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A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo

Hair Without Shampoo

I had heard of “no ‘poo” methods of washing your hair, but I was scared of the “transition periods” people wrote about, and the nebulous “just use vinegar and baking soda” methodology. I had a tough time finding concise instructions, and I was happy with my own shampoo. Plus my skin is extremely sensitive, my hair gets greasy pretty quickly and is extremely straight (which is a bad combination). So… I put it off, I made excuses, and life got in the way.

But now the economy isn’t doing well and we’re trying to tighten our belts a bit. My favorite online store stopped selling my favorite shampoo and I’m trying to buy locally. Plus, since I researched all those crazy chemicals in shampoos, I’ve been leery of getting them near my body. So despite any reservations, about 3 months ago I decided to try the “No ‘Poo” method.

The Results

I loved it the first time I tried it! No kidding. My hair looked great and my scalp felt invigorated! Since then, I’ve fallen more and more in love with this method of washing my hair. My hair has a slightly deeper color and shine. There it is, in the picture above. My hair doesn’t get any greasier than it did when I used my shampoo, and it feels, looks, and smells clean and wonderful!

It is a little strange and a little difficult to get used to, because you don’t shampoo with sudsing action like we are used to. But there’s that redefining normal thing again! We’re only used to a certain way because some marketer packaged this bottle of stuff and told us how to use it. So – this is how I clean my hair….


I started out using one recipe, which worked pretty well. But about 2 weeks ago, I did some experimenting and found a solution that works better for me. I’m listing both methods here, as we all have different hair types.

Recipe #1: The Paste Method

1. In a small dish or ramekin, mix 2T of baking soda with a couple of tablespoons of warm water, until it forms a thick paste. Add more water as needed – it should be a bit thinner than toothpaste. (Note: I have medium-length hair, so you may need to adjust the amount of baking soda if you have shorter or longer hair.)

2. Taking the paste into your hand, massage it into your dry scalp. Massage your scalp all over, for at least 30 seconds. (This will probably feel pretty good!)

3. Leave on your hair for a minute or two. Then rinse well.

4. In an old (and well rinsed) shampoo bottle, mix 1 part Apple Cider Vinegar to 4 parts Water. You can add essential oils or herbs if you like.

5. Coat your scalp and hair with the vinegar, and allow to sit for at least 30 seconds.

6. You can either rinse or leave it in your hair. (I rinse.)

Recipe #2: The Simple Method

There are two reasons why I switched to this recipe: 1. The paste idea was a bit messy for my taste, and 2. The apple cider vinegar smelled too strong for me. I’m much happier with this version!

1. Use an old shampoo bottle (well-rinsed) or a squeeze bottle of some variety (I reused one we’d bought from a local kitchen supply store). Mix 1 part aluminum-free baking soda to 3 parts Water. Each time you use this solution, shake well to mix. [Update: after writing this post, a number of readers have researched and found that baking soda is aluminum free - it's baking powder that often contains aluminum. My own research confirms this.]

2. Squeeze the baking soda solution onto your dry scalp, then massage your scalp for several seconds.

3. Leave in for 1-3 minutes, and rinse completely.

4. In an old shampoo bottle (well-rinsed) or a squeeze bottle, mix 1 part Organic White Vinegar to 4 parts Water. You can add essential oils or herbs if you like – I add 1 cinnamon stick (which lasts through several bottles of mixture) and 1/2 t vanilla. This masks the vinegar smell, and leaves your hair smelling spicy and lovely.

5. Leave on hair for several seconds, then rinse.


I will tell you there have been two times when I’ve washed my hair with shampoo during these two months: both times when I helped clean years of stuff out of my parents’ garage, and them made several trips to the municipal waste and recycling center. I… needed my hair to be super clean after I came home!!!! But other than those two times, I haven’t needed shampoo at all.

Other Resources

Several others that I know and love have used this method as well. Riana wrote about it recently. Green Bean does this, though I’m not sure she’s written much about it (correct me if I’m wrong, GB). Beth has gone no ‘poo. Katecontinued as well. Mon wrote a good article on the subject hereHere’s an inspiring post from Sarah, who has been shampoo-free for nearly a year. Here’s a whole lot more info.  In fact here is a whole forum dedicated to the subject.

I Encourage You To Try This!

I can honestly say that I feel liberated! I no longer have to deal with finding good shampoo and conditioner. Plus it’s much cheaper: I buy a package of baking soda and a bottle of vinegar, and they’re enough for months. I know it’s safe because I know where the ingredients came from. I also use fewer materials – there are only 2 ingredients (or 4, if I use cinnamon and vanilla), plus I only have to use this method once or twice a week. And lastly, it’s easy!

Will You Try It?

Will you try it? Or if you’ve tried it before, please give us your 2 cents – what method works for you? Please feel free to ask me any questions, too!

