampoo if need be, I had her use my Soda Water (other than it was cold and she didn’t like that (so I might have to warm hers before her showers), she used it, and this morning when I brushed her hair is was like she had used the stripping shampoo. It was soft and nice, and I am happy right now. I will keep an eye on her scalp and make sure to use the vinegar rinse once a week or so (maybe with just the glycerin).

  • [...] am warmer but still don’t need to turn on the heat much (increased quality of life!).  I do make my own shampoo and household cleaners, because it’s cheaper and easier than looking for a local green brand [...]

  • Sandra

    Tried the recipe you listed: Baking soda & water 1:6 and the vinegar rinse 1:8. My scalp has never felt this clean before. I am converted. Mahalo!

  • I have been about 3 months without shampoo and I love it! My hair is much calmer and healthier. Previously when using shampoo I had dry frizzy hair. I started using conditioner only, massaging it in and rinsing, then mild vinegar rinse but my hair was oily too often while still being frizzy on the ends. Today I switched to baking soda, dissolved in boiling water, then a mild vinegar rinse, masssaging with both, finishing with conditioner only on the ends and an ice cold rinse. We’ll see how that goes. I am still experimenting to find the perfect regimen for clean and healthy hair, but I am not going back to shampoo.

    I think I may do a hot oil treatment about once a month on the ends. I am trying to grow my hair much longer and so am being careful with the ends.

  • Elena María Delgado

    La verdad es que la traducción al español es tan mala que es casi imposible entender que trataron de decir.
    Si fuese posible llegar ala fuente en su idioma original seguramente seria más facil comprender.

  • Shirley

    A question about hair colorant:

    I’ve been using vinegar and bicarb for about 6 months now on below the shoulder-length hair.

    However, I stopped highlighting about a year ago or maybe longer, and it is growing out and as a result the bottom ends are still a bit lighter than my natural colour.

    My hair has not grown out long enough to cut off all the highlighted ends, but I plan to have a good trim, cutting off about 2-3 inches and then I want to use a temporary colour that matches my natural hair colour just to make it all the same colour for a while.

    I just bought a regular store-bought one – nothing fancy or organic..but I am wondering if I can continue using the bicarb and vinegar with it or if it will affect the color adversely?
    Does anyone know?

    I don’t really want to switch back to using shampoo but for a few months I want my hair colour to look good again!

    Any tips or advice?

  • Heather

    I have found being that I have curly hair that tends to dry out and knot at the ends alot, the best thing I have done for my hair is squirt a bit of olive oil on my hands just enough to put a light coating on and rub that through my hair. It leaves my hair silky soft, shining and well conditioned and the best part is it is really healthy for you as well. I have also found it to be a wonderful bath oil.

  • 1smile2u

    @Tree Wow, what you describe is exactly the way my hair has been since trying no-poo. I have been SO discouraged and just used a natural shampoo again (yesterday) for the first time in about 2 months. My hair is just plain gross… really oily and basically covered with a scum. Everyone has just kept telling me, you need to get through the transition period, but at 2 months my hair is not even remotely better and I’m really tired of having hair so gross; it’s embarassing (I usually keep it up or covered with a bandana). I felt like the BS was making it even worse (and left me with a white powdery “dandruff”) so I tried just water for a couple of weeks, but that was bad too. I think I have hard water. I might try boiling water and then adding BS. We’ll see.

  • rudy

    thank you melinda, I’ll try this homemade shampoo recipe of yours. . .

  • Ebony Webb

    Does anyone have any suggestions on what to use instead of Baking Soda? I used it a few years ago but had a very natsy reaction to it (much swelling and yuck).

  • I didn’t have success with baking soda. I was condish-only for over a year before trying bicarb, and it was WAY too harsh and drying, even when heavily diluted. I use indian herbs now: 1 teaspoon each of shikakai, amla (indian gooseberry) and methi (fenugreek), and sometimes a bit of cinnamon and/or allspice just because I like the smell. I mix it with about 1/3 cup of very hot water, stir it up well to break up clumps, and let it sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (or until I need to use it, later that day or the next). The powder absorbs the water after awhile, so more might need to be added if left in the fridge for several hours, until its kinda pudding-like in texture. Right before using it, I add 1-2 teaspoons of coconut water. In the shower I glop it on like conditioner, focusing on the scalp but still coating the hair (my hair is about shoulder-length). Leave it on for about 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Its a bit grainy, and I won’t bother trying to sell you on the color! But it works! I wash every 2-3 days. My hair fine (but there’s a lot of it), curly and tends towards frizzy chaos if I’m not careful. With this method my hair is shiny and resists frizz better than with traditional products. Sometimes I use a drop or two of coconut oil on my ends to keep them healthy and smooth.

    The herbs I bought at an indian grocery store, only cost about $2 each, and since I only use a teaspoon of each one they last a while.

  • Haley

    I’m on day 8 of no ‘poo but I have a few questions I’m hoping can be answered. First, the baking soda doesn’t totally mix in with the water and separates just moments after shaking the bottle. Could it be the temperature of the water? Our hard water (we live in NM)? I’m wondering if maybe I’m using too much even though I measured out 1 tablespoon per cup of water. Second, the baking soda also seems to clump and form little rocks at the bottom of the bottle. I shake it just before using it but it never breaks up. Third, I use the vinegar rinse method but my hair is still frizzy and dry after the shower. Is this part of the transition or should I add some jojoba/coconut oil to the regiment?
    Thanks for all the interesting and motivating information on your blog! I’m loving it!

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