Search Frugal Girl Glamour

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Going No 'Poo

Giving up conventional shampoo and conditioner is the best thing I've ever done for my hair. That's not to say that I did absolutely everything for it before then, but I simply can't bring myself to spend an excessive amount of money on deep conditioning treatments or oodles of products for something that's going to fall out or be chopped off anyway. Is anyone else with me?

Before you say, "Ewwwwww, you don't WASH your HAIR?" let me elaborate: I warsh muh hurr with baking soda, tea tree oil and water, and I condition with diluted apple cider vinegar. The last time I used a store-bought shampoo was six months ago and, no, I do not have filthy hair and I don't smell like a hippie!

[Side Note: I've tried salon shampoos and cheap-as-dirt shampoos; I always went back to Pantene. But how my hair felt on it's "good days," then, still can't compare to how my hair feels on "bad days," now.]

I AM STILL NO 'POO! See my follow up here. :)

Why Should (Or Shouldn't) You Switch?

Most (if not all) shampoos that you buy in your local Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart, etc. work like a detergent—they remove the oils from your hair and scalp, the ones your hair needs to stay smooth—and they may have mineral oil in them, which coats your hair and gives you a false sense of "silky, smooth, moisturized hair." What the mineral oil actually does is create a barrier on your scalp which keeps the sebum your scalp produces from moving down the hair shaft. That sebum is what would keep your hair soft and manageable. Mineral oil will also exacerbate certain skin and scalp conditions.

Many people don't realize it, but mineral oil and any other petroleum products, including Vaseline, are byproducts of crude oil. You know, like what's used for jet fuel. While it is safe to use, it probably won't do you as much good as using a carrier oil and/or high-quality essential oil would. Keep that in mind while buying all of your beauty products.

What makes using baking soda, tea tree oil, and apple cider vinegar different?

Baking Soda is a natural cleaner, and it has a good amount of grit to it which will get rid of build up really well without irritating your skin.

Tea Tree Essential Oil is a natural anti-microbial which means that it will kill bacteria and fungus that could grow on your scalp. Since it's an oil, using it won't dry out or irritate your scalp, nor will it cause your scalp to  overreact and create too much sebum.

Lavender Essential Oil is an alternative to tea tree oil, as it is deodorant, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. It also has very relaxing aromatic qualities. :)

Peppermint Essential Oil is another alternative; anti-fungal, antibacterial, and it can be both stimulating and relaxing. (Fun Fact: If you have MS, this might soothe some of your symptoms; particularly in summer months, as it can drop your body temperature by several degrees.)

Apple Cider Vinegar Because of it's acidity, ACV will balance the pH of your hair; while also detangling and making it nice and soft.

[Side Note: If you're going to be using this on your kiddos, be careful with essential oils, and do your research. I know that tea tree oil is not recommended for pre-pubescent boys, so it might be best to use a coconut oil based shampoo bar like the one I have listed below. I'm sure it's an easier solution, as well, knowing how my little brothers like to cooperate when it comes to hair washing. You should also avoid essential oils while you're pregnant or breastfeeding.]

You may want to make the No 'Poo switch if...

  • You have combination hair—oily roots and dry ends.
  • You have curly or wavy hair that tends to be frizzy and lacks definition.
  • You bleach your hair or otherwise over-process it (constant straightening/curling/blow-drying).
  • You have coarse hair.
  • You have to wash your hair daily.
  • You have dandruff, psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis (or sebopsoriasis).
  • You want to be a little more environmentally-friendly—imagine all of the shampoo and conditioner bottles you have used in your lifetime and how many more you will use in the future! Reduce/Recycle/Reuse. ;)
  • You want to save money. Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda are probably things you already have in your kitchen. Essential oils are incredibly multi-useful and, so long as you choose the right ones, a whole bottle can last you up to a year and a half.
  • You want to eliminate chemicals and anything that isn't natural from your lifestyle.
  • You don't have the spare cash to do hair masks and moisturizing treatments frequently enough to keep up with your dry, frizzy, unmanageable, etc. hair.

You may not want to make the No 'Poo switch if...

  • You dye your hair (not bleach/lighten, but change the color or shade). I'm not sure whether it would affect permanent hair dye, but any dye that is designed to fade over time (semi- and demi-permanent—which, to my understanding, are best to use since you won't be left with a harsh line where it grows out and you decide to do touch ups or a new color) will be lightened significantly by the baking soda. The henna streaks I did in my hair a few weeks after starting the no 'poo regimen are still there, but they don't seem as vibrant as they were originally. Keep in mind I've been washing with baking soda for five months, though, so I'd say the henna has held up very well.
  • You can't get over the fact that this doesn't lather like your current shampoo.
  • You fear that you will become vain over your vivacious hair. ;)
  • What you're doing is working for you. Why fix what's not broken?

