Reader Questions: the “no poo” method.

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What do you think of the “no-poo” method?

First things FIRST. 

Can we please, PLEASE, come up with a new name for this little idea? 

I know it’s short for “no shampoo” but c’mon. Do you really want to be chatting with your girlfriends about how you are trying out this new “no ‘poo” method? 

It just doesn’t sound right. Tell me I’m not alone in this.

What about shampoo-free? Or even Sham-free? Just throwing out some options. 

So here’s the “no poo” method if you aren’t familiar:

It’s a method of washing your hair without using shampoo. Typically, users create a concoction of baking soda and vinegar to “scrub their scalp clean”, and then do not follow up with conditioner. The argument is that vinegar is a natural hydrator so there is no need to apply conditioner. Also, if you aren’t removing excess oil from your scalp by using shampoo, your hair won’t be as dry. 

It’s a natural, gentle way to clean your scalp and hair. 

Sometimes it takes a little bit of time for your scalp to re-adjust to this new method. You may feel excessively oily at first, but it could possibly balance out with time. 

It’s not vastly different than the concept of waiting a few days between shampooing. And with some women (men too) your scalp may normalize any seemingly overactive sebaceous glands. 


So what do I think of it?


I think it’s fine. As long as your hair is being cleaned a fair amount and hydrated enough, it shouldn’t be a problem. Do I think everyone needs to stop washing their hair with shampoo and start “no-pooing”? Not necessarily. Shampoo IN ITSELF is not bad, as long as you aren’t over doing it, and are following it up with a great conditioner.

Can it keep your hair healthy, shiny, and normalize your scalp? Yes. Will it in every case? Probably not. So, if you want to try it, try it. It’s really going to depend on each person, their hair needs, and their body chemistry.

Leave a Comment

Comments (66)

  1. Posted August 6, 2013

    Thanks for this post! I was thinking of going “Sham-Free” (I like that one too!) but after having my son 3 months ago, I only wash every other day since I just don’t have time. So i figured I’ve cut out half my washes already.

    Look forward to pregnancy updates!!

    ~Victoria

    simplyanchoredblog.com

  2. Fallon says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    Hey Kate,
    I love your blog and do your hairstyles all the time 🙂 thank you for taking time to share them… I have a question though I want to get my hair cut and was wondering what hair cut you have or how I can best describe it to my stylist? Do you have thick or thin hair? Any suggestions would be sooooo helpful! Thank u thank u!

    • ANF says
      Posted August 6, 2013

      The FAQ section of the blog has this information and pictures.

    • ANF says
      Posted August 6, 2013

      The FAQ section of the blog has this information and pictures.

  3. Jess says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    The “no poo” method from what I’ve read can also mean using a cleansing conditioner free of silcones or sulfates. I have very thick, dry, coarse curly hair and have noticed that if I use a sulfate free shampoo once a week and a silcone free conditioner everyday, my hair is happier. I understand that everyone’s hair is different. I would personally suggest this method to curly girls or those with very very dry hair. Again, this is coming from my own personal experience. In general, I’m a fan of the “no poo” method. 🙂

    • Jane says
      Posted August 6, 2013

      Agreed, Jess. I posted on this below but the “naturally curly” method of “no-poo” is way different than what they are talking about. And it’s awesome.

      Haters gonna hate. haha

  4. Posted August 6, 2013

    haha when I read the title of the post I thought “WHAT?!” so, no, you are not alone 😀

    • Amanda says
      Posted August 7, 2013

      Me too! I thought it had something to do with giving birth, lol.

  5. Posted August 6, 2013

    HAHAHA! I actually had a facebook status about “no pooing” once, and my overly concerned aunt sent me a message about my diet and if I was taking probiotics. Too funny. Thanks for answering this question. I tried that method and really loved it. I was surprised by how clean my hair was. But I was told by all of my cosmetologist friends that it lifts hair color on colored hair, so I stopped doing it. Do you find that to be the case?

    • by CJ says
      Posted August 6, 2013

      I was going to ask the same thing about colored treated hair. Is it safe to use?

  6. Posted August 6, 2013

    Not sure I fancy giving up shampoo altogether, but I have recently started using a gentle shampoo that is free from silicones, parabens, sulphates, etc. My hair does get greasy quicker then before, but my previously itchy scalp now feels great.

    Laura http://www.beautybestfriend.com

  7. Posted August 6, 2013

    Whaaaat? How have I never heard of this? Cray town. I don’t think with my hair this would ever be a good idea lol!

