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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….


Recipes


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.


Cheating


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

  • Derrek

    Hi there. I’ve been going no poo for quite a while now. Probably about rounding a year now. But I can’t seem to get it as clean looking as your is right now. Maybe I haven’t experimented enough. I tried going cold turkey without anything but water after a couple months of weening myself off shampoo. My hair isn’t super greasy anymore, but it doesn’t look great either. At least I can style it and it has volume. Help meee. maybe i need to experiment more with baking soda.

  • Damn, awesome website. I actually came across this on Google, and I am happy I did. I will definately be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just absorbing as much info as I can at the moment.

    Thank You

  • macy

    I’ve done it for the last 3 washes, and I really like it. Although I only did baking soda then used normal conditioner, but my hair seems less frizzy and a richer color, and easier to manage. Vinegar is an acid… and I’m kind of hesitant to put acid on my hair.

    • Cindy

      Don’t be afraid of the word Acid or acidic. In fact, if you’re going to use baking soda, which is extremely drying to hair and scalp, you HAVE to use the vinegar is it is of the correct PH to not only normalize your hair after the sodium, but also to MOISTURIZE IT. You have to be careful with not using too much vinegar, or not rinsing it out well, because it will make your hair too moist (greasy).

      • Jodie

        Today is my first thought of using vinager instead of shampoo. My four year old son has very dry skin, his scalp is even dry. I have decided to stop using any soap or shampoo for awhile and see if his skin clears up. I have mixed a little conditioner with white vinagar in his hair and his scalp looks so much better. I used baking soda to shampoo my hair once and it seemed to dry it out, I guess I should of used conditioner afterwards. I don’t use deoderants anymore either, I use baking soda and it works great unless I am sweating really bad. I like to use natural products when I find one that works for me.

  • Natalia

    Thank you for these recipes! I can’t wait to try non-shampooing this weekend :)

    Iam experimenting myself and found that Olive Oil is another good ingredient to use if your hair is a little on the dry side :)

  • Justine Murphy

    I just made it and I’m really excited to use it! I’m not sure if I should have just dropped the while stick in there, but I did. We’ll see. :) and I did the deodorant one too.

  • Leila

    Hi! This is really cool. Just wondering, if I were to use plain cinnamon powder instead of cinnamon stick, would this work just as well?

  • Jenny

    New to this but loving it (and this website)! i wasn’t a believer and now am on this no ‘poo bandwagon.
    when i first heard about it, the first step was to not wash your hair for 6 days (to stop the oil from overproducing on your scalp) and then start the baking soda wash and vinegar rinse. thos 6 days were a little painful (in a vain way) but my hair is now not greasy at all and is way softer from root to tip. :)

  • tracye

    I tried the no-poo way, but have modified it since finding out about African black soap (the REAL stuff, straight outta Africa). Instead of baking soda, i wash my hair with the ABS, then I do a Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar (it has the mother in it!) rinse. My hair has never been cleaner, thicker or more colorful, as it brings out subtle hidden highlights.

    I then use the ABS to wash my entire body. What a luxurious treat!

  • maria

    Hi There,
    I have been trying the “no poo” method for almost 5 weeks now. I have tried the BS and ACV rinse a couple of times, but found that my scalp was a bit dry afterward. So I am now just going for water only. I am finding that my hair is a darker brown now, and has a lot more volume. I find that it takes a lot longer to dry (air dry), than it did before. I miss the smell of shampoo, but the benefits out weigh the disadvantages of using it.
    I am also trying to go totally natural with bodycare, using a natural deoderant, and I also use African black soap with pure shea butter as a moisturiser if I need it. I am very impressed with this soap as my skin has always been prone to acne, but this has really improved it :)

  • [...] A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo and No ‘Poo: New and Improved! (Green Generation) [...]

  • karen horton

    your hair is beautiful. i’m going to try this. my hair is opposite of yours, dry and coarse. i’ve always wanted to make my own shampoo.

  • I am always surprised by how versatile baking soda can be. I’ve only ever used it for “basics”, but i’d never heard of using it on your hair! I never thought something so simple could be so effective – if you doubt me, try it for yourselves!

