No Poo, no toxins, no worries (Shampoo free for two years!)

“What’s that your cooking up now, Lu?” asks Tim. “Just sugar and lemon.” “For the pancakes?” “Nope, my hair.”

My husband nods his head, like, naturally.

It’s been over TWO YEARS since I gave up shampoo- I reckon that now makes my No Poo journey a long term one, yeah?

My No Poo journey has been two years of mixing up concoctions, hair looking terrible, then amazing, terrible again, and then fine. Two years of people hearing about my No Poo experiment and then grabbing my ears, taking a big whiff of my scalp. (Not really, but a few people HAVE asked to smell it!)

I have had long, long hair and a very short crop. Just now it is a weird in between stage as I grow it long again. And I have tried just about every single thing out there as a natural alternative to shampoo, conditioner and styling products.

Here are a few reflections on giving up shampoo….

If you stick at it, it DOES work. But sticking at it is really hard. Realistically, you will go through a least a couple of months of unhappy hair. You need quite a lot of motivation to get through that first bit.

It works with long hair and short hair, although the short hair takes a lot less maintenance. I use to have to brush my long locks a lot but now I only use a brush to back comb my quiff…

Long hair takes a lot more STUFF too – coconut oil as a conditioner, more regular washing. I do this massage thing to distribute the oils away from my scalp and it is MUCH easier doing this with short hair.

In the past I have loved bicarbonate of soda, eggs, and soap nuts as my preferred natural shampoo alternatives. Now? Now I just use water.

There are people all over the world doing this- just quietly getting on with it. While we were in Spain, at the eco community, it was completely normal to be No Poo. Here I am, blogging all the ups and downs and there they were, just not washing their hair because of the chemical – free policy on site. No biggie.

If I want to style it I use a mixture of sugar and lemon as a nice crispy hairspray. For a wax I use beeswax and coconut oil, and for a gel I break off a bit of my Aloe Vera plant and use the gel inside. And if I want to use a hair clip I break off one of our Venus Fly Trap leaves and for a toothbrush I use a thistle. (Pahaha, totally just kiddingly about those last two… Although my life does increasingly resemble the Flinstones, just with less bones.)

When I first began this there were lots of baffled responses but the one that stuck with me the most was the person that said “Oh, I know lots of people who have done that. But they all eventually go back to shampoo.” I guess this filled me with the most doubt about my experiment – am I going to go through this whole thing, just to give up?

Two years later I can say, for sure, that there is NO going back to shampoo. Not in a million years. I can see no reason to. My hair cleans itself. I spend ZILCH on shampoo – not even on natural alternatives now I have short hair. I just use water. It is enormously thrifty and enormously green. My hair is strong, healthy and shiny. No Poo 4 EVA!

I need to write more on No Poo!l, eh? haven’t blogged nearly enough about it, considering I am such a devotee. What kind of stuff would you like to read about it?

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50 Responses to No Poo, no toxins, no worries (Shampoo free for two years!)

  1. jojozelzen@hotmail.com says:

    How do you wash your children?

  2. Jenny says:

    Just a wondering thought, if you use no shampoo with children from the beginning is there ever a need to start? I don’t use any soap with my kids, just water, we struggled with eczema and now I don’t see any point in starting? What do you do with your two?

  3. Thanks for writing this and keeping me inspired! I’ve been trying to go no poo for quite a while. I tried for 6 months trying all kinds of alternatives then gave up. Now I am trying again and have been going around 5 month. My method is to wash it as little as possible and when I do use water only mostly. Every few weeks I wash it with olive oil soap. My hair hasn’t fully adjusted yet but it is getting there and I’m really hoping I will become permanently no poo like you!
    Zoe @ecothrifty recently posted…A month of the Rubbish Diet!My Profile

  4. Cara says:

    Every time I read one of these posts, I’m sooooooo tempted. Currently contemplating a short cut to remove all colour and reveal my natural grey (started at 17 !!). Viva la revolution :0)

    • LydiaGrace says:

      Definitely let your grey fly free! If you really can’t bear that then there’s always henna for an eye ctaching shock of red locks :)

  5. Ohh! Congratulations! I have lots of questions as we are going to start using grey water on our garden and we need to think more about what is in that water: Are you still hennaing? How do you manage your no poo poo alternatives when you are travelling? I read (in the fantastic Self-Sufficientish-ish book) that going no poo in hard water areas is a bit of a no-no. As a Londoner, your thoughts?