2/17: For more, check out my update here: No ‘Poo: New & Improved!

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329 comments to A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo



    My husband and me have tried this method and we love it!!!!.
    From Spain,

    Jona & Miryam

  • Gena Wilhite

    I’m going to start trying this over the weekend. My hair is straight and oily as well so I was worried that it wouldn’t clean well enough. If it works I’ll bequeath all my unused shampoo to my stepdaughter!

  • Aruna


    Thank you so much for this post. I have been looking for non-chemical ways to wash my hair for a long time now.
    Last year I had a major illness and lost a huge quantity of hair. It was depressing.
    I am now afraid of using chemicals to wash my hair- I want to save & protect whatever hair is left.
    Your post gave me a lot of hope.
    I will try it and let you know how it goes.
    Thanks again.


  • I think I may have the same problem as Crunchy Chicken. I used this method and found that my hair got much too greasy. I think Giovannis works well for me but I do want to try to get rid of the plastic that comes home with me. I need to give this another shot. I’m out of shampoo

  • [...] did you know you can use them to clean and condition your hair?  There’s a great post here which contains instructions (and follow up post here) by one young woman who tried it and loved it [...]

  • Thank you for all your comments!! And for letting me know that it’s working – great to hear! Please continue to let us all know how it works.

    Meg, so sorry – just saw your question about red hair. Has anyone with red hair tried this? I will say that I have a bit of red in my hair, that has been brought out more using this method. I like it. : )

    Caitlynn, You may want to try the methods I use now, found here. It makes my hair less frizzy. You also might try Sue’s suggestion above (#26). Or check out the BabySlime article listed above under “Other Resources”. She has lots of trouble-shooting tricks.

    Beany, I’m not sure why it’s making your hair greasy. Make sure you’re really working it into your scalp, and also letting it sit for a bit. I normally have quite greasy hair – I used to have to wash every day or it would get icky. But I have gradually weaned my hair, and only have to wash (with baking soda & vinegar, that is) every 3-4 days.

  • Hello here too! I used to write at “new & improved”…
    So, by testing, i found out that my scalp was itching because of the gelatine i was using to make the mousse!
    My hair is frizzy, so i really need hair mousse! I’m gonna search for another recipe. Anything to recommend???

  • Emily

    About a week ago, I stumbled onto your blog post and tried your simple method with impressive results. I had been trying Dr. Bronner’s new Shikakai soap but found it too drying. So I have been wondering if you have any other ideas for grooming without the use of toxic products. I’m particularly interested in non-toxic hair color, a good substitute for store-bought face cleanser, and non-toxic nail polish. Any ideas would be very much appreciated!

  • Hi Mary, many use just plain liquid or bar soap to wash our hair, followed by the same vinegar rinse. Rhonda Jean makes her own (she’s comment #4 here) – I believe she has a new soap post up today. http://down—to— And here is more about soap.

    Emily, I describe a lot of the products I use here. And there is a recipe for my deodorant here. I also describe how I wash my face and other skin care answers here. Generally I don’t use nail polish, but when I do, there is a natural brand that doesn’t have the harsh chemicals that most do. I’m not at home at the moment, but will try to remember to look it up when I get home. As for hair color, before I stopped dying my hair about a year ago, I used Herbatint. It’s pretty easy to find in a local health food store or online.

  • Eileen

    Hi Melinda,
    Thanks so much for posting this and all of your helpful hints. I tried no poo (baking soda/vinegar method) for about a week, I loved it at first, but then my hair became greasy at the roots and dry at the ends. I’m trying it again using your recipe hoping for the best! My questions to you:
    When you first started, did you wash with baking soda and vinegar every day or just a few times a week?
    Do you still color your hair?
    Thank you so much!

  • Vanessa in CA

    I’m really interested in trying this but….I have dandruff. *shame* Will this work for me?

  • rachel

    @vanessa: i get dandruff in the winter months. last winter, i pre-rinsed with 1/2 white vinegar + 1/2 cup cool water first, and then added some brown sugar to the baking soda as an exfoliant. this worked really well for me.

  • Emily

    Well, I’ve been using baking soda instead of shampoo for about 2 weeks now. It was great at first, but my hair is now dry and brittle even after applying conditioner. Maybe baking soda on its own is too harsh.. I wonder what it could be mixed with to keep it from drying the hair.

  • rachel

    @ Emily: When my hair gets dry, I rub a little bit of almond oil into the tips. It helps a lot, but be careful not to put too much! Very little goes a long way. I also add a few drops of essential oil into my ACV rinse, which I think helps as well.

  • anna

    Gosh, I’ve been no ‘poo for only 10 days and I’m going nuts! I have followed baking soda/ACV rinse instructions faithfully, but my hair is heavy, greasy, dull and worst of all, it positively reeks. I am so embarrassed. I would love to keep giving it a try, but this sucks! My hair is so greasy that when I get it wet to prepare for the baking soda wash, the grease is just all over my hands.