  • kevin

    how often do you use baking soda on your hair?

  • Bethany

    I added the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean to my acv rinse, and my hair smells divine! Wonderful idea! The scent makes me want Fall to come soon. But I think I may be allergic to one of the additions. When I got out of the shower I had red “rivers” running down my back and shoulders where the spicy water came down. Anyone else experience this? I’m afraid it’s the vanilla because I have added a little cinnamon to the rinse before and didn’t notice any red lines. =( If I used a dash of vanilla extract, maybe that would not give me a rash?

    • Emily H.

      I know it has been a while since you posted, but I just started using BS and ACV and had the same reaction. I was thinking it was the ACV, and maybe I just left it on too long. I used lavender EO and rosemary instead of cinnamon and vanilla, so I don’t think it was due to the additives.

  • [...] I’m entering my 4th week of using baking soda and vinegar instead of shampoo and my hair looks excellent (Full disclosure: when I say excellent, I [...]

  • [...] A non-toxic, frugal way to wash your hair without buying shampoo and the follow up No ‘Poo new and improved! [...]

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

  • bullla

    Rany tego si? nie da czytac…czy znacie cos takiego jak sk?adnia?

  • Melissa

    My 3 year old has extremely curly hair, I would like to go shampoo free on her but her hair REALLY needs a conditioner in order to comb through it. It’s so curly that it can only be combed immediately after being washed and conditioned. Do you have any ideas that compare to the shampoo for conditioning methods? Thanks. P.S. I LOVE your site!

  • Angela

    i tried the no poo method for a couple of month’s but wasn’t really seeing any results my hair just looked dull, so i tried using a natural shampoo which was great the first time i used it but know it just makes my hair look producty. :L
    maybe i didnt experiment enough, i was really disappointed any advice?
    i’ll try these recipies and see if it works this time around.

  • Terry Veg

    I have tried this before and ended up with my long hair in a tangled mess. How do you get the tangles out with this method? I would love to be able to switch over.

  • [...] so I followed some recipes on another blog I found to whip some up.  A link to that blog post is here.  I opted for Recipe #2 which goes like [...]

  • Jen

    I just tried the paste method and it was a royal pain to get it in, but after it was out and I’d rinsed with white vinegar(mixed with some fresh ginger and mint leaves for scent) my hair felt instantly more smooth and clean. I can’t smell any vinegar now, which is a big relief! I think I will continue to use mint until the season is over, then I want to try some other scents.

  • Laura

    Hello.

    First, I want to say sorry for my bad English. I live in Denmark and I’m in 9. grade (15 years old) so my English is not that good for now. :-)

    I red a lot of websites for this “No-poo” thing. And I tried it for the first time today. When I used shampoo I did it every Wednesday and Sunday, so I think I’ll put the baking soda with water and the applecidervinegar and water in my hair in Wednesday and Sunday too. :-)

    But I have to know, am I doing it right? What could I do better?

    1. I took a bottle and put 1/5 baking soda and 4/5 water in. (It was “bobbling” is that normal????)
    2. I took the baking soda solution in my scalp with fingermassaging. It was in DRY hair – is that correct? The baking soda was in my hair for 30 sec – 1 minut maybe a little bit longer..
    3. I rinsed it very very well..
    4. Then I took Apple cider vinegar (1/5) and water (4/5)and some lavender drops (maybe 20 small drops) in a bottle too, and putted in my, now, wet and rinsed hair. Only in the scalp. (Is it correckt again?)
    5. Then I rinsed the ACV very well and dried my hair.

    Am I doing it right?

    I have long and “middle – thick” hair.

    • Betsy

      I know you left this comment long ago, but this is for you and anyone else who wonders if they’re doing it “right.”

      You have to judge on results. If a method works for you, if the amounts of baking soda, vinegar and water work for you, then you’re doing it right.

      Everyone’s hair and skin chemistry is a little different. Add in differences in climate and lifestyles and what everyone needs can be quite different.

      That’s part of what’s great about this shampoo alternative, start with these kind of guidelines and then tweak and alter the recipes and techniques until it works for you.

