Featured, Green things, Shampoo Free, Thrifty

Ten Shampoo Alternatives for healthy, shiny and clean hair

27 September, 2017

Updated post: I have now been using 100% natural shampoo alternatives for six  years. My hair is stronger, shinier and healthier than it has ever been! I hope you enjoy this post featuring (still) my favourite No Poo shampoo substitutes. I am pretty surprised that the ingredients I fell in love with at the very beginning of my shampoo free journey have remained my favourites. For the last couple of years I have been working as a columnist for Cosmopolitan, writing up beauty experiments, and I also published a bestselling book all about how to give up shampoo which you can grab here.
Amazon Price- $5.56 My Price- $3.56 (2)

At a mere $5.20 or £3.40 (purchase in your own currency) it is a SNIP – less than a bottle of swanky shampoo. But unlike your shampoo it comes with a full refund if you don’t like it!

Why did I give up shampoo?
At the start of this year I began an experiment with my hair.  The purist in me was tired of putting toxins into my body, the spendthrift in me was weary of pouring so much money away on these toxins and the optimist in me was persuaded by our bodies ability to cope without reliance on products! I was in a wash-every-other-day-routine and was a slave to dry-shampoo. I knew there had to be a better way.

Enter the No Poo way of life!

In a typically extreme move  I totally gave up shampoo and have in the last 10 months put everything from a homemade nettle brew to mustard powder on my hair! It has gone quite wrong at times but ultimately my hair is a million times more healthy, voluminous, and grows much faster. Plus I can go away for weeks at a time and need nothing for my hair but a good bristle brush. This really appeals to my hopes of living more simply and with less impact on this beautiful earth (even though I am rubbish at this in lots of ways.)

Here are TEN options for shampoo alternatives I have played with- and sometimes made a lot of mess with! Most are the BEE’S KNEE’s for me and the rest are the dog’s whatchya’s for others…

One- Amla powder

Amla is a brilliant hair ingredient- it is actually dried goosberry! It must be prepared the night before use in an iron vessel. A cast iron pan or pot would be ideal.

Mix with a little water until you have a ruunny paste. Ideally it feels like henna. Or, if you don’t use henna, like dipping your ginger nut in your tea for too long and then mashing it into a bowl!

The next morning take your amla into the shower with you. Once your hair is wet apply the paste and leave it for half an hour. (Squeeze all your black heads and all those other things you can do alone in the bathroom. Don’t entertain guests you’ve never met before, which is what I had to do when I realised i couldn’t wash it straight out! More in video…)

I used two table spoons which was enough for my long hair.

Wash out well!

Read all about Amla for hair here. 

Two- Rye Flour.
Rye flour is fast becoming the star of the No Poo movement, the Bieber of all the shampoo alternatives! it has just the right mixture of saponins and exfoliating properties to make it super kind and cleaning on your hair. I wish i could say “Stick it on” but once again it is a little more complicated – mainly, you need to sieve it first! This video will give you the big HOW TO for rye flour.

Three- Egg.
I use the whole egg, whisked in a cup. I pour over my head and massage in. I leave for a few minutes and rinse well.  It leaves my hair SO clean and SO soft and shiny. However, the water must be cool! I have had a couple of scrambled disasters venturing into too warm territory…. Here is some info about how an egg works and how to apply egg on hair effectively.

Four- Soapnuts.
These are a natural cleaner and work incredibly well. My hair is like silk after- certainly the closest to shampoo I have found. I heat them in water on the stove for 10 minutes, whiz them with my hand blender and use the liquid. I am too lazy to make this my Go To alternative, but use it if my hair has become filthy. Buy them here and use them for cleaning a million and one things! Buy them from my affiliate chums, Ethical Superstore. They come in a 1 kilo pack and are a real bargain – over 300 washes in there!

Five- Rhassoul Clay.
This is LOVELY stuff. For skin and hair.  It is one of the better shampoo alternatives out there as it not only cleans but also conditions. I make a paste with two spoonfuls and boiling water. Once cool I smooth it into hair, after a few minutes I brush it through hair and rinse off. It is truly divine but a little on the expensive side for my thrifty self. (But doesn’t come close to the expense of good shampoo.)Shampoo alternatives for healthy hair

Six- Henna.
This is one of the more colourful shampoo alternatives, something to suit those who like to play around with their hair. This is my once-every-six-weeks deep treatment! I mix up about ten spoons of it with hot water to make a paste. Once cool I apply it all over and leave it for two hours. (Epic I know, I use a plastic bag and grips to keep it all in place.) It needs a SERIOUS rinse, and a good brush, but my hair after is brighter, cleaner, softer.

Seven- Tea.
This relies very much on the massage bit too, and the result is the same as water except you get a nice smell! Some people swear that the different aspects of the tea change your hair – chamomile adding a special softness and lightness to blonde hair, for example. My favourite is to take some lemonbalm leaves and make a tea out of it. A little video here of that happening and an explanation of my motto “If you can’t eat it, don’t wash your hair with it!” ….