My Reason For Switching

I have—mild, thankfully—seborrheic dermatitis (which is an oily dandruff) on my scalp and lashline. It leaves me itchy and sometimes tender-headed; I also suspect that it has caused my hair to thin out. I have tried medicated dandruff shampoos, but they only seemed to remove some of the "build-up" and never really left me with a thoroughly cleaned scalp. *sigh* My aunt suggested that I add tea tree oil to my shampoo when I wash (because it is anti-fungal) around the same time that I was considering going no 'poo (since I had such frizzy hair.)

I really had nothing to lose going into this.

I would have either started washing my hair with the dandruff shampoo daily—and hoped that it would work—which would have left my hair even more frizzy; OR I could have kept my routine, which went a little something like this:

Day 1 After Washing: Frizzy, unmanageable, hair and a somewhat clean scalp.
Day 2: Sort of nice hair, still fairly clean scalp.
Day 3: Nice hair, but greasy roots, and itchy scalp.
Day 4 and Beyond: Ponytail or Washing Days.

To illustrate my point:

I felt the need to curl or straighten my hair in order to look presentable. I probably haven't mentioned how much I hate to HAVE to put a lot of effort into looking presentable. There are some days that I just want to roll out of bed, finger comb my hair and go somewhere. I can DO that since I switched to this washing method. My hair hasn't been so nice since I was a little girl. This is a BIG deal for me, if you can't tell. <3<3<3

My washing routine since going no 'poo is now more like this:

The only editing done on these photos were to brighten, hide some blackheads, and fix white balance. I'm not faking you out, I promise! My hair does look a little more red than it actually is in the pics I used flash on.

Day 1 After Washing: Soft, shiny, clean hair AND scalp!
(Un-styled hair—and messy living room—in photos.)

Day 2: Soft, shiny, clean hair AND scalp.
(I slept with my hair in braids, so my hair has a different kink to it; doing that also tends to make my ends look a little scruffy. :P To make up for that, though, I was extra smiley since I was pumped for the Metric concert I was about to go to!)

Day 3: Soft, shiny, clean hair AND scalp.
(I cheated on this one since I fell asleep super early on day three, haha. This is the morning of the fourth day which is why it has much nicer lighting than the rest of these pics!  I brushed through my hair with a boar bristle brush the night of day 2, but accidentally slept with my hair in a ponytail the night of day 3, so this is about fifteen minutes after letting it out the morning of day 4.  [Sorry, complicated.] Notice the lack of a ponytail dent? All thanks to no 'poo!)

Day 4: Soft, shiny, clean hair and slightly oily scalp/roots.
(I had just pulled my hair out of my ponytail, that's why there's a dent.)

Day 5: *Usually* Ponytail or Washing Days
(For whatever reason, my hair LOOKS clean in these pics, but it definitely didn't FEEL clean when I took them; so take whatever you can from that, haha! If I had left my stringy bangs in my face, you'd be able to tell it was dirty. XP Sorry about the poor photo quality. I was too lazy to take better pics, haha. I edited them as well as I could.)

Sounds pretty great, eh?

At least compared to what I was doing. :)


I purchased two 6 oz plastic bottles with pop-up caps from Target (I'd like to get glass ones simply because I worry about what is in the plastic making it's way into my "shampoo" but I can't find any with caps that would work the way these plastic ones do). Fill them to the top with water after the shampoo and conditioner ingredients and shake each bottle up well. You will have to shake the baking soda mixture before and while you're using it in the shower.

No 'Poo "Shampoo":

2-4 tablespoons of Baking Soda
10-15 drops of Tea Tree, Lavender, and/or Peppermint oil.

For the first several washes (maybe through the first month) I used more baking soda (4 or 5 TBSP) than I do now because a) I wanted to exfoliate my scalp and get rid of all the build up that was there, and b) I wanted to combat the excess oils I knew my scalp would produce in response to giving up the detergent-like shampoos I was using. I use two table spoons now; maybe even a little less. Apply the mixture to your hair in sections (see video) and take a minute or two to massage your scalp, then rinse your hair. I've noticed that it will lather a teeny bit every once in a while. I'm assuming it's the oils on my scalp that cause it to do this because it usually happens when I've gone too long without washing my hair.

No 'Poo "Conditioner":

2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar

I apply the conditioner to the ends of my hair and let it sit for a minute or so and then rinse out.

What To Expect:

When making the switch there is a transition period where your hair is still pretty horrible, and probably more greasy than usual. I would highly suggest preparing your scalp before giving up conventional shampoos by waiting for longer periods between washes while you use up your current shampoo. My transition period took about three weeks, but I have fairly oily skin. You know your scalp and hair better than anyone, so do what you feel is right.