    • Lucy says:

      Well, I’m on water only so DEAD easy travelling.
      Nonsense about hard water- it’s just the alternatives should be mixed up more, less reliance on bicarb
      Still henna every six weeks :) in campgrounds!

  6. Katy says:

    I’m about six months behind you, I’m loving it but it makes hairdressers really uncomfortable (which is fun)!
    Katy recently posted…A Lick of PaintMy Profile

  7. Caroline says:

    I have to be totally honest – we barely ever wash our daughters hair (once a week?) and it NEVER gets greasy. She’s 22 months and she runs around and gets sweaty, puts egg, bean, milk and whatever else encrusted hands in her hair to sweep it out of her face. I tend to brush it out with my fingers or a brush if I’m really desperate.
    I tend to only shampoo the scalp and then spray conditioner in the ends.
    I really can’t understand why people would use stuff by Johnson’s on their baby when you look at the ingredients in that stuff? It’s not like they even try to make it ‘more natural’, it’s got the longest list of nasties going and yet most people still use it.
    I’m so keen on doing this. I often wash and go without shower gel and only use deodorant sparingly and asked my husband the other day if I ever smell to which he said “not often”. Has my body just got used to it?
    I do still use shampoo and conditioner though and have been trying to find the cleanest one possible – I think when it’s gone I’ll experiment with some recipes.
    I too have been wondering about the approach with hair dressers, but my local one will happily do the ‘dry’ cut if I say I’m in a rush!!

    Yes please, post more about no poo, it’s interesting.

  8. Rosealys says:

    Yay! The no-poo help-desk!
    I’m in my 5th month of no-poo, and while my hair is… ok… it’s not as shiny as it used to be. I use bicarb and coconut oil as a conditioner once a fortnight, and sometimes give it a wash with just water in between (and coconut oil again afterwards,) but it’s still refusing to be as shiny as it was with shampoo. I’ve tried soapnuts, but my hair didn’t get on with them. My hair was dry-greasy for the first few days after them, then lovely for the next two or three days, and then indifferent after that. I tried a clay mask once, but it didn’t do the trick. I’d really love to get my hair lovely and shiny by a couple of weeks before Easter, because my no-hippy-tendencies-whatsoever sister is visiting me, and I’m trying gently to show her that you don’t have to buy all sorts of expensive nasties to look good.
    I’m thinking of trying an egg next time my hair starts to need some TLC, any tips or other ideas?

    Loving the blog, and the new one! :)
    Rose
    Rosealys recently posted…Everyday SexismMy Profile

    • Nada says:

      Depending on your hair, it might be better to oil it first before you wash it with bicarbonate.. I do that becuse my hair is super dry that just going bi carb will kill it … Or I use dilluted dr. Bronners… My biggest issue is hair smell, though, so I often use conditioner for that.

    • Lucy says:

      Do you brush, brush, brush with with a bristle brush? :)

      • Rosealys says:

        To be honest, I’ve been a bit nervous of oiling it first, I’ve heard of people leaving oil in the night before and washing it out the next day, but I’ve been a bit scared that I’ll end up looking like the Gulf of Mexico… maybe I’ll bit the bullet and give it a go though.

        I don’t have a bristle brush, although I’ve been brushing much more than I used to pre-no-poo… I’ve just googled bristle brushes too and the omniscient Google says that the bristles redistibute oils better than plastic, rather than it just being about stimulating better circulation in the scalp (which I thought was the benefit before.) So maybe I will have to invest in a bristle brush. Although it may need to wait until Easter unless I’m popping over the border to Germany, it’ll probably cost an arm and a good portion of my leg here in Switzerland, and I’m just getting back into climbing, so I need them!

        :)

        Rose
        Rosealys recently posted…Everyday SexismMy Profile

  9. Agija says:

    Hi, love your posts and this one has a perfect timing as I am just about to embark on no poo journey myself. I guess I would like to read more on what methods you used and what results they had, particularly for long hair. I have long hair that have started to tangle a lot. I still shampoo my hair with green and Eco products but am really keen on going further… Also, is it best to start in summer or winter? Does it make a difference at all?