      If you like how your hair looks, feels and smells, then you’re doing it right. If not, don’t give up, just make some changes.
      I’ve been shampoo free for about 6 months and am very happy I don’t have to wash my hair every other day anymore.

  • [...] This link enlightened me greatly. Basically I’ve sworn off shampoo and conditioner, which have been nothing but trouble for me. I already knew that the chemicals strip off all the oils which causes my body to overproduce more oil- evil cycle. So I tried it on monday and my hair looks and feels amazing still. It feels as clean as it was on Monday. I’m going to keep with this method and see how it goes in the long run. I don’t think Mike is ready to try it yet, he really like his hair to smell nice. I too want to get a nice scent, so I’m going to steep rosemary and lavender in my vinegar. [...]

  • alba

    Hi!!! i want to use this “No-poo” thing because besides the positive effects that apparently it has on hair i believe it is also Eco-friendly and i am trying to direct my self toward this kind of life style. However i have colored hair, and i want to know what effects does baking soda and vinegar has on colored hair. Please reply, because i really want to try this. thank you

  • jann

    Can you provide me with a method that gets rid of the little flakes from the No poo recipe. Since I started using this…my scalp has been so flaky. We have hard water and I’m thinking it’s a factor. I think I’m going to add tea tree oil, but how much so I start out with?

    Thanks,
    jann

  • Ali

    Hi! I am really glad to see there are lots of people trying “no poo”. Something I found that works very well for me: Instead of mixing the baking soda in water I mix it in Aloe Vera gel. I have knee length hair and found it difficult to work the paste all the way through my hair, and this not only solved that but it adds vitamins, minerals and extra moisturizing.

    Ali

  • [...] centimeters away from my brain–was a little disconcerting. So I did more research and found a post from a blog called One Green Generation. Instead of shampooing, she massaged her dry scalp with a [...]

  • Charlotte

    I have been using the soda/vinegar method since June. I love it. However, I was in KC for three weeks in Sept-Oct. I stayed at two different places. I was not happy with how my hair looked. It looked and felt as though it was coated with something. And there was white flaking on my scalp. As soon as I got home and cleaned my hair, it was fine. I have a water softener system at my home. My friends that I was visiting do not have them.
    Has this been a problem for others? I feel like I am not getting the stuff rinsed out of my hair. When I would use the blow dryer, there is a white film on my round brush. My hair looks weighted. And not as pretty as I want it to look.
    My question is, what do I do when I visit again in December?

    • Hi Charlotte, your comment was lost in my spam folder – apologies! My guess is there is something different in the water. Maybe KC has hard water? Maybe you could post your question here: http://community.livejournal.com/no_poo and find someone who has experience with that…

    • Joanna

      Charlotte,
      We have well water and it is very hard water. I had the same problem with weighted hair and white film on my brush. It was like an act of God to run my fingers through my hair. My hair looked horrible. But when we got a water softener, that all stopped. I have gotten away from the No Poo for a while now mainly because I lost the “One Green Generation” way of doing the No Poo. I could not find the recipe or the website, until NOW! Now that I have found it again, I plan on giving it ago once more! I had tried other versions but YUK. I am sticking with this recipe. By the way, My hair is thick and course with loose curls. I had been using Miracle II Soap with moisterizer (diluted). But like I said, I want to try the No Poo again.

      Joanna

  • Zella Gottdenger

    Thanks for this wonderful post! It has been extremely helpful. I hope that you will continue posting your knowledge with us.

  • rebecca

    I spent a couple of months weaning myself off shampoo and went cold turkey 3 weeks ago. I rinsed with only water for the first week and loved the results. My normally wavy hair transformed into thick, straight hair. I was afraid my hair was starting to smell a bit stale after that so I tried a green tea rinse, which dried my hair out. I just used a ACV rinse literally 30 minutes ago and i’m waiting for my hair to dry to see the final results but it feels so soft! I know vinegar is a natural deodorizer but I can smell it pretty strongly so I think i’m going to try adding some essential oils next time.

