I know what you’re thinking.

Something about monkeys right?

Of course…maybe I’m wrong, and you’re hip to the lingo.

‘Poo, is shorthand for shampoo.  I’d say they call it that because its a stinky sham and its worth is based entirely on what two or three generations of branding and marketing propaganda brainwashed us to, but the term actually originates from the Hindi term champo and basically means to massage.  Anyhoo…I don’t use shampoo.  Yes, I am serious.  And…its actually a pretty common phenomenon.  Really.

Here, you can see for yourself what the hair of a person that does not shampoo looks like:

This is almost a  month after the last shampoo and three days since the last wash…

In the most extreme form of no ‘poo, some people switch to only rinsing with water…but I’m not there yet, and I doubt I ever will be, simply because I don’t care that much about not washing (I just wanted to give up another disposable plastic item).  Instead, I wash my hair every four or five days using a regimen similar to this one.  Some sites (like this one) recommend a water-only rinse period for your scalp oils to *really* come into balance, but I have’t found that to be necessary.

If you have never heard of this and wonder “Why on earth would anyone want to stop shampooing?”, there are a couple of reasons:

  • It saves money (the stuff you use is much cheaper than shampoo and conditioner, particularly if you use salon stuff
  • For many people, their hair has more body, looks better, is more manageable and requires less styling products (saving more money)
  • It is better for the environment–no plastic bottles to become pollution and no hard-to-pronounce chemicals going into the watershed (and into the ocean and the ocean food chain and becoming itty bitty pieces of plastic sand for my kids to play with at the beach)
  • It eliminates direct exposure to some of those hard-to-pronounce chemicals, which may or  may not result in personal health benefits down the line (or at least minimizing health risks)

So, you might be wondering what I wash with (unless you clicked the links above, or have heard of this already…in which case, you have some idea).  My shampoo-free regimen includes 4 essential items–a BBB (on long hair forums, shorthand for a boar bristle brush), baking soda, ACV (shorthand for apple cider vinegar) and honey.  Oh, and water (and a cup to mix stuff)…but I don’t do anything with the water or cup until I get to the shower.  Herbs or essential oils are also optional, but not essential.  Plus you might want some squirty bottles (something like an old mustard bottle or those bottles for applying hair dye or even an old water bottle like I use).

Basically your “wash” consists of baking soda and water.  Some people make a paste of the baking soda with the water and massage it into the scalp, others make a sort of baking soda and water slurry and apply it to the scalp and hair.  I fill my bottle with about a 1:8 ratio of baking soda to water.  When I’m ready to apply it to my hair, I shake it up (as you can see in the picture it settles to the bottom) and apply it directly to my scalp from front to back in sections, and then I massage my scalp and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it out.

For my “conditioner” I have a second container which hold a 1:4 honey-apple cider mixture.  After rinsing, I add about two or three tablespoons worth to the cup in the pic, which I fill the rest of the way with water.  Sometimes I will fill the cup with hot water and add a peppermint or chamomile tea bag, or some lavender or rosemary essential oils (depends on my mood and my hair care needs),  letting it seep, before I add the ACV and honey mix.  When you put the “conditioner” in your hair, focus on the hair itself (particularly the ends), and not your scalp.  Warning: It will smell like vinegar. Let it sit in your hair and think about salad dressing for a few minutes and then rinse it out.  I have a pretty good sniffer, and I only get a slight whiff of vinegar upon occasion as my hair dries.  Once your hair is dry though, it won’t smell anymore.

The third part of getting this to work, is brushing.  Personally, boar bristle brushes are the best for this.  They are a natural fiber that basically redistributes your natural oils from your head down the length of your hair, making it shiny (not greasy) and full of body (but not frizz).  Plus, you can get them with a wooden handle, which means No Plastic!!! Brush your hair often and well (100 strokes might be a bit much, but the sentiment is in the right place).  Also, I rarely need to use any styling products when I’m shampoo free (maybe if I’m doing something special and using my hot rollers), and you can just rinse the gunk out when you are done.  Even better, my hair is fairly straight with shampoo, except its thick and it frizzes, but shampoo-free it has just enough wave to have good body and no frizz (which means none of that anti-frizz stuff).

I’ve gone shampoo-free several times now over the past few years and ended up stopping for one reason or another.  The first time I tried, I was in the military and I did the hard core water-only thing.  That didn’t last very long, because my hair got icky and icky hair is out of regs (basically, I couldn’t give my hair the 6 week balancing time)…then I switched to baking soda and ACV for awhile, until I got out of the military and it came inconvenient working at a pool and went back to shampooing.  The advantage though, was that even after I quit no ‘poo, I could get away with washing my hair only twice a week instead of every day…which made going shampoo-free much easier the next time (and the time after that).  The biggest thing I have learned from my trial and errors is that it takes trial and error to get a system that works…and its not the end of the world if you “go back”, you can still try again.

My recommendation for someone that wants to try going shampoo-free is to keep your same schedule but replace shampoo and conditioner with baking soda and vinegar for every other wash, then to replace all but one a week, and then all together.  Once you are only using baking soda and vinegar, try to go an extra day or two between regular washes.  The other option might be to try to lengthen your time shampooing and then switch to baking soda and vinegar (especially if you just bought new shampoo!).  Also, it might take a few tries to get the formula right–a good friend of mine and fellow blogger makes her own shampoo from with Dr. Bonners (I’ll nag her to put the recipe on her blog–mission accomplished!) since the baking soda part doesn’t work for her…the only problem of course, might be getting one’s 11 year old daughter on-board (love this blog–its like looking into a crystal ball, I can totally see my kids in 10 years)!