How To Quit Shampoo Without Losing Friends


I’ve joined the No ‘Poo movement.  Not that kind of no poo movement.  That’s called constipation, friends.  Right now, I’m talking about The No Shampoo Movement.  Why would one quit shampoo?  Um, the bigger question is why WOULDN’T one quit shampoo?  If you find yourself often saying or thinking any of the following statements, then you’ll have convinced me that no ‘poo = no you.

1. “I wouldn’t be even slightly ruffled if Jon Hamm inspected my hair greasiness 24-48 hours after washing it.”

2. “I would be dismayed if my hair were as shiny as puppies’ eyes bedazzled with sequins and polished silver.”

3. “The more shampoo and conditioner bottles I put into landfills, the more my level of contentment in life increases.”

4. “I love my hair to be so unhealthy and over-washed that it breaks off so that I can leave pieces of myself everywhere I go.  It’s like Hansel and Gretel… except with hair.”

5. “I find the act of absorbing anti-freeze (isopropyl alcohol), detergent (SLS), petroleum (propylene), coal tar (FD&C color pigments), and carcinogenic toxins (too many to count) through my scalp truly pleasurable.”

Hair (5)

As I said, if any of these statements is a daily affirmation for you, then I suggest you remain committed to your relationship with that bottle that currently inhabits your shower.  That sounded potentially bad… Like I’m encouraging addictive behaviors for people who happen to store some type of alcoholic beverage in their place of bathing.  My bad.  Don’t do that.

Are you wondering whose golden locks are plastered all over this post?  They’re mine… And although they’re an obvious example of bed-head, they’re also an example of no ‘poo hair SEVEN DAYS after washing.  Seven.  I wanted to show how my hair looks these days at its dirtiest and messiest when I’ve done nothing to it.  It wasn’t always this way.  How did achieve it?  I’ll share with you the wisdom of my people.  When I say “my people,” I mean fellow dirty hippies who, ironically, are not so dirty after all.

Step One:  Stop using shampoo.  Use baking soda and vinegar instead.  For your new shampoo, add water to baking soda until it’s a thick goo.  Exact measurements aren’t really important, but it’s better to have not enough water than too much.  For your new conditioner, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar only (no other type of vinegar) to 1 cup of water.  This time, it’s better to have not enough vinegar than too much.  Store your new hair beautifiers in your shower.

  • Wet your hair and focus on massaging your new shampoo into your roots.  Let it sit for one minute.  Rinse.  Pour conditioner onto your ends rather than the roots and rub in.  Rinse.
  • Practice your new hair care method for at least two weeks.

Step Two:  Stop using baking soda and vinegar.  Use only water instead.  You can do this cold turkey or wean yourself off.  It’s choose your own adventure here.  Just massage your scalp well when you’re in the shower.  That’s it.  This is the critical phase where your body pushes the reset button and finds balance for your hair.  Shampoo strips our hair of its natural oils, so over time your hair becomes accustomed to over-producing sebum.

  • Don’t use any styling products or ANYTHING on your hair.  This is important so that your hair can find balance again.
  • This phase lasts 4 to 6 weeks.  Your hair will be greasier than usual.  I probably reached peak greasiness at the end of the first week.  I wore it up all the time.  No one really noticed.  My hair looked dirty but nothing more than that.  I stuck it out for the full 6 weeks because I knew my sebum production was pretty off the charts – my hair would be greasy again after 24 hours.  I wanted to go the extra mile to ensure that my body would recalibrate properly.  Trust me: you may feel a bit yucky during this time, but push through it and you’ll be rewarded.
  • Brush your hair as often as possible – at least once a day.  I would brush my hair really thoroughly before my shower each day.  This helps move the sebum down the shaft of the hair to protect it as it is designed to do.  Brushing helps keep your hair clean.  This is why Jane Austen’s heroines would brush their hair 100 strokes a day in a time when frequent bathing wasn’t exactly popular.  Just be sure that you clean your brush a few times per week!

Hair (4)

Step Three:  Add the baking soda and vinegar back in once per week.  You’ve made it through the toughest part and now your hair is soft and lovely.  Depending on your hair, you can adjust this weekly use to twice weekly or every ten days if you’d like to instead.