  • Cat

    I have afro type hair.I tried the baking soda and it caused me to have dandruff.
    The apple cider vinegar works.
    I’m also trying to use a no shampoo method.Depending on what kinds of products I use,my hair takes days to accumulate build-up.The shampoos wreck havoc on my hair and makes my hair even more dry and tangled.But I am willing to keep on trying this.

  • Jammin

    Hi! I have a very stupid (but necessary) question – Most of the recipes that I have looked at tell you to mix 1 tbl spoon of BS with 1 cup of water – my question is this: Do you use the whole solution in one go? or how much of this mixture should we use?

    Thanks!

  • Holly

    Hi! I started using baking soda and water a week ago. The squirt bottles I have are very small because they are from the dollar store, so I have to make the mixture every time I shower. I have been mixing 1 and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with half a cup of water (I told you the bottles are small) and I use two bottles of this when I shower. I find that after blow drying my hair, it is very…well, tangly. My hair just likes to stick to itself. I tried reducing the amount of baking soda, and my hair just gets greasy. Any suggestions?

  • Audrey

    I’ve used the no poo twice now, using method #2. Although my fine hair has lots of body, it felt and looked dirty. I had to wash it the next day too. What am I doing wrong?

  • Vivien

    Hello; I’ve used baking soda on my hair for almost a year now, but I’m feeling I have to stop because my hair has always been almost jet-black, and it’s now going lighter. I love the natural colour of my hair, and I don’t want the bleaching effect of the baking soda! what do I do? I really don’t want to give up to shampoo again…
    Thanks!

  • Meghann

    I decided to start trying to use the baking soda a few weeks ago, due to the fact that I really wanted to get off shampoo and my fiance has MCS, so very soon, only all natural products will be an option. My hair did take some time to adjust, by I think it is working well. The only bad thing is, I am back at college now and they have HIGHLY chlorinated water, so there is a literal film on my hair that refuses to come off. For some reason this only happens to me it seems, but it happened when I used shampoo too, so I figure I might as well just keep using bs until I can figure out some kind of rinse to get the chlorine off (if there even is such a thing). I have very thick hair though, so with just the extra weight from the film my scalp hurts almost all the time. I am loving the baking soda though, thanks for the easy to follow recipes! :)

  • Jan

    Hi,
    I am just at the beginning of trying to wean myself off shampoo. I have found that my scalp is sore and flaky from the baking soda but I need a few more days to figure it out. I am going to try the acv today and see if that makes a difference.

    To the people who are wondering about the need for conditioner…try using less baking soda in the rinse and then follow it with the juice of one lemon in one cup of cold water – leave it on for a minute or two then rinse well. I have hair that gets easily tangled and I was able to comb right through it afterward and it smells nice!

  • Lynne

    Has anybody else noticed, that once they have stopped using shampoo, greying has slowed or stopped completely? I have quite a bit of regrowth after a month of not shampooing my hair, and not a grey hair to be seen…yet!! :)

  • Okay…So my comments probably aren’t really needed here, but I figured that someone might be where I am at today.

    I did loads of research a couple of weeks ago. My mom was working on getting rid of her shampoo and wanted some alternatives. Because she struggles to see the type on the computer and therefore doesn’t do much research of her own she set me on the task. All of it was pretty clear. Shampoo is not only not healthy for you, it is unnecessary. Talk about being duped all these years!

    It went further than that…soap isn’t really good for our skin either!

    I knew all this, talked it over with my husband, and still put off action. After all, I like shampooing my hair with loads of suds and I love smelling great coming out of the shower. About a week later my husband goes, “Why are we still using soap and shampoo?”

    Well…we have taken the dive. It has now been a full week since either of us used soap or shampoo. We are only washing with water! So many people have had success with washing their body and their hair with water only (after the adjustment period) that we decided to give it 45 days. I have our shampoo and soap tucked away and here is what I know so far.