I would suggest that you also invest in:
  • A boar bristle brush. You know how you hear about the old beauty trick to "brush your hair with 100 strokes per night?" That's from before our detergent-like-shampoo times. A brush with natural bristles will help to distribute the newfound oils on your roots all the way down to the ends of your hair!
  • A shower cap. If you're like me, you'll  find that you won't have to wash your hair for a good five days after washing. Chances are, you'll still want to shower sometime in there! I, personally, hate the feeling of getting my hair wet in the shower but not actually washing it. My hair always feels more dirty coming out of the shower than when I went in. Maybe I'm just crazy, though. :P


I did wash my hair with a lathering shampoo bar a few weeks ago, but it only contained carrier and essential oils with cocoa & shea butters, so I had no need to worry that I'd be washing my efforts of the past five months down the drain. The only thing I noticed is that my hair needed to be washed again much sooner than usual. When I did wash it after letting it be "greasy" for a while (I went camping for a long weekend), it felt like I had done a deep conditioning treatment, so I suppose there's some good in that! :)

Something that many people don't know is that coconut oil (which was in the shampoo bar I used) lathers like soap; maybe even better than soap, honestly. A little goes a very long way. Which brings me to another point; if you have trouble getting over the lack of a lather, you can go "No 'Poo" in other ways. Leslie at Crunchy Betty (who's great for DIY natural beauty shtuff; if you like this post you'll love her) shared a coconut oil and castile soap "Sorta 'Poo" mixture, which looks great to me. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer, and you can still add any essential oils you need. Or you can purchase shampoo bars like the one I mentioned. Better yet—make your own (which I will be attempting in the coming months, if I'm successful I will definitely share a few recipes!)

If you have any questions, please comment! I love to help out. :)

Till next time,
Sadia xoxo

Other No 'Poo Info Sources (They Helped Me!)


  1. Thank you for posting this! I know this is an old post, but I needed to see some pictures because I'm trying out this no poo thing and my hair is horrendous right now. So, this gave me some hope that things will get better. Do you still do no-poo?

  2. Hi! I exercise daily and need to wash my hair every day because I end up drenched in sweat! can I use this daily or will it be too drying for my hair? I have wavy frizzy hair that is dry from overprocessing it. I Have stopped dyingi t and have not used any heat on it for months, and it is getting better, but i do feel that the daily washing of my hair makes it dryer.

    1. Just make sure you use the vinegar conditioner! I have to say it works better than any other I've used. :) A little bit goes a long way, though!

  3. Hi Sadia,

    Your post caught my eye while doing no-poo research. My hair has been progressively thinning over the last 5 years --- nothing that is obvious to most people, but i can tell, as I used to have super thick hair. I have been to doctors and dermatologists, but frankly, they have all been useless. One told me I have seb dermatitis, and I think this is probably true - if i don't wash my hair within 2-3 days, it gets itchy. I recently switched to washing every other day, and now it gets itchy even quicker! So i realized, shampooing more just prompts my hair to get oily/ itchy faster. And this is with an "SLS-free" shampoo. I am very, very tempted to go Poo-free, but i wanted to ask you how your experience has been till now, 2 years down the road. Did you experience any more shedding/ thinning? Did the seb dermatitis improve with no-poo? I am just really scared that i will go no-poo and my hair will get even thinner, and i wont have the willpower to get through the 'transitioning' period. But I really don't know what else to do, because my thinning continues.... I guess I have nothing to lose right?

    1. Hi Anju, thanks for the comment! I am still no 'poo! I am trying to find the time to make a video about how I've changed my system a bit, but life has been too busy. :) What really helps my seb dermatitis is the baking soda along with tea tree/melaluca oil (lavender is a less effective alternative if you have an aversion to the smell of tea tree oil). My hair grows in much stronger, and I know I don't lose as much as I used to, though thinning wasn't a huge deal for me. I also have started putting the ACV through my hair before the baking soda mixture; It seems like my hair stays cleaner for longer when I do it this way. I have a Shea Moisture African Black Soap body wash that I use as a "deep clean" every couple of months (more for the ends of my hair than my scalp). I don't notice that it screws up my washing schedule. :) I hope this is helpful! Best of luck to you!

  4. Does the scent from the EOs in your shampoo recipe stay in your hair after you rinse out the acv? What if u were to add EO's to the conditioner as well? Just trying to figure out how to get my hair smelling nice.

    1. Alysa; It really depends on the EOs, I think. When I use peppermint and rosemary, I can smell it all day. But lavender or cedar wood tend to fade quickly. I don't see any harm in trying them with the vinegar. You could also find a recipe for natural perfume, and use it after you shower! Hope this helps. :)

  5. Hi :) I Love this topic and want to try it.But i still wonder can I try this 'No Poo Method" to my DYEd Hair? :) Thanks

  6. I love the bint in your hair