    I’ve never felt so disgusted. Should I keep going? Is there really an end to it? I mean, isn’t some sort of soap-like agent required to get rid of grease and dirt on the scalp? I think if I stopped using soap on my body, the effect would be similar.

  • Hey anna – I think there’s a trick that few articles mention, and that is to take it slooowly. If you go from washing your hair daily to completely stopping, I am not surprised if there are problems. Instead of completely getting rid of shampoo, why not start by shampooing less often? Switch to every other day until your hair is used to it, then to every three or four days. THEN switch to no shampoo. I’m fairly sure you’ll have less of an adjustment period that way. Good luck!

  • anna

    Thanks Stephanie. I did gradually reduce at first, shampooing less frequently, then keeping the lower frequency and doing BS/ACV every other wash. When I ran out of shampoo, I continued with BS/ACV only. So it wasn’t really cold turkey, but close! I suppose after a lifetime of shampoo use, this is a big adjustment. Guess I will just try to stick it out :)

  • Hi anna, hang in there! I wonder if maybe you should use a paste method, which uses more baking soda – like in Recipe #1. Make sure you really rub it into your scalp well, and leave it on as you continue to shower (a couple of minutes at least). How often are you “washing” with baking soda?

  • Emily, I’ve heard that a bit of coconut oil can also help. Also, try to keep the baking soda mostly at your scalp, avoiding the ends of your hair as much as you can (assuming you have long hair, of course!). There are a couple of solutions you can try in this article, too.

    Anna, the above article also writes, “Greasy Hair: Some people experience an adjustment, or “de-tox” period of greasiness as they transition to no-poo. Do not over-wash, it will pass soon! If you’ve been using your routine faithfully and experience greasy hair, try using less ACV in your rinse, cut out honey if you’ve been using it, try switching to a citrus rinse, or use a comb instead of a brush to style your hair.

    If you have greasy hair and need a quick fix on a day when you’re not washing your hair, try applying a tiny bit of cornstarch to your scalp and combing through to the ends.”

    Several things to try. : )

  • anna

    Hi Melinda, thanks for the encouragement! I’m washing with bs every other day. I can’t really go longer because the stench becomes overwhelming. Disgusting I know. I have long thick hair and was worried the paste would get stuck. Anyway, does the bs degrease, or deodorize, just what is it supposed to do? It is a good stain remover for sure, but I’m sure that’s not the intention here. My hair is still full of grease after using the bs solution, I know because when I’m done rinsing, it’s all over my hands.

  • [...] can also use baking soda and vinegar on your hair, and you can read more about that here and [...]

  • deli

    Hi, i am using this method since 4 weeks now. my hair are ok, stronger, styler. i used to have a itchy scalp, i was using shampoo, and after 3 days my scalp was scratching so bad… but now this problem is over… proof that shampoo isn’t so good for your scalp.

    i am wondering, because i have few white hair…. if i want to color or do some blond lock.. how should i do? is baking soda & vinegar will be able to wash that off? did anyone try it already? any advices? thanks to all and thanks for this no poo idea!! i love it!

  • anna

    OK, I’ve had a revelation. On a visit to my parents’ place I used the BS solution and everything is fine. Did some research on the internet and found out that “no poo” does not work with hard water! All you “no transition” people probably have no idea what I’ve been going through. All this mess on my head, the greasy waxy build up and the smell, it’s because of hard water.

    So it’s not transition at all. I used BS in soft water and my hair is great. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do when I go back home to lovely hard water…

  • I have hard water and it does work for me…with this slight adjustment to the method. Here’s what I said about it back in my December comment:

    If my hair is really nasty greasy (and it gets that way sometimes when I don’t shower often enough), I squirt a few drops of highly diluted “shampoo water” in with the diluted baking soda. For the rinse, I use rosemary-infused white vinegar diluted about 1 to 8.

    I used to have to wash my straight oily hair every other day. Now I wash it twice a week (usually) and it looks fine.

  • twilight

    Thank you so much for this! Not sure why I didn’t think of this myself?? It sounds like our hair is very similar. I just tried it and my hair ‘feels’ clean! Typically my scalp would start getting itchy in a few hours after I washed it. Thanks so much!

  • [...] A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo … [...]

  • mai

    (sorry about my bad english)

    can somebody help me, im trying the bakingsoda (paste) and applecidervinegar rinse… but i dont know if its the right method for me.. my hair so thick its hard to get it everywhere and hard to get out. and my scalp is ichy as normal. and my hair got real dry even when i use sunflower oil in it ist not the way it used to be… maybe I should get a haircut before i try again..

    my hair:
    is THICK and midback long. my underhair is perfect and the upper layers of hair is straight and easely get dry and breaks. my scalp iches a bit and ist dry and a littelbit flacky. i have sensitive skin.

    any ideas for a method, what rinse? essensial oils? condisioner?

