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Cut Out Shampoo Completely: The No Poo Method

The No Poo Method

Growing up, most of us were taught to wash our hair a few times a week or every other day. Some may even have done this every day. But recently, a trend has started called the “No Poo” Method, which eliminates shampoo altogether. Shampoo only became popular in the 1970s, intended to clean your hair while conditioner softens and detangles it. But for many of us, shampoo leaves us with excess buildup and strips our hair of its essential oils.

I am one of those people who has greasy hair, even after I’ve washed it. But I’ve recently stopped washing my hair more than once or twice per week. I still shower regularly, but don’t wash my hair. Instead, I spray it with dry shampoo. While we are not professionals in health or hair care, here are a few recommendations from around the web as well as my own personal experiences.

Eliminating Shampoo

While called the “No Poo” Method, this system doesn’t always eliminate shampoo but rather replaces it with more natural ingredients. Reading your shampoo label gives you an idea of how many chemicals goes into it. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar are popular alternatives (although some people say to avoid the baking soda- do some research as we’re not experts), as is just plain water. Natural shampoos and solid shampoo bars can also be good bridging products. Simply lather these items in your hair like you would shampoo before rinsing it out. You don’t have to do it every day, but a couple times a week should suffice. Best of all, you probably already have these items around your house and if not, it won’t cost much.

Over time, many people transition to no washing products at all– just water- with maybe the occasional encounter with shampoo. Now that can take a load off of your packing list.

How to Keep Hair Clean

It may take a while for you to get used to not using shampoo at all. It’s all about letting your hair go back to its natural state and reset. Sometimes you’ll have dandruff or have some sort of “purging”, but after a few months it will balance out. Hormonal changes may also affect this.

“No poo” methods include apple cider vinegar as well as honey, aloe vera gel and probiotics like kefir and kombucha. Diluted Castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s will also do the trick, but here is a list of a few more.

Brushing is also important so that you distribute your oil throughout the hair, working as a natural conditioner all while ridding excess build-up on your scalp.

Applications for Travelers

The good news for travelers is that it’s one less thing to pack!

If you’re not quite at the no product level, you may still benefit by bringing less as you’ll train your hair to require fewer actual washes. Get some reusable toiletry bottles and tubs for you to put your “no poo” alternatives in. The mixed pack from Nalgene offers bottles in multiple size. You can put liquids in some and powders in others.

It’s great for travelers who don’t always have time to wash their hair every day.

Do you follow the “no poo” method? How has it impacted your travels?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Holly says

    I only wash my hair once a week. I’ve been experimenting with no sulfate shampoo lately so I know what these types of natural products do. I’ve also tried the baking sofa & vinegar option. I can tell you that it can strip the color right out of your hair! Vinegar alone will set color in hair or fabrics like when you get a new pair of jeans, wash with 1/2 cup! Add the baking soda you have the “scrubbing” agent like I use to clean my toilets! It’s a whole new beast! So it’s ok as long as you don’t have a color on your hair. But I would now recommend this as a daily treatment. It’s very harsh. For getting heavy buildup off, maybe. The other less harsh options you mentioned are better choices!

  2. Svenja says

    I don’t follow the “no-poo movement”, but my hair care is pretty easy to travel with – shampoo bars (or good old soap), that I use basically from head to toe.
    I usually wash my hair with shampoo bars/ soap every two or three days. In between, I just rinse my hair in the shower. Works for me, but then my hair is pretty curly and doesn’t get oily that fast.

  3. Jessica says

    No! Do not use baking soda on your hair unless you want to cause really bad damage!

    For many, acv may be enough, but egg is another shampoo alternative. There are a bunch of no-shampoo recipes on Pinterest that may or may not work for certain hair types.

    But please, if you care about your hair at all, DO NOT USE BAKING SODA!

  4. Debbie says

    One comment: eeeewww.
    I have tried this and it has failed miserably. (Which is to say I was miserable while I tried to get my oily and oily-smelling hair to go poo-less.)
    I take a bar of J.R. Liggett’s Old-Fashioned Bar Shampoo. No liquid, less space and much better smelling and feeling hair.

  5. Kathryn says

    I love the no-poo method! I converted to it about a year ago now, and I have no regrets. I originally went to it because I wanted to bring out more of the natural curl in my hair, and it has done wonders. (For curly hair it’s silicone and sulfate free products). If you use a silk pillowcase (my one travel luxury), you can go days without washing your hair (which is a godsend in cold places!). After a lot of researching, I use Suave Naturals Coconut Conditioner, and use that to wash my hair as often as I like, usually every 2-4 days depending on what I’m doing. I use a sulfate and silicone free shampoo on my hair usually around once a month, but this isn’t super necessary (Say Yes to Cucumbers shampoo).

  6. Lauren says

    I’ve been doing no-poo for a couple years now. Started with baking soda/ACV, then switched to egg and honey occasionally, but I always found that my hair was oilier after a couple days of “washing” it, so I’m trying to do water-only, with cornstarch as an occasional dry shampoo (since I’m lazy and leave as much time between washes as I can). With soft, hot water and good pressure, my hair always looked marvellous, but now that I’m traveling full-time, I’m running into problems with hard water and lack of pressure. I love not having to carry shampoo and only washing once a week, but my hair hasn’t looked really great in weeks!! Any tips?

    • Brooke says

      I’m impressed you’ve been able to go no-poo! As for the hard water/pressure issue, I’m not sure how to address that. If you only wash your hair once a week, you *could* boil a pot of water for 10 minutes to remove some hardness and use that to wash your hair? I know… extra effort.

      • Lauren says

        That’s not a bad idea. I think I remember reading that potable or distilled water could be better, too… Maybe I’ll give it a go (if I have the energy for it lol).

  7. Harper says

    About 12 years ago my dry thick wavy hair became very damaged and when I considered what had changed I realized I had started washing my hair daily when I had very short hair and continued the practice even after I grew my hair out. So I took a year to slowly adapt to washing once per week. Then I heard about no-poo and decided to try that. I’ve used baking soda for about 11 years and vinegar rinse for about 7-8 years.and my hair feels and looks great. I had heard about baking soda damaging some people’s hair – it seems to happen more for people with oily hair, I don’t think the oiliness itself is a factor but that people with oilier hair probably wash their hair more often. Right now I am on day 16 after washing with baking soda/vinegar and my hair looks, feels, and smells clean. I do sometimes use just water or diluted Dr Bronner’s. As for travel, the combo of infrequent washing, no-poo and water washing means I rarely have to pack anything for my hair. For longer trips I pack baking soda and skip the rinse (I do want to try citric acid and I also think it would be fun to use the local vinegar) or use Dr Bronner’s. I also don’t use dry shampoo or other hair products other than occasionally using a few drops of oil so I don’t have product buildup and I don’t use heat on my hair so, of course, your mileage may vary.

  8. Julia says

    I’ve been doing low-poo (only products with no sulfates or silicons) for over a year and it’s been wonderful. My hair is super shiny and soft and I haven’t had any split ends in a longtime, when they used to be pretty common. I’m thinking in going no poo, but I’ll probably start with specific products (store bought co-wash) rather than using apple vinegar or anything like that.

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