No, I’m not talking about your bathroom habits. I promise. Believe me, keeping up with my 3-year-old’s bathroom habits is more than enough “poo” for me. No, the no poo method I’m talking about is the practice of washing your hair without using shampoo. There are as many methods of no poo as there are people who choose to forgo shampoo. I’m just going to talk about what I know, the methods that I have tried, and how they did or didn’t work for me.
I first tried this practice years ago when I started trying to learn how to work with my naturally curly hair instead of against it. I spent decades blow-drying, flat-ironing, and willing my hair straight. It always rebelled against me–frizz at any hint of moisture, poof that just wouldn’t be tamed, and curls with a mind of their own. I’m sure there are some other curly girls nodding their heads right now.
I wasn’t ready to go totally no poo so I tried co-washing, using conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampoo. I have very dry, coarse hair so I thought that this would work beautifully for me. The problem is that I also have an oily scalp. Yes, I’m so very blessed as to have combination skin and combination hair (it’s a thing, I may have just made it up, but it’s a thing). One of the points of the no poo method is that eventually you are able to go without washing your hair for longer periods. If you have hair like mine, washing it every day is the best way to kill it. So, when I was using conditioner to wash my hair, it was getting oilier quicker and I was actually having to wash it more often. I tried using shampoo every few washes to balance things back out, but eventually I just went back to using shampoo.
The baking soda/apple cider vinegar method
I started thinking about the no poo method again several months ago when I couldn’t seem to find a shampoo that worked with my hair anymore. Instead of spending a lot of money trying a bunch of different options, I decided to use what was already in my house and give true no poo a try.
There are websites and books dedicated to this topic if you want an in-depth explanation, but the no poo method is basically this–you wash your hair with baking soda and rinse with apple cider vinegar. You can make up batches of it for multiple uses, but I just made up what I was going to use before my shower and used it all in one washing. I have an old 16 oz Nalgene bottle that I use to mix up both the “shampoo” and the “conditioner.” You can use a cup, a jar, or even a cleaned out shampoo bottle.
What I do:
I take a tablespoon of baking soda and put it into the Nalgene bottle, and then add about a cup of water and shake it up really well. Then I pour it over my head little by little and massage it into my scalp just like with shampoo. Well, not “just like” shampoo because–no poo, no suds. Rinse it out.
After that I add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the bottle and dilute it with a cup of water. I pour it over my head and massage into my scalp. I add some essential oils at this point because who wants to smell like vinegar? I like rosemary, peppermint, and lavender essential oils for my hair.
Like I said, there are so many different methods. Even if you do the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method you may do it differently than me. I have not tried egg wash, bentonite clay, kefir, rye flour, or the ultimate no poo method–just water.
Deep Conditioning Mask
Because I have dry hair, this is something that I had to do from time to time even before I went no poo, but if you are doing any of the no poo methods, deep conditioning is a must.
I do a coconut oil mask once a month. I take about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, add in about 5-6 drops of essential oils (again, I stick to rosemary, lavender and peppermint) and apply it to my dry hair. I give it about 30-45 minutes to do it’s magic, and then I wash it out.
This is the part when I go a bit off the no poo rails. I haven’t been able to successfully wash the mask out without using shampoo. Even with shampoo it goes a little like lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I use a great sulfate-free shampoo that I really like so I don’t get too upset about it.
I hope this helps you to see that the no poo method can be simple and implemented with very few ingredients that you most likely already have. There’s more to taming my curly hair than just the no poo method, but I’ll have to share those another time!