    I really want this to work… normal shampoo makes my skin go red, and dry scalp shampoo dont work (but I dont get red skin)

    please help :)

    by the way….

    has enyone tryed spraying the scalp with a mix of whater and essential oils. like this resepy

    15 drops Lavender Oil
    12 drops Rosemary Oil
    4 drops Jojoba Or Carrot Oil
    8 drops Tea Tree Oil
    8 drops Neem Oil
    (in half a cup of whater)

  • Sammie

    What if you have extremely sensitive skin like mine? (I am allergic to hypoallergenic soap, so it’s really bad). Also, I have really bad dandruff (probably caused by my skin condition), so what should I do about that? Would your recipe work with these conditions?

  • Hi Sammie,

    I also have extremely sensitive skin. You can read a bit more about what I’ve been through here: . I have such sensitive skin that in several different allergy testing sessions, I have been diagnosed with all sorts of crazy allergies. Recently, I found out that I don’t actually have allergies to many of the things I thought I had – but my skin just plain reacts to everything!! Ugh.

    Anyway, for me this works very well. If you are like me, the fewer ingredients in anything you use on your skin, the better. Since this is only baking soda and vinegar, there are far fewer things to make your skin react!

    I’d be careful about adding herbs to the vinegar. Apparently rosemary and cinnamon can become an irritant for some people. I’ve used cinnamon and vanilla, or cloves and vanilla, and it works just fine for me. But you can always start out with plain vinegar and water and see how it works first, and then try to add a slight fragrance of vanilla maybe.

    Good luck – I understand your predicament completely!

  • Teresa

    Hi Melinda:

    I tried no poo for about a month. I live in El Salvador, and the weather is always about 70ºF. I have read different sites and there are two different recipes. One where you make a paste with baking soda and one where you mix it with water and you wash your hair with it. I have used the latter because I have read posts where people using the paste method have felt itchy scalp or frizzy hair. My hair is wavy (not very curly but not straight) and it gets greasy easily. I have tried some natural vinegar that is easier to find here than using ACV. The vinegar I use comes from pineapple. I tried switching to ACV but my hair didn’t take it well at all. I was super greasy and I stopped no pooing. After a while I realized it must have been the acidity in the ACV compared to the other one I was using.

    Now I am back again at no Poo because I noticed with it my dandruff stopped. I have tried different shampoos and methods and this really works for stopping the dandruff problem. My concern is that my hair gets greasy and if I just wash it with water it gets worse. Some people say baking soda is just for your scalp, so how do I clean the hair?? I have never tried using only baking soda with no vinegar.

    I just want to share, this week I started with no poo again and I have been going to the gym. I cheated the first day, I used a bit of shampoo only on my hair, baking soda for the roots, and vinegar. So far I haven’t needed to wash my hair for almost a week and my hair doesn’t feel greasy, even after going to the gym and sweating like crazy. My hair does not look perfect but it doesn’t look different from that of any shampoo user. I compare my hair with people I see on the bus and I think some of them could use some no poo!

    I have found out that using only 1tbs of vinegar in a big cup of water (16oz) and not using the whole cup works out well for me. Again, I haven’t tried the baking soda paste yet.

    It’s funny because I think that if I use the vinegar in my scalp, it makes me sweat more so when I use it I am careful to put it ONLY in the ends and not let it touch my scalp. Additionally, my hair gets thicker when I use vinegar as opposed to shampoo. I like it when the vinegar makes it a little greasy (not a lot though) because when I used to wash it with shampoo it was dry after every wash, even when using expensive conditioners.

    Please keep commenting, I am very curious to know people’s experiences with this.

    Greetings from El Salvador

  • Tammy

    Thanks for the fantastic article, I had tried switching over from commercial shampoo methods before with no luck. I was apprehensive about trying the baking soda/vinegar method as I have long, thick, blue dyed hair which as you might imagine is prone to drying out, tangling and then breaking off. Surprisingly this combination has done more to make my hair soft and manageable than any commercial combo I have experimented with and it doesn’t stink or burn my scalp either! Best of luck to everyone else.

  • Jay

    It is great! Instead of using wet baking soda I brush my hair thoroughly and sprinkle a few tablespoons of dry baking soda on my scalp and down where it gets oily. I give it a gentle rub and then rinse my hair out with lemon juice in the shower. Gently rub it out with your fingertips.

    As a conditioner I use white vinegar and soak my hair in it for a couple minutes and then rinse with cool water.

    I also use a nice smelling herbal tea to give that yummy scent. My hair is past my bum and very straight and oily. Now it is shiny, seems thicker, softer, and has a great sheen. It doesn’t break like it did either and my scalp no longer gets those nasty and painful sores it used to.

