head of hair in a bun
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No-Poo FAQ

Several months ago, I shared how I found myself having to come to terms with my life-long straight hair being declared curly and that in order to manage the dryness that comes with curly hair I threw out the shampoo and conditioner bottles and embraced the more natural method of hair cleansing… otherwise known as “no-poo.” (Looks like I finally embraced the term as well.)

Surprisingly, that has become one of my most popular posts. (Figures since it was pretty embarrassing to admit.) I have tried to answer everyone’s questions as best as possible in the comments, but if you are just stumbling across the post, filtering through them all to see if your question was already addressed can be daunting. Today I’m sharing an update as well as compiling all of the questions here for ease of access.

It’s been over eight months since I began experimenting on my head with all-natural hair care and I’m happy to report that I have NOT been following my own method this entire time.

An odd statement to make, but I’m glad that during the first trimester of my current pregnancy, I seemed to lack the mental clarity to remember to refill my bottles before I got in the shower. Thankfully, there was an old bottle of my shampoo up on the ledge for situations just such as this and I resorted to using it most days my hair needed washed for many weeks.

During that time, my hair became increasingly difficult to untangle and surprisingly greasier and greasier. Oddly enough, it also began falling out, which anyone who has ever been pregnant knows that during that time, you’re hair is supposed to be at it’s most luxurious only to begin losing it all during your postpartum period.

Once I realized that, I had to stop shampooing again, my hair was instantly manageable again! Sadly, I’m still losing hair so in all fairness, I won’t attribute it to the shampoo (unless it was the catalyst.)

I’ve come to appreciate the flexibility from routine this method of hair care affords. With the busy harvesting and canning season followed by my bi-annual sewing marathon having just come to a close, I do realize I’ve been neglecting caring for my curls as much as I should and more often than not I am adding a day or two between washes and resort to wrapping it up in a bun and noticing no adverse effects. I’m sure that any mother can appreciate not having to be a slave to her hair!

Another observation I’ve made is that I’ve really come to associate the scent of the apple cider vinegar rinse with cleanliness. I know that losing the perfumed scent of our shampoo and conditioner is a major consideration for those contemplating making the switch to a natural hair care routine and I found this to be encouraging!

Finally, I did run into one issue that I just have to mention…. it turns out that I’m not the only one who enjoys the scent of the apple cider vinegar rinse for in the peak of fruit fly season I found that  I once neglected to secure the plug on the bottle and which admitted access to dozens of the little insects who were floating dead inside. I wish I was more observant and had noticed before I had squirted half of it on my head. Wasn’t feeling too clean that day I’ve got to say.

Now onto your questions….

{No-Poo Basics}

Is the baking soda rinse in place of shampoo and the apple cider vinegar rinse in in place of conditioner?

Basically. The baking soda does function like a cleanser and the apple cider vinegar as a conditioner.

How do you use the aloe vera treatment on your scalp?

My dry itchy scalp issues were localized and I believe that I was just using my fingers to massage a bit of the gel into the scalp. Despite the name, this aloe vera gel really isn’t like a gel at all and is quite watery, massages in nicely, and dries quickly. So I was simply applying it to the dry hair (or wet after a “shampooing”) and it was drying with no problems (like residual greasiness etc.). My hair is pretty thick too and using my fingertips to get under the hair and in to the scalp worked nicely. If you were going to blow dry your hair I don’t know that I wouldn’t apply it after the drying to make sure that you’re not wasting your time and money on the aloe vera in case using the blow dryer reduced it’s efficacy.

Could I use regular or even better, this intriguing citrus vinegar of which you speak?

Several people weighed in and said they use just plain white vinegar in place of the apple cider vinegar with even better results. I see no reason why you couldn’t make that a more pleasant smelling experience by trying it with the citrus vinegar which simply infuses the vinegar with the scent of the citrus oils.

Is the tea tree oil just for scent or to help kill the itches?

Tea Tree Oil is amazing! If you don’t like the scent, you really should cut it with mint and get used to it. It functions as an antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial. It can be used against scabies, mites, and lice. For your hair, it will work to combat dandruff and cradle cap. A 2% solution (defunct link) (that would be about 40 drops for my quart sized ACV rinse) will unclog glands, clear dead cells, and allow your  natural oils to flow.