  8. Posted August 6, 2013

    Do you wet your hair with this method? Or just rub the concoction on your scalp and leave your hair dry? I am not following. Maybe it was all the talk of poo at the beginning of the post that distracted me! :0

    • Angie says
      Posted August 6, 2013

      You can Google it. In the shower, you use a baking soda/water mix as “shampoo” and a vinegar/water mix as “conditioner” much like you normally would traditional shampoo and conditioner. I’ve been doing it for over a year now!

  9. Ashley says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    I have not heard of this method — but the just judging from the name alone, I did not know what you were referring to. It definitely needs a new name.

  10. Posted August 6, 2013

    Well first I agree with you “no-poo” is not something I want to say to people. “Sham-Free” is so much better!
    Second – I don’t like this at all. I have done all kinds of things to my hair over the years and honestly it has never been healthier than it is now. I was every other day with Purology. I use Argon oil but don’t blow dry (hello – oil and heat! no no). My hair will even make it 3 days without washing. I don’t have the time or energy to wait and see if my scalp will even out with a no shampoo method.

  11. Posted August 6, 2013

    I just can’t get over that it’s really known as the “no-poo” method…I’d crack up every time I talked about it. (Yep, I’m that girl that laughs at poo…) Anyways, I like your rename suggestions and will stick to normal shampoo and conditioner. Excellent info!

    Lauren @ My Polished Side Blog
    Sweet Pea’s Party

  12. Posted August 6, 2013

    Love your blog! I agree, Sham Free sounds much better! 🙂 I love the long layered cut you had back in 2011. I have been growing my hair out and am going to get some layers in it so I can do something with it, it’s just a bit lifeless right now. Do you think the photos will be enough to duplicate your cut or is there anything I should tell my stylist? Will most of the hair tutorials you use still work with this cut? Thanks so much for sharing your creativity! Blessings in Christ, Mikki

  13. treesy says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    I’ve been using Sulfate-free shampoo and no silicone conditioner/products for over a year now (Living Proof products) and my hair loves me for it. My hair is super thick and has some odd waves and bends in it. It also has a tendency to be pretty thick. I suggest anyone who is curious about going “sham-free” try going without sulfates or silcone (or any -cone) for a while.

  14. Posted August 6, 2013

    Ahh, thank you! I cringe every time I hear someone say that. I’m a wash my hair every day girl, but I know it works for some people.

  15. Posted August 6, 2013

    That is a horrible name for that! Lol

    I have been using a two-in-one shampoo/conditioner for three years and my thick curly hair loves it. I only wash it about every three to four days or more. The oil level is fine.

    I have been thinking about looking into shampoos for hard water, but honestly I don’t think it would affect me bc I don’t style my hair often and it’s pretty cooperative anyway.

    Thanks for all the tips. I love being able to know more about the world of hair styling than ever before. And congratulations to you and Justin.

    P.S. My husband’s name is Justin and he is in the USAF!

  16. Posted August 6, 2013

    I’ve actually attempted the “no-poo” way with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I thought it would make my hair healthier, but the breakage it caused was enormous. Aaaaand, it changed my hair’s texture from silky smooth to damaged and tangled FAST. I love the idea of not using shampoo, but unfortunately it didn’t work for me.

  17. Posted August 6, 2013

    Yup…I totally agree, I’m NOT a fan of this name! So, I tried this stuff out and I wasn’t all that impressed. It was just okay and I probably won’t purchase it again.

  18. Posted August 6, 2013

    Ive tried it once, and couldn’t handle how my hair felt and was no patient enough for wait for the adjustment period! Instead, I stick to Sulfate-Free Shampoos & Conditioners for my hair, and try to wash every 2-3 days. Sometimes its every other day depending on what I am doing. Sham-free sounds soo much better 🙂

  19. Lauren says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    I have naturally curly hair and I’m always looking for ways to make it look great without much effort. I got one of the DevaCurl try me kits and used their “no poo” product and my hair was limp and gross looking. I guess I could have tried it longer to see if the results changed but I didn’t want to look like I hadn’t showered for days.

