Upon reading other natural health and DIY blogs a couple of years ago, I came across the idea of going no poo.  For the many crunchies out there, this seemed like THIS was the ultimate in going all natural and DIY (the ‘Mecca’ of DIY/natural health if you will).  One of the main reasons for this was because of all the crazy chemicals in shampoo.  What’s absorbed into our skin goes straight to our bloodstream, so what we’re putting on our scalp is important!  This post is already on the long side (as you’ll soon find out), so I’m not going to go into all the toxic chemicals in most shampoo.  If you’re curious, check out this great article on it: http://naturalsociety.com/5-toxic-chemicals-probably-found-shampoo/

Anyways, in January of 2015, I began experimenting by going 3 to 4 days of not washing my hair versus washing my hair every other day, as I had been, in preparation to going no-poo.  I began using more natural products on my hair.  If you need an affordable, better for you shampoo, I highly recommend this one and currently use it: 

Avalon Organics Biotin B-Complex Thickening Shampoo, 32 oz(946 ml).

I read so many posts about going no poo that I felt I was an expert. I knew all the different concoctions and methods to try. Most people said the detox period (aka the period that could be likened to having greasy hair from falling in a vat of oil) took 2 weeks.  Some people said it could take up to 2 months. I thought I would smash those results. I figured I would only have a detox period of a month at the very most, since I had begun weaning myself.   I would post pictures on Facebook of my gorgeous no poo hair in no time at all.  It was going to be great! (Spoiler alert: it was NOT great).

I went completely no poo from February to May 2015. So, I lasted 3 months doing this.  Well, 12 weeks exactly to be honest.  Yes, I was tracking the days and weeks.  That should give you a clue how it went.  That being said,  I WOULD be willing to try it again,  but more about that later. I want to start by telling you what I tried (prepare yourself,  it was A LOT! ).  My goal was to be no poo forever. I thought to myself I could be one of those crazy no poo people that only rinsed their hair with water once or twice a week and just preened with a boar bristle hair brush every day and did baking soda and vinegar rinses a couple of times a year.  Yep,  I had ‘crunchy’ goals.  

I don’t remember EXACTLY what day I tried what and so on.  It WAS 2 years ago.  That being said, going no poo was…how should I say this…it was SO horrible I literally will not be able to forget the majority of the details. EVER!  Trust me when I say I remember.  

Quick side notes about my hair type when I went no poo:

Thickness: Average

Length: Long

Greasiness: YES.

Dandruff: Sometimes

Hair dyed/colored: Nope.  I’ve never had my hair dyed or colored, aside from green hair spray for St. Patrick’s Day.

Heat treatment:  I don’t even own a curling iron or hair dryer.  A couple of times a year I straighten my hair.  I’ve never had my hair professionally permed or had a Brazilian blow out, or anything like that.

Hair products:  I only did DIY natural hair products at this point.  No hair spray or anything like that for me.

What I tried

I promise, I will GET to my no-poo experience.  I wanted to preface this by saying that if/when you go no poo BE SURE your main no-poo recipe is PH Balanced.  I didn’t realize the importance of this until around my fifth no-poo recipe (when I found the no-poo recipe advertised as “PH Balanced”).  In a nutshell, using PH balanced hair does the following (well, it is SUPPOSED to anyways):

    1. It keeps your hair from getting too greasy, but also ensures it doesn’t get too dry.
    2. It helps retain the color of your hair.
    3. It keeps your hair cuticles closed, which is good because I can’t think of anyone that enjoys breakage or split ends.

For more information about this, check out the following article: http://www.livestrong.com/article/28542-need-ph-balanced-shampoo/

Okay, NOW my no-poo experiments and experience.

Baking Soda:  This was one of the first things I tried because it seemed as if EVERY no-poo blog I came across touted this as the best way to go no poo.  Cheap and easy.  What can go wrong right?   Well, for starters, it didn’t really seem to do anything for my hair.  It didn’t get my hair clean/ ungreasy, and it dried my scalp out.  I only tried it a few times because…

1) It didn’t work.

2) I read some blogs discussing the dangers of it, such as it dried their hair out and messed up the PH balance of their scalp (baking soda is too alkaline for the scalp). Here’s an article about using baking soda with your hair: http://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/baking-soda-hair#overview1

Basically, use with caution and use sparingly.  It is good to use once in awhile to clarify your hair and remove build up.  I don’t think it would be wise to make it your main no-poo go to recipe.  

If you DO want to try this there are a variety of ways to use this.  You can mix equal parts baking soda and filtered water to make a paste that you massage into your scalp.  You can mix some baking soda and water in a spray bottle and spray it onto your scalp and hair. As I recall, I tried both.

Rye Flour: This is similar to the baking soda method in that you mix the rye flour with water.   From the blogs I read, you mix equal parts rye flour to water to make a paste that you massage onto your scalp.  Unlike baking soda, rye flour has a perfect PH for the scalp, coming in at about 5.5, which is the same as most people’s scalp.  For those interested in trying this route, here is a link for more information: http://myhealthygreenfamily.com/blog/wordpress/homemade-shampoo-with-rye-flour-natural-pro-v-for-thick-shiny-healthy-hair/

I tried this method early on, and found that it LITERALLY did nothing for my hair, except that it made me look like I had really bad dandruff because I forgot to get the fine ground kind.  Add that to my list of regrettable life decisions.  Needless to say, I only tried this method one time.  

Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap: I tried this method early on and found it made my hair an even greasier mess.  It wins points for easiness, as do the baking soda and rye flour methods, since you just mix equal parts castile soap and water.  If you’re feeling fancy, you can add in some essential oils.  If you want to try this, here is the Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap I get (I still use it to make body wash and other products): Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap – Baby Unscented 32oz.

