Is no poo for you? When eliminating shampoo is the right choice.

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The no poo movement is about removing any application of external chemicals from your cleansing routine. In this context, aside from shampoo, it also includes the elimination of conditioner.

The belief is that man-made chemicals are a form of pollution and may actually be carcinogenic or cancer inducing.

Modern society has created a cycle of invention where a specific product is created to solve a problem or fulfill a need. However, that new product comes with its own set of problems, which now need solutions. A perfect example of that can be found within the drug industry, where taking one drug creates a need for taking other drugs to solve new symptoms or side-effects.

When you consider the beauty and personal care industry, the stripping nature of shampoo necessitated the need for conditioner. So there appears to be some truth to this theory.

Does it mean that freeing yourself of shampoo entirely will eliminate the need for conditioner? Not necessarily. Let’s look a little deeper at the no poo movement.

More than one way to go no poo

There are varying degrees of no poo and not all are created equal. Which you choose to use depends on how staunchly you believe in the adverse effects of man-made products. The most popular no poo methods are:

  • Water only
  • Baking soda and apple cider vinegar
  • Organic produce applications
  • Dry “shampoo”
  • Alternative organic products

H 2 Only no poo

The strictest of the no poo movement believes there is no medical reason for humans to wash their hair with anything beyond water. In this context, it is believed that our bodies have a built-in cleansing and maintenance method, not to be messed with.

According to Wikipedia, hair washing routines beyond the exclusive use of water were determined by cultural norms rather than medical necessity. In fact, it is believed that the use of synthetic shampoo removes natural oils produced by the scalp and as a result causes the scalp to produce even more oil to compensate.

Some dermatologists claim that a dependency on the shampoo cycle is said to be created due to the increased production of sebum. They go one step further and claim a weaning process is required to restore normal sebum production and remove shampoo altogether from your routine.

Baking soda beyond baking

Most no poo’ers start their journey with the baking soda/apple cider vinegar (ACV) approach. The baking soda is used as the cleanser, where it acts to remove odor, lift oil from roots, and exfoliate the scalp.

The ACV is used as a conditioner as it clarifies, softens, and gives strands a lustrous shine. The concept behind using these ingredients is simple, natural products that will be very gentle on the hair. It is designed to give the scalp a chance to begin to regenerate its natural oils and heal itself from years of shampoo-related abuse.

When transitioning to this no poo method, your first application of baking soda is used as a clarifier. The intention is to remove the buildup of toxins that you’ve been systematically applying to your hair through periodic maintenance and styling.

The key to a successful transition to this no poo method is a gradual reduction of the amount of baking soda. As your scalp adjusts to the elimination of synthetic shampoos, you will need less and less baking soda to cleanse your hair. This website has outlined a specific process and claims that when done right will not damage the hair. outlines two different ways of using baking soda as a hair cleanser. They advocate a paste method as well as a dilute in water method for application. Whichever method you choose, the instructions are to apply it to the scalp directly and not the hair shaft.

As with any first time technique, proceed with caution and be mindful of how your hair responds. If in doubt, use less than the recommended baking soda to start.

Raid your kitchen for no poo prospects

Worth mentioning here are a few foods that may be found in your kitchen currently. Many of these are used as part of your baking soda soda/ACV routine and are not presented as independent no poo methods. The following list is not exhaustive and exact directions can be found on nopoomethods:

  • Egg wash as a protein and strengthening conditioner (Must use cool water to avoid “cooking” the egg in your hair)
  • Rye flour wash as a vitamin, mineral and nutrient boost
  • Applesauce mask to remove waxy buildup. Also a great solution for hard water buildup
  • Milk kefir and kombucha have probiotics for conditioning your scalp
  • Mashed banana or avocado for moisturizing hair mask

Try a dry no poo

Waterless no poos are designed to absorb excess oils from your roots while freshening up the rest of your hair. Some no poo’ers will use dry shampoo to extend the time between wash days. For a more detailed look at dry poos, read Dry Shampoo – Your Secret Water-free Weapon.

If you visit you’ll find a list of dry shampoo recipes you can make yourself.

Organic solutions beyond the kitchen

There are a variety of organic products that go beyond the kitchen. Details of recipes and how to use them can all be found on The No Poo Method website (link above):

  • Epsom salts and aloe vera, where epsom salts add volume and aloe vera brings added moisture.
  • Kaolin clay wash, good for sensitive scalp, stimulates circulation, gently exfoliates, while cleansing. Good for dry, curly hair.
  • Rhassoul clay wash contains minerals that are good for the hair. It improves elasticity, moisturizes, exfoliates, and detoxes. Best for dry, curly hair.
  • Bentonite clay wash works like a sponge and attracts excess metals, hydrogen, toxins, and impurities, pulling them out of your hair & scalp. Best for oily hair.
  • Soap nuts are grown on a tree and actually contain soap. When converted into a liquid soap, they are good for cleaning just about anything, including skin, hair and scalp.

To poo or not to poo. Does no poo make sense for you?

The biggest benefit to going no poo is the removal or reduction of toxins from your personal care routines. The movement sheds light on the fact that we may be unknowingly applying toxic substances to our hair and body.

Pollutants come in many forms today and complete avoidance of pollution is not entirely possible. If you want to reduce any negative effects that toxic substances have on your life, going no poo may be the choice for you.

Exploring the no poo method can be as complicated or as simple as you would like it to be. If you follow the method outlined on, you may feel overwhelmed with all of the steps she includes in her maintenance routine. You may even feel deterred from ever giving it a try.

However, if simplifying your products to the natural baking soda and ACV method is appealing to you, it may be worth it. This writer managed to navigate all of the negative consequences involved during a six month transition phase and come out the other side a winner.

She claims to only use baking soda and ACV now, which seems to suggest that all of the interim washes outlined by may be unnecessary.

After reading her story and accepting that it will take six months to get conclusive positive results, you may decide to take up the no poo challenge yourself. (It’s important to note her hair type is not typical of black women and results may vary.)

Have you ever considered going no poo? What method of no poo have you tried? We’d love to hear your results in the comments below.

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