No poo in your hair

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The first two weeks of The big hair washing test has passed, and it’s time for me to pass judgment on the first method tested: The shampoo free, or No ‘poo method. It’s a bit confusing, since many of these methods are shampoo free, but this one is officially called “the shampoo free method”, and the other methods have different names.

When doing a no ‘poo wash you need two ingredients – baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Here is a great article about the shampoo free method, and there’s not really much for me to add. This is what she has to say about how the baking soda and apple cider vinegar work:

Apple cider vinegar is a mild acidic made from fermenting apples […] When used on your scalp, it helps promote circulation, acts as a natural antiseptic, and dissolves excessive fatty deposits and reduces scaling or peeling of the skin. As for use on hair, it helps to clarify, detangle, balances hair’s pH level and seals the cuticles.

Baking soda is the weakest alkali of sodium compounds, it would take using a lot to do damage to your skin or hair. It has a lot of useful properties like deodorizing, leavening (for baking), whitening, polishing and clarifying. […] Plain water can remove almost all the dirt you can get in your hair, but a little baking soda can not only remove the rest, but take care of the build-up from hair products, shampoos and anything else you might pick up.

You will need about one tablespoon of baking soda and one cup (about 2.3 dl) of warm water. Make sure you get baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and not baking powder, they are two different things.
Pour it into an old shampoo bottle or any kind of bottle, and squirt the mixture over your head and massage it into your scalp. Apparently, you don’t need to get the mixture over your lengths, but since I have such short hair all of my hair got sodaed anyway so I can’t tell the difference.

Then rinse with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, about the same measurements, or slightly more vinegar (2 tablespoons per 3 dl). You will not need to do the vinegar rinse every time, about every other or third time is enough. For the most effect, rinse with cold water after.


We started off by washing our hairs on Monday morning. It was a bit hard to tell if the mixture went all over my hair, but the areas that had baking soda in them got a bit “rougher” so after a while I got the hang of it. I had prepared two 300 ml bottles with, one with 1tbs baking soda + warm water, and one with 1tbs ACV + lukewarm/almost cold water. This was quite enough for both L and me – we both have quite short hair.

I was a bit worried that the hair would get as rough as it felt when washing, but after having rinsed out the baking soda and doing the ACV rinse it felt quite nice. My hair looked really nice and clean.

On Tuesday my hair looked all right, but not as nice as the first day. By Wednesday morning, L:s and my hair were looking quite dirty and it was time to wash again.

Over Easter, we went to my parents house. I decided that I needed to dye my hair, and was a bit worried that the henna would be difficult to wash out when using only the baking soda and ACV. It’s hard enough to do with shampoo or conditioner. But actually it worked surprisingly well, with no much trouble at all.

(Yes, I did cut my hair)

During the second week, I encountered another problem – static hair. I don’t know why this was, but I guess that the shampoo free method must have had something to do with it. you can even see it on the first picture above.


I had heard that when doing a no ‘poo, washing your hair once or twice a week would be sufficient. I did not have this impression, I felt that I needed to wash my hair every other day. Normally I don’t need to wash my hair more than about twice a week.It might be something that takes a while for the hair to get used to, as well. But I did feel that my hair was clean after washing, also easily manageable and looked good.

Cost: Very cheap, depending on hair length and frequency of washing around 2€ per month

Difficulty: Takes a slight bit of preparation, washing the hair is really easy.

Cleanness: Looks really clean and nice after washing, but gets dirty quite quickly.

Manageability: Quite soft and manageable, but too fluffy for my taste (which many would probably like). Problems with static hair.

Overall: The average of the above would be 3.75, but I was thinking of giving it a slightly lower rating, since the high ratings are for cost and difficulty. However, I have a feeling that it’s mainly my own hair type that has a problem with this method. It suited L:s hair a lot better, for instance. So I think 3.75 is quite accurate. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but still definitely worth a try.

Next up is the Conditioner only method. Check back in two weeks time to see how we liked it!

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    1. hilda

      Thanks! I dye my hair with henna powder, which is really good for my hair.
      Please how it turns out if you decide to try it out. I guess it will work differently on different hair types, and I know there’s a lot of people are in love with this method.

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  4. Stephanie Tanzella

    I really like the way you set this up and reported about it, and I have something to add.

    Your hair may have gotten dirty quickly because of oil overproduction as your pores adjust to the oils not being stripped away daily. The article you linked to alludes to it, but it’s explained really well here:

    “You’re thinking you could never do without shampoo, that your hair would be a big oily mess β€” but it’s quite the opposite. It’s a supply and demand relationship, much like nursing a baby. The more your baby wants to nurse, the more milk your body produces. If you suddenly stopped nursing your baby there would be a lot of excess milk, engorgement, etc., for a while until your body returned to a state of balance.

    The oily secretions of our body are very much the same. The more we strip away the natural oils, the more demand we are creating and the more oils our bodies will make. So if you stop using the surfactants cold turkey, your body will still be overproducing oil and there will be a lot of oil until your body reaches a balance again. ”

    Two weeks may not have been enough to allow for adjustment.

    1. hilda

      Hi Stephanie!

      Thank you for commenting. You are absolutely right, two weeks won’t be enough for hair to adjust to a new way of washing, and I also mentioned that in the post. But since this was part of a larger test, where I test almost ten different hair washing methods, I didn’t feel like I could do more than two weeks each.
      Before doing the baking soda + acv washes, I hadn’t been using conventional shampoos for almost a year; mostly I would wash with rhassoul clay or conditioner only. So I don’t know if it was because of the oil overproduction that my hair got dirty quickly. I guess it was just that my hair wasn’t used to this method.

