Truly natural or organic shampoos can be pretty pricey, but you don’t need to drop big bucks for shiny, healthy hair. It might sounds like the recipe for a hair volcano, but baking soda and vinegar work great as shampoo and conditioner substitutes. Folks who use baking soda and vinegar instead of shampoo often call this technique the “no ‘poo” or “no shampoo” method.
Here are some tips on how to wash your hair with baking soda and vinegar!
Why Do No ‘Poo?
Like I mentioned above, it’s much cheaper than truly natural or organic shampoo and conditioner, but why not just grab a cheap bottle of Herbal Essences and be done with it, right? The trouble with conventional shampoo, including faux natural brands like Herbal Essences, is that they contain potentially harmful ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and fragrance.
For me, fragrance is the worst synthetic chemical in beauty products. “Fragrance” is actually an unregulated term that could refer to any cocktail of thousands of largely under-tested chemicals. Companies can get away with this misleading labeling under the guise of “proprietary information.” Meanwhile, we’re washing our hair with potential allergens and carcinogens. Boo on that!
I used to wash my hair with shampoo every other day, and after a few months doing no ‘poo, I only have to wash it once or twice a week, depending on how active I am. That means that not only do you save money, but you save water and the energy used to heat it for all of those longer showers.
Before we get into the ins and out of no ‘poo on the next page, I think it’s important to talk about one downside to making this switch: many people experience a breaking in period.
The Breaking In Period
I will warn you right now that almost everyone who switches to no ‘poo initially does have a breaking in period that can last from a few days to even a few weeks while your scalp adjusts. Some folks write the no ‘poo thing off after just a week or less, saying that it doesn’t work, but chances are that is because their body hasn’t gotten used to this more natural method for cleaning their hair.
Shampoo strips your hair of natural moisture, so your scalp might still be in oil-production overdrive for a little while while you adjust. The breaking in period can be pretty unfun, but there are a couple of things you can do to make it easier on yourself.
If you have short hair, brush it regularly. This helps distribute the oils more evenly, so your hair won’t look so greasy during the transition. Brushing can help distribute the oil in long hair, too, and you might want to go for updos, like pony tails or buns until your hair adjusts.
Image Credit: Creative Commons phoot by trenttsd
The Basic No ‘Poo Recipe
There are a couple of different ways that you can do this thing, but the basic idea is that you “wash” your hair in baking soda, rinse it thoroughly, then follow with a diluted vinegar rinse that you also rinse out thoroughly.
What you’ll keep in your shower are a water-tight container full of baking soda, and a squeeze bottle with your vinegar mixture. The amount of baking soda you use and the vinegar to water ratio that works for you really depends on your hair. If your hair is oily, you’ll want to up the baking soda and use less vinegar in your rinse. For dry hair, go the opposite direction. Here’s what works for me:
1. Pour about 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the palm of your hand, and moisten it. Massage it into your hair and your scalp. Wait a minute, then rinse.
2. Combine 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar and 1 cup water in your squeeze bottle. You can do this in advance, so you don’t have to mix it up every time you wash, and you probably won’t need the whole cup for a single washing. Give the bottle a good shake, then squeeze some of the vinegar mixture onto your scalp. Massage it into your scalp and your hair, wait another minute or two, and rinse thoroughly.
Like I said, this is the mixture that works for me, but depending on your hair type, you may need to adjust the amounts of baking soda and vinegar that you use.
No ‘Poo for Curly Hair
The most common question I get when I talk about no ‘poo is whether it works on thick or curly hair. My hair is thick and a little bit wavy, and it works just fine for me, but I couldn’t speak for truly curly hair. A little research turned up an account from Lorissa from Beautiful Somehow who did a 30 day no ‘poo experiment. Here’s what she had to say:
I am so completely happy with my curly hair now! The curls are bigger, more defined, and not as frizzy as before. I am still using a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of mousse to set the curls. I am currently looking for a more natural alternative for it though. So if you know of one, please share!
You can read all about her no ‘poo experience over at Beautiful Somehow, and if you have any tips for an alternative to mousse, I bet she’d love your suggestions!
Tips from Fellow No-’Pooers
Stephanie Moram from Good Girl Gone Green does a slightly different mix for her hair. She recommends about 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a cup of water, and about the same ratio for vinegar. You can read about her no ‘poo method here.
My Healthy Green Family doesn’t like to call this method no ‘poo, but over there, Free Range Mama talks about the baking soda and vinegar method that she uses. She likes the same ratio as Stephanie recommends, and she also talks a little bit about a common question that folks have when they’re new to no ‘poo: the vinegar smell. As she describes, that smell should fade quickly as your hair dries. If it doesn’t, try using less vinegar in your mix next time.
Do any of you do the no ‘poo thing? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you – and what hasn’t! – in the comments.