    No Poo and loving it!

  • Heather

    I’ve tried a bunch of shampoo bars (some didn’t work at all). Then I read that you could use an all-natural soap, too, as an alternative to a shampoo bar. I had also read about people using baking soda or salt as shampoo. So I decide to give my Zum brand Sea Salt soap (it’s both soap and salt) a try.

    Using this Sea Salt soap has actually been the best no-poo experience I’ve had so far. No sticky/waxy ends! Just fluffy clean hair. And it has a great natural scent. When I used regular shampoo, if I spent a day outside, my hair would develop a not-so-great haylike odor by the end of the day. Now, I’m noticing my hair still smells fresh at the end of the day. I think, like the baking soda method, the salt has something to do with why this soap works so well on my hair.

  • I wonder how this would work on henna’ed hair. I think I’ll do a little hunting. Thanks for the recipes :)

  • Arleen

    Is the baking soda-vinegar method safe for color-treated hair??

  • Judith

    Thanks for this post — I tried it for the first time tonight and my hair looks great! I’ll definitely be sticking with it to see if it keeps up!

  • I still have about 3/4 bottle of Giovanni’s shampoo left and decided to try going no poo again. Gave it a shot two weeks back and so far no greasy feeling. I wash my hair about once a week and our water is really hard.

    I’m going to keep the bottle of Giovanni’s around for backup, but I think the no poo is here to stay!

  • Jay

    Still loving my No-poo, lol. I am not sure about using it on color treated hair, I would look into it as the baking soda might alter the color. I don’t know though.

  • Susan

    I’ve been using the baking soda and vinegar routine for about 3 weeks and love the way my hair feels and looks!! I did have a transition period but it didn’t last too long. I am anxious to try your recipe with the cinnamon and vanilla! Thanks for your website

  • I have also been using the baking soda and vinegar method for a few months now. My hair has never been better. I posted about it on my blog awhile back:

    I need to post an update since by blog post. I started out using the baking soda twice per week and rinsing my hair in the shower on other days by scrubbing my scalp with my fingers while the water runs over it. This keeps my scalp from getting dirty or itchy. I was still using conditioner every time I showered because my hair is so dry and styling products to restore moisture.

    Since then, I have started using a vinegar rinse. I use about 10 parts water to one part apple cider vinegar. I don’t rinse it out ( the smell disappears as soon as my hair is dry). I have found that, since I started using the vinegar, I don’t need to use conditioner or any of my styling products. I save about $25 per month.

    I have also used olive oil to do deep conditioning treatments on my hair with great success.

  • I shall try this – must mention that I use soap nuts for most laundry days and sometimes when the soap nuts are nearly spent I soak them in a jar and use them as a mild shampoo. It’s conditioner recipes I’m searching for too.

  • Dina

    hey Melinda ,
    i have read ur recipe and have been using it now for a week and my hair looks good it has volume and shiny (i have wavy hair and a very soft thin hair type) but my main concern, worry and annoyance now is the very rough feeling i have with my hair, it feels very rough not soft as it used to feel im worried that if i continue to use that baking soda n vinegar for another week my entire hair will end up like a broomstick !!!!!!! its terrible i cant move my hands through my hair it feels terrible looks good but feels terrible!! im following ur recipe word for word !! HELP!!
    thanks so much

  • Dina,

    You might want to try using less baking soda, and make sure the baking soda is only going to your scalp and not the rest of your hair. I posted a more dilute recipe here: That is the recipe I use now. If you normally have dry hair, you might want to dilute it even more.

    How often are you washing? I only wash 2-3 times per week – if you’re washing more than that, it may be too much for your hair.

    If it’s still dry after several washings at the diluted recipe, maybe try adding a little vegetable glycerine to your vinegar conditioner (it’s cheap and you can find it at a health food store – if you can’t find it, try vitamin E or jojoba oil instead).

    Good luck, and let me know how that works!

  • [...] The no ‘poo method: Wash your hair the non-toxic and economical way, with these tried and true baking soda and vinegar recipes[One Green Generation]Lighten up in ‘09: A buyers’ guide to the most energy efficient (ie, less carbon-spewing) and least mercury containing CFLs[Environmental Working Group] [...]

  • Amanda

    My hair gets really greasy, really quickly. I have to wash it every day. So I just googled and found bicarb is an apparent solution so I just wet my hair, massaged half a handful (ish – I have small hands) of bicarb into my scalp for a minute or two, left it on while i conditioned the ends (it’s long and I don’t have any vinegar handy).
    Rinse it all of (really well) and viola. It dried quicker than usual, and looks to be okay. No idea what it’s going to be like tomorrow obviously, I wonder if it’ll still be greasy…

    Nice article, when I get my own place (I still live with parents – stupid recession means i can’t afford a house yet) I think I’ll try to go completely no ‘poo.