Eight- Water!
Oh groan, I know, I’m sorry.  What kind of a shampoo alternative is this?! I hear you cry. The best, truly. It took me 9 months to realise it was all my hair needed – and now it has been one month since anything has been on my hair at all. The key is in the massage and the brush. As you soak your hair, get your fingers stuck in, pushing away at your scalp and any particularly grease-o bits. I do a five minute massage every five days.

I also brush my hair each night with my trusty boar bristle brush. I use Kent Brushes who have an amazing ethical record. They’ve been making boar bristle brushes since 1777 and can HIGHLY recommend either the barrel brush, which I inherited from my Nana and LOVE. The Moroccan Oil and Christophe Robin brushes here are pure boar bristle too – they are pricey but consider it an investment in natural beauty that will last your lifetime! (Those are affiliate links, they ship globally for free!) More info here about what the best boar bristle brush for you might be.

My hair is thick and voluminous and does whatever I want it to do. Whooppiiee for H20!! I have to say that some water is kinder to hair than others! Sometimes the chemicals or the limescale in the water of city residents can be a little unkind. Make sure you use lots of lovely natural homemade conditioners every so often, and if after a little while it becomes clear that your water isn’t nice enough consider getting a shower filter or just committing to one of these other shampoo alternatives below.

For more information see this guide on washing your hair with water only. 

Nine- homemade dry shampoo
Sometimes if you just need to get through an extra day or two, you just want to soak up an extra bit of shininess without doing a full wash, you might want to consider a quick dusting of homemade dry shampoo.

If you have dark hair try mixing a tea spoon of corn flower (or corn starch) with a teaspoon of cocoa.
For red hair, mix a teaspoon of cornflour (cornstarch) with a teaspoon of cinnamon.
For light, simply use cornflour or arrowroot.
Use an icing sugar shaker to give your hair the lightest dusting and keep the rest in a little jar.

Ten- Bicarbonate of Soda/ Baking Soda. This gets your hair SQUEAKY clean. Every ten days or so I put one teaspoon in a cup of water and dissolve it, chuck it on my hair mid shower and wash it straight out. The only reason it isn’t number one is because it isn’t free and I’m a cheapskate. Using bicarbonate of soda regularly and often, and using too much of it will damage your hair more than shampoo. (Please read this ultimate guide to using bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda on your hair! It is a much needed step but you can have too much of a good thing.) My hair gets a bit bicarb weary after too many times in a row, brittle and waxy and needs some of the other, more nourishing ingredients.

Extra helpful ingredients:

Lemon has some seriously potent anti-bacterial properties and can work as a lightener for people wanting to be blonder.  Squeeze a whole lemon into a cup of water and pour over your head mid shower. Rinse well, unless you have hard water in which case you might want to leave on. Not recommended for greasy hair.

Tea Tree Oil.
Full of incredible properties! Add tea tree oil to the bicarb paste, the lemon or the water only wash to turn them into very effective anti dandruff shampoos. Tea tree oil is perfect for people with scalp issues. In fact, one person I am VERY close to but who shalt remain nameless has had a life-long scalp issue fixed by dabbing on a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the problem areas.

A note on conditioner- Half of these, everyone apart from the rye flour, the clay and the egg and the lemon need a rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. I use a splash in half a cup of water and throw it over the ends of my hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse out. It’s a WINNER.

The biggest lesson in all of this is to not give up  and be a brave old soul – often different hair just needs different proportions of things.

For the ultimate guide to giving up shampoo check out my bestselling book –  a shed load of advice and recipes for alternatives to shampoo and conditioners and styling products can be found here.
Happy Hair No Poo Book


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  • Adventures of an Unfit Mother 11 October, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Wow! Your hair looks seriously great! I’m just not sure I’d be brave enough for this experiment. And I do so love a wash & blow dry in the hairdressers too. I’m probably a list cause but well done you!

    • lulastic 11 October, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Ha brilliant, thank you. I have to say your hair was STUNNING at the MADs, so y’know, each to their own hehehe x

    • Kris 27 August, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      Thank you for the suggestions for alternatives to shampoo. As I’m “getting older” my hair is becoming thin, dry and brittle. I have always been a daily shampooer and needed conditioners. I have recently begun to skip a day to try and restore the natural oils. Now to try alternatives to my usual products.

  • Jools 11 October, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Your hair does look glossy. I am a hairdresser with the most greasy of hair and at 41 it shows no sign of drying up. How do you combat grease?

    • lulastic 11 October, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      The idea behind it is that our hair produces so much grease as a result of being wiped out daily with shampoo. Once your hair readjusts to it’s own oil balance it produces loads less. In my case it was MASSES less! Now what it produces is much less greasy and much more oil/ almost waxes that can be massage out. It takes some time- for me about 6-8 weeks initially and then getting better and better every month since. x x

      • Lili 27 September, 2017 at 10:06 pm

        Hi Lou,

        I went no poo for a year to really try it out, but in the end it made me all so miserable that I gave up. I started by buying your book and went through almost every option. I loved the clay – by far my favourite but it is expensive even though I was being frugal with it, but I found that if you used it too often it would dry out the hair too much at the ends. I was using apple cider vinegar as the conditioner of choice on my ends only – (diluted of course) as my rinse. However after a while I found that my hair was still falling out loads, it was still really greasy on top especially after day two of my no poo clean, my ends were dry and brittle and my hairbrush was constantly ‘waxy’, even after a clean.
        The grease never got better and I put this down to the water in my area just not being suitable, so I started using distilled water, but it was becoming a nightmare just to have a shower – there was no quick wash anymore – showering required planning!! After just over a year and 4 months of trying different things and realising that my hair wasn’t any better and it was actually making me feel incredibly down I went out and bought shampoo – really expensive stuff – but to be honest, after that first shampoo and the initial ‘wow’ i’m still in the same position as it hasn’t helped much either, so I’m back to square one and shampooing every 3 to 4 days.

