The definitive guide to going noshampoo

Well, folks, here it is.  The guide you’ve all been asking about, compiled from personal experience, close observation of other noshampooers, and in depth internet research.

So how do you go noshampoo?

Step 1. Make the decision.

As Nietzsche pointed out, the fundamental human resource is will to power, a superset of will power.  Yes, once you have decided, really decided, to go noShampoo, the rest of this list is mere child’s play.  But what decision do you have to make?

Step 2. Formulate the decision exactly.

Do  you want to discontinue using shampoo, that generic item which can be obtained in hundreds of different forms in your local supermarket?  Are you going to replace it with something homemade, such as baking soda and apple cider vinegar?  What about something which has less environmental impact?  My recommendation: save yourself the brainpower involved in researching alternatives and just forget about the whole idea of putting anything in your hair at all.

Step 3. Take a break.

That’s right, now that the hard part is done (will power, remember), the rest is really pretty simple, right?  You just stop putting anything in your hair.

Step 4. Put something in your hair!

Well, of course I’d be lying if I said you could just stop putting stuff in your hair and everything would be hunky dory.  You’re hair will look like you just mopped the kitchen floor with it.  Take a fine tooth comb to it and all sorts of stuff will come out, the most interesting of which is a kind of grayish greasy substance which looks like rillettes.  So of course, you will be desperate to remove this matter from your head.  To be totally honest, it doesn’t really matter what you put in your hair, even shampoo.  You’ve probably got some of that old bottle lying around, so now’s the time to take a small quantity and clean your hair.

Step 5. Work from home.

Not really.  The idea here is to take progressively longer and longer breaks from your usual routine.  Using shampoo as your hair cleaner will become progessively less enticing (it really is very harsh) so now is the time to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Or just vinegar according to my mom.  Baking soda tingles your scalp, though, so I like it. Eventually you’ll only be using shampoo when  you go to the barber.  Then you’ll be asking the barber not to use shampoo.

Step 6. Nirvana

This is the point when you stop thinking about your hair.  It’s funny really, because all that time you were using shampoo, you probably weren’t thinking about your hair either, so it may feel like you haven’t progressed all that much.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  In my related study of addictions, I noticed that addicts were people who had returned to their previous truth, only now they required a foreign substance to achieve that state. Look at credit card abusers, at some point they run out of money, so technically they are in the same place they were when they started taking credit, only now they have to pay the fiddler as well. Look at drug addicts, they end being just as miserable as they were when they started taking the drugs (let’s face it, why would they take drugs in the first place) only now they are drug addicted and miserable.  Shampoo is the same, you were once an addict, which was easy enough and not particularly expensive (of course I only ever bought cheap shampoo).  But in the Nirvana state of no shampoo, you will not only be mentally free to think about whatever it is you were thinking about before going noshampoo, but you will also be slightly richer and you will doing the planet a favor.  Of course the poor cosmetic industry will have to take a tumble, but ah well.

Step 7. Learn from your mistakes

For those of you with children, make their lives easier by never instilling them with the foolish desire to use shampoo. With young’uns, it’s easy, you just stop using shampoo and they never know the difference.  With older children, you ought just to explain, or, like me, stop buying shampoo.  They’ll thank you for it later.

Any questions?

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33 thoughts on “The definitive guide to going noshampoo”

  1. I’m on day 4….admittly of using the baking soda/vinegar or lemon juice, one day I used beer, and a rosemary/lavender tea I made…but I love love LOVE it. So far, no terribly greasies to deal with….

  2. I’m on week 4 of my no-shampoo experiment. Week 2 was very hard…I quit cold turkey and after a week it was super oily and I couldn’t wear it down. I rinsed my hair out with just water every day, while scrubbing vigorously. I also bought a boar bristle brush, but nothing was working by week two. During week three, I rinsed it out with a baking soda mix, and now, week four, I can wear my hair down again! I would like to add,however, that my hair never smelled. Rinsing and brushing it everyday helped keep the grossness away.

    Don’t give up!

  3. Thank you for your website. Its a great source of information, advice, tips and tricks. I’ve been no-poo since late April 2010. I read the horror stories about people who had bad experiences with no-poo so I was surprised and relieved when my hair only took three weeks to normalize! The baking soda and vinegar worked great.