Step Four:  Flip your gorgeous locks around like a Victoria’s Secret model and wax poetic about what a total ninja you are by saving money, the environment, and your youthful glow.  This applies to men, too.  Do it, please.


  • Hair getting too frizzy?  Use less baking soda or don’t leave it on as long.
  • Hair getting too greasy?  Use less vinegar or switch to lemon/lime juice.
  • Hair getting too dry?  Try smoothing a bit of coconut oil or olive oil on your ends.
  • Are you dying during the 4-6 week waiting period?  Sprinkle a bit of baking soda along your part and comb it through.  It will absorb some of the greasiness.
  • Still need to use hair styling products after this whole ordeal is over?  I suggest looking into the most organic and natural products out there.  The fewer the ingredients, the better.  The more ingredients you recognize, the better.  The best option of all would be to google homemade styling product recipes and do it yourself!

Hair (3)



Filed under Beauty

39 responses to “How To Quit Shampoo Without Losing Friends

  1. Oh, I’m so glad to find more and more bloggers who have thrown out the shampoo and conditioner! I been using the baking-soda-and-vinegar regimen for about 7 months now and have never been happier with the quality of my hair. :)

    • Yay, Ali! That’s wonderful to hear it’s still making hair magic 7 months later. I’ve been doing on this regimen for about 4 months now, and I agree – I’ve never loved hair care more. :) Thank you for stopping by! xo

  2. I quit shampoo around 8 months ago. One trick that got me through the hard period was to rub corn starch in my roots when it looked greasy. It worked a charm! It may have prolonged that phase by a bit, but it didn’t really matter. And as an added bonus for someone like me who used to be addicted to volumizer sprays and creams, corn starch + grease = awesome volume.

  3. Lou

    I LOVE the No-Poo regime, I haven’t used any for 2 years…. I just use a little oat flour for the days when my hair is a tad greasy – works a treat – similar to the corn starch method Katie mentioned above.

  4. Pingback: I’d Like to Thank the Academy~ 2012 Blog Awards « Part-Time Health Nut

  5. Hi Desi,
    Happy New Year!
    Your blog helps me stay on track with living healthy and is a source of inspiration. As a gesture of my gratitude, I have nominated you for the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award.
    Please accept my kind regards without any obligation.

    • Marya!
      I am so deeply touched by your words and your nomination. Furthermore, I’m so thankful you posted because now you’ve introduced me to your lovely blog! You definitely have a new reader. Happy New Year and thanks again! This was such a lovely surprise on the first day of 2013.
      With love and gratitude,

  6. Tim

    Yeah, I’ve never liked reading the ingredients in my shampoo. Glad theres an alternative. What about bar soap for your body?

    • Hi Tim! I’m a big fan of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soaps for the body. I also support a local soap maker where I live and her soaps have simple, organic ingredients. :)

  7. Hillary

    I just started this yesterday and am very excited about it!
    I have a friend who for some years has been using only finely ground cornmeal (dry, in dry hair), and her hair always looks gorgeous.
    While the idea of no shampoo sounded appealing, that method did not.
    I am so glad to have found this one.

  8. I’ve considered this a few times, but have really long, shiny hair that my vanity cries for me not to ruin ;) I’m almost convinced by your pictures, since you said you were oily too. I can generally only go 24 hours and still look clean. But I do have a question – does this method still work well if you work out? I definitely don’t want icky sweaty hair ;)

    • Hiya Heather! Yes, I had extremely oily hair. Even after 24 hours, my hair would start looking dirty. This method still works wonderfully for me. That’s an excellent question about working out. My guess is that it differs from person to person. I find that even after working out, I can get away with giving my hair a REALLY good brushing before hopping in the shower and then a vigorous scrub with just water. But you may have to experiment with it on your own.. Regarding “ruining” your hair – there’s definitely no harm in trying this method. It definitely won’t ruin anything. If you find it doesn’t work for you and/or it’s not adjusting to the change quickly enough for you, you can always go back to your current routine. However, like most natural remedies, this is not an overnight fix. It requires time and patience… but the reward is worth it in the end! :) Best of luck!