  20. Seneca says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    No-no-no! NO! Just the name of this makes me cringe and just seems wrong. 1)I have never heard of this concept other than WEN. 2)Maybe I’m just stuck in a traditional rut but I could NEVER wash my hair in any kind of way without some kind of conditioning agent to soften my hair. It’s naturally curly, frizzy and in general dry. I don’t wash my hair every day because of this. There are plenty of natural shampoos and conditioners out there with more natural products that cleanse hair as well. But whatever floats the boat, I couldn’t get used to it though.

  21. Posted August 6, 2013

    It’s funny that you mention this. I think “no poo” (sorry to still use that verbiage…LOL) works for certain hair types. I have natural, curly/kinky hair so the no poo method works well for my hair. I tend to wash with shampoo one week, no poo the next and then repeat the process. It keeps my hair more moisturized.

  22. Posted August 6, 2013

    Yes – I hate the term “no-poo”! And it seems to be very prevalent around the internet as of late.

  23. Megan says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    Before “no-poo” was cool my mom and I were told by our hair stylist to OCCASIONALLY (as in no more than once a month) use some baking soda in our shampoo to help clarify and get rid of some of the extra product build up. It works great for that. I cannot personally imagine not shampooing my hair. I love scents and I love having a nice scented shampoo/conditioner to smell in my hair all day.

  24. Posted August 6, 2013

    I actually used this method for about a month- creating a paste with baking soda and water to scrub my scalp, then rinsing with apple cider vinegar. I got a lot of compliments on my hair about how shiny it was. It was also super manageable (I have thin, curly hair that I blow dry straight). But I gotta say, that stuff stank! I just really didn’t like getting out of the shower feeling fresh and clean and then getting a whiff of apple cider vinegar on my hair. Not for me!! So, I switched to the Living Proof Restore line and I haven’t looked back!

  25. Posted August 6, 2013

    Hahaha – when I first read the title, I thought you were talking about some sort of natural diapering method for your baby, and I thought to myself, “no poo? that doesn’t sound realistic.” Soooo, a different catchphrase is definitely in order for the no-shampoo method.

  26. Posted August 6, 2013

    You are 100% not alone…. I can’t stand the name either. Also, I think this is one of those cases where folks are seriously overreacting. Just wash your hair like a normal person for goodness sakes 😉

  27. Jane says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    I have never heard of your version of no-poo. I used to be a member of the “naturally curly” crew online, and it was a way to get your curls or waves to, well … be more curly and less frizzy.

    It’s basically the wen way, but this was created before wen. You “wash” your hair with conditioner by scrubbing it hard into your scalp, and then you rinse and apply another conditioner with better “slip” to condition even more, and then you rinse. And then one usually applies a good leave-in, and products with no ‘cones.

    Once a week you might shampoo with a sulphate-free sham. 😉

    Things start out with a couple days of greasy icky hair, but I’ll tell ya, it REALLY works for me. I have naturally wavy hair, but when I religiously use this method, I have the most gorgeous, shiny, uniform curls and ringlets. It takes some effort but it’s really something!

  28. Amanda says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    Oh I’m so glad you said this. I’ve been feeling like a loser because I couldn’t get my hair to cooperate with any sort of “no-poo” situation (also, it really, really needs a different name – you are not alone). My hair is just much too oily. Speaking of which, do you have any suggestions on dealing with that? I have to wash every day and sometimes it is even grossly oily by the end of the first day, especially in the summer. I started using Aquage Uplifting Foam and it seemed to help with the oily problem a bit, but it’s hard for me to get a hold of. Do you suppose there is something in it fighting oil or is it just that it holds my hair in place so I’m not touching it? Do you have an easier-to-find alternative suggestion?

    Thanks. Also, thanks for this whole blog. I feel like I’m finally learning how to do my hair. It’s ok, it’s not like I’m a grown woman or anything… oh wait. Anywho, you’re awesome!

  29. Posted August 6, 2013

    I tried this method before. My hair actually took to it very well. I just missed my soapy shampoo and the beautiful scent.
    I wash my hair at night and let it air dry 99% of the time. So my husband wouldn’t let me near him from the vinegar smell.
    So I went back to shampoo and conditioner.

  30. Posted August 6, 2013

    I’m more of a “sometimes poo” girl. Ok that sounds even worse than “no poo.” I’m with you on the name change.

    My hair is super curly, so if I washed it every day, it would be an unholy frizzed mess. I wash it every few days and condition every day and have no major issues.

  31. Posted August 6, 2013

    Sham-free sounds so much better!! I totally agree!!!

  32. ... says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    Haven’t read beyond the first sentence but I feel compelled to comment: YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS.