    My dandruff is gone and my hair looks fuller. I’ve also decided to grow my hair out (for years, my hairstyles has been number 2 guard on the sides and back, just long enough to lay down on top). As a youngster, I had long, curly hair (almost an afro)and was envious of people with straight hair. I’m gonna see if there’s any difference now, hoping the shampoo dried it out which caused it to curl.

    For those that wanna take it a step farther, check out no-soap. I ran across the idea in searching for information about no-poo. No-soap does NOT mean no shower. I’ve been no-soap since mid May and have had great results. Unless she’s used to my stink, my wife doesn’t notice a smell and comments on how soft my skin is (something that never happened before). I’m currently looking into ways to stop using anti-perspirant and other things to try.

  4. I’m on day 10 and my hair feels awful. I went cold turkey. The only good thing is that I can wear it back so it hides how horrible it actually looks. I’m thinking I might try the baking soda and cider vinegar tomorrow. If this really works, I’ll get it cut in a few weeks so I can’t pull it back.

  5. Stick with it Jill,

    It’s a long and occasionally painful process, but you’ll get there in the end. I can recommend the baking soda, as it will remove a lot of the excess sebum. And don’t forget that ‘looks horrible’ is subjective! Send us a photo for the photo competition!

  6. Hey there. Day 7 tomorrow and desperate to use something, so will try baking soda and vinegar. Hair a greasy lank, heavy , horrible mess. Fringe glued to forehead. Spent $30 on new hats to hide my greasy locks. Yuk. Oh I hope the baking soda will work! 🙂

  7. I went “no shampoo” for about two months last fall (after a road trip kick-started me). I loved it! I used combos of lemon/lime juice, apple-cider vinegar, baking soda, and gentle conditioner from time to time.

    Well, my husband and I went camping this past weekend and he just LOVED my unwashed-bedhead-beach-hair so, I am growing my hair out & going no-poo again. I’m on day 5 as of today!

    This was an entertaining read. My hair’s making the transition already, I’m using Burts Bees conditioner and a bit of baking soda currently (not both at the same time). Mainly this helps to keep my scalp from feeling buildup (there’s a period of that, I’ve found)… I like mixing up concoctions to shower with, personally :p so I don’t really wind up not thinking about it at all, but I do wind up with more environmentally and HEALTH-friendly alternatives. My hair loves it, to boot! It gets textured, healthy/shiny, smells just fine, looks thicker, I encourage anyone to try it out, regardless of your hair-gripes.

    I’d also say, brush your hair but don’t over brush it. I brush before I shower and then hand-comb it afterward until it’s dry. Hair’s more delicate & prone to damage when it’s wet.

  8. Great to hear your version of noShampoo. I think you do have a point about enjoying the extra time and energy you put into your hair concoctions. I think you will find, though, that avoiding using anything in your hair, in the long run, really is the most healthy and beautiful alternative. The occasional concoction doesn’t hurt too much, and neither would shampoo or conditioner once a year, but the purpose of going noShampoo and the ultimate payoff really come when you are completely free (of shampoo, of course).

  9. I had recently stumbled upon a blog that talked about going “‘Poo Free,” so I thought I’d give it a try. I should have read the whole article or done some more research earlier. I didn’t know you had to put baking soda or apple vinegar in your hair. Well, I just rinsed my hair, I hope it doesn’t smell tomorrow! I better get myself some baking soda tomorrow! (PS. How much should I use?)

  10. Hi Rachel,
    You don’t ‘need’ baking soda or vinegar. You can use this if you like, as they are milder than regular shampoo. However, you can finish off your old shampoo as well. The main idea is to use less and less of anything in your hair. Just wean yourself of your old shampoo. Try using it as infrequently as possible. It’s going to be hard, but in the end it is worth it! Enjoy!

  11. Hey everyone i just discovered an amazing alternative to shampoo, natural olive oil soap, its so mild that it doesn’t strip the hair but leaves it super healthy and shiny, with lots of body and natural health and life.
    ps: its also great an a general house cleaner and body cleanser, natural soap was used with soda for nearly 100% of personal and house cleaning (including laundry) before the industrial revolution, try it , for me it works, and I’ve not just thrown out my shampoo but all house hold cleaning products, every last one!



  12. My grandma uses olive oil soap for her hair. It’s very popular in Mediterranean areas, where olive trees are indigenous. I’m sure it would work, but it also is quite harsh and certainly harsher than shampoo. First of all, it is very alkaline, so it will leave your hair feeling very ‘rough’.

