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Two Years Shampoo Free

My hair after two years of no shampo

My hair after two years of no shampo

I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them I’ve not shampooed my hair in nearly 2 years now.

I think the image that conjurs up is unruly matted dreads, which is not how my naturally curly red hair looks.  And actually, my hair has never been healthier and more manageable than since I went shampoo-free.

Notice I didn’t say I don’t wash my hair.   Instead, I use a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar to care for my hair.

And even at that, I only use it once or twice a week at most.

Why I don’t Shampoo

It originally started when I came back from Burning Man, and my hair was ultra dry, brittle and frizzy. It was either cut it off and let it regrow, or try something drastically different to restore it. A friend happened to post that she was trying this thing called ‘nopoo’ to help control her frizzy hair, so I gave it a shot and never looked back.

I learned that not only do we humans not actually need shampoo, it’s unhealthy for us! Shampoo is a detergent and literally strips our hair of natural oils, then requiring replacement of those oils with conditioners and treatments. It becomes an endless cycle of cleaning, damaging and restoring.  Shampoo also contains lots of chemicals, including mineral oils (that are byproducts of oil distillation) and sodium lauryl sulfate (which is on the material data sheet as a chemical that you should avoid body contact with).

The benefits of going Shampoo Free

  1. Significantly improved the health of my hair – my hair used to be frizzy, now it’s tame, soft and maneable.
  2. Saves me tons of money (I spend only a buck or two a month on hair care now).
  3. Saves me tons of time.
  4. Reduced impact on the environment.
  5. Better for my overall health.
  6. Removed my self one more step from the consumerist economy of health and beauty ‘aids’.
  7. Helped in water conservation.

And that last one, water conservation, is an important one when we’re living off grid in a small trailer with limited tank capacity. Going shampoo free allows me to just rinse or dampen my hair daily to pull a brush through it, and then do my nopoo routine once a week or so.  With no bubbles to rinse out, I use very little water even on my washing days.

What’s the routine?

For me, I wet my hair and pour about a teaspoon or so of baking soda in my palm. Let a little bit of water turn it into a paste and spread it over my hair. I let it sit for about a minute while I soap up my body, and then rinse.  I follow up (sometime a couple days later, I’ve just learned to read my hair and what it needs when) with a dilluted solution of apple cider vinegar and water, and pour about a 1/2 cup or so on my hair.  Sometimes, depending on the environment I’m in I may also use a conditioner to give my hair some extra moisture .

For more information on going shampoo free: Check out this excellent posting that gives lots of further details.

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17 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Good stuff, I think I’ll try it. I use natural products but less is always more, especially traveling full-time. So, I actually haven’t washed my face with anything but water (and occasionally a wash rag) for 10 years. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Hello!

    It’s my first time here. I’m spanish and I’m not used to speak english.

    You use this instead of shampoo (great choice!).

    What do you use as a replacement shower gel?

    A greeting.

  3. Hello,

    I just came across this article and have just one question. Does it have to be apple cider vinegar or can you use regular vinegar? The reason that I ask is that I am extremely allergic to apples and do not want to risk a reaction but would like to try this as my hair is very dry (over processed).

  4. Why bother with the vinegar and baking soda? My partner doesn’t use _anything_ in the shower and her hair is gorgeous!

  5. Found this via the Vibram FiveFingers post (btw–love the socks!). Will be living the mobile life this fall. Thanks to genetics (mom’s hair=bone straight; dad hair’s=ultra curly) I have wavy hair that is not easily tamed. Have been trying to find ways to simplify. Castille soap was an option but reviews aren’t good. Will give this a try as baking soda and cider vinegar will always be on hand. Thank you; thank you!

  6. Are you still poo-free? Not that I would imagine you would go back after two plus years…

    You are so lucky to have curly hair. It does so much better without poo than with. Curly hair is drier and poo sucks all of the needed moisture out.

    I have straight as a board hair (well, its slightly wavy when its cut short). I tried ditching shampoo back in 2006. I gave my hair hot water massages daily and baking soda/vinegar washes 2x weekly. I gave up after few months. My hair is ultra moist, naturally, and it just kept getting more and more so. I kept waiting for the period of adjustment to be over, but it never was.

    I totally envy and admire how long you have remained free.
    .-= Hitekhomeless (jenn)´s last blog ..Sneaking out of Fernley =-.

    • Yup.. still poo free! 🙂 (Aside from my annual shampoo’ing after Burning Man, all that playa dust just needs lots of lather!).

      Chris also has silky fine straight long hair – and he’s been poo-free for over a year now. He does shampoo every so often tho, as his does get extra moist on occasion.

  7. Right on, Cherie! I’ve been living the shampoo-free “lifestyle” for a few months now and haven’t looked back.

    I actually don’t use anything except warm/hot water and my hair’s never looked better. One thing I was worried about is that the excess oil might lead to a greasy/matted look and/or an unseemly, funky smell. I’m happy to say that neither has been an issue!

    As a frequent traveler (though not as frequent as you guys :P), it also means I don’t have to pack shampoo. One last thing to worry about lugging around with me.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Photo of the Moment: Looking Up in Antigua, Guatemala =-.

  8. What is the quantity of water to cider vinegar that you use as a diluted rinse for your hair? I’m interested in trying this as I have already begun to wait a day or two between shampoos and can already see much better results with my fine & thin hair. I am ready to try going for 3 or 4 days now before shampooing. I do wet & rinse my hair with water when showering between shampoos though. Do you also ever try to use something on your dry hair to clean or freshen it? What is it?

    • I don’t know the exact measurements that I use. If you follow the link in the article, she goes through all the specifics. By this point, I just guess it. It doesn’t have to be exact. I’d say something around 1 part ACV to 3 parts water.. or there abouts.

      Also.. shampooing your hair will strip away all of the benefits that you gained by starting to stop for a few days. It can take 2-3 weeks before your hair regains it’s natural oils and transitions to being more natural. I wouldn’t recommend doing this regime, and then switching right back to shampoo. Either do it.. or don’t 🙂

      I’ve never had a need to clean my hair while it’s dry.

  9. There is definitely an adjustment phase when you go shampoo-free and you and your body get used to the natural oils coming back in. The first couple of weeks can be a bit.. icky feeling. But definitely, once you work through that, it’s awesome!

  10. I’m slowly working myself toward a shampoo-free lifestyle. I used to shampoo every day, but now I’m down to doing it a little less than twice a week. I used to have to put an anti-frizz cream on it every day just to keep it under control, but I’ve had the same bottle of the cream sitting in my cabinet for probably the last six months, because I just don’t need it anymore. I know quite a few people quit shampoo cold turkey, but having experienced my hair without washing for several days back when I did it every day, I was afraid of what it’d do if I stopped suddenly since my hair was generating tons of natural oils. Stepping down the shampooing has allowed my body to slow the oil production so that I don’t end up with a greasy mess even when I get around to washing it the next time.

    My other issue is that I’m wearing my hair in a style that looks a bit rough if the curls don’t behave, and they tend to start getting unruly the farther I get from washing them. I think their behavior might have more to do with the conditioner, though, so I might try going with the nopoo treatment, and use conditioner to manage the curls.

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