Wednesday, July 11, 2012

No poo- an easy alternative to shampoo

You may have heard of the no-poo movement. There are multiple alternatives to chemical laden, commercial shampoo and conditioner. This is the easiest and most accessible.

First, why no-poo? I know some of you are having visions of stinky, dirty, flea-infested hippies. Life without shampoo? How? Why?

Shampoo is laden with nasty chemicals. Here is a list of ingredients commonly found in shampoos. Shampoo begins with a glycol base, to which toxic foaming and clarifying agents and fragrances are added.

Shampoo creates a lovely foam, which is tactilely pleasing, but also strips hair of natural moisture and oils. This dry, rough texture necessitates the use of conditioner. Conditioner coats hair in a waxy, sticky residue which first makes hair look shiny, glossy and smooth, but quickly attracts dust and dirt requiring the use of more shampoo.

Shampoos labeled "Natural" and "Herbal" are not necessarily better than conventional shampoos. Often herbal ingredients are added to the usual base, which improves the scent and possibly the texture, but does nothing to reduce toxin exposure. Truly toxin-free shampoos are expensive and require research to identify.

No-poo eliminates the coating and stripping cycle. A simple cleanser is used, followed by an acidic rinse (more on this later). No-poo can be extremely inexpensive, and easy. This method is foolproof. You can make your own products from 3 ingredients in your kitchen in a matter of seconds. You can adjust the mixtures to meet your specific needs.

Let's get started. You will need 2 containers. The picture above shows 2 travel sized squeeze bottles. I'm not sure where I aquired these. I think they came in a package with something else. I would suggest avoiding glass in the shower, for obvious reasons.

Fill your first container halfway with baking soda. Fill your second container halfway with either white or apple cider vinegar. I prefer apple cider vinegar, if I have it on hand. Any vinegar will work in a pinch.

Top each container off with water. If you like, you can add a drop or two of body safe scented oil or essential oil to the vinegar. Citrus and spice scents are especially adept at masking the pickly odor.

To use, wet hair thoroughly. Apply baking soda mixture to the crown and hair line. You may mix it with less water to make a paste, or more water to make more of a liquid. It won't froth or spread well like shampoo, so you may have to experiment a bit to find the dilution that works best for you. It will separate as it sits. You can see it starting to separate in the picture above, in the time it took me to turn on my camera. Massage it in and rinse well in warm water.

Next, apply the vinegar mixture to the full length of your hair. Let it rest for a minute or so and then rinse. If it stings, dilute it more.

That's it. Simple enough, right?

Now, let's talk a little about how it works.

Baking soda is a cleanser. It's great for a multitude of surfaces, bathtubs, sinks, pots, laundry and hair. It can be harsh and drying if overused. You may find that you can cut back on washings to every other day, once a week, or even less, if your hair is very dry, coarse, and/or curly (like mine).

Vinegar is an acid. Each individual hair is covered in an outer layer called the cuticle. The cuticle is made up of smooth little scales, not unlike a snake. Daily wear and tear cause these little scales to lift away from the body of the hair, giving the hair a rough surface and a frizzy, unruly appearance. The acid in the vinegar smoothes the cutile layer back down, returning the smooth, snaky texture. If your hair is super smooth, you can skip this step, but I like this part even better than the baking soda part.

What about smelling like a salad? The scented oil that you may have added will mask that smell, as I mentioned earlier. But even if you don't use it, the vinegar smell will evaporate, leaving behind the unadulterated scent of clean.


  1. We have dandruff heads in our house, how does no-poo work with dandruff?

  2. The vinegar rinse will cure dandruff. Avoid overwashing. Only wash when hair starts to get greasy. In between rinse with warm water.

  3. great post
    I do no poo with my youngest girls.
    my oldest I can't, I tried hard LOL