Giving up on ‘no poo’

During my reflections on 2012, I admitted that I have given up on not using shampoo.  I went shampoo free for around 6 months and unfortunately for me, my hair just got greasier and greasier and became full of dandruff.  I have long straight brown hair and my experiences might be useful for someone with similar hair, from what I have read, different hair types react very differently to going ‘no poo’.

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I started out the experiment fairly enthusiastically.  Perhaps a little too enthusiastically, as although lots of people use shampoo and conditioner substitutes such as  bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, after dabbling with them for a bit, I decided to wash my hair in just water for a while.  I did splash out on a boar bristle brush which got clogged up with grease fairly quickly and seemed quite tricky to clean afterwards, so I didn’t use it much after that.
Water only washing was not hugely successful!  So I started experimenting with other things.  Things like aloe vera, which also makes a good shower/ shaving gel!  I tried washing my hair with aloe vera for around 3 weeks.  It smelled nice and felt quite soft afterwards, but didn’t have any effect on the grease and dandruff.
A friend recommended rosemary water (I put some rosemary in some water in a glass jar and left it to stand for a day or so) and towel rubbing dry to get rid of the grease and dandruff.  I gave this a go, but the rosemary infused water was fairly cold and I never got round to trying it again, so although it didn’t get rid of the grease or dandruff, I might not have given it long enough…  Towel rubbing might work with short hair, but I don’t think it is very good for long hair as it can damage the hair causing split ends.
I also spent 3 weeks trying a dry shampoo substitute – cornflour!  I poured it over my hair in the garden where the mess didn’t matter too much.  It seemed to work the first time I did it, but the success never repeated itself and I still had oily dandruff ridden hair.
Finally in desperation I decided to give bicarbonate of soda and vinegar another go.  My husband had recently bought nit combs as my sons school kept circulating letters about nits going round, but we haven’t had any nit problems.  I got the nit comb sprayed a vinegar/ lemon juice/ salt mix on it and combed my hair.  Along with big chunks of hair, a lot of grease came out.  I then sprinkled some bicarbonate of soda on it and combed my hair through with that.  I did this because I read that dandruff is a little bit like nits.  It feeds off sebum and causes the sebum production to speed up.  I decided that getting rid of the dandruff was a key part of the battle and wondered if the nit combing method would work.  I tried combing it before I got in the shower and during the shower.  My hair felt cleaner, but didn’t really seem to look any less greasy – argghhh!  Bicarbonate of soda is well worth buying in bulk by the way as even if you don’t use it to wash your hair as it is useful for so many things – cooking, deodorising, cleaning and much more! 
The other problem with combing very long hair is that it is not very good for it at all!  My hair is now full of split ends and looks absolutely terrible.  I had so carefully made sure that I didn’t brush my hair wet for years as I know that it causes split ends and now I need to grow out a whole load of them!
To celebrate my wedding anniversary recently my husband and I had a night away from the kids in a lovely hotel (this could not have happened without my wonderful family who looked after my children and paid for the hotel trip – thank you family)!  Looking around at all the other nicely dressed guests with seemingly perfect hair, it was the first time in six months that I felt really fed up with having greasy manky hair and tempted by the free shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom I finally succumbed!  The grease and dandruff was gone with one wash, which seemed pretty amazing after enduring six months of it, but my hair is still full of split ends unfortunately.
I am currently using up small bottles of shampoo and conditioner which I had leftover from my previous shampoo and conditioner cull. I have wondered though about making my own shampoo for my next experiment.  I still don’t like the whole idea of buying shampoo full of ingredients I don’t understand in one time use plastic bottles.  I found this recipe for shampoo soap bars and am seriously considering giving it a go. There has to be a better way!  
What experiences have you had going ‘poo’ free?  Do you think I gave up too soon? I would love to hear your tips, advice and experiences!
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  1. I don't think I would have lasted nearly that long 🙂 I use natural shampoos that are sodium laurel sulfate free, but they still come in plastic. I've tried the shampoo bars but they dried my scalp. Toying with the idea of using Dr. Bronner's concentrated liquid soaps. Good luck!
    I would love to have you join The HomeAcre Hop at:

  2. Zoe

    Thanks for your comment Lisa. That's a shame shampoo bars didn't work for you. I thought about Dr Bronner's liquid soaps, but they still come in those plastic bottles!