How much does the citrus hairspray lighten your hair in the summer?

I imagine that since the citrus is cut with water instead of being 100%, it wouldn’t be as much as you might expect. That said, I have discontinued using the citrus hairspray for a time because I suspected that it was having a drying effect on my hair. Once I get some more time on my hands, I intend to try it again, because it is much more frugal than purchasing commercial hair spray and I thought it worked just as well.

Do you cut your own hair?
I used to and was just as pleased with the results as I was with any salon cut I ever paid too much money for. For those interested in learning to cut your own hair following the method that I used, here is a description or a wonderful video demonstration. It’s been years since I cut my hair more than once or twice a year and since I don’t do a great deal of damaging styling or coloring and my hair is generally long, any more frequently hasn’t been necessary… even if it was in my budget. I’m admittedly nervous about cutting curly hair and have been seriously contemplating investing in a Deva Curl haircut despite it’s rumored cost. (Update: It’s no more than any other professional salon cut. And worth every penny.)

Does it make your hair turn red?

hairstyle
hairstyle
hairstyle

No, it doesn’t make your hair turn red… although I do admit that it may appear that way in the photos from the original post. The varying conditions in the room I shot the photos in lent a color cast that made my hair appear to change color with time. I have noticed absolutely no change in my hair color whatsoever since employing these methods

Do you use this method on your kiddos hair as well? 

No I haven’t and I hesitate to start. Most of my children bathe themselves and due to the watery nature of the products, I worry about there being a lot of waste. I’ve got my eye out for a single use bottle that I might begin to experiment with them on.

Has anyone tried any of the all natural recipes on oily hair? & Will this work for straight hair?

When I first heard of the “no-poo” method of hair care, it was from a fellow blogger who was combatting oily hair. And her hair is lovely and straight. You can read about her experience here. If you have oily/greasy hair, I would leave the honey out of the apple cider vinegar rinse… it’s a humectant and will function to preserve moisture in the hair.

Another thing that I’ve noticed over the past year that ladies with oilier hair will have to be on the look out for is to resist the temptation to add too much baking soda to the wash. I know it’s easy to think that if a little bit works so well, I’ll double it and get results more quickly 🙂 But what I’ve noticed on those days where I’ve mixed it up without really measuring the baking soda and I added in a little extra just in case I was off was that the water will become over-saturated with baking soda. Those weeks even my dry hair suddenly becomes unmanageably oily. At that point, I skip the baking soda wash the following week and just use ACV on the wash days and my hair will return to normal.

You said that the “rinse” is freezing? Do you refrigerate your concoction? Or rinse in cold water? Or are you referencing the tingle type coolness of the mix?

While there was some tingling in my scalp during the healing process when I first began using the apple cider vinegar rinse, I no longer have that problem or experience that sensation. However, the temperature of the rinse is the same as the air temperature and my shower is much hotter so when the rinse is splashed on it feels like it’s freezing cold even though it technically isn’t.

{No-Poo Method}

How often do you wash your hair?

I wash my hair twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. On Tuesday, I will use both the Baking Soda Cleanser and the Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse and only the Rinse on Saturdays. If I’m feeling particularly grimy from a busy day in the barnyard or garden, I won’t hesitate to use the cleanser more often.

Do you use the entire quart each time you “shampoo” or do you make it up and use a little like you would with regular shampoo? Same question with the rinse.

I would guess that I use about a quarter of the bottle with each use. That means that the “shampoo” lasts about a month and the rinse lasts about two weeks.

How do you dry it? & I was wondering what “plopping” is?

I have tried blow drying my curly hair (with NO success), air-drying my hair (with mixed results), and by the most favorable, comfortable, and least time consuming (since you sleep anyway) is plopping. Plopping is simply a specific method of wrapping your hair up in a long sleeved t-shirt and leaving it up to dry. (See the link for a video tutorial.)

If your hair is curly and you’re trying to avoid frizz (which you are of course), it’s never a good idea to use a regular terrycloth towel for drying. The material just encourages frizz. Try a microfiber one instead.

On the days that you DO NOT “wash” what do you do with your hair? Do you brush? Comb? Wet it? HELP!