        On the flip side, I have only ever used water on my children’s hair (well occasionally I use shampoo to help get the glitter out but we are talking maybe 8 times a year, at most once a month), and they have the most wonderful thick and luscious hair. So I know it works, just not for me.

        • jackie 28 September, 2017 at 11:16 am


I used to have dandruff so switched from reg shampoo (as used by my mum) to dandruff shampoo, but it didn’t work and my hair carried on being dry and fly-away …and then i stopped eating grains (because affected breathing) and found my scalp improved alot and my hair was only dry on wash day …so i stopped using shampoo; problem solved.
If / when my hair gets greasy from eg DIY pollution, i finger an egg yolk through it and rinse after 10 mins, which leaves it clean and conditioned.
Because i worry about mites and nits, once a week (max) i add table spoon of apple cider vinegar to a jug of water which i pour and re-pour through my hair half dozen times (bonus = it leaves hair very soft), but most days i rinse it with plain water.
If my hair feels dry i finger titchy bit of coconut oil (tub contains drop of cinnamon leaf + patchouli essential oils to reduce risk of critters and scalp problems ~ was amazed to find that they enhance the natural red of my hair).
Over last 10-ish years i have tried 2 or 3 other natural products that were supposed to be good for hair (eg egg-white, bicarb, clay) but they left my hair dry or worse ~ best thing for hydrating the hair and body is water (cool water if you can stand it); unless you’ve had a dirty week you don’t really need anything else…
I use a regular flannel and if necessary a ‘scratchy’ bath mitten because microfibre products catch on damaged skin (which DIY folk tend to get on fingers); a bicarb and lemon juice ‘rub’ is a safer option for patches of rough skin (vs broken skin, which needs soothing not smoothing !)
PS: i stopped using deodorant same time as soap ~ clogging pores isn’t a solution to the body ridding itself of impurities …which are mostly from the food we eat; eating only fresh and otherwise natural foods is a healthier option… And if you check out the properties of the [fresh] herbs and spices you consume you’ll realize that most are medicinal and not designed for every-day consumption; if you reek of eg garlic your body is saying it doesn’t need so much, and if a food makes you smell bad your gut probably doesn’t like it, so stop eating it for a while and if re-introducing it causes any obvious problem/s tell your doctor.
PPS i think your blogs are spot on ; processed stuff is so far from natural it’s a wonder we aren’t dropping like [sprayed] flies !

        • Lucy 3 October, 2017 at 12:16 pm

          Hi Lili! Oh that sounds SO frustrating 🙁
          What kind of water do you have? Do you want to come and join the Self Loving Sisterhood group on Facebook? We can give you a bunch of help.

  • lally Young 11 October, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Wow, I use all sorts of styling products. I admire your sprit Gal!!! Ill just stick to my aveda, its the nearest thing to eco. Shame its damn expensive. But keep it going!!!

    • lulastic 11 October, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      Ah yeah, it’s the expense that is my biggest motivator! Can’t stand putting money into the pockets of corporations!! x x

      • Debstar 2 April, 2014 at 3:39 pm

        Hear hear!

    • Vixa 29 September, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Lili, dont give up. In my opinion you should try to look out for same delicate and ofc natural shampoo. Nowadays there is more and more this kind of products. Definitely avoid SLS, chceck INCI every time 😉
      I have hair long to waist and put just a little portion of schampoo (about teaspoon) on a scalp, and the rest of hair i wash with some natural rins-off conditioners. I propose you to chech some russian cosmetics -they produce many with natural comositions and quit chip.

  • Mama Syder 11 October, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Your hair looks soooo healthy! I’ve often thought about trying natural shampoos but never got round to it…might give the egg a go 🙂

    • lulastic 11 October, 2012 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks 🙂 The egg is fabulous, but don’t be tempted to turn shower up eeeeek!

  • shinypigeon 11 October, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I am soooo not brave enough to take this challenge….

    • lulastic 11 October, 2012 at 10:15 pm

      You would be AMAZING at this challenge!

  • Emma (@mummymummymum) 11 October, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Wow, you are amazing…I really want to try it…but I’m scared! My main problem is I haven’t got time to do much with anything for me.

    • lulastic 11 October, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      I hear you! The experimenting does take longer than the usual,but once you nail it it’s at least half the time. X

  • Annaliese Maree 12 October, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Wow your hair is BEAUTIFUL!! I’m on bicarb and ACV about once a fortnight and would NEVER look back. I recently bleached my tips though (yeah I know horrible horrible toxic stuff), but coconut oil makes it soooooo much better. Totally awesome hair moisturiser.

