Saturday, April 07, 2012

My Poo-Free Experiment

If I told you I've shampooed my hair recently, I'd be lying. I haven't touched the stuff in over three weeks, washing with a baking soda slurry instead, and conditioning with diluted vinegar.


This site has tons of information, so instead of rehashing it all, there's a link, and here's a summary:
There are a shload of chemicals and detergents in shampoo that are designed to strip your hair of its natural oils, plus it's cheaper and greener to use natural cleaners.


My motivation had less to do with cost (how much of an expense is shampoo, really?) and helping Mother Nature and more to do with my own vanity. My hair was sick. It was limp, it was greasy within minutes of a blow-dry, it was unstylable. I started looking into how to breathe a little life into it, and that's when I came across this idea of ditching shampoo. The major selling point is that people who go poo-free are able to get two, three, four days out of a single wash, which would be the best thing to ever happen to me. In addition, people who don't use shampoo claim that their hair is fuller, shinier, healthier, and easier to style than it was before. This is the day I officially decided to go for it:

First thing in the morning at work - about an hour after blowing it dry. Flaccid, greasy, awful.


Mix a cup of warm water with a tablespoon of baking soda for shampoo. Apply to roots, scrub and rinse. (It's super weird to wash your hair with what just feels like plain water. No lather, no squeaky clean feeling - which supposedly is the result of crap in the shampoo, not really the feeling of super clean hair.) Use the same ratio of water to apple cider vinegar for conditioner and apply to the ends of your hair. 


It became clear, even after the transition period (more on that in a sec), that a tablespoon of baking soda was not going to cut it for my buttery mop. I doubled it and that did the trick. The apple cider vinegar was wayyyy too moisturizing, so after a little research I switched to white vinegar instead.


You guys, it was horrible. Once you cut out that waxy stuff in shampoo, your scalp freaks the H out and reacts by overproducing oil. I read that transition periods can last anywhere from a of couple weeks to a couple of months, and if mine had lasted any more than 2 weeks, I would have given up. Have you ever petted a lab? THAT WAS MY HAIR. This is no exaggeration: touching my hair during those first two weeks left a coating on my finger tips that I could scrape off. I got through it only by way of slicking my wet hair into a low bun for work every single day.


And I could finally see how this was changing my hair. I haven't quite gotten to the three-and-four-days-from-a-single-wash point, but with the use of a little dry shampoo and ponytails, I can go two. My hair has ridiculous volume:

Right after blowing it dry

and I can put it in all sorts of updos, including a puffy-top polygamist braid if I wanted (I NEVER thought I could achieve the volume for THAT). But this, unfortunately, leads to me to


While I love what the baking soda does to my roots and scalp, I hate how the rest of my hair feels. I even introduced conditioner back in, because like I said, this had less to do with saving the earth and more to do with fixing my nasty hair. That didn't help. I can't even really describe the hair went from sleek and silky (albeit greasy) to coarse and tangly. I can't run my fingers through it; somewhere partway down, they just stop. And while I can do great things putting my hair up, I've still been unable to wear my hair down a single day since I began. I tried on Friday and it was a staticy nightmare. 

Static. The bane of my existence, and the final nail in the coffin of my poo-free experiment. I've always been prone to it, but something to do with the baking soda has multiplied the static by a thousand. A little research told me that that's not uncommon - information that would have been useful to me three weeks ago.

All of this combined is why, after giving it a fair shot, today is my last day of the experiment. The pros do not outweigh the cons. 

I need to figure something else out - no-poo isn't my answer. BLARG!


  1. I have super greasy hair, I use a coconut based natural shampoo. The company is Cal-Ben. It works great for me, however, my 12 year old daughter's hair greased up way worse than mine ever did. It was always greasy, I bought some clear cleansing shampoo at the grocery store but it didn't help. So then I bought some organic shampoo and conditioner at the health food store specifically for oily hair and it worked for her!!! She had 5 people tell her how shiny and healthy her hair looks!! Good luck-- I'm sure you'll find something that works!!

  2. I'm glad the labby phase only lasted 2 weeks. Shudder.

  3. There's this hair treatment that apparently rocks. It has animal placenta in it. My sister is a cosmetologist and she loves it. I haven't tried it, but apparently it does good things.

  4. Partly inspired by this post (and I've finally come to terms with the fact that i blog stalk you) I started not using conditioner every day. On days that I don't, I use the tiniest bit of shampoo just at the roots. It has made a huge difference and an easy fix for someone too lazy to buy expensive shampoo or mix baking soda in the shower.

  5. just cut it off! go short! that's my answer to everyone.

  6. Find someone who has a cosmetology license and go pro. I'd go with a strong clarifying shampoo (try a small bottle first) and maybe something with a little lift in it, Paul Mitchell's Lemon Sage is pretty good. Also, switch out your shampoos, dont use the same one every day, especially if you stick with store bought. They have waxy fillers in them. I dont even use the same pro shampoo every day, I have super fine and fragile hair so I use a protein based shampoo and conditioner one washing and then a moisturizing one the next. I used to have to wash my hair every day but I have trained it to wash every 3 to 4 days now, the transition stage was much the same for me, but once my hair realized it wasnt going to die it was fine. :)

  7. After I started putting conditioner only of the ends of my hair and not near the roots, my hair got a lot less greasy.

  8. What about solid shampoos? Check out LUSH, online or at a store. They have bars of shampoo that are all natural that might work well for you.

  9. Thanks for doing this experiment so I don't have to. Have you tried baby powder? That's my cheap/easy fix for I-can't-be-bothered-to-shower days.

  10. Hey - I did the same things and had the same problems you did. As for the dryness - I found two solutions. One: Apple Cider Vinegar and Cinnamon conditioner. Also this magic stuff:Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition 3 Minute Undo Dryness Reversal Treatment. Long name basically says -- wonders for making hair soft and tangle free. This plus my baking soda hair wash has become the most beautiful combination for my hair. Of course, if you wanted to do the same thing in a more natural way you could take the avocado, olive and shea butter/oils and make your own conditioner that way - I imagine it'd have the same effect.

  11. I've been poo-free for over three months. You shouldn't have doubled the baking soda amount. I use 1 tablespoon for 16 oz of water. You have to give it much more than 2 weeks to work.

    Anyway, good luck with your hair.

  12. No poo for 3 months. Using egg yolks to condition my hair helped a lot. I didn't have a problem detangling my hair after it dried.
    Good Luck