    In any case, the main purpose of going noshampoo is to regain a natural harmony with your own body. Rinsing and brushing is sufficient for clean hair. Period. As for other household products, they are either unnecessary or they fall into the category of ‘bleach’ or ‘surfactant’. Bleach is useful for whitening and is also not bad for nature. Surfactants combine oil with water. They are indispensable around the house, especially in the kitchen, but basically anywhere where there is oil or grease (including bath tubs, and anywhere else where there is contact with people or cooking oil). Your olive oil soap is perfectly suited to such a task, and can also be found in many cleaning products.

  13. Hi,
    I just found your website and I am very impressed. I myself started a blog a few days ago discussing my experiment not to use shampoo.

    I am on my day 9 and I feel terrible about the way my hair looks and I am almost sure one day I will go back to shampoo.
    Here I find for the first time article about not only avoiding shampoo but anything at all. I have tried baking soda and vinegar, lemon and aluminum silicate (china clay), but my hair is still greasy as hell! I will try just plain water today.
    I have given myself three weeks time. I hope there is some result…

  14. That’s great! I have heard that Bulgarian’s use egg to clean their hair. You could ask around, but apparently it’s very effective. As for your results, you may have to wait some time for your hair to settle down. Sometime’s it takes a year!

  15. Hi!

    I just landed on your site today and I have some questions:
    1. The principle about noShampoo is that it’s healthier to just wash your hair only with water and then brush it? If so, can you please explain the concept a bit more scientifically?
    2. What kind of brush you use? Can you give me some links to pictures?
    I had long hair, and now I will let it grow long again. My hair is pretty greasy and I have to wash it every 2, maximum 3, days. I don’t use a lot of shampoo.
    I am thinking abut going noShampoo after I will finish my shampoo, it’s almost finished 🙂 but I still want more explanations and information.
    Thank you! 🙂

  16. Hi Bogdan. The principle of no shampoo is that shampoo is not required for you or for your hair. Using shampoo is simply an excess, so by dropping it you save yourself the time and energy of using it and you save the earth the energy and pollution. And also, yes, using shampoo, like anything which is excessive, is not good for your hair or you.

    I personally do not brush my hair and I don’t think it matters either way. The main point is that not using shampoo is hard to do, but it is better for you in the long run (like exercise, loving your neighbors, etc…). I encourage you to start, and to remember that although your hair will be greasy in the beginning, in the end your hair will be just as it is today. Getting to this point can take a year or more, so stick with it!

  17. i really want to try going without shampoo and see what happens to my hair. the dilemma is that i bleach my hair and get my roots done ever 6 weeks….can i still go noshampoo even if my hair is bleached?

    please help me!!!!

  18. Hello!

    Long time, no see 🙂
    I want to tell you that I am not using shampoo since then, let’s say since November 2011. I can say that it was a bit hard, but not THAT hard, at least not for me 🙂
    I want to say that I like my hair more now, then back then. I have to say that I’ve made the mistake to use shampoo 2 or 3 times since then, when I felt that my hair was too greasy because I haven’t washed it at time. It was a mistake. My hair was all fluffy and i couldn’t make it stay in any way…

    I want to ask you another question: how often do you wash your hair?

    I must confess that now I am starting to experience the no soap/shower-gel way of living. Today is just my second day but i have a good feeling about this 🙂

    I wish you all the best!

  19. Absolutely! You will end up using shampoo every 6 weeks when you get your hair/roots done. Remember, the occasional shampoo is no problem! I would try to find a milder alternative, such as cocoa been jelly, etc…

  20. I haven’t used shampoo since 2008! So, the answer is ‘never’. As I said, shampoo is a kind of addiction: using it once means you’re back to square one. The best way to go no shampoo is to really go noShampoo! Anyway, excellent job!

  21. Yeah, I understand what you say, and i agree with you(about the addiction of shampoo) but I was asking how often do you wash your hair, without using shampoo. For example I need o wash mine every 2 days, because if I don’t, it will be greasy and stuck to my head 🙂
    I know that some people wash their hair only once or twice a week and others everyday. But those people use shampoo so they are not relevant for me.
    I would like to know from you, because you don’t use shampoo.

    And I am thinking to wash my hair with baking soda, and maybe lemon juice(fresh squeezed) if I feel it too greasy, but I hope I won’t need that 🙂

    PS: what do you think about the no-soap idea?