    • lulastic 12 October, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Wow, coconut oil, I love it for my skin, must try it on hair. Do you leave it in?

      • Annaliese Maree 14 October, 2012 at 5:30 am

        I do leave it in. I only put in enough so the ends are shiny but not super oily 🙂

  • Amie Baker (@amiesheree) 12 October, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Ditto on all the compliments Lucy!! GREAT HAIR! You inspire us all 🙂 I had a hair/head crisis last year, where my scalp just gave up on anything remotely chemically/smelly etc… It was crying out! I found that Simple shampoo and conditioner which is not that ‘simple’ but seems to be the only thing (besides not washing/natural alteratives!) that it liked. I think my head crisis will be even more impressed with some of these, as its still not quite right! Thanks for all the ideas! Also stoked that Hania gave some advice about when she runs and how she copes with yucky sweaty hair! Ax

    • lulastic 12 October, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Honestly I reckon your head will LOVE the tea tree oil options!! Look forward to hearing how you get on – be brave!! x

  • Circus Queen 13 October, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I’ve been wanting to ditch the chemicals for a while and this has given me a bit of encouragement, so thanks. I saw a friend earlier this week with curly hair who’s ditched the shampoo so it obviously isn’t just for you straight-haired types!

    • lulastic 13 October, 2012 at 11:03 pm

      Curly hair works SO amazingly, no, hair-slick-scalp transition business for them! Jealous.

      I am slowly eliminating more and more chemicals. The last thing to go will be my mascara. A tube lasts me years though, so won’t have to worry until I’m forty at which point I’ll probably be over this fad. (KIDDING)

  • mainegreengirl 13 October, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Good post! First off let me say that I’ve been visiting your blog off-an-on for a while now and when I finally decided in late September to venture into blogging, you were right there in my “blogs I follow” list, I only had to wait to get a blog and then follow. I know I could have followed before, but I kind of did anyway, since I had you bookmarked and stopped in – I just kind of got more serious, lol!

    Anyway, as I’ve started into a greener lifestyle, making my own household cleaners now, etc. I’ve thought more than once about shampoo alternatives. I found your post to be both educational and inspiring (thanks!). I had thought of trying it with either baking soda or egg (btw, your comment “scrambled disasters venturing into too warm territory” has me actually LOL, no kidding!). Can I ask your advice on this subject? When I shampoo now I use a shampoo/conditioner mix and then follow up with a conditioner. While the conditioner is in, I have to use my “pick” to go through my hair – if I don’t I pull so much out that it’s horrible. So I guess my question would be what would I use in place of the conditioner? Would I make my own “detangler” with conditioner – that would be defeating my whole purpose though! I’m so close to going shampoo-free, but the tangly-hair thing is big with me so if you can ease my mind with a suggestion, it would be so helpful!

    Oh and your hair looks gorgeous! Yay for you!! That’s great that we readers get the benefit of all your experimentations. I imagine you’re right about another thing, and that is that our hair would have to readjust to not having shampoo (or should I say “not having all the natural oil stripped from it)?

    • Annaliese Maree 14 October, 2012 at 5:33 am

      Apple Cider Vinegar works super for detangling and conditioning 🙂 Leaves the hair nice and soft.

      • mainegreengirl 14 October, 2012 at 9:41 am

        That sounds simple enough – thanks!!

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  • Caitrin Lange 6 December, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Hey Lucy. I read this blog when you first posted it and I thought … It’s not for me! BUT…. I have been trying to simplyfy and cheapify my life so I washed my hair one last time at the end of Novemeber and now I am at least 7 days in to not washing. I have noticed that it needs a condition so will try the apple cider vinegar tomorrow but other than that I have gone straight to just water with a little bit of tea tree oil. It’s fabulous! Thanks so much for the insight and inspiration. I am hoping I can go the distance and keep it up. Last time I tried this I got to 1.5 weeks and gave up 🙁 so bring on the new year and the no shampoo!

    Oh and congrats on the wee one on the way! Can’t wait to see photos and more musings especially on having a toddler and a new baby 🙂

  • Caitrin 11 December, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Ok update. I have got to day 11 and was all good until I went for a swim in the sea and my hair felt all yucky so tried tea tree oil and then vinegar again but still was feeling not great. So tried the baking soda and then vinegar and it actually feels clean! I am also planning on experimenting on making my own home made shampoo with natural ingredients. Keep you updated : )

    • lulastic 11 December, 2012 at 8:44 am

      Oh SO impressed you made it to 11 days!! Glad bicarb worked out, there is a lovely recipe out there for coconut milk shampoo. Breaking your hair’s dependence on chemicals would be best first though, so NICE ONE!!!

  • KarenCreftor 9 February, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Lucy, I’ve just found your blog and would firstly like to say this is one of the best articles I’ve read about going ‘no poo’…and I’ve read a LOT!

    I last used shampoo on 27th December and I’ve had huge problems with oil. I always had an oily scalp anyway, but this is crazy! On the plus side the ends of my hair have never looked healthier.