  9. Hey Desi, what about people with dry scalp?

    • Hey Jessica!
      This should definitely work for people with dry scalp simply because you’re washing your hair a whole lot less. With less stripping of your natural oils happening, your scalp will be able to find balance again. I would recommend diluting the baking soda mixture a lot though, otherwise it might be too potent (maybe try 1 Tbsp in a 1 cup water). Also, people often have dry scalp due to product build up that is really irritating. If you want to try a special hair treatment, you could wet your hair with warm water, put some apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray your scalp and strands of hair until saturated. Massage it well into the scalp. Let that sit for 30 minutes. The ACV – one of nature’s disinfectants and fighters against fungus – will cut through any old product hanging around causing problems. Plus, it will open up your pores and help your scalp restore its natural ph balance. You can do this treatment as often as once every 2 weeks if you like it. Hope that helps! :)

      • Yes! Thank you! I will have to try it….the only thing is…and I know this is really, really bad-I color my hair. Will these tips ease some of my dry scalp/oily root woes between coloring?

      • I would imagine it would! When it comes to living a more natural lifestyle, it’s not just all or nothing – I think any little things you do add up and are definitely beneficial. Please feel free to report back on your experimenting. We’re all different, so it’s nice for me to know what works for other people so I can help others better! Thanks, Jessica :D

  10. Yolanda

    Hi Desi
    No idea how I came across your site but I’m so glad I did! I used to use Apple Cider vinegar as a conditioner ages ago but fell out of the habit, but I’d never tried Baking Soda as a shampoo. Today I washed my hair as per your instructions, and just after one wash I like the feel of it better. When I wash it with shampoo, it always feels like straw, and it seems every conditioner I use just smells like chemicals, so I’m off to the supermarket to stock up on baking soda and ACV and I will report back in a couple of weeks :)

  11. My hair is super super curly and so it gets dry easily. I stopped shampooing my hair over a year ago and just use conditioner & leave in conditioner. It’s awesome!

  12. can i use the apple cider vinegar with “the mother?” and if i have hard water, would it be beneficial to use some salt through the whole process?

    • Hiya Penny! You can definitely use ACV with the mother. I do. I’m not quite sure about using salt along with the hard water, though. If you’ve done some research on that, and you want to give it a try, go for it! I’ve never done that, so I can’t vouch for it. When I lived somewhere with really hard water, I just ended up buy a shower filter and that was all I did for that issue. :)

  13. Erin

    Hey! I know this comment is coming way after the original post, but I wanted to thank you for writing it–and also to ask, during the implementation of this method, did you use conditioner at all? I’m mainly curious about the period in which you quit the baking soda/cider regimen that you used in the first 2 weeks. You say not to use ANYTHING during this period so that your body can hit the reset button on oil production–but how do you even comb out your hair? With just the water rinse, isn’t it super tangly all the time??

    Thanks, and love the blog!

    • Hi Erin!
      I would just brush my hair well right before the shower. Since you’re not rubbing any shampoo into it, it doesn’t tangle up at all. It just gets wet. It was never a problem at all for me. Hope that helps! :)

      • Erin

        Thanks so much for getting back to me!
        I’m 4 days in to the initial 2 week baking soda/vinegar routine….my hair doesn’t seem to be appreciating it, but I’m gonna hang in…I hope it gets worse before it gets better? your hair looks so delightful soft and wonderful in those photos, wile mine currently is straw-like AND YET greasy at the same time! Give me hope that there’s a happy end to this story.

      • Erin! So sorry – this comment somehow slipped under my radar! Anyway, rest assured: it definitely gets worse before it gets better. Mine used to be exactly like yours – simultaneously straw-like and greasy. Don’t worry! Once your hair re-calibrates itself, it will be smooth sailing from there. Today, my hair still gets greasy (though not as quickly as it used to), but it is never straw-like anymore. :)

  14. Erin

    Hey there! Hairsperiment update–i’m on the eve of reaching the full 6 weeks of nothing-bur-water regimen, making the length of the experiment 8 weeks in total. And you know, I’m not sure my scalp is ever going to stop producing too much sebum. No matter how much I’ve massaged and scratched in the shower, and brushed my hair with my natural bristle brush, it never felt fully clean during this period–and it never sort of seemed to dry out, either! I’m not saying I was yearning for the days of straw-hair but I was wondering exactly when my roots would stop looking like i gently smothered them with hand lotion and that moment just never seemed to come :( now I’m wondering if I should stay the course for yet another couple of weeks before throwing back in the baking soda and vinegar, or go for it and just hope my hair has learned SOME sort of lesson from this time of trial. Any hints?

    love the rest of your blog too–and thanks again for the words of encouragement!