    My hair feels disgusting. However, it feels better than it did a couple of days ago. We managed a move this past weekend without soap, shampoo, or deoderant and we don’t smell horrific. I really thought we would. My husband has faired a lot better on the hair front than I have. He usually only washes his hair once every three days, so he doesn’t seem to be having to horrific backlash that I am (I used to wash my hair everyday with shampoo!). I will be making deoderant for those days it is really hot, your want to make sure there is no chance you could smell even a little, and the days when there is a lot of hard work to be done).

    Now the question is…can I get rid of my toothpaste and live through it?

  • josephine

    12 years ago my husband and i had a band in south florida and played in night clubs on weekends and had to bring the equipment home after each gig we at the time there were no non smoking laws then and they were a smokers heaven and we could smell it as soon as we stepped out we reeked of the odor ao i so i had to remove it from our hair clothes and equipment and it was not easy i tried everything at first and then i tried baking soda in our cloths and hair and it worked great and as far as the equuipment that was even harder cause i couldnt use the baking soda or water i had to use lysol spray and fabreeze and it never did get all of it out

  • [...] enn tørre. Shampooen min er for tiden en fin tetreshampoo, men jeg planlegger å prøve meg på en hjemmelaget natronshampoo om ikke lenge, for jeg har allerede begynt å eksperimentere med natron som deodorant. Det [...]

  • Candice H

    I was curious if you thought these ideas listed would be safe to use on dogs as well? I have been trying to get my pups off poo.

  • Lee

    How often do you use the mixtures, I have heard only once a week and I have heard everyday. Any suggestions?

  • Noella Hernandez

    I have been a hairdresser for 30 years. We absolutely DO NOT need shampoo. Dry hair or curly headed people need it even less than most. A little conditioner, water and simple motion of massaging conditioer or water into scalp is more than enough of a “cleanser” for our scalps and delicate hair fiber. Our natural oils or sebum and sweat are sterile and are not dirty. We simply need to get these things off of our scalp and into our hair for their natural moisturing properties. We are so busy rinsing our own natural scalp secretions down the drain, we don’t give our bodie the chance to do what they do bes; naturally! We might sometimes feel we need a natural exfoliant for our scapls, so I suggest brown sugar mixed with condititioner or baking soda with condtioner,… there are a few great products out there for us that don’t have sulfates, like DevaCurl! Give it a try, your hair will be shinier, healthier, less frizzy and your pocketbook will be fatter, too!

  • I used to know an Indian Osteopath who swore that the best natural thing for conditioning hair was a mixture of jojoba oil with a little sandalwood oil mixed in. They had very shiny (not greasy) hair and it smelt nice too. I’ve also heard people using olive oil to condition their hair and skin. It just goes to show how powerful simple ingredients are.

  • It’s so nice to know that there are people who still do simple measures to combat the rising complexities of life (and that of course includes our economy). Neil’s right, that you can use other ingredients to wash your hair without getting greasy. My grandmother used to wash her hair with Aloe vera or coconut milk, and she’s got one of the most beautiful and strong hair. Would you try that? I’ve tried it and it’s been great.

  • Sharon

    27/12/2010 Last hair wash at a campsite, Barrington Tops.
    During the ensuing months my hair had to be kept tied up in a bun due to sticky, greasy locks. The frizz had gone & left in its place were streaks of grease. However, the bonus was an instant and dramatic improvement in my eczema, a 99% improvement. It was enough to convince me to perservere.

    After about 7-9 weeks I think, it was not improving so I tried rinsing with diluted apple cider vinegar, about ¼ cider to 1-2 cups vinegar. I was using warm water & occasional drops of rosemary oil.

    Early April 2011- 3 months and about 1 week after starting, I felt like I had to try something more. The vinegar definitely reduced the grease to something not quite acceptable but bearable for a while.

    I had read about bicarbonate of soda followed by vinegar but was reluctant as it is an alkaline & I had read that the skin & hair is acid & needs to get that balance back. I also wondered if city water was the problem as my last experiment with this had resulted in a bad change after 7-8 weeks when I changed from rain water to city water.

    The only other thing I tried once during this time was a rinse with chamomile tea one day in an attempt to lighten my hair which seemed to darken with the new vinegar rinse routine.