    The only slight success I had was when I re-henna’d my hair, but otherwise no combination or method of BS and ACV has worked~ if anything my hair looks worse after using it! I’m considering water only after reading your post, but wondered if you had another transition period going from BS/ACV to water only?

    Sorry for the long reply, but I really want to get this to work!
    ~Kaz x

    • Lucy 9 February, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Hi Karen, thanks for your comment! Yep, the transition to water only takes a while too. I think BC can be really unpredictable. I think hard London water effects its impact, maybe boil water first? Make sure it really dissolves in the cup. Waitrose own works the best, too 🙂 See if an egg works?! Use very cool water though. It is all just about experimenting sadly. Have you found the No Poo Live journal too? It is a good source of support 🙂

      • Nikki 21 April, 2013 at 9:30 pm

        I have been wanting to try going “no poo” for so long. I tried to do BS and ACV but I gave up when I started getting flakes and greasy hair. I really want to try it again with water washing and maybe clay and egg washes but I’m scared. Oh, do you boil the water for your water washes?

        • Isabelle Marie 13 August, 2013 at 9:33 pm

          I used bs and acv once and didn’t like it. I use an egg once a week with a drop of mint essential oil. Then when I want a little more cleaning, I use two tsps of rhassoul clay with coconut oil.

  • Debra 16 April, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Hi Lucy,

    I have tried going longer periods without washing my hair in the past and found that I got an oily build up. I used water between washes, but did still notice an oily build up in less than a week. I wondered whether your scalp took some time to adjust to your new no-wash life style?


    • Lucy 16 April, 2013 at 6:40 am

      Yes, a long, long time! At least a couple of months to get to a week. Head massage and lots of brushing help, and it took me monthd to get down to just water and not these alternatives.
      Sorry, wish I had better news. Once you nail it it IS brilliant…

  • Lucy Woodman 28 June, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Hi Lucy,

    I’ve been no-poo for a while and still experimenting with different things. I’ve also been following your blog for a while and didn’t realise you were no-poo too! I have conquered the hair washing part and it’s in the best condition ever. My trouble now is with my scalp. I have tried tea tree but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. I blame my stupidly hard water! Any other tips?
    I was also wondering if you had tried out any alternatives to ACV? I’m not a fan, and am currently trying out citric acid (ACV smells, white vinegar smells, lemon lightens hair and I think they all attract bees/wasps?).
    Thanks, Lucy

    • Lucy 28 June, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      Are you using bicarb? It can be quite harsh. Try eggs/ clay or soap nuts for kinder alternative. I have a post all about the alternatives.
      I don’t love acv either- big fan of coconut oil. Brush a little bit through when damp at night, by morning lovely and soft and not oily.

      • Lucy Woodman 28 June, 2013 at 6:51 pm

        Yes I have been using bicarb, but quite watered down (about 1 tbsp to 1 cup water) – will definitely try eggs though!
        Big fan of coconut oil here too, use it for everything. I made the silly mistake when I first started no-poo of chucking loads on and it took aaaaages to wash out! Will try that tonight – thanks for the tips! x

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  • Isabelle Marie 13 August, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    I love the egg method and recently tried out the rhassoul clay. It’s fantastic!! I did it last night and now my hair is SO soft and shiny!! I won’t be going back to shampoo anytime soon!

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  • Rosealys 2 October, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I read your posts about no-poo about a couple of months ago, and I wanted to try but was a bit scared. Then a few weeks later I started by accident (well, just by thinking “oh, I’ll wash it tomorrow, it still looks ok” for a few days in a row.) I’m on day 17 now, having used only water and it’s not looking too bad (my hair’s not that greasy naturally) but my scalp feels like it needs a bit of something. I thought about bicarb, but I think it sounds a bit harsh, and I picked up a bag of soap nuts at the weekend in an organic shop… I’m wondering if I really need to rinse it out with ACV afterwards…
    Thanks for your inspiration!

    • Lucy 3 October, 2013 at 8:17 am

      Hey Rose
      Awesome! So cool. It depends how naturally tangly your hair is. I tend to prefer coconut oil for conditioner. Didn’t really like ACV by the end. Soap nuts are great- boil them up and use the liquid. Rub a tiny bit of coconut oil on hair before bed, by morning it is soft and not oily! All the best! X

      • Rosealys 2 November, 2013 at 9:43 am

        Thanks for the coconut oil tip, I’m hooked on that now, for everything!
        I’m using soapnuts now, trying to give it a fortnight between washes, I last used them a week ago (although I think I used waaay too much, it was a bit stiff the next day) and last night I gave my head a good soak and massage in just water (or at least, I got The Boy to massage it for me 😉 but this morning my scalp feels greasy but my hair’s kind of greasyish-dry… maybe I need to soapnut it more often, or maybe it’s because I used too much.
        Actually, what I originally wanted to ask before I got side-tracked (that’s a common problem…) is I’m getting dandruff.. nooooooo.! Do you think adding tea tree to the soapnut water would work?
        From a no-pooer in distress!

        • Lucy 2 November, 2013 at 2:02 pm

          Oh, I’m really not sure as I’ve never had dandruff with it:( in theory tea tree oil is great for scalp issues…
          What about using a really nourishing wash right in to your scalp, like an egg?