  22. Ah, I see. I wash more in the summer when it’s hot (and sweaty) than in the winter. In the winter, perhaps once a week or once in two weeks. In the summer, two or three times a day. Baking Soda or baking powder (a mix of soda and cream of tartar) followed by lemon juice is a very nice way to wash. It isn’t strictly necessary. though.

  23. Oh… I will have to wait until I could wash it so rare… My hair is still greasy 🙁
    Thank you for the answer.
    You didn’t said anything about the no soap idea 🙂

  24. Hi
    Firstly I’d like to thank you for all the work you’ve put into this website. Its fantastic!

    But unfortunately I’m not just posting to praise you 🙂

    i have a problem.
    I’ve been shampoo free for about 3 months now and i went cold turkey right from the start. i past the greasy period around the 6th week and my hair is okay i suppose but i think i have that ‘grayish greasy substance’ you mentioned and i was wondering if you now how to get rid off it?
    Everytime i brush my hair my brush is full of it, aswell as fluff.

    Thank you for your help

  25. If your hair is full of the gray greasy substance, your best bet is daily brushing and cleaning of the brush. I’d also recommend a wash with baking soda and lemon juice. The baking soda is a good way of removing that kind of stuff.

  26. Excellent website you have here. I love the pictures you have posted too! Way to tell people the truth, good man.

    I’m on week 4 of using noshampoo, and I have around 2ft (61cm) of naturally straight hair but to be completely honest I do not seem to have the problems other people are having… My hair gets greasy very easily but does not smell, I have no buildup, and it isn’t causing me any kinds of problems! My hair is already fuller (it is straight so when I shampoo’d it, it became very flat and dull) and my fringe will stay in the shape I put it in. From the first half of week one to the end of week 3 I looked a bit like a vagrant but it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I just put my hair into a ponytail or a bun for work, and once home, remove the bun to have beautiful waves left over. It’s like a dream come true.

    Another note, to those who are health enthusiasts: I work out pretty much every day and work up a good sweat, but that does not seem to affect the smell or long term appearance. I eat a very healthy diet as well (a lot of fruits and fish) so that might also have affected my spectacular luck.

    It is still not fully balanced out oil-wise, (I believe I have 2 more weeks to go) but to everyone doing it, I am telling you stopping was not hard for me at all, and it shouldn’t be hard for you either! I wash it with water only and it stays untangled even after a crazy night. I have had no urge to wash it (I may just have a will of steel) and have never gone back on it, and am starting to reap the benefits. Good luck to everyone and thanks to the author!

  27. Well, some people are more talented than others! That’s a great boost for those fearful of trying. Send us a photo!

  28. Hi I had a question about using conditioner. For the past couple of months I’ve been using baking soda as shampoo and then conditioner on my ends. I’d really love to cut out the baking soda entirely (I mean that is the point of noShampoo), but the ends of my hair are constantly dry so I was wondering if anyone still uses conditioner? Or if after enough time and enough brushing my natural oils will kind of spread to my ends. I don’t know though, I have decently long hair. I just bought an all-natural conditioner in the effort to keep it pretty green, but I feel like the whole point is to put nothing in my hair so…. yeah. Haha! Any advice for me? Btdub this website is groovy, thanks!

  29. Hey, thanks! As the dude would say, the scalp abides. That is to say, yes, you should have enough oil in your hair to take care of your ends. Of course, baking soda removes those, so you could try cutting down on that. Also, you ought to try to use something acidic after the alkaline baking soda. Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice are both apparently quite effective. The acidity smooths the hair and makes it less ‘dry’ feeling. Let me know how it goes!

  30. Im 6 weeks into NoPoo and struggling with the grey greasy stuff. My hair feels yucky and my hairdresser just told me that it might not be my oils but more the smog of London. Now I’m unsure about continuing. I was using baking soda with tea tree and then a chamomile n apple cider rinse. After talking to her I tried her suggestion of a tea tree cleansing conditioner by dessert essence but it feels just as bad. Do you think the grey nastiness will end or is it the city?

  31. You’re at one of the most difficult points in the whole process. Have a look at Laura’s advice in her post ‘It’s that simple‘ where she gives a noshampoo recipe. I can tell you after five years of noshampoo that the grey greasy stuff will go away, even if you use absolutely nothing in your hair. The trick is to keep longer and longer periods between your use of baking soda. Let us know how it goes, and remember, once you’ve made the decision the hardest part is over!

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