  10. Perrine says:

    Hi there!
    Congratulations on your no-poo two-year anniversary!

    I’ve been wondering about doing it for a long time… But my hair is really curly, so brushing/combing it when dry is not an option (except on halloween for a mad scientist look). It’s also very dry and fragile, so I fear bicarbonate might not be good for me. Do you have any suggestions to make no poo work? Any feedback from curly-haired ladies no-pooing?

    Love from France =)

    • Doofas says:

      Perrine, my hair is the same as yours, very curly and cannot be brushed or combed when dry. So I just wet it every day, sometimes use apple cider vinegar if it’s got very tangled, and then use Bicarb once a week to wash it. I sometimes use coconut oil to style my hair with or if it’s having a particularly frizzy phase. It is the best thing I have ever done for my curly hair, it responds so much better to this regime than it did to any shampoo/conditioner/styling products.

      • Rachel Barnes says:

        my hair is like that too. Greasy at the top, frizzy and dry at the bottom… combing is not an option… unless wet.
        Coconut oil doesn’t have to be massaged at the scalp, just keep it at the roots.
        Bicarb at the scalp and rinse with apple cider…
        I’m just repeating above comments now… :) good luck.

  11. Al says:

    I’m interested in the no poo but don’t realistically think I’ll ever be in a place to get there- laziness mixed with vanity if I’m honest.

    I’m interested in no chemical alternatives especially to the bright yellow baby shampoo. Water alone won’t cut it with my kids – I have tried it.
    Can you do a post on healthier alternatives to super Market beauty products? Preferably thrifty too :-) (it seems all natural is a lucrative business. )

  12. I went no-poo about 3 months ago after reading about it here, I use bicarb then apple cider vinegar after. It is amazing and I can now go days between washes which is amazing as I was a proper grease-ball after the first day with shampoo!

    Only problem is.. My hair seems to be getting really dry now and I don’t know what to do! Heard coconut oil is good as a deep conditioner but then people say its really hard to wash out and can’t be washed out with just bicarb so I daren’t try!

    Did you have a transition period from going from bicarb / eggs to just plain water?

    L x
    Laurenne @ This Mummy recently posted…Easy Oat BiscuitsMy Profile

  13. Bridget says:

    What a great update! You inspired me to go no ‘poo about nine months ago when I first stumbled across your blog. I love it! It was very hard at first and nothing seemed to work, (baking soda, eggs, aloe, castile soap- all a disappointment) and then a few months ago I discovered ghassoul, a Moroccan red clay. I use just a small amount in a paste about once a week for my scalp and my long, previously oil-prone hair has never been better. Thank you for all of the advice and anecdotes!

  14. alexandra says:

    Congrats for those 2y!
    I`ve been shampoo free till last August (apart 2 visits to the hairdresser with my own shampoo) and I am now using ayurvedic powder such as shikakai or sidr, the bicarbonate and acv gave me dandruffs after 5months …. I also use henna and indigo and my hair is shiny!
    I do use only water between washes so about once a week but not sure I could relay on water only at the moment…

  15. Elaine says:

    After reading about not using shampoo, soap, and deodorant on another blog, I’m having a go. Already noticing that my skin is not as dry, which is great. My hair is baby fine and there’s not a whole lot of it (runs in the family). I’m post-menopausal, which is not a problem, but my hair did thin out during the transition. I’m now 5 days in, but have to do something with it every day if I’m not just hanging around home. So far I’ve only used water, but will do the massaging thing tomorrow. It doesn’t seem to get too greasy, but the last time I washed it it was a little stiff, which is very weird for me. Does anyone have any suggestions for hair like mine? Thanks.