  • Fionn 18 November, 2013 at 11:11 am


    Just came across your blog (and subscribed immediately!) while looking for ‘no-poo’ methods in the UK. The majority of posts I’ve come across have been American and really complicated. I really like how simple you have made it and am hoping you can give me a bit of advice/motivation to keep going.

    After having two children in the last 2.5 years my hair is in bits. I suffered from a lot of hair loss a few months after giving birth both times and after my second in January this year still hasn’t grown back in fully – frustratingly slow! And to add insult to injury I now seem to suffer from dry, breaking hair for the first time while still having super greasy roots. So for reasons including financial, chemical-free lifestyle, and ‘I will try anything to get hair as gorgeous as yours’, I’m giving up all those shampoos and conditioners sitting in my bathroom.

    I last used shampoo/conditioner 7 days ago. I used a baking soda mix a couple days later to clarify and an egg yolk/natural yoghurt mix to deep condition. Then 3 days after that I used a lemon & water shampoo mix and raw honey & water deep condition. My hair is seriously greasy but am going to go till Thursday night before doing anything (interview on Friday morning so want to look my best). I was thinking of doing a baking soda paste to clean it out but not sure if I need to use an ACV rinse after or can I just go straight for an egg yolk? I’m in Scotland and have pretty good soft water.

    Sorry about the epic post – I love to share my life-story with complete strangers – but I do also want to say thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I love how complete strangers are so generous with their knowledge and experience online.

    • Lucy 18 November, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      It depends how much your hair needs conditioning I guess? Bicarb will make it squeaky clean. An egg should do? I prefer the way mine feels after an egg! ( Though it can also go most wrong, no one wants an omelette head for an interview!)
      Hope it goes really well on Friday!

  • aBystander 6 January, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Fabulous post! I have been using baking soda and apple cider vinegar for months now and it works great!
    The question I have however is how can I convince other people to try this? Specifically my girlfriend who refuses to believe anything but store bought shampoo can clean hair and thinks I am crazy for ‘doing chemistry experiments in the bathroom’? I really love this and want people I care about to try for themselves because I KNOW it will improve their hair! Plus then perhaps then they might agree these are legitimate hair cleaning solutions and stop regarding me as a dirty hippy for not using L’oreal. Any suggestions?

  • Jessica Renae 16 January, 2014 at 11:16 am

    I really enjoyed your post, I’m looking forward to trying out the tea. I mean I love drinking it so I’m sure my hair will love it too. Also to add to your list, I’ve recently been trying beer shampoo which I review on my blog http://wordsofsimplicity.com/2014/01/16/tasmanian-handmade-beer-shampoo-bar/
    I’m finding it works well and used to be used for adding bounce to hair, I’d like to see how it goes combined with a tea rinse.

  • Eden 25 January, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    hello , thanks for the tips.
    how often do you have to wash your hair when using this method ?
    do you wash everyday ?
    do you dry your hair with blow dryer afterwards ?

    thanks a lot !

    • Lucy 27 January, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      At the moment I am just washing it with water once every 5-10 days. Dont really use anything else, the odd bit of bicarb. I do sometimes use a hair dryer when I ‘ve wet it as I have short hair that needs styling 🙂

  • Is ‘no poo’ for you? | Sassy Gal 21 February, 2014 at 4:03 am

    […] there an alternative to shampoo? Actually, yes. Some veterans say that eventually all you’ll need is water and a scalp […]

  • Anastasia 3 June, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Lucy! I’m glad I found this article, thank you for writing!

    I’ve been trying to go no-poo for a few months now but continue running into the same problem — my scalp is ETERNALLY itchy. I’ve tried bicarb/acv, soap bars, and tea tree oil, but nothing leaves my scalp feeling “clean” and itch-free! I really want to make this work out, but I’ve been miserable during the entire experience. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!! –Anastasia

    • Lucy 5 June, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Soap nuts? Egg? You need a nourishing scalp mask…Have you seen the community forum I link to?

  • A year without shampoo - FAQ's answered honestly! | Lulastic and the hippyshake 4 August, 2014 at 11:52 am

    […] have given my suggestions for alternatives and have spoken about the highs and lows and getting started.  My one year “no […]

  • Jessie Parker 13 August, 2014 at 3:09 am

    Hello Lucy, I’ve just been flicking through your ’10 alternatives to shampoo’ blog post and these sound like very good potential shampoo alternatives. However, I was wandering which one in particular you would suggest that I use because I do have very sensitive and eczema prone skin. Also does just using water actually work?

    Thank you,
    Jessie Parker 🙂

    • Lucy 13 August, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Hello! Well, in my book I have a story from someone who turned to bicarb and her family’s eczema problem healed within weeks! Water CAN work- but it does depend on the water in your region. (A bit on water only in the book!) I think that egg would be the mildest substitute – i’d go for that one and see how you get on! (Sorry to go on about the book!)