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  6. inquisitivebird

    Cool, I tried this last year for about two months. I definitely made it through the detox period but I had to stop because I moved and things were really hectic and stuff. I uses SLS free shampoo now and really love it but only wash every second or third day because my scalp is still in the ‘I don’t need to produce so much oil’ mode. I love it. I’m thinking of trying th no poo method again sometime but also am really intrigued with shampoo bars… Check them out, they’re pretty environmental friendly and also last pretty long.

  7. Abe

    Every time there is a mention of No Poo somewhere, there are tons of questions and comments from experience. So, I thought it might be a good idea to set up a question and answer site to help beginners, and kind of let everyone discuss the No Shampoo/Soap lifestyle, and all the different experiences and experiments we are doing.

    I would like to invite you to come post on our forum to provide info and experiences.

    So, if you are interested, go check it out:

    I’m not selling anything, and I would appreciate people participating in honest, good discussions.

  8. Bogna Chreptowicz McAndrew

    Hi Hilda! Love your blog! I’ve posted it on my new No Poo (shampoo is poo) facebook page. I’m very intrigued by your rhassoul clay! cleaning method mentioned…i’ll read all of your blogs than! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Tonya

    Hi….I am starting the second week of using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I have very thin baby fine hair and have washed 3x/week. So far I like it, except for one MAJOR problem….the hair static. You mentioned this happened to you….what did you to resolve it or does it eventually go away? I fear I can not continue with the “no poo” method if I can’t find a resolution. I have a humidifier in my house and my clothes are not full of static – just my hair. I have tried Static Guard on my comb/brush, wetting them down before I use them, etc. It is horrible, I have never had static like this before. The only thing I can do is put my hair up in a clip or pony tail.

    1. Stephanie Tanzella

      I also use baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and have crazy fine hair. I didn’t have as much of a problem with the static. But, I have heard that rubbing surfaces with a drier sheet will remove some static. Might be worth a try. My second suggestion is to go a little heavier with the vinegar.

    2. hilda

      I only did the test for two weeks, so I don’t know if it goes away after a while or not, but my guess is not. Also I’ve noticed I get more static hair in winter.
      I would just wet down a wooden comb and run it through my hair, that worked all right for me. Also you can try using a bit more vinegar, as the comment below suggests. Or try applying something to weigh down your hair. I asked around on a facebook no poo-forum and they suggested conditioner, glycerin, aloe vera or vegetable oil. Especially with glycerin and oil, just take a few drops, spread over your palms and run along the lengths of your hair. You could even try with just your favourite hair gel.
      If none of this seem to work, there are a lot of other shampoo-free hair washing methods. This one is the only one that’s given me this problem. You can check them out here

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  11. Hmelcookie

    You’ve done a great job putting together this info – Thanks! I’m going to try the baking soda/vinegar no-poo method and am excited to see how it works!

    I started using all-natural shampoo several years ago. One is sold by and is a liquid soap. The second one is a natural bar soap sold by Both are fabulous and have absolutely no questionable or ‘bad’ ingredients and they both recommend using a vinegar rinse. There was an adjustment period with both shampoos (I don’t think that can be avoided) but the vinegar helped immensely.

    However, I also had/have a problem with static and it drives me nuts! I have applied natural oil to help smooth my hair but it doesn’t help for long. I think the problem derives from wearing synthetic clothing. If I wear all-natural fabric like cotton or linen, I don’t have the problem so I have made an effort to only buy naturally-derived clothing. Since I use homemade laundry detergent and vinegar in place of fabric softener, I also have a slight static issue when I take clothes from the dryer and natural fibers fix this problem also.

    I think anything new is an adjustment but no matter what, I am never going back to using products laden with chemicals. I make my own tooth powder, use only natural oils for face and body moisturizing or lotion bars I have made, and I have been using natural deodorant for 2-3 years now. I know an important part of skin and hair health is a healthy diet so it’s been a challenge to gradually change everything but it feels great!

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  13. Deb

    I’m trying out the no poo method now. I’m on day 11, with a few good rinses with water only in between and today I worked some baking soda through my hair to get rid of the excess oils. Amazingly my hair looks a feels really good, though it is a little “fluffy”. Still, I can handle a little fly-away and static as 90% of the time my hair is back/up. I can;t wait to see how this works out long-term.

      1. Deb

        Its been about ten weeks now since I last shampooed, and after a few weeks, my hair gave up the frizzies, and settled right now. All I’ve used in it since is baking soda about once a week/every ten days, and my bf has gone no poo too as of a few weeks ago. His hair was more manageable form the get-go!

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    1. hilda

      Hi Marina! Funny you should ask that. I have just this week started experimenting with the so called Water Only-method, which is about only using water and ACV (and in some cases, not even ACV) to wash your hair. Check back next week and I will hopefully have written something on that.

      In this method, the no ‘poo-method, it’s the baking soda that does the washing, and the ACV only restores your scalp’s ph-balance, as baking soda has a different pH level than our scalps. If you’re not ready for switching to a method where only water takes care of the hair cleaning, there are a bunch of other hair washing methods. You can read about many of them here: I hope you find something that suits your needs. Good luck!

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