  16. Rachel Barnes says:

    Firstly. congratulations… 2years! whoop!
    secondly, Can you blog about henna please…
    I REALLY want to dye my hair with henna (nice and red and bright and crazy like…) but I have so many mixed reviews about it from people…
    Also, if I was to go for it, I already have bottled dye (I KNOW I KNOW!) in my hair. do I wait for it to fade, so just go for it…

  17. Sandy says:

    Hi I am sixty something with fine flyaway hair, I have to do something everyday, as when I get up my hair is sticking up all over the place, i also use loads of hair styling products and I would really like to go no poo, but am a little scared, help

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Sandy,
      I’m 59 with fine hair and today is day 10 of my no-shampoo journey (see 2 posts before yours). If I’m going out in public I have to wash it every day as it gets totally squashed at night. I’ve never coloured my hair – I went gray gracefully and couldn’t be bothered with the never-ending maintenance. I only used a little bit of “volumizing” shampoo and very occasionally a bit of mousse to hold it in place, so I figured I’d try going shampoo-free right off the bat and just get on with it. I usually just towel it off and blow dry it to style it, which takes about 3 minutes (one of the only benefits of having fine, thin hair). After the third wash, I was rather startled to find that I looked a bit like a mad scientist after the towel drying, and that after a few seconds of blow drying my hair was sticking out all over. Since then, I’ve towel dried, let it air dry for a bit, then styled it just using a styling brush to shape it and then let it finish drying on its own. It’s amazing how much more volume it has than it had with the “volumizer” shampoo, which I now think just dragged it down, and it holds its shape so much better, even overnight. And I also don’t have to use electricity to dry it, which probably dries it out more. It’s been brutal here this winter with static electricity. I live in a cold part of Canada (-32C on the thermometer this morning!) and we’ve had an extremely cold winter, so the furnace has been on a lot. My new hair isn’t nearly as staticy as the old hair was. So give it a go. The message I’m getting from my reading is that everyone’s hair reacts differently and you just have to figure out what works for you.

      • Lucy says:

        WOW! Yes, I found this too! And perfect conclusion :)

        • Sandy says:

          Thanks Elaine, your reply was most helpful, I will try not to blow dry and see what happens, here goes, a bit like learning to swim, confidence really, will keep you all posted

          • Elaine says:

            Hi Sandy,
            I’ve been discovering that it takes a bit of time to find out exactly how dry it needs to be to come out right. If you towel dry it too much or let it get too dry before shaping it, it’s too frizzy. Too little and it doesn’t shape as easily or have as much body as I’d like. Don’t give up if it takes a few goes to get it right. After 13 days I think I’m almost finally there in terms of knowing what works for me.

          • Sandy says:

            Hi Elaine, thanks for the tip, this morning was my fourth day, so far ok

          • Elaine says:

            Excellent! Keep up the good work.

            I didn’t find it to be as much of an adjustment as some people do.

  18. Amanda says:

    I love your quiff but despite how many times I attempt it, I can’t master it.

    Plleeeeeeeeeaassee would you do a tutorial on how to do it?

  19. Pinkoddy says:

    Thank you for such an informative post and helping others. Do you have any tips for helping cope with those initial hard first months?
    Pinkoddy recently posted…Spring Dressing Up – Paper Plates and Other thingsMy Profile

  20. Pingback: The Thursday Thrifty Tip round up…. | The Diary of a Frugal Family

  21. P says:

    I tried it for a few months but gave up :( Maybe I should give it another try though…

  22. Elaine says:

    I’m now 10 weeks into using no shampoo (or soap or deodorant) and it’s going really well. My hair has calmed down and I’ve pretty much figured out how to handle it. It looks much better and has more body than it ever did before. And my skin is so much better, I think from not being dried out by the shampoo and soap. My husband has also joined in the new regime.
    Elaine recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

  23. Elaine says:

    Just caught the “Hello World” box below as I posted, but didn’t catch it soon enough to uncheck it. Sorry to muck things up.

  24. Janet says:

    I love following your no poo journey! I have been at it only a few weeks, but I love it! When you first started, how often were you using alternatives? I have started with a bicarbonate wash every 4 days, and plan to gradually lengthen it by a day or two every few weeks. I also tried an egg… But it was a disaster! Somehow it didn’t clean my hair at all… Back to bicarbonate for me I suppose.

  25. Heidi says:

    Hi, i’ve just discovered this post and I have a question…..I have VERY greasy/oily hair and always have. I have to wash it first thing otherwise I wouldn’t dare leave the house, it is REALLY bad (i’m not exaggerating, it’s disgusting first thing even after washing the morning before). I have tried everything that I can afford but nothing helps. Would this work for my hair type?

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