    Even if my hair weren’t greasy and product laden, even if it didn’t need washed everyday, I would not even consider this method because of the name. It is gross and it not only sounds unhealthy for one’s digestion, it just sounds DUMB and infantile. Seeing it written out makes me cringe. It is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.

    In other news, hi! I like your blog. I’ve been lurking for months and my strong feelings about this finally compelled me to comment.

  33. Brooke says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    I tried the no poo method, my hair and I hated it!! My hair was stiff like straw, brittle on the ends and a hot sticky mess at the roots. I gave it 4 weeks of looking like crap (no pun intended but I did giggle after saying typing that). I then decided on sulfate free shampoos which mildly improved the strawlike sticky mess. I gave up and bought regular ole shampoo and conditioner, my hair and I are much much much happier. It wasn’t for me.

    • Brooke says
      Posted August 6, 2013

      I have fine curly hair, and I am a wash my hair daily girl if I want my hair to look nice. If I am just cleaning I might wait a day, but not if I’m going somewhere. I have a fried you had fine straight hair, and her hair looks great.

  34. Posted August 6, 2013

    I might give this a try if I wasn’t planning on appearing in public for an entire week. My hair is greasy as if I never showered 8 hours after washing it. If I start the day with my hair down, by the end of work it has to go up because it’s plastered to my forehead and limp. The no-poo method sounds natural which I love but I don’t think my hair or my ego could hack it. =)

  35. Posted August 6, 2013

    When I saw this title i thought it was something to do with pooping and babies!!

  36. Posted August 6, 2013

    thanks so much for writing about this! i did the “no poo” thing about ten years ago and had great results. my hair is fine and back then was super curly. it made my curls shiny and conditioned. but my hair texture has changed over the years, and i had to incorporate shampoo and conditioner more. unfortunately, it’s been a little more frizzy lately and the curls don’t look as polished. after reading your post and some of the comments though, i’m thinking i might try to skip some days with my shampoo. i already use low or no sulfate and silicones, but it might be helpful to shampoo less. i’m going to try it!

  37. Posted August 6, 2013

    I’ve tried this and it makes my hair too oily. Is there a great shampoo and conditioner you recommend?

  38. Posted August 6, 2013

    I think I’ll stick to putting vinegar on my cucumbers and SHAMpoo on my wet hair 🙂

  39. Posted August 6, 2013

    Haha yeah that name is weird. I like Sham-free though. That is a much better name!
    I don’t see any problem with going sham-free, but what works best for me is washing my hair every other day and using no conditioner, only a deep-conditioner every other time I wash my hair.

    Kristen
    http://thewomaninthedress.com

  40. Posted August 6, 2013

    I love no poo! I’m glad you addressed this!
    http://thecrunchymoose.blogspot.com/2013/07/no-poo.html

  41. Posted August 6, 2013

    I go weeks at a time without shampooing my hair–I try to avoid it if possible–and usually cleanse my scalp with my conditioner. If I can, on weekends I like to do a hair mask and then cleanse my scalp really well with baking soda. My hair gets incredibly frizzy whenever I shampoo it, and even though washing with conditioner seems to generate a lot of dandruff, I think it’s healthier for my hair this way.

  42. Rebecca says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    I’m with you on the name. It has to be something different. Sham-Free reminds me of Sham Wow!

  43. Posted August 6, 2013

    I saw a blog post about someone doing this. They said they used to have curly hair underneath and straight on top. That is exactly like my hair, though mine is more wavy. She said that the no poo method has brought out the curls on top. Claiming that shampoo gets more on the top layer of hair and had straightened it over time. Because now her hair is curly on top too. Could this be? I’m tired of having hair with multiple personalities.

  44. Posted August 6, 2013

    Thank you for answering this! I know I posted on your facebook awhile back about it…I think “no-poo” is so funny! tee hee..I have gotten some weird looks from people when I say what I am trying.
    In saying that…I did try it out for a month…I liked it but had to brush my hair a lot to make sure to spread the oils. I also found my hair was slightly frizzier and a little less soft…still very bouncy though!
    I strangely found that after I started using shampoo again my hair reacted to my root lifting product and hairspray better than with “no-poo” 😉

  45. kmac says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    Some people just have a frizzy hair texture. No way am I going without conditioner.

  46. Nic says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    I’m a Wen girl so I guess technically I’m no poo. My hair is dry so even with the Wen I only wash it every 4 to 5 days with a little dry shampoo thrown in towards the end. I need the conditioner.