As I mentioned earlier, I have had several weeks where I wasn’t always able to get my hair washed on both days. I chronicled what I did with my hair for nearly a week while only washing on Day One.


Day One: Freshly washed and plopped… I used gel prior to plopping and a bit of hairspray to arrange it once dry.

Day Two: I ran my fingers through to comb it, wet some of the ends and used some hairspray to arrange it.

Day Three: I put my hair up to try and get some “headband curls.” I originally saw this technique on a youtube video, but she is charging $30!! for it now and so I can’t share it with you. In a nutshell, you put a headband over the top of your hair (and under your bangs if you have them), scrunching up your waves or curls around the crown. Begin by taking sections of your hair, small or large, around your face and wrapping them up, over, and under the headband so that it ends up back down with the rest of your hair. Continue in the same fashion around towards the center back and then begin over on the other side by your face. You can do this for overnight and take it out in the morning, but I used a thin headband that matched my hair and I thought it made a lovely updo for the day. You can do this with wet or dry hair, but if your hair is dry like mine was, it works best if you spritz it with a bit of water and hairspray or gel first.

Day Four: Remove the headband in the morning and style your curls. They hold really well so there is not need to be timid with them.

Day Five: A bun

Day Six: The bun on day five makes for a wavy ponytail on day six.

Thanks to everyone who commented with your experiences with all-natural hair care as well as tips, tricks, and suggestions. They have been so interesting and helpful! I was greatly encouraged to learn that I’m not the only one who doesn’t shampoo her hair anymore!

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24 Comments

  1. I’m a curly girl too! I tried the baking soda + ACV a few years ago, but I think I used it too often: 3 – 4 times per week. I had to stop using it. Now I’m using a “low-poo” store bought option. Are you still following this method of washing your hair? If not, what are you doing?

    1. Yeah, I would definitely think that’s too often. There’s never a chance for the natural oils in your hair to build up. I’m not, but that’s because now that I’m done having children and the hormonal craziness of pregnancy, my hair has slowly lost it’s curl the last 2 years and I’m back to just a little wave in the back of my head. I use Maple Holistics Argan Shampoo and Silk Condition. Absolutely love it! (But it might be too heavy for curly hair.)

  2. Just a thought on use with your kids…why not try putting the stuff in spray bottles? Like I said…just a thought. Really enjoy your posts. 🙂 Glod bless.

    1. Why thank you! What a great idea! My only thought would be that it would have to be one with some more power than a mist if you had long or thick hair so that it could get under the hair to the scalp/ Blessings!!

      1. Actually, I’ve been trying the apple cider vinegar mix in a cheap $1 travel size spray bottle and it’s been working great! I just put my fingers through my hair, hold my hair out slightly so I get all of my hair and my scalp, and get closer to my scalp when I feel like I’m not getting close enough. It feels good – the sensation of the spray hitting my scalp. I have real thick, curly hair. No high pressure required. I was surprised.

  3. People are still finding these posts, thanks to Pinterest! 🙂 I’m still in my first week of ditching commercial hair products all together (cold turkey! Looking for a styling gel recipe at some point, though…) It’s going fine for me, probably in large part due to the fact that I’ve only washed my hair 1-2x per week for years anyway. Dirty hippie, I guess. 🙂 But as far as cutting your own hair, try it. Seriously. With my fairly-curly hair, I feel I’ve always done a better job of it than the “pros” at CostCutters or whatever I can occasionally afford. They don’t layer up far enough for me and I still end up with triangle head and have to fix it myself anyway. 😛 The curls hide mistakes, and you can always trim a bit if things are uneven! Even if I do a rush job, I’ve always gotten compliments on it, and I haven’t paid anyone to cut my hair in….3 years?

