A Short Guide to “No-‘Poo”

According to an article on NPR, people only started to use kids hair gel and shampoo on a regular basis during the 1970s. The same article states that in the early 20th century, people only shampooed their hair once a month. The fact that shampooing daily or almost daily is a very recently-established social norm is surprising to most, and we are far too quick to jump to the conclusion that our ancestors were simply not aware of the health benefits of shampooing. Regardless, people had clean hair before modern shampoo existed. The bases of the “No-‘Poo” movement lie in the cosmetic and environmental drawbacks of using commercial shampoo.

Commercial shampoo contains many ammonia-based surfactants, which is a fancy word for detergent. These detergents dry out the scalp and hair when they take away too much of your hair’s natural oils. The absence of oil makes your body overcompensate and produce more oil, which is why your hair feels very greasy after a couple of days of not washing it. The greasiness reinforces the need to wash your hair more often than you should, perpetuating the cycle. Environmentally speaking, most (if not all) commercial shampoos come in plastic bottles. The Environmental Literacy Council’s article on plastics outlines the basic facts of plastic. For starters, it is a petroleum-derived material, which increases dependency on oil. Secondly, plastic does not degrade in nature and is therefore a threat to all kinds of animal and plant life. Thirdly, very little plastic is properly recycled if at all. These two reasons, along with a particularly unexciting head of hair led me to try going “No-‘Poo”.

I decided to go “No-‘Poo” cold turkey, so I immediately threw away my shampoo and conditioner and went online to look for alternatives to shampoo. The most common alternative is simple baking soda because it deodorizes without taking away any natural oils. I make a solution of one tablespoon of baking soda and one cup of water. After wetting my hair, I slowly pour the solution on the top of my head and work it in well. Then, I rinse my hair and voila! Done. I like to use Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Strengthening Elixir if my hair feels a little dry. It’s a completely natural product, and it’s available at Target! If you don’t want to spend too much money, you can also make conditioner out of one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water. As long as you rinse after using your apple cider conditioner, I promise that you won’t smell like salad dressing.

At first, I had to fight the urge to go out and buy shampoo because I couldn’t stand how greasy my hair looked and felt. If you can tough this feeling out for about a week, you’ll start to notice how much less greasy your hair feels. After the two-week mark, your hair will have established a new oil balance and stop feeling greasy. Ever since I went “No-‘Poo”, I’ve found that my hair stopped being limp and heavy, even in cold weather. It holds hairstyles wonderfully and doesn’t look greasy at all, in fact people don’t know that I don’t shampoo unless I tell them. When I tell people that I stopped using shampoo, they usually make a face or jokingly sniff the air around my head. Most of them can’t believe that I don’t use shampoo. The results are so incredible that I recommend that everyone try going “No-‘Poo”, even if it’s just for a little bit. As an added bonus, using baking soda and apple cider vinegar as your “shampoo” and “conditioner” will cost you a grand total of about five dollars!