  47. Posted August 6, 2013

    I was poo-free for a couple years. I’m not a hippie and I like clean hair. I started when my hair constantly looked oily after a few hours. My fine thick hair looked limp and matted.

    The adjustment was seemless and seemed to make a big difference. I thought it actually helped give more texture to my hair which was a bonus. I only used baking soda and worked it through my hair.

    Eventually I missed the way shampoo would lather up so I switched back. But the moment it starts getting too oily I will definitely go back!

  48. Melissa says
    Posted August 6, 2013

    The name gives me fits. “No-poo”. I have a three year old so guess where my mind goes!

  49. ... says
    Posted August 7, 2013

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. Meagan says
    Posted August 7, 2013

    Not gonna lie, saw this title and thought you were referring to giving birth…

  51. Posted August 8, 2013

    Since having my son, I have been able to cut all the way down to 2 washes a week! It’s crazy how you can train your hair. You have to let it be gross and greasy a few times, but then the less you wash it, the slower the grease builds. One time I went 9 days! (don’t know if I should admit that) but i love less maintenance.
    http://www.thismomsgonnasnap.com

  52. Vicky says
    Posted August 8, 2013

    I wonder if this might be a decent idea form my husband to try. He has some glorious waist-length hair that he hardly ever needs to brush. (Jerk.) He also has some serious scalp issues! Always extremely dry & itchy. If I scratch it for him (he doesn’t have long enough nails), I can dig up huge flakes of dried skin. Ick. Been a problem for him for many years. Head & Shoulders & the generics of it don’t help at all. He goes maybe 2-4 days between showers, which he takes with very hot water. He’s also quite an active martial artist, so he gets super sweaty before those showers.

    Any other tips on what he could do differently to ease that crazy dry, itchy scalp?

  53. Posted August 9, 2013

    I actually stopped shampooing my hair in March & don’t think I’ll ever go back. I’ve always had pretty oily hair – which has now decreased slightly since March. My hair had become dry & frizzy so I thought it couldn’t hurt to try it; I’m so glad I did! My hair has never been softer or shinier. I’ve also noticed that my hair seems to hold styles better even with no product…for me, it’s a win-win 🙂

  54. Posted August 14, 2013

    No poo…Lol! I’ve never heard of that methods called that!
    I think the reason why a lot of people are switching to that method is because of all the chemicals in shampoos. I’m tempted to give it a try because our family is trying to rid our home of expensive, unhealthy chemicals. We use baking soda and vinegar for so many uses around the home… why not shampoo? Lol!

    Here are some ways we use it here: http://www.oldhousehomestead.com/2010/03/kitchen-tip-tuesday-cheap-cleaning-tips.html

    Blessings,
    Carmen 🙂

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  58. Kristine says
    Posted October 13, 2014

    The shampoo-free method was a big letdown, for me.
    All my life, my hair has been almost impossible to deal with. Super oily scalp and roots, ends so dry that a bit of friction could probably start it on fire. When I came across the “no-poo” method on Pinterest, it sounded like a dream come true, and I drooled over pictures of ladies showing their greasy/brittle/frizzy before pictures, and their luscious/silky/shiny after pictures.

    Then, I made the mistake of trying it myself on my shoulder blade-length hair that had taken me forever to grow out. After 2 days, my hair was a giant ball of grease. They warned that could happen. I pushed through and stuck to my guns. I was GOING to get those results! I tried every variation I could find, hoping to find that magic balance that would bless me with supermodel hair.
    After a month, I still had super oily scalp and roots…but everything from about 3 inches on down was absolutely destroyed.

    I spent months piling on leave-in conditioners, masques, protein treatments, coconut oil, etc. trying to salvage what hair was left, before finally giving up and cutting it.

    On the plus side, I had never been brave enough to go truly short with my hair before. So, thanks to the damage caused by the no-poo method, I ended up discovering that I absolutely LOVE my hair in a “long” pixie cut, so there’s that.

  59. Michelle says
    Posted January 28, 2015

    I’ve tried this method before, but i’ve always called it “co-wash” you know washing with COnditioner? 🙂
    It works well for me especially in the summer time. My hair is very processed, bleached beautiful blonde! and can get dry. So when it need to be washed more than every couple of days from being at the beach or going to the gym, i will “co-wash”. Works well for my hair.