  4. Thanks for sharing you no poo experience. I am afraid to get away from washing all together, so here is what worked for me. I was using Bumble & Bumble Be Gentle shampoo and a rinse of 1 quart water with a few tablespoons of acv for a conditioner. My hair felt amazing the day of washing, but would get really greasy over night I would have to wash my hair every other day. I decided to try an all natural shampoo bar and acv rinse. I researched and decided on 3 sample bars from Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve. The sample shampoo bars I chose were coconut milk, beer & honey, and butter bar conditioning. I alternate the 3 and my hair and scalp love them! My hair has never felt or looked as healthy as it does now!!! I think it was easy to transition because I had already been using acv for a rinse and I don’t use any styling products daily. I don’t mind the vinegar smell anymore. I am afraid to change the acv rinse now since it is working so well. I haven’t been swimming yet this year and I do worry that I may smell like vinegar when my hair gets wet. It had a faint odor when it rained last week, but I also quit smoking 3 months ago and can smell EVERYTHING! I think I may try to make a perfumed hair mist, maybe a sea salt mist…ooohhh, yes! I think that is what I am going to try to day!~

  5. Ok, this might be a stupid question. Do you just wear a shower cap every day while you shower. I have never had success with a shower cap. My hair always comes out looking more oily afterwards. I also work out a lot, is their anything wrong with using the rinses daily?

  6. Love this! Your blog is like a black hole, I get sucked into it (in a good way) 😉 Love the pictures and your hair is beautiful. I’ll be trying this soon.

  7. I tried the no poo and it was nice at first but ended up being a greasy disaster after a few days. I use Hair One now. It works great every time. no itchy mess. no hair falling out from the tea tree oil. It is a conditioning cleanser cream with no sulfates, it is the generic for WEN.

  8. As gross as it sounds…I work out 7 days a week and still only wash every 3-4 days. It isn’t any more oily and doesn’t smell like I’ve been working out and not washing. Our bodies were meant to sweat and our hair can handle that. Drink a lot of water to flush toxins out of your body and your sweat just doesn’t have an odor.

  9. I am so glad that I found this blog! I hated my hair before with it’s dry ends and oily roots. I now wash my hair every 3-4 days and love how it behaves now. Recently, I too got into the shower forgetting to make my shampoo and diluted an old bottle of shampoo. I mistakingly thought this would be okay and was working enough overtime that I continued with the diluted shampoo for about 2 weeks. I too noticed how tangled and unmanageable it was as well as how much hair was on my shirt during the day and how much of it I had to pull off of the drain in the shower. I am now back to making my shampoo and ecstatic about the results. Just a note…I use only the apple cider vinegar and water minus the oils, it just works better with my hair. Thank you so much for sharing your “embarrassing” trial run. It has changed the way I look at my hair and for the first time ever I am proud of my hair.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have been thinking about trying to give up shampoo for a while. I already switched to more natural shampoo, but I have not found something that I like, and they are so expensive. I have very curly hair and have always struggled with it. I tried using baking soda and a water/ACV rinse for the first time today. My hair is really soft and feels and looks good, but my scalp is incredibly itchy. Is this expected? How long is this likely to last? It’s driving me crazy and I’m not sure I can take very many days of that. Is there something I can do to stop the itching as my hair and scalp adjust? Thanks.

    1. I wouldn’t think it should be itchy already… For me, I’ll get a bit of itching along my hairline like the day before I intend to wash my hair. I read that as meaning, yep, it’s time to wash. I’m wondering if the b/s wasn’t fully dissolved and didn’t get rinsed out. If that’s not the case, you could just be going through an adjustment period. If so, I would get some aloe vera gel and massage it into the scalp where the itch is, as often as necessary until you find you no longer need it and that should help. Hope that works for you!

    1. I just use Heinz. My husband has picked up an off brand before. I used it, it worked fine, but the smell was a bit more funky. I say save your $ and use unfiltered only for internal health.

  11. I also have curly hair. I workout six days a week and get quite sweaty as I live in a very warm climate. Do you suggest bs and acv washing more often to remove sweat or is once or twice per week still enough? Thanks!

    1. I’ll bet you would feel like you need to do something more often in that case. Maybe start by letting your scalp tell you how often you should shampoo by paying attention to when it gets itchy. Also, I’m wondering if “dry shampoo” would work for you in between. I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve seen several diy mixes for it out there.

  12. So since the lady is now charging $30 for the hair tutorial for your hair day number 3, and as I am quite the dunderhead when it comes to hair- would you mind doing a video??? Or finding one similar?
    LOVE your site! Thank you so much!