  • Shirley

    Hi Melinda

    Your site is fantastic source of info. The ‘go green’ bug has bitten me!

    I saw that you suggested Herbatint for hair color. Did you use it with your ‘no shampoo’ recipes?

    I am wondering if the bicarb and vinegar will affect the color.

    I have long hair with highlights that are now growing out as I have stopped the highlighting. I want to dye them with a semi-permanent color so that my hair is one colour again. I did it successfully before with a semi-permanent hair colour but it was not a natural product.

    Just wondered if you have any tips to offer regarding colored hair.


  • Emily

    I used to think Herbatint was a natural hair color too, because it’s packaged in a green box and sold at Whole Foods. However, according to the Cosmetics Database, Herbatint’s toxicity is 7 out of 10, Clairol’s is 8 out of 10. To be fair, it doesn’t seem like there is any hair color available that is effective and completely natural. I tried Aubrey Organics (all natural ingredients) but it’s a complete mess to apply and it washes out very quickly. If anyone knows of an all-natural alternative that actually works, please let me know.

  • andy o

    I am so thankful! I just used the baking soda / apple cider vinegar recipe and it worked so well. My hair and scalp look an feel great. My scalp is so sensitive. I have been using California Baby Super Sensitive which works great, but it was leaving my hair too dry. Thanks for the advice!

  • Shirley, glad to hear the green bug has hit! Thanks for the compliment. I have not used this solution on color-treated hair. I would imagine it is similar to shampoo in that it will take out the color slowly. You could instead try finding a handmade liquid soap or bar – I use “green mountain” or “ballard organics”. That will be very mild, but it will likely take longer for your hair to get used to it.

    As for the color, Emily thanks for sharing that info. You can try henna – I used that in my 20s and loved the results.

    Andy o, great to hear!

  • Just curious…Has anyone compared using NaHCO3 to Ivory handsoap in their hair?

  • Melinda you are so cool… can i just say that! Looked at your harvest photos and your incredible 98 year old grandparents. I am so on board! These are things I have been wanting to do but just haven’t done them COMPLETELY (my 2010 focus word COMPLETE). With shampoo I get turned off by the smell (can’t stand it) of vinegar. But I’m gong to try with lavender and vanila ssential oils. Only possible problem, the baking soda may strip the color and I am really bad about coloring regularly (I try to go 4-5 months but it’s getting harder to push it)so I don’t need to shorten the time span at all?

    Hey would you mind emailing me, I have a couple of questions for you.

  • Emily…wow just read your post
    “However, according to the Cosmetics Database, Herbatint’s toxicity is 7 out of 10, Clairol’s is 8 out of 10. To be fair, it doesn’t seem like there is any hair color available that is effective and completely natural.”

    I’ve been using Clairol (not regularly -like most women- for 16 years). There has to be a way to keep colo safely. I’m going to look into this further, please keep me posted. Want to be smart and safe but not ready to be white haired in my 40s

  • andrea

    I have been no poo for 2 years now.My hair has different needs according to the season.I use 1 tbsp bs in 350ml(recycled bottle)of water.Apply to wet hair(scalp only) and really use fingertips to scrub well(until you get a slippery feeling)I mostly do my part and in front of my ears(that’s the only part that really gets greasy)then in the winter I will use Dr Bronner’s castille(1tbsp diluted in 4oz bottle of water)and only about 1tbsp of that on my hair(not scalp)or my scalp gets greasy, then rinse well.Then I use a rinse of 1tbsp vinegar to apot of herbal infusion and I don’t rinse it out. In the summer I very often just do the bs.oh by the way the 350 ml bottle of bs/water lasts for 3-4 washes,and I only wash it about every 5 days.My hair is very thick and coarse and I am still experimenting to find ways to make it more sleek, but I am very happy to be able to be chemical free!

  • [...] handle it.   After reading Melinda’s (of One Green Generation) articles on the no-’poo way I decided to brave a try.   I found I loved it!  After the first few inital days of missing [...]

  • Missy

    Hi! I just went no-poo a week ago after a friend told me about it. I HATE commercial products with their harmufl ingredients and found I was having scalp issues constantly with even organic shampoo. I shampoo’d /conditioned daily as my hair tended to need it (working out, cleaning, gardening, running a daycare, cooking, baking, etc).

    I have the SIMPLEST method I believe. Take it or leave it but it works for me. There is no mixing or measuring.

    1)Keep a box of baking soda in your bathroom. I use this for a face scrub, toothpaste, and even antiperspirant /deodorant (mix 1/4 cup baking soda with 1/4 cup cornstarch, I add bay leaves, tea tree oil also in a container, apply with a kabuki brush).

    2)Before showering, sprinkle 2 t (or more, depending on how dirty your hair is, if you’ve used styling products, etc.) into a old plastic cup (so it won’t break if dropped). As you shower, fill cup to about I -1 1/2 cupf of hot water. It should all dissolve, but you can stir it up w/ your finger if needed.

