Monday, April 30, 2012

The No-(Sham)Poo Challenge

Recently I was reading up on DIY household items and came across an article on Bonzai Aphrodite about going “no-poo”. No, this isn’t about limiting time on the toilet, but instead about giving up harmful, chemical-laden shampoo for something more natural, not as damaging and less expensive.

The “no-poo” method relies on simple baking soda (a natural cleanser) to clean your scalp and hair and apple cider vinegar (a natural softener) to condition it. The rational for this is that store-bought shampoos strip your hair of its natural oils and actually cause many scalp and hair problems (i.e. build-up, dryness, oiliness, limpness, etc.) and our hair would be better off if we didn't use shampoo and conditioner. Also, lots of store-bought shampoos/conditioners contain harmful chemicals like parabens, phthalates, carcinogens and nasty animal-derived products (read about these chemicals in cosmetics on Bonzai Aphrodite's article) that you definitely don't want to use on your body or add to the environment!

Using the "no-poo" method will eventually allow your hair to self-regulate meaning you will only need to use baking soda/vinegar about once a week. The rest of the time water will be the only thing needed to cleanse your hair! Sounds pretty cool, huh?!

The advantages of the no-poo method include: softer, more manageable hair, no harsh chemicals stripping your hair or going down the drain to harm the environment and huge savings as you won't be spending your moola on shampoos and conditioners anymore (I've been known to spend $60 on "luxury" shampoo!).

The disadvantages are that it will take a while (at least a week or two and up to a few months) for your hair to adjust to the "no-poo" method. During this time it may be a bit oilier than usual...but I hear you just need to tough this period out to get to the good results!

I'm taking on the "no-poo" challenge (though I am a bit late - the original post over at Bonzai Aphrodite was done 3 years ago!) and will be no-poo'ing for the month of May!

Anyone care to join me? If so, the directions are below (reposted from Bonzai Aphrodite's post):
In the shower, mix 1 tbsp baking soda into ~1/2 cup water to form a thin paste. Apply to hair at the roots, massaging thoroughly into the scalp. Remember that this will not foam up (no poo!) but that doesn’t mean it’s not cleaning. Rinse. Follow with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar diluted in ~1 cup water. Massage into roots and shafts, and then rinse.
I'm super-stoked to try this and will give you updates as I go!

UPDATE 5/7/12: Ugh, sorry fiends, but I've thrown in the towel on this challenge! My hair did not take too kindly to this experiment and I had so much build-up from not shampooing that I couldn't take it anymore! 

While my hair never got too greasy and the baking soda/vinegar left my hair pretty clean and manageable, it was the itchiness and build-up on my scalp that I just couldn't deal with. I'm bummed cuz I was so ready to go no-poo! I guess I'll either have to try again or just stick to my regular vegan shampoos!

Did you try this challenge? If so, what were your results?


  1. I tried this for a while. The baking soda/vinegar stripped my hair of a lot of it's color. Still have not been able to find a natural solution that's safe on my color-treated hair...

  2. I remember reading about the no poo method about a year ago, I don't remember where and we were going to try it as a family, but after 4 weeks we gave up. My fiance is a clean freak and couldn't deal with the oiliness. I on the other hand realized my hair was thinning too much (I have an iron deficiency) so I had to go back to save my hair.

    I have a friend who only took 6 weeks to get her hair perfectly poo free and oil free, I'm super jealous, but she had the thick hair to do it! Good luck and stick to it.

  3. @Bored_Homeschooler - That's a hair is dyed too, but I'm still going to give it a go! Let me know if you find an alternative that is color-safe!

    @Random Girl - I'm going to try to make it at least a month, but we'll see how it goes! I'm already experiencing some build-up :( But I have thick hair so maybe that will help!

  4. I'm totally down to give this a try, but I won't start until the rest of my shampoo and conditioner is done. I'm excited though.

  5. @music4pumpkins - Excellent that you'll give it a try! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it! In retrospect, I definitely should have waited until I used up all my shampoo/conditioner...but I was too excited to wait!

  6. hmm i doubt i will join it but i will definitely read your results!! have fun and good luck!

  7. I have been doing this for two months, and my hair is thanking me for it! I used to struggle with *gasp* dandruff, and have had absolutely none since starting this. I think I sort of bypassed the "oily" phase, for the most part, because I'm a 2-3x/week hair-washer to begin with. I have coarse, curly hair....that loves to frizz. I have had reduced frizz and more defined curls. My hair feels softer and is more manageable. I tried the no poo method after reading an article, and have so far stuck it out. I encourage you tot give it a try again. The oily phase is brief....It might be the most discouraging part, but it doesn't last! Good luck!


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