    First, I tried cool water vinegar rinses the hair shaftsto no avail. As I had no easy access to rainwater I decided to try 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda in 1-2 cups cool/tepid water followed by cool vinegar rinse, to the ends, not scalp. This resulted in a dramatic result, clean hair at last! It wasn’t as squeaky clean as after shampooing but I could wear it out without fear of it looking greasy.

    I washed it two days later as it was starting to feel itchy again & feel a bit greasy. Again I used cool/tepid water & 1tsp bicarbonate of soda to 2 cups water followed by cool dilute vinegar rinse (ACV).

    Two days following that I decided to rinse it but I thought I’d try a water softener. I bought Lectric, (Sodium carbonate & water crystals). I was a bit worried about the effect on my eczema again but used it in the shower anyway. It seemed to foam up quite a bit even though I’d only used a few crystals, less than a ¼ tsp. The result was incredible, my hair was as clean as if I’d used shampoo, only smoother. The smell was one of hair & it was a little on the frizzy side again but not as bad as with shampoo. I’m waiting to see if it sets off my eczema now.

  • [...] person at GreenAsAThistle has tips on how to mask the vinegar smell, among other things. Melinda at 1GreenGeneration has a very nice article about her transition from Shampoo to this sort o…. Christi at NatureMoms has a tone of information about the effects of harmful chemicals in shampoo, [...]

  • DS

    I’ve been doing the bicarb+vinegar thing since the beginning of 2011. I wanted to stop in and say a few things:

    1) You can’t pick just one (bicarb or vinegar) and expect it to work well. If you have longish hair and use bicarb you ABSOLUTELY need to use some sort of acid, otherwise your hair will be a rat’s nest of tangles.

    2) If you are using both and your hair is still snarly, try diluting the vinegar less (i.e., use a stronger acid). You’ll know when you’ve hit on the right combination for your hair because the snarls will just disappear and your hair will be slick/slippery.

    3) These recipes are not a one-size-fits-all thing! You won’t ruin your hair if you fool around with the ratios (trust me, I’d have done it by now).

    The bicarb + water thing is mostly preference. I’ve actually found that a really thin solution works for me (just a little thicker than water). It actually goes through your hair pretty easily, but it doesn’t FEEL like it if you’re used to sudsing. I used to create an actual paste, but now I use the slurry and it a) goes in better, b) uses less bicarb, and c) gives me better results.

    The vinegar solution… I haven’t kept track of the ratio that works for me, but I think it’s a bit stronger/more acidic than what’s listed here.

    I honestly never thought that this would work for me. My hair is ridiculous thin, consists of several bizarre textures (curly/frizzy in some place, bone straight in others), and tended to get greasy immediately if I didn’t wash it like every 36 hours. But my hair feels healthier, MUCH softer, and is infinitely more manageable now—I used to have to straighten my hair every day, but it just *stays* straight unless I get it really wet.

    Now I just need to figure out how to deal with my hair after I go to the gym. =(

  • Finally I found a simple way to make non-toxic shampoo. I’ve been experimenting on raw food dieting and i just want to get rid of all the chemicals I’m applying to my body. I’ve tried coconut milk on my hair but sometimes it itches and after a while my hair produces so much oil. Maybe this one will work for me. Thanks for the info!

  • Eddy C.

    I would think the baking soda would help blunt the smell of the vinegar. Thank you for this recipe, this would save a good deal of money.

  • Ammy

    Hi,
    This is something really awesome…but i have one concern, before hair wash i have habit of putting oil and massaging my scalp. So do you think baking soda will clean all oil from my hair? because I’m working girl, and oil on my scalp will not look good…
    i tried once, but oil didn’t go well..:(
    Cam you suggest something here, what i can do to remove all oil from scalp and hairs..

    Thanks

  • Sharon

    Don’t try water softener if you have eczema, not Sodium carbonate & water. I tried rainwater but it didn’t make much difference and our city water is supposed to be quite soft anyway.

    I’m now trying bicarbonate of soda followed by the acid rinse (lemon juice last time). The eczema is OK for the moment but I’m still not confident to say it won’t upset my skin.