  • Autumn 5 September, 2014 at 2:18 am

    I’m so glad I saw your article! ….and FB….and IG….. ok, so I may be stalking you a bit 🙂 After reading your blog I started no-poo and now I’m 3 weeks in and love it! Luckily I am lazy and cheap, so shorter showers and not buying product were easy motivators! I’ve always thought I could never stand greasy hair, but I’ve been getting creative and tolerant, keeping my eye on the prize! I started at washing with bicarb and vinegar every 3rd day, but now I’m up to every 5th – hooray! Now it feels like a challenge to see how far I can push it! Thanks for all the awesome tips!

  • Vanessa 13 December, 2014 at 3:22 am

    Hi Lucy!
    I read your article on the Telegraph in August and I gave up shampoo since then.
    Actually it was good to start during summer time, away from city life. The first phase was not tough at all!

    Now my hair looks great! My hairdresser complimented for their softness!

    I would like to share another alternative:
    egg yoke+1 spoon honey+1 tea spoon cider vinegar

    I prefer it to bicarbonate of soda, because it nurishes the hair and makes them shining!

    • Lucy 17 December, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      wow, fabulous! thank you!

  • Lilian 27 January, 2015 at 3:46 am

    I’d recommend Pro Naturals

  • Is ‘no poo’ for you? | Sassy Gal Blog 25 February, 2015 at 9:05 am

    […] there an alternative to shampoo? Actually, yes. Some veterans say that eventually all you’ll need is water and a scalp […]

  • Xxacid scene kittyxX 11 April, 2015 at 6:01 am

    for the conditioner, does it have to be ~Apple cider vinegar~? because I only have balsamic vineger and I was wondering of it works the same as the apple cider vineger

    • Lucy 11 April, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Apple Cider Vinegar has a pH of 3 – ideal for our hair. I wouldn’t use balsamic personally…. You could try lemon juice? That works on quite a few hair types.

  • Dizzy 20 June, 2015 at 5:40 am

    Thank you for the lovely comment on my blog! I’m feeling rather proud of myself right now – I’m now on day 27 of my no-poo quest (I have a little counter on my blog which tells me how many days ago I used shampoo hehe). My hair feels fabulous, although I had a “waxy” stage, an applesauce wash definitely helped! Your Happy Hair book has been so helpful in getting me this far. In fact I am now starting to investigate how I can clean the rest of myself in a similar manner. I like how being no-poo means you have total control of exactly what, and how much of it, is going on your head. I have been extolling the virtues of no-poo at work and online hehe.

  • Lilly 31 August, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Hi, I’m 16 and trying out the no poo method. I haven’t used shampoo for about 3 weeks now and have experimented with apple cider vinegar and baking soda, also honey but my hair is dry, waxy and flaky (before it was on the dryer side but a little greasy 2a couple of days after washing). Is there anything you can suggest to help? It would be much appreciated

    • Lucy 31 August, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Hi Lilly!
      Good on you for doing it 😀
      It sounds like you are going through transition – keep chugging with it, you will get there! A good boar bristle brush makes all the difference. And an egg with lemon juice will get rid of the wax.
      If you want loads more recipes do check out my book- it has helped loads of people get through their detox! xx

  • Emerald 10 February, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    My red curly hair used to be very thick…then I had brain surgery now it’s weak and dry any good ideas spicifically for that?

  • Karen Balling 17 June, 2016 at 7:40 am

    I personally love the shampoo of Pro Naturals 😉

  • Julie @ Crown Cleaners Blog 22 June, 2016 at 1:55 am

    I’m so happy I ditched toxic cleaners a while ago. I mostly use soapnuts, vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. Great roundup of DIY cleaners! I love making my own cleaners and other household products using basic ingredients I can find in my pantry and some of my favorite essential oils. Thanks so much for including my bathroom ideas…pinning all the others too!

  • Lori Smith 17 August, 2016 at 3:42 am

    My Favorite is the shampoo from Pro Naturals 😉

  • Tina@ hair 23 August, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Oh gosh! This post is brilliant! I had no idea shampoo could do all this! Thank you sharing!

  • Melissa 18 September, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Lucy!
    I bought your book and I’m now at week 3 of no poo…So far so good (I have curly hair and it seems working fine!).
    I have one question: I live in NZ (Auckland) and I would like to dye my hair with henna but I can’t find a good brand, where do you usually buy it here in NZ?
    Thank you so much!Love your book and blog 🙂

    • Lucy 18 September, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Hi! I use Henne paris – it is available here in health 2000 it is just super pricey! I get the powdered twigs version and my people bring it out fro UK as it is cheaper there! used to be organic but it isn’t any more :/
      let me know if you get a good cheap organic one here!

      • Melissa 20 September, 2016 at 6:32 pm

        Thank you Lucy!
        I found one on healthy online, it says 100% natural but I’m not sure it’s organic. $ 5.95 100g. That’s the cheapest I could find :/

  • Theresa 13 January, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Hi Lucy

    Love your blog and views on everything you write about! Please give me your sage advice: I have been no ‘poo for 2 years now and think I’ve read every possible blog on the subject out there. I washed every 3-5 days in the first year, and once a week in the last year. So why, oh why do I still go from being a light blonde on days 1 & 2 to being a brunette with lank, oily hair on day 3? I have stubbornly pushed on with washing it once a week, convinced that I’d teach my scalp to get to your stage (where it just never seems to get dirty), but it still gets really greasy on day 3 – clearly zero learning curve for my scalp? I usually struggle internally through the embarrassment of day 3 at work with no dry shampoo (fancypants office job), and then for days 4-7 I use ginger powder as a dry shampoo on top of my head, as it has the perfect golden hue to make me blonde again, and wear it curly, which disguises grease. I scritch and preen religiously with a BBB from days 4-7. If I use the BBB on the Dreaded Day 3, I just have oily hair all over, instead of just on my roots…argh!!