I had high hopes for this recipe because I really do love Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap products.  That being said, I found that the mixture of just water and castile soap is too high of a PH for hair (Castile soap has a PH of 8-9, versus your scalp which is 4.5-5.5).  So, I guess it was for the best this one didn’t work out for me, although I tried it several times.

Coconut milk and Castile soap 2 in 1:  This no-poo shampoo was the 4th no-poo recipe I tried. It is similar to mixing castile soap with water, EXCEPT instead of mixing it with water you mix it with COCONUT MILK.  


SOOOOO much creativity. I’m sure you have noticed a theme with the no-poo recipes.  Basically mix two ingredients together, (usually one of them is water) and BOOM! Shampoo!  Anyways, here’s the link for the recipe for this one: https://wellnessmama.com/3701/homemade-shampoo/

I know I’m REALLY beginning to sound like a broken record, but this one left my hair greasy too.  In addition, it’s not quite PH balanced since Castile soap is 8-9 on the PH scale and milk is around 6.6, leaving it with a PH around 7.25.  However, one cool thing about this recipe is if it doesn’t work out for you as a shampoo it makes a great shaving soap.  So, it wasn’t ALL for nothing.  It DID leave my legs feeling incredibly smooth and soft so that was nice.  I would make it again to use it when shaving.  

PH Balanced shampoo:  Here we are now, on DIY shampoo #5.  I wish I could tell you this one worked out, but you already know how my no-poo story ends, so I’ll cut to the chase: IT DIDN’T WORK.  It didn’t leave my hair dry, but it was greasy.  Braids for days for me.  Once again, it was only two ingredients: coconut milk and aloe vera gel.  As a bonus, you CAN add essential oils (I would add peppermint and/or melaleuca) or oils like jojoba to it.  My hair is greasy, so adding oil to it would have been an even BIGGER fail.  I will say this much, it DID make my scalp feel really happy in that it felt very moisturized.  If you want to try it, here’s the link: http://www.thankyourbody.com/ph-balanced-shampoo-recipe/

I DID find it great that this recipe is PH balanced and also the link for the recipe shared helpful information on going no poo.

Lemon and Cucumber 2 in 1: DIY shampoo #6 everyone!  I actually REALLY liked this one, and it has a fairly balanced PH, since the acidity of the lemons are counteracted by the more neutral PH of the cucumbers.  It took a little trial and error figuring out how much lemon and cucumber to add for my hair (yes, ANOTHER 2 ingredient no-poo recipe).  Basically, you blend lemon and cucumber together and massage it onto your scalp and hair.  Sadly, the original recipe I used, which was on the Loving It Raw blog could not be found. Here’s the link for a recipe that is similar to the one I used: https://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/wavy-hair-type-2/lemon-and-cucumber-shampoothie/#!slide1  Please note, that you should use more lemon if your hair is oily/greasy.  Conversely, use more cucumber and less lemon if you struggle with dry hair.  My biggest tip if you try this is STRAIN IT after you blend it before using it.  Otherwise you get pulp stuck in your hair, which is MUCH WORSE than having rye flour remnants stuck in your hair (TRUE STORY). I blended this concoction up for myself for several weeks.  However, as time wore on, I found that my scalp was producing a lot of dandruff and getting too dry.  My hair was WAY less greasy with this recipe than other no-poo recipes, but it just didn’t work out for me in the long-term.   

Honey ‘poo: It was the final DIY no-poo method I tried (no-poo method #7). Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as a stand alone shampoo for me (I still had greasy hair). I did use it for awhile as a scalp treatment though and it really helped clear up my dandruff. It’s two ingredients: raw honey and filtered water (surprise, surprise! Only TWO ingredients), although I add essential oils to it. I loved adding melaleuca, lavender, and peppermint essential oils to it. It is also PH balanced which is another plus. Here is the link for the recipe: http://empoweredsustenance.com/diy-honey-shampoo/ 

DIY Conditioner:  Conditioner was the ONE thing about the no-poo experience that wasn’t horrible.  As everything else no-poo in this blog post, it’s two simple ingredients: filtered water and raw apple cider vinegar.  I also like to add lavender essential oil to it.  Here’s the recipe for it: https://www.diynatural.com/homemade-conditioner/

I would suggest buying the following Apple Cider Vinegar: Bragg Usda Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, 32 Fluid Ounce

I used this after all of the no-poo recipes EXCEPT for the Lemon and Cucumber wash and the Coconut milk and Castile Soap recipe, because those recipes were 2 in 1 shampoos.

Final thoughts:

When I went no poo I ended up having to wash my hair every other day, although it was so greasy, it could have been washed every day.  I read though that washing it everyday quickly depletes your hair’s natural oils and makes your scalp produce MORE oil in response.  How lovely.  To combat the greasy looks, I usually had my hair in braids so people didn’t think I was some nasty grease ball that never showered. Around the 2nd month of going no poo, I got my hair trimmed.  The hair stylist cutting my hair noted that although my hair wasn’t dirty, she noticed a lot of build up. Shortly after that, I tried the lemon and cucumber wash, which helped remove the build up but ultimately didn’t work long term (as you already know).  So, I failed in my endeavor BUT I learned a lot and am willing to try it again someday because after much thought and additionally research, I think I know why I failed.  I am going to do another post soon about why I think I failed at going no-poo.  I considered including that information in this post, but this post was already super long, and I didn’t want it turning into a novel. 


So, there you have it! My no-poo experience!

Have any of you reader’s gone no-poo?  What was your experience?  What did you try?  Are you considering going no-poo?  Let me know in the comments below.  

Written by Rebekah
I'm a vegan homeschooling mom of 4, DIY addict, & natural health advocate.