Several have asked about the No Poo Movement, so here’s some information on what I did.
First, some preliminary tips:
One complaint about No Poo is that it’s really time-intensive. People create rinses with juices and extracts, buy special brushes and messy powders, go through routines like making sure to complete a certain number of brushstrokes daily, and do weird things to their scalp. Some get discouraged because all of that is more time and work than actually shampooing your hair.
Other ways to reduce or eliminate shampoo don’t require so much effort. My goals were to 1) spend less time shampooing my hair and 2) have healthier, shinier hair. I did not care too much about spending money on shampoo or using natural ingredients. I still use a lot of expensive, chemical-laden products in my hair.
If your goals are cheap and natural, then you probably will have more work to do involving the special rinses and powders and grooming routines. (See below for some info on less expensive, more natural techniques.)
I do not recommend quitting cold turkey all at once. Women who go from daily washings to weeks without even rinsing are surprised it’s miserable. Of course it’s miserable! After a couple of days you want to chop your head off. While I hear that, after about 2 weeks, people who go cold turkey finally notice the positive effects, until then roots look increasingly greasy while the ends grow more dried-out and hay-like. A lot get discouraged in this period and go back to daily shampoos.
It takes time for your whole head to readjust. Don’t try to quit shampooing without doing something – weening off gradually or using another type of rinse – to transition your hair.
- I started by skipping one day of shampoo (and am now skipping two to three days regularly). When I do shampoo, I use pretty good quality shampoos and conditioners, because the cheap stuff will leave residue on the hair.
- During showers on non-shampoo days, I massage my scalp and rinse my hair. I dig my fingers into my scalp and run through my hair with the water running for about 30 seconds. This helps to clean out styling products and daily dirt from the roots and to redistribute the oils from the scalp to the ends. Then I put some conditioner on my ends, which I rinse just before I get out. None of this needs to be a long or involved process.
- I comb my hair. This is important for redistributing natural oils, but I neither complete 100 brush strokes a day nor use a fancy brush. (Actually, brushing hair too much does its own damage.) I have a dollar store comb and, since I shower in the evening, I use it once after my shower and again the next morning. (Note: On lazy days, I may skip #2 and #3. I always rinse my hair and massage my scalp a bit, but I occasionally – maybe once a week – skip conditioner and combing if I don’t feel like it and/or am not anticipating doing anything special that requires me to look decent.)
- After the the first non-shampoo day, I spray dry shampoo on my roots, which also gives some lift, and apply Marrakesh oil on the ends. It’s important to use something to soak up the oil at the roots and to moisturize and soften the ends.
- Style normally. I use other products (cream, sea salt spray, hair spray, etc.) daily.
Cheating and stretch days:
I find that sticking to a schedule is best, so you’re not tempted to cheat and you’re not tempted to try going too long without shampoo, thus turning into a greasebucket with a straw wig and getting discouraged with the whole thing. However, on non-shampoo days when I feel I must wash (this is rarer in winter for obvious reasons and becomes almost nonexistent after hair weans itself), I try to shampoo on the roots around my hairline and then rinse; this makes me feel better without shampooing my whole head.
I also recommend having a “stretch” day. If you can occasionally stretch non-shampooing an extra day, usually on a lazy day when you don’t care what you look like, this will help the hair reconstitute even faster. Trying to stretch more than one day before your hair has weened is usually miserable, though (my scalp gets itchy – ugh).
Cheaper, more natural alternative:
Some prefer the natural route, which I tried for a while. I used baking soda and apple cider vinegar as my shampoo/rinse, corn starch as a powder to soak up oils, and lavender oil on my ends so I didn’t look like a scarecrow. I shampooed about once a week and used this routine the other days. My neck got raw from the baking soda/vinegar combo and I smelled like vinegar (I probably wasn’t doing it right – many don’t have these problems). Plus, it was a lot more work and looked bad if not done just right. For example, if I used too much corn starch and didn’t comb it through properly, I looked like I was wearing a George Washington wig. (Dry shampoos, on the other hand, are designed to be sprayed on and voila! you’re done.) This method was too error-prone and too labor-intensive, so I quit it. However, it works for a lot of people, and a good description of how to do it can be found here.
Since I spend less time shampooing and the chemical products take care of most maintenance and styling for me, I really do spend less time overall on my hair (actually, a lot less time – since my hair is long, forgoing shampoo can cut my shower in half or more).
I should note that I almost never blow dry my hair – even in the middle of winter. This can be a pain because long hair, even when it’s fine, takes a while to dry, but it’s worth it to me.
Also, I have oily skin and bangs, and I don’t think my hair has weird smells or a ton of grease, and since I rinse it every day, it feels clean (very important!), even if I’ve gone a couple of days without washing it.
Getting regular haircuts is important. If your hair doesn’t already look well-maintained, the awkward transition period is going to look that much worse.
Good luck going dirty!