Why I haven’t washed my hair with shampoo in 2 1/2 years


No poo

Way back in early 2012 my friend told me she was using the ‘no poo’ method to wash her hair, which replaces shampoo with baking soda and water and conditioner with apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water.

I was hooked and planned to try it right away. Feeling pretty comfortable with making my own cleaning solutions and a mostly homemade, whole food kitchen routine I was ready to take my crunchy journey to the next level.

Cutting out shampoo and conditioner seemed like a good place to start detoxifying my personal care routine.

Here’s why:

1. Shampoo is bad for you and the environment

Shampoo is very similar to the detergents you use to wash your clothes and bathroom, it just smells better. It’s chock-full of nasty chemicals, like carcinogens, pesticides, and mineral oil (derived from crude oil).

2. You have to wash your hair more often with shampoo

The oil in shampoos blocks pores and doesn’t allow the release of natural oil your scalp produces to keep your hair healthy, thus making hair more greasy and in need of more frequent washing. Shampoo perpetuates the problem it’s supposed to solve.

3. It hardly costs anything to go ‘no poo’

While there very well could be some really good-for-you commercially produced shampoos out there, I can’t afford them. A bottle of ACV and baking soda? That I can do, especially since they’ll last for months, probably longer if I didn’t also use them in my kitchen.

4. Your hair is GORGEOUS!!!

Okay, so this might be a bit hyperbolic but from my friend’s testimony and what I read on blogs, everyone loved how their hair looked and felt with ‘no poo’. It seemed like you could get everything the shampoo commercials promise from a couple of ingredients in your kitchen cupboard.

So, how do you wash your hair with baking soda and ACV? Here’s the basic recipe:


Mix one tablespoon baking soda in one cup of warm water. You can use a squeezable container, like an old shampoo bottle or I use a Gatorade bottle, or a spray bottle.

Pour over scalp and massage or comb through with a pick. Rinse after a minute.


Mix one tablespoon baking soda in one cup of warm water in a bottle.

Pour over scalp and massage or comb through with a pick. Rinse immediately and repeat if necessary.


Important notes and tips:

  • This is the basic recipe and instructions. I have normal/dry hair so I use the ACV all over my hair, while people with oily hair typically just need it on the ends. I often double rinse.
  • You might also need to adjust the amounts of baking soda and ACV. You can go up to 2 tablespoons ACV but you shouldn’t go over 1 tablespoon baking soda, just use less. Here’s a rule of thumb: thick or curly hair needs more baking soda, thin or fine hair needs less.
  • Fair warning: there’s a transition period, lasting from no time at all to a month, usually a couple of weeks. During this time your hair relearns to handle the natural oils and balances the scalp’s pH. Don’t freak out if your hair is super greasy, it will stop.
  • You won’t need to wash your hair as often. I wash my hair twice a week and if my bangs get a bit greasy I use a DIY dry shampoo.
  • Your hair won’t smell like vinegar. But you could add some essential oils, like lavender for normal/dry hair or peppermint for oily hair.
  • I make mine in batches, two cups at a time and it lasts for about a month. You could make up a gallon and refill when you need it.
  • There’s no soap scum with this method! It might actually clean your shower.

My story with the ‘no poo’ method

So now that you’re totally sold on the idea of washing your hair with baking soda and ACV let me share my story, success and failure included.

As I said before, I was stoked to throw out my bottles of shampoo and conditioner. I was all over the bandwagon (and I am not bandwagon-jumping type). I was fine with dealing with the transition period, willing to wait as long as I needed for my hair to recover from decades of harsh shampoo.

It was winter and my otherwise dry hair became greasy pretty quick, but like I said I was okay with it — I was going to let my hair do it’s thing. But somewhere in week three I couldn’t take it anymore, probably something to do with the 15 younger, prettier, and better dressed university students that moved into our house. So I used Dr. Bronner’s soap, got rid of the grease and continued to use it for the rest of the winter.

Come spring I was eager to try the ‘no poo’ method again, not knowing if the change of weather would make a difference. It did, though I’m not sure why. Immediately my hair was shiny, healthy and beautiful. I loved it. 

I use the ‘no poo’ method for the next two years without a hitch. At times my hair would get kind of stringy but not bad and never for more than a few days.

This past winter my hair started to get greasy again, similar to when I first ditched shampoo. Wanting to nourish my hair with more than just soap I found Wellness Mama’s homemade coconut milk shampoo and used it through the winter months. Once spring came along I made a smooth transition back to ‘no poo’.

So while my experience with ‘no poo’ isn’t all flowing locks and fingers through touchable hair, I am totally satisfied with the end result. 

I love filling my home with products that are safe and work as well, or better, than the conventionally produced ones. Getting rid of shampoo and conditioner has been fairly easy and I have no intentions of switching back.

Pretty Hair


Want to hear other blogger’s experiences? Check out:

Tsh at The Art of Simple: How to wash your hair without shampoo

Kathleen at Becoming Peculiar: Why I ditched shampoo (and you can, too!)

Would you consider the ‘no poo’ method? Why or why not? And if you already use it, what is your experience?

Got questions? Ask away!


11 thoughts on “Why I haven’t washed my hair with shampoo in 2 1/2 years

  1. I love the no poo method, but I can only do it for a few months at a time because the baking soda really irritates my skin and I find that if I am out working hard at the barn with my horse the no poo method does not get out caked on dirt and horse goop well. I started making my own shampoo bars for those times and they work great! I am glad it has worked so well for you though.

  2. I tried this for a few months but found the baking soda really damaging on my hair 😦 It made it super brittle and I had a ton of split ends. I changed up the recipe and technique a bit to no avail. So now I just use a natural shampoo about once a week which means it lasts a really long time and isn’t too bad for the environment. I had worked up to 6 weeks without shampooing at one point (just rinsing with water)! I know a couple other people who use baking soda and ACV with no problems, one that uses bentonite clay and one that uses nothing (just water, all the time).

  3. I did this method for about four-five months two years ago. It was okay, but my hair kept getting drier and drier. I tried changing the ratios but couldn’t seem to get it back to normal. I also tried raw honey as a conditioner (as an additional rinse step). It helped a little, but not enough. Maybe I should try no-poo again this summer. I may have been using too much of the solution each time I washed my hair.

    Also, I have thicker hair and since I typically air dry my hair, I could smell the ACV for five-seven hours after washing until it fully dried. That was a bit much. How much would adding an essential oil help? I’d have to go buy one to test it out.

    • Trying in a different season is a good idea, it made a big difference for me. And I would agree that you might have been using too much solution, try just a bit right on the scalp.

      As for an essential oil, I would recommend lavender as it’s pretty universal and there’s a MILLION uses for it if you don’t like it in your hair. I would add just enough to take away the smell.

  4. I am totally considering washing my hair without shampoo/conditioner (although I have a really hard time referring to it as “no poo”)! I’m going to finish up with the shampoo and conditioner I already have, and then give it a go in August or September. At this point, I’m actually more interested in homemade dry shampoo, because I have learned to deal with oily hair… just not oily bangs.

    Thanks for this detailed post, Erin!

  5. Pingback: Shampoo Bar Recipe | 2 Moms Natural Skin Care

  6. Pingback: Shampoo Bar Recipe - 2 Moms Natural Skin Care

  7. I alternate between no-poo and a gentle(r) shampoo/conditioner combo from Trader Joe’s, but I want to commit to just going no-poo. Your hair is beautiful! Thanks for reminding me that I need to try ditching the shampoo completely. It’s incredible the amount of money we save with this method, isn’t it?

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