    3)Wet hair. Pour mixture above on head. Don’t scrub. Leave it on while you wash your body (You can use baking soda as a soap as well) fora few minutes.

    4)Massage scalp for a few seconds. Hair should feel porous and a bit “rough”, which is what baking soda does to hair.

    4)Rinse completely. Hair should be squeaky and feel very smooth.

    5)You do not have to do this every day. Every other day, I find I can just rinse my hair in the shower–no washing or conditioning.

    5)The smooth, condition and shine hair, I fill an old hydrogen peroxide bottle with pure ACV (Apple cider vinegar). Pour it directly on your head, covering all your scalp and hair. DO NOT DILUTE–it’s not necessary at all. It will smell strong and you’ll want to close your eyes and rinse your face afterward, but I don’t find it offputting at all.

    6)lLeave on for a minute or so. Rinsing is OPTIONAL–you do not need to rinse it at all, and the vinegar smell disappears when you hair dries. However, I like to rinse as the vinegar will dissolve any build-up and the water will rinse it away.

    7)I never condition. If I need to dry my hair with a hair dryer or it feels dry (not common with this baking soda/ACV method at all), I place a few drops of patchouli-oil infused extra virgin olive oil on my palm and rub it between my palms and thru my hair, but I find this usually is not necessary.

    Very easy. I can take a bottle of baking soda (dry) when I travel or workout or we go camping. Wash body with dry soda, leaveing a T or so in the bottle. Mix with water from shower and rinse/shampoo your hair with that. Easy.

    Hope you like this method. Again, it’s never necessary to dilute the ACV. unless perhaps you have color treated or processed hair, which I doubt as you seem to avoid unnatural chemicals and treatments.

    Hope this hint helps and is useful!

  • Missy

    Someone posted about hair color.

    I do not know if my baking soda/water rinse or pure ACV rinse will work for such hair, but I had a couple comments on color.

    1) I quit coloring/processing my hair about 5 years ago. I do have some white (not gray!) hairs popping up, haha, and I really don’t desire to be white-headed at mid 40s (I’m 42 this year), but oh well—

    2)I find Henna a GREAT conditioner/colorant. You can buy the powder at most health food stores. It’s great and inexpensive for a batch /treatment (around $5=$6)

    3)Another GREAT conditioner/colorant (deepens color and adds highlights) is

    To use this, take coffee mug. Put about 1/4 cup or more (depending on hair length–you want to saturate hair) of molasses in. I add about a t of extra virgin olive oil to further condition, but it’s not necessary. Add then about a tsp or two of water.

    Microwave or heat this until very warm but not hot. Stir. At bathroom sink, put a towel on your shoulders (mixture may drip, but will wash easily out of clothing/towels without staining..but I use homemade laundry detergent). Pour and Comb or brush mixture thru hair. It will be VERY THICK, STICKY and hard to comb, so be sure there are no snarls in your hair. Add some water to it if needed on your hair directly by wetting palms at sink and simply rubbing on lightly to faciliatate brushing.

    Cover head with shower cap or plastic bag and relax for half an hour.

    Rinse well; use baking soda method above and following . DO NOT USE THE ACV rinse. Rinse a second time or use baking soda second time if necessary. Rinse well.

    Hair should be conditioned, shiny and a shade darker with deep highlights.

    Thanks. Another great dark haircolor method is using black walnut shells steeped in boiling water, strained and cooled, but I haven’t tried this mixture yet.

  • bin1127

    Just finished washing with your instructions and my hair feels great. No grease yet not dried out like with a shampoo. Fantastic advice, true to your word.

  • Camille

    Fun to read all of these posts … a heads up about Castille soap, it is great in fresh water but DO NOT use it in the ocean! I kayak a lot and am careful to use the most gentle cleaning products I can, but Castille and saltwater DON’T MIX! We ended up with a waxy goo in our hair that wouldn’t rinse out – ‘interesting’ hair styles for the rest of the trip but it took 3-4 washes with normal shampoo and hot water once we got home to get it all out. BS and apple cider vinegar work great, although I have yet to try them in the sea (they’re also good for your drains!)

    Luck with the no ‘poo’!

  • This is WONDERFUL!!!! I’m a blogger making a video diary of my No “Poo” adventure and your information/recipes sound like bliss! Today is most definitely a “bad hair” day for sure. I’m guessing it’s because yesterday I washed with baking soda solution, rinsed with vinegar solution (without nice essential oils) and then used conditioner. :p Can’t wait to wash it tomorrow.