    I wash with either Bentonite clay mixed with aloe juice and water, or rye flour, both followed by a ACV-honey-water mix on the ends only (no baking soda for me as I completely ruined my hair after using it for a year and am still growing out the damage).

    What am I doing wrong? Can some people’s scalps just not be trained? Is it the curse of being blonde with very fine hair? As much as I love your hennaed hair, I don’t think I could take the plunge like you did, I want to stay blonde.

  • The Hair Experiment?? – The Hair Experiment (and other crunchy tales). 8 February, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    […] started by reading Lucy’s blog about alternatives to shampoo. I delved into how shampoo works, how your scalp and hair works and […]

  • Esther 2 March, 2017 at 10:34 am

    I am excited to try no poo since I found out I am sensitive to glycerin. Thank you for all your information! One question: how do you wash a wooden barrel brush without damaging the wood? Thank you ☺!

  • Ivy 28 June, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    I absolutely love this blog, I tried to buy your book, Lucy, but the paper version was £128 on Amazon lol. I don’t have a Kindle so wasn’t sure if I can still download a copy.
    I was diagnosed with PCOS at 25 and its played havoc with my thick curly hair. I recently decided to try the “no poo” way to see if it helps and I try to avoid unnecessary chemicals generally. I am 3 weeks in and after reading scary stories about bicarbonate of soda am staying clear. Have had great success with egg and a splash of lemon essential oil. Can’t wait to try some of the other ideas.
    What are your thoughts on Castile soap? I see this crops up on other no poo sites…

    • Lucy 28 June, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      Thanks Ivy!
      You can by the PDF? You can read it on anything, or print it off 😀 Cheaper than a hundred and twenty eight quid ha!
      I don’t see much need for Castille when things straight up from the kitchen work so well 😀

  • Mateo 11 August, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    This is a great post giving nice alternatives, but they some do seem a bit of a pularver. I’ve done bicarbonate and ACV in the past but the combination of those against hard water made my hair go rather manky after a while. It’s all very well with so many food related alternatives, but it just doesn’t seem very realistic, I mean I read posts on this subject about what people did in Victorian times, but the question is what happen for thousands of years before that? How many people went round with ACV, rye flour and avocado to keep their hair clean? And for that matter, who sat there and thought “Hey, I wonder if egg would make my hair nice and soft?”
    I’m still on the look out for something that makes sense, because surely we weren’t all walking around with matted dreads until the Victorian era? For now I’m giving my hair a brush and then having cold showers (for other reasons) and giving my hair a rinse if it needs it.

    • Lucy 21 August, 2017 at 6:49 am

      Well, I guess they did what I do now which is basically nothing 😛 A brush every now and then?

  • Leo Tat 19 October, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I wash my hair every day as it gets so oily. The idea of no shampoo conjures up images of rock hard hair which is what I saw on TV of someone who didn’t wash his hair for a decade. I prefer your way, which is don’t use shampoo but yet use alternatives to clean the hair. The most I have done so far is choose a shampoo that uses more natural ingredients without SLS. I have to say I am nervous to go no poo since I get oily hair so quickly. I will give baking soda a try though as I have plenty of it.

  • Jennifer 30 November, 2017 at 12:01 am

    I haven’t yet but I’ll give anything a try! Any recommendations on how often to wash with the rye flour? So far I’ve been going about 4/5 days before washing with just water but definitely think I could go longer if it wasn’t for the pesky flakes!

  • Socrates 7 October, 2018 at 12:44 am

    Does regular flour work and if not why? What’s the chemistry behind rye flour?

  • Collette Yeh 16 February, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    I’ve been following you for a while now and have finally chosen today to start my no poo journey. I ordered my boar bristle brush and will try an egg wash today. I would love to start using Henna again but I’m a bit worried about choosing the right colour. I absolutely love your colour, could you tell me if its red, ginger, auburn or mahogany. Thank you for helping so many to stay radical!

  • Suzie Malt 16 May, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    Hi I am new to all this but so keen to keep trying. I tried Bicarb and my hait seemed ok for 3 weeks but b then I saw posts of how damaging this could be to hair. So now I an trying different alternatives. I was in sired by your video on using rye flour. I tired it but did not use a cool shower!! Yesv you guessed it. Am covered in lumps of flour! But have to say my hair feels clean. So I will try again in 6 days time and brave a cool shower!! Ouch!
    Thank you for all the above info.

  • Carrie Letlow 20 July, 2019 at 8:40 am

    Hey, I just wanted leave a note that I love your hair color. 🙂

  • Carrie Letlow 2 August, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations. Pretty much everything makes my hair look greasy. 🙁