  • [...] sem sal, ou para cabelos tingidos. Mas a moda agora é não lavar o cabelo! Isso mesmo, em um site ”verde”, e em alguns outros nos EUA, é possível ver uma nova tendência de não se lavar o cabelo com [...]

  • Iris

    I really want to thank you for this article. I decided to start this about two weeks ago – about a month after my diet change (healthy things only!).

    I have extremely long hair and always struggled to keep it healthy and easy to brush. Not even five days after starting this (using recipe 2, and putting the soda on the scalp and vinegar not on the scalp) my hair is lighter, easier to brush, and even curls nicely (it tended to curl and frizz) – in fact, I don’t even have anymore frizz.

    On Sunday, I went through my closet and donated all of my shampoos and conditioners and hair products. I’m also going through my other personal care items and replacing them with natural ones, as well. Your article was my eye-opener, however!

    Thanks for my healthier and easier to maintain hair! :)

  • Lianna

    I tried the simple method and I am totally surprised at how clean my hair feels! I literally went in super greasy and came out feeling totally clean the first time I tried this. So pleased! Thanks!

  • Naomi

    I have gone no-poo two times so far, and the first time I gave up after a few months. I was having grease problems – my hair seemed heavy and “coated.”

    After about six months, I tried again and figured out what my problem was. The first few weeks had gone wonderful: my hair was light and soft. Then it started getting “heavy” again. It took forever to dry after I washed it, and felt kind of sticky.

    I figured out I had been using too much baking soda. I was mixing it at about 1 part baking soda to 4 parts water. It didn’t all dissolve in the water, and eventually the mixture didn’t work very well until I refreshed it. Now, I use a mere 2 tsp. to 1 cup of hot water, so it all dissolves. It looks suspiciously like I am washing my hair with water. But I have noticed that instead of feeling grainy when I wash, it feels slippery, kind of like when I used shampoo :) I apply liberally to my scalp and don’t worry about the ends too much.

    I also learned that I had been using WAY too much apple cider vinegar for my hair. A teeny tiny bit, maybe a teaspoon to one cup of water, is plenty for me. I only use it on the ends of my hair, I find applying it to my scalp makes it greasy/heavy. I prefer the smell to white vinegar, but after rinsing and drying my hair never smells like anything. And since the mixture is so dilute, I am not bothered by it in the shower.

    I heard that after a while, your hair acclimates to not having its natural oils stripped out every morning and produces less oil in general. After three months of no-poo, my hair doesn’t produce much oil anymore – I can go 4 days without washing and nobody could tell the difference. I try to always go just a bit longer than I’m comfortable with so that my scalp gets the picture: stop making so much oil!

    Hope this information helps anyone with the “heavy coated” feeling :)

  • Rauf

    Thank you very much for the information in your article.
    Have you ever used Shikakai,Henna, or
    Amla Powders (Emblica Officinalis)on your hairs ? In India and Pakistan women use these organic products since long with absolutely no side effects.

  • i did this today, not quit so dramatic, and made sure the hair at the front was still flattering instead of awkward like the pic here. Love it, just like a regular messy bun but higher and cute at the back!! :D Did this today with damp hair, have it in right now!!

  • jackie

    Wow, I tried this today for the first time. I was very sceptical about this method until I saw how great your hair looks in the picture. I rushed out to get some good containers and whipped up my shampoo. The results are amazing. Just like my regular shampoo and conditioner, only my hair feels less weighed down. I must admit, I still used my comercial conditioning straightening cream, but cutting out my regular shampoo and conditioner is a HUGE first step for me.

    While I am here, I thought I would make a recommendation for face. I have oily skin that breaks out when it is irritated. For years I have been using olive oil as a facial moisturizer, and it is amazing. I don’t get as oily as when I use commercial oil free moisturizers and my face is clearer and softer. I put the oil into a small spray bottle and use one squirt (sprayed into my hands and then rubbed onto my face) after washing. It absorbs quickly and is the best moisturizer I have ever used.
    It can also be used as a leave-in conditioner for your hair!

