The No Shampoo Method – A Step-by-Step Guide

no shampoo method guide

What is the No-Shampoo Method?

The “No Shampoo” craze seems completely counterintuitive to the beauty industry and previous trends: rather than purchasing more products, the “no-poo” method involves decreasing your use of product. As the name suggests, the method aims to wean your hair off shampoo and conditioner as a means of restoring your head’s natural state, so it can regenerate natural oils and recover from years of shampoo-abuse. Not only is this a great alternative for those seeking more natural style methods, but it’s also cruelty-free, environmentally friendly, and, is a huge time and money-saver.

Benefits of Going Without Shampoo

The No Shampoo method also means better hair. Frizz-free and fabulous texture are the results of a healthy, unharmed scalp. Those with curly hair, or those who have suffered from dry hair, know the affects that shampoo can have on a mane–the wrong shampoo, too much shampoo, or too many washings can have negative, long-lasting effects on hair. Often, people will try and counter these effects with moisturizing products or methods, which can lead to a more involved beauty regimen. The same can be said for people with oily hair: to counteract the oil, washing becomes more frequent and wastes more time. Though people still wash their hair with the No Shampoo method, you won’t waste time washing your hair with shampoo only to need to counteract the effects later with another product. Not shampooing your hair restores your head to its natural state, which means luscious, problem-free hair.

Method 1: Going “No Poo” in 3 Phases

Phase 1: Replace your shampoo and conditioner regimen with baking soda and vinegar.

no shampoo step 1

Combine water and the baking soda until you have a mixture that’s liquid enough that you’d be able to get it out of a squeeze bottle, but still largely baking soda. Put the mixture in an empty travel shampoo bottle or jar and store it in the shower.

To make your “conditioner,” add between 1 and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water. (Make sure to use apple cider vinegar and not white vinegar–the goal of the soda-cider method is to maintain a balanced pH on your scalp, but white vinegar is too acidic and will overcompensate the basicity of the baking soda.) The smell of vinegar can sometimes overwhelm hair, so make sure to not exceed the 1-2 tablespoon limit.

To apply your new “shampoo,” scrub the baking soda mixture into your wet hair, paying special attention to your roots. Once you’ve covered your entire head, let the mixture sit for a minute before rinsing thoroughly. Next, apply the apple cider vinegar, this time focusing on your ends. Rinse.

Continue this for about two weeks, washing your hair as often as you did when using shampoo. During this time, if your hair is too greasy, cut down on the vinegar. If it’s too frizzy, use less baking soda.

Phase 2: Replace baking soda and vinegar with just water

no poo step 2

This dreaded “transition period” is probably the most difficult step for people, as it means an oily scalp and greasy hair. It is possible to stop using baking soda and vinegar all at once, but if you’re worried about an overcompensating scalp, just decrease your use until you’re not using anything.

Hair is usually the greasiest during the first week, and will remain oilyer-than-normal for the next few weeks. During this time, it’s important to not use any product in your hair. The goal of this step is to return your scalp to its natural state, but using styling gel or mousse will undo all your hard work.

However, do brush your hair. This can be especially difficult for curly-haired people who don’t brush their hair normally. If this is the case try adding some baking soda to your part and comb it into your hair to absorb the grease.

This is obviously the most difficult step, and it’s when most people decide to give it up and turn back to traditional shampoo and conditioner. But, those who make it through this oily stage are rewarded with cheaper hair-care, a low-maintenance beauty regimen, and a clear conscience.

Phase 3: Start using baking soda and vinegar again

no poo method step 3

Once you get through the notorious “transition” period, your hair will be soft, manageable, and glowing. To maintain your new ‘do, can start “shampooing” your hair with baking soda and vinegar again, this time just once a week. (This is the average, though, so remember you can decrease or increase the frequency you wash depending on your hair type. If you work out often, it’s likely you’ll need to wash your hair more than once a week.) It is also possible to completely ignore this phase and just wash with water from now on.

If you want to use styling products, look for sulfate-free products. Sulfates, one of the ingredients often found in shampoo, strip your hair of its natural oils and will completely reverse all the work you’ve just done for your hair! If you’re interested in continuing your use of “natural” hair products, look to your kitchen instead of your bathroom. Lemon juice is great for lightening hair, for example, and coconut oil is great for an extra kick of moisture. (or get yourself some jojoba oil)

If you do plan on using a product, make sure and focus on the ends of your hair rather than the roots. Your scalp is producing oil, so your roots are the first part of your hair to get greasy. So, if you want to add moisture to dry hair, apply it on the middle and ends of your hair, not the roots.

Method 2: Just Go Cold Turkey

Forget the apple cider vinegar and baking soda. This method involves stopping all forms of shampooing and conditioning and washing your hair with just water right from the start. This method works well if you have dry hair, but those with oily hair will have a harder time with it.

Do Whatever Works For You

The above methods are just general guidelines and you are free to modify them to suit your needs. There is no one way to go no shampoo — I personally went cold turkey and a couple of friends did better with baking soda and apple cider vinegar first.

Other No Shampoo Success Stories

An Alternative

Obviously, the “No Shampoo” method isn’t for everyone. It requires a large window of time when you don’t need to appear “presentable.” Often, this rules out people looking for work, starting a new job or school, or people who have an important event in their near future. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that you are more aware of your own hair than those around you–what looks awful and greasy to you may go unnoticed by a new co-worker or peer.

If you’re ready to sacrifice an absolutely perfect head of hair for a few weeks, you’ll be repaid with a lifetime of easy hair-care. But if you’re unable to go without shampoo entirely, I recommend a shampoo bar as an alternative

Like shampoos, these are for washing your hair but shampoo bars aren’t liquid. They look like soap bars and usually have gentler ingredients. The J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo is one of the better ones, and this version contains jojoba oil which is an awesome ingredient that gets my seal of approval.

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