    May I link to this excellent series of articles on my blog? www. weareblending .com

    Warm Regards,
    Lori Randall

  • Rebecca

    I’m on my second attempt at ‘no poo’ and I’ve finally figured out how to make it work for me. When I first started I was told to only do the bicarb soda and vinegar once or twice a week, and to rinse and scrub under the shower on the other days. I found my hair became incredibly greasy and I just couldn’t continue on with it. This time I’m not rinsing on non-bicarb days, and it’s working out beautifully! I do a bicarb wash every three or four days and just brush it in between. It’s clean and glossy and I couldn’t be happier.

    Now I just have to work out how to manage colouring my hair. I have at least 30% grey but there’s no way I’m going to look like a grandma in my mid-30s. Does anyone know how well henna covers grey hair and how it stands up to bicarb washes?

  • Teresa

    Thank you all so much..we just love this site! I find it liberating to let loose the conventional methods (deprogramming) and taking on fresh new innovations from a new 1 green generation family.

  • Carolyn

    I just, just tried the second method, and fresh from the shower, I wanted to extend a huge thank you to you! I am absolutely convinced. I’ve got really long hair, so I was a bit worried that the no ‘poo method would leave my hair stringy or limp, but my hair hasn’t felt this soft in… forever?

    • Carla

      to Carolyn, Please tell me do you have hard water or soft water? and I also have very long thick hair, tell me, how much of which recipe are you using? the recipe here seems way to little..

  • Alex

    I’m definitely going to try this, but I have a question for you. Because summer is coming up, I’ll be swimming a lot, meaning chlorine in my hair. I’d feel silly using a swim cap, being that I’m only seventeen. What do you suggest I do to avoid getting the harsh chemicals in my hair?

  • Jane

    Hi there! I have some questions I’m hoping you can help me with.
    I’ve been doing lots of research on this, and I am on week 4 of no shampoo… I am down to using the Baking Soda/Vinegar rinse maybe once a week. My hair is long, fine, straight, and generally soft–not dry or frizzy.

    My hair doesn’t feel too bad or greasy (though the vinegar makes it greasy, even if I reduce the amount significantly– 1 TB to 1 cup water or more).

    My questions–
    1) Some of the grease has solidified to sebum, which is impossible to get out of my combs..and worse, though it doesn’t feel too bad, it makes my hair less soft than it was with shampoo, and it looks dull instead of shiny. I don’t want to go back to shampoo, but I’m frustrated–really missing the softness and shine! What am I doing wrong?

    2) Sometimes the bottom half seems a bit dry (despite vinegar rinse)… week 2, my hair was so much more manageable! (would hold a curl!) I could twist it at night and it’d be lovely soft ringlets in the morning. Now, it looks a bit frizzy. I don’t understand..

  • [...] information comes from One Green Generation – check out the full article for even more great green [...]

  • AquarianOdyssey

    Thanks for posting your recipes. I’d been meaning to find a simple homemade shampoo recipe for a long time—to get away from scary chemicals, save money, be less corporation-dependent and stop consuming all those plastic bottles—but I didn’t take action until a healing crisis came upon me. Nothing like a cancer scare to light a fire under your butt. I started scrutinizing everything that was going into and onto my body (both physically and emotionally) and realized that many so-called natural products contain sketchy ingredients just like mainstream commercial brands do. Just because it says “natural” “plant-derived” doesn’t make it necessarily benign to the body. I think plants are fine of course, but when they start extracting things in labs…. who knows.

    I want to add this bit of info, for those who experience health problems stemming from hormonal imbalance (which is becoming all too common): probably you know that many plastics contain (and apparently emit?) estrogen-mimicking compounds. A finer point I just learned from the site is that softer plastics are worse because they contain extra chemicals to make the material pliable. Therefore, if you’ve got a serious health problem, you might not want to use plastic squeeze bottles for your homemade products. I put mine in glass—I know, dangerous in the shower! But I’m old enough to remember when shampoo came in glass bottles in the store (and I’m not that old : )

    At any rate, here is a handy site with a database that you can look up any ingredient to see what is known about it thus far:

    I hope this is helpful to someone.
    Sending good vibes for health and happiness to all y’all…

  • Avari

    Thank you so much for the clear and simple directions!

  • Carol

    For years I used Dawn dishsoap for the shampoo and the water/vinegar rinse very successfully. The reason I used Dawn was because it was gentle on my hands. I figured it would bee gentle on my hair as well. At one point I was getting my hair cut, and the idea was to use a fancy dancy machine to check a piece of hair to determine what product you should be uslng to moisturize your hair etc.

    The gal did that and was surprised and assured me I did not need any of her product. I did not tell her what I was using for shampoo and rinse, nor did she ask. But for me it worked fine.

  • gourie

    I love this idea and I have used it, but my hair is so dry, frizzy and is looking unhealthy.

  • [...] we’re going without cosmetics as much as possible. So, I’m determined to figure out this “no-poo” movement and learn to make my own flake-free shampoo. While researching and experimenting I [...]

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