  3. Dr. Bronner's soaps are *amazing* and it's the only stuff that gets my daughter's hair clean. I've tried everything, even the really "bad" shampoos. Hubby uses a shampoo/conditioner bar that's made with all natural ingredients, and that's all he's used for about 4 years now. I can't use it all the time, because it dries my hair out too much, but I do use it once in a while. I buy Dr. Bronner's at the local co-op, where I can re-use my own plastic bottles for refilling. I'm toying with the idea of just buying one of the huge, $50 gallon buckets of it, though… less plastic all around, and it might last me a few months. 🙂 We use the peppermint, btw…

  4. Zoe

    Buying soap in bulk is a good idea. Thanks for the tip Allyson!

  5. I wonder if the Dr. Bronner bars would work for you as a shampoo? Worth a try and you can always use it for hand soap if it dries you hair 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop!!!

  6. I tried going without shampoo and I didn't even last this long. I have a similar hair type to you, only my hair is curly/wavy and tends towards greasiness (less so now than when I was younger, perhaps partly because of how I've changed my shampooing) and dandruff (esp. in the winter) . . . Now just try to wash my hair less frequently. If I'm not going to be around other people for a few days I've gone as long as a week without washing my hair. During my no-poo trial I used apple cider vinegar and aloe of cleansing and corns starch to help with the greasies.

    Now, once a week, I will use a thick all-natural conditioner mixed with coconut oil and olive oil as a hair mask. Then I'll rinse with warm water and apple cider vinegar before shampooing.

    I moved to sulfate and paraben free shampoo and use a small dolup of a low chemical conventional brand(sulfate free and low parabens, since it's not going on my scalp, only on "dead" hair, I feel a little better about that) and that is working for me. My hair is super soft and, I think, getting thicker too (though part of that is almost certainly diet changes).

  7. Hi Zoe, You could try leaving the soda on for around 20 minutes before rinsing off with lemon water or vinegar. If you leave it on for a while, it helps? Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday's Seasonal Celebration! Have a good week:-)Rebecca@ Natural Mothers Network x

  8. Zoe

    Thanks for your comments Lisa, Amy and Rebecca. Not sure if I can face trying bicarb of soda and vinegar/ lemon juice at the moment, but might look out for the Dr Bronner soap bars!

  9. I'm currently going 'no poo' at the moment, I'm only two weeks in though. So far I'm not really sure what I think of it. Well done for lasting 6 months though, not sure if I will x

  10. Anonymous

    I had very similar problems…I didn't wash my hair at all for 2 weeks, then I tried a bicarb soda and water wash with apple cider vinegar, but my hair was just icky. My roots weren't greasy anymore, but the lengths were waxy and full of strange dusty stuff. I've got very fine, wavy hair so I didn't think i would encounter any of these problems. However, I researched all of this, discovered that hard water plus bicarb soda create this weird gunky grey dusty waxy stuff!

    I decided to give it a wash with egg yolk, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice, with chamomile tea for conditioner and OH MY GOD!! Yay! I have hair again that I am proud to wear down and free! (It's been scarped up in a bun for the past 5 weeks!) So to anyone who is struggling with the no poo method, try eggs! As gross as it sounds it actually feels nice, and almost like shampoo, and the results are amazing. My hair is light, shiny and not in the slightest greasy or waxy. Finally!!

  11. Zoe

    That's great anonymous! I think we do suffer from hard water in my area, so that probably didn't help…

  12. Anonymous

    Grandpas pine tar soap works really good on hair and good in hard water as well. They have shampoo bars on amazon that I have also seen in my local health food store.

  13. Anonymous

    I also think you should of kept up with the boar bristle brush. Have you tried using almond oil on the ends to help keep the hair moisturized? In theory it seems like it might help the scalp with oil production because the ends will already be lubricated and the scalp can stop producing so much. It also seems to help me go quite a while between shampoos.

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