    • Hey Erin! First of all: Congrats on making it to 6 weeks! Secondly: I never reached a time in the nothing-but-water period where my hair felt fully clean or even looked that good. The magic really happened for me after I washed my hair for the first time after that. It stayed clean for days longer than it ever had before. I know that there are people for whom things somehow magically balance out during the just-water phase and their hair looks great, but rest assured: that was not the case for me. My advice is this: You could try going longer – it certainly couldn’t hurt. However, if you’re sick of having a chronic bad hair day, go ahead and wash it. If you’re like me, your hair still will have evolved into something better. :) Hope that helps! Thanks for reading my blog! xx

      • Erin

        Wouldn’t miss the blog. The subjects are thoughtful and the posts very well-written!

        THANKS for the perfectly timed encouragement! It’s just the reassurance I needed to get me over the edge. I’m gonna wash it with baking soda/ACV tonight. I think it probably didn’t help the sebum situation that for the last 10 days of the experiment I’ve been laid up recovering from a nasty tonsillectomy, so all the bed-rest probably sent my grease-production into overtime. Having “clean” feeling hair again will hopefully be a nice recovery treat :)

        ONE last question for you to guide me through the next the post-washout days: now that you only cleanse every so often with baking soda/acv, do you still WASH every day? Like do you still get your hair wet in the shower most days, using nothing but water? Or do you keep your hair dry till the next water-wash which is always accompanied by a cleanse with baking soda/ACV? Just wondering how best to parley this 8 week period into a sustainable routine going forward!

        Thanks again!!

      • For me, my answers to your questions depend on where I’m living. When I was in Ohio, I washed with baking soda/acv about once a week. Sometimes I wouldn’t get my hair wet in the shower, and sometimes I would. It was fine for a long time. When I moved to NYC, things got trickier because the tap water isn’t as good and this city is filthy. I now wash my hair once-twice a week and had to switch over to a homemade, organic shampoo because the baking soda just wasn’t working with all the chemicals in the water here. :( I was very sad about this but I had no alternative. Also, though I’d prefer not getting my hair wet every day (I think this works better for no-poo), I have to at least wet my hair daily because the air is so dirty here, just spending a day outside leaves me feeling like I’m coated in pollution. Hah. I wish I were joking. So, I wet it in the shower since I refuse to wash it any more than twice a week. I recognize that my situation may be different than yours, so play around and see what is right for you. Hope that helps somewhat, though! :)

  15. Jessica

    Hi. I am on day 4 of not washing, and just came across your blog. I have not done the baking soda/apple cider vinegar yet either. I was going with a cold turkey method, and doing that shampoo later. My primary concern is how I will wash after swimming in chlorinated water. Will the baking soda and ACV cut through those chemicals sufficiently? Thank you for your opinions!

    • Hi Jessica! Not being a swimmer, I can’t speak from personal experience… but the most protective natural measure I’ve heard/read about taking when swimming in chlorinated water is to wet your hair with regular water before getting into the pool. For some reason, this causes the hair to absorb far less chlorinated water than it would if you’d gotten into the pool with dry hair. I also think that using apple cider vinegar would be crucial for you. You need to do something to rebalance the pH of your hair after being in chlorine, and ACV will do just that. I would try these two practices. If you feel like you’re not getting all the chlorine out (can you smell it?), then I’d think about investing in an organic shampoo. I would recommend Morocco Method shampoo or Living Libations shampoo only for times when you need to wash chlorine out of your hair. Those two are the only ones I would ever use on my own hair. You can order them online. Keep me updated if you need more help troubleshooting, and best of luck! xx Desi

  16. Liza

    LOL Golden Locks ???? what 10 k or less ???? well all in all I wil agree shampoo is bad for your hair and scalp, soap is also bad for your hair…

    • HAHA! Yes. Both shampoo and soap are bad for your hair. And in the long run, baking soda is not the best either. This method helped me quit shampoo, but now I use Morroco Method to nourish my hair. It is the ONLY healthy shampoo on the market. :)

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