  • Kate

    Hi, my hair was totally ruined when I was a kid because we had very hard water, and I worked outside and the sun bleached the heck out of it. It is getting better now but I want to stop using shampoo from the store because it is so bad for me, I have a bad immune system so anything toxic I put on my hair or body was making me very sick. I have been feeling better since I stopped using store-bought stuff. I use a baking soda mixture for shampoo and I use pure castille soap on my skin if it’s dirty. The only issue is I haven’t found a good homemade conditioner recipe yet and my hair is all tangly, and I colored my hair a few months ago and I am worried because someone told me that if I use apple cider vinegar on my hair it will take the color out. Is that true??
    Also I use jojoba oil on my face because it is supposed to moisterize and take away shininess, but it hasn’t really done that. I only use a few drops, am I using too much??

  • Makenna

    Hello, there!!! :D before mentioning anything about the method i think i just found, i will introduce you to my hair – although i care for it as much as i can, it’s very long (tail-bone length), very soft, thin and oily… I tried every shampoo i could find – even shampoo from the health stores, which is very expensive and didn’t help much. And then i accidentally bumped at your website, so i tried the no ‘poo method for only a week. I showered two times, first with that soda-paste, and second with a method i thought that could help. I just rinsed with hot water, sectioned my hair carefully, brushed with a CLEAN boar bristle brush GENTLY, and rinsed with cold water (and then added apple cider vinegar mixed with honey, chamomile-as i am a blonde- and vanilla). and the result is shiny, soft, voluminous hair that everybody compliments. Thank you so much for the information, it was handy and helpful!!!!

  • Hi,

    Is baking soda same as baking powder? How do I know whether the baking soda/ powder is aluminium free ( if the ingredients are not listed on the label) ?

    Regards
    Malathi

  • Mallory

    I’m really interested in trying this! Just one question though, because I currently shower and shampoo and condition my hair every day religiously, would I transition to washing with baking soda and vinegar every day instead? Or should I only wash my hair every other day? How often is right?

  • Tyana

    I have been using poo free method for a couple month. My hair feel waxy and heavy especial when its wet. Any advices how to fix that? I have long hair and using 1 table spoon on a glass of water for baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

  • [...] I consulted Google (of course). I found this helpful post and this one that gave great ideas. And then I found Crunchy Betty–the most amazing non-edible food blog I’ve ever [...]

  • Amanda P

    I really am dying to do this ‘no-poo’ challenge. My hair is color treated, dry at the ends, and very thin. My problem is that I heard baking soda is incredibly fading for color treated hair and my hair is dyed red, I don’t want to lose it so quickly! What alternatives can I use? I tried using just water and my hair is an oily mess!

    PLEASE HELP, I have senior pictures coming up :(

  • Rebecca

    Hi! I’m not sure if anyone else has asked this question but I’m interested in washing my hair naturally without shampoo however I recently bleached my hair to a white blonde. My concern is there could be a reaction with the baking soda or the vinegar with the chemicals in my hair. If anyone can answer that I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

  • [...] which is the other challenge. I quickly scooped up a tablespoon to wash my hair with later (“no ‘poo” — I love it!), we talked about why he shouldn’t do this (though in the back of my mind I was also making [...]

  • [...] is a link, and another one, and another one. There are links that inspired me. Maybe they’ll inspire [...]

  • Hello…. I was really impressed after reading this and also with the comments. I love to try it to have a nice hair using baking soda but with vinegar, i dont know if i will use it. The reason is I cant find a Apple Cider Vinegar. Is it really necessary to use Apple Cider Vinegar or shall I use ordinary vinegar just to complete the recommended procedures? Please help me to solve my silly question…. hehehe
    Thanks about this information..

  • Erin

    I’ve been using recipe #2 for about 2 weeks now. I’m sure no one who looks at or touches my hair would be able to tell I’m not using shampoo! I loved your recipe when I saw it, because I always have white vinegar and baking soda on hand. And I love the cinnamon smell. Thanks so much!! Because before this I was using cheapo regular shampoo (since I can’t afford “natural” shampoos and I was never impressed with their ingredients anyway) but I never felt very good about it.

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