No ‘Poo is a whole lot of BS (and I don’t mean baking soda)

Anybody who says going shampoo-free is easy is a big, fat liar.  I don’t know who these people are who claim their hair took to No ‘Poo in the first washing, but they are hoodwinkers.  Going shampoo-free is not easy – in fact, it’s arguably the hardest thing I’ve done since I had to parallel park in my driver’s exam.  Going poo free has been a colossal, greasy, dusty thorn in my side for about two weeks now, and it’s driving me insane.

My morning routine goes something like this: I wash my hair and dry it.  Not one minute after, it’s a grease-pack – it looks like I just poured a can of WD-40 on it.  The look has literally NO redeeming qualities; it makes my hair stiff and dank and altogether unpleasant to touch, look at or wear on my head.  Who lives like this??

Next, I feel the need to apply dry shampoo (corn starch or baking soda), in order to soak up the over-exuberant oils.

This is how I want to feel

This, people will tell you, is also easy – but they lie.  How much do you put on?  How do you put it on?  How do you work it in?  How do you get it out?  You think you’ve got questions???  Imagine how I feel standing in front of the mirror facing hair that’s been dunked in an oil tanker and an office full of people who are going to see that hair.  And I’m supposed to fight back with what?  Powder?  That’s like giving Marie Antoinette a Super Soaker and sending her out to meet the peasants.  (Speaking of Super Soakers, I could really use one full of shampoo and pointed at my head.  Either that or a fire hydrant.)

With no Super Soakers or fire hydrants readily available, on goes the powder.  I sprinkle, rub furiously and shake it out.  Then more powder.  Then more shaking.  More powder.  More shaking.  Powder.  Shake.  Seriously – at 7 o’clock in the morning, this gives me a headache.  Back to the mirror; hope fades.  The powder makes me look like the filter of a Bissell vacuum cleaner.

But minutes (and options) run out, so we go with the best case scenario, and these days it’s been nothing short of a powdered wig.  I have gray hair and brown roots, all covered in a liberal dusting of baking soda.

And you thought I was being facetious when I said “No ‘Poo Nightmare.”  I am very, very serious.

This morning I lost it.  As in total meltdown.  I ended up pouring about half a pepper shaker’s worth of corn starch in my hair, and when I wasn’t satisfied with that, I followed with another half shaker of BS.  When all you have is powder, your best offense is overkill.

My hair looked like a dead person’s.  I grabbed a bottle of shampoo.  (It felt heavenly in my hand.)  I was on edge, and if I didn’t have my hair cleansed soon, there would be no telling where the end of the day would find me.  At that moment, I realized time was up and I had to leave.  Up went the hair; away went the bottle.  Luckily, the tears were minimal.

Needless to say, tonight I went back to the drawing board, after inordinate amounts of ice cream.  I read anything I could find on home remedies for oily hair and found three basic solutions: vinegar, lemon juice and tea.  At nearly 1AM, I’m one vinegar rinse down, and I’m (so absurdly) sorry to say that it fixed nothing.  I’m trying tea in the morning.

And in happier news, I…I…I….bah, who needs it?  The first happy thing I want to see tomorrow is de-greased hair!


29 thoughts on “No ‘Poo is a whole lot of BS (and I don’t mean baking soda)

  1. I highly recommend the lemon juice. I dilute lemon juice in water and that helps. I hate feeling like I could wax a car with my head!

    Have you checked out shampoo bars? I’ve not tried them, but some people that never found a way to make no ‘poo work for them swear by shampoo bars. They should still count as a dirty hippie product. Good luck!!

    • That’s an interesting idea – maybe I could even find a way to make my own so it would keep with my “homemade” rule!!! I tried lemon juice tonight and am going to write a post about my results so far in just a minute! (There’s not too much to comment on since my hair hasn’t dried yet, though.) If things keep going downhill with vinegar/lemon juice/baking soda/tea, I’m going to look into making a shampoo bar – thanks for the help!!

  2. Been there! In terms of getting the hair to “feel clean”, I found it effective to fill an old shampoo bottle with a strong solution of baking soda and water. Occasionally I would also scrub my (wet) scalp with baking soda in the shower, which really took care of the greasiness. And rinsing with dilute lemon juice or camomile tea did add shine.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t result in the soft, luxurious locks that I had imagined. My hair kind of looked like clean, shiny, straw. Getting a comb through became unimagineable!

    I did move on to shampoo bars after that, which smelled divine. Unfortunately, my kids have a tendency to use them for bathtub crayons, which makes them short-lived.

    Hope you find a solution!

    • Haha Thanks for the insight! You definitely feel my pain here!! The weird thing with my hair is that the baking soda kept it clean for a week and then after that the whole thing went down the drain in a greasy mess. But this new kick of vinegar and lemon juice and tea seems to be working better for the time being, so I’m seeing where this goes. But I am now giving serious thought to using baking soda to clean my hair maybe once a week or so. As soon as I find something that works, it’ll be posted!! Thanks for keeping up with the drama!

  3. So I remembered hearing about this store called Lush that supposedly sold handmade/natural cosmetics. At the time I disregarded it as being too hippy and of no value to me, but now I think it might prove useful!!

    Here is the link to their various handmade shampoos:,en_US,sc.html
    Maybe you can scour through there to see if there is anything you can try to knock off (or secretly buy and pass off as your own)

    • I will definitely visit their website – particularly when I get into things like makeup and bar soap (the thought of whipping those up in the kitchen just frightens me lol). As you know, I’m no Betty Crocker. (psst – secretly buying and passing off as my own sounds like an AMAZING idea!!!!) hahaha Thanks!

      • Just a bit of a warning about Lush! Remember to check their ingredients VERY carefully because many of their products aren’t very natural at all. I bought and used Godiva (a shampoo bar that smelt like jasmine) and didn’t really like it. Afterwards I realized that one of its first ingredients was sodium laurel sulfate! I know that Lush works well for some people, but just keep in mind that they tend to ‘hide’ their not so natural ingredients and play up their use of essential oils and food in their products.

        Good luck!

      • Thanks Julie! And thanks for reading!! This is something I have noticed, too – certain so-called “natural” brands covering up chemicals that are actually in their products. Since I don’t use many pre-made products (with the exception of Dr. Bronner’s), I don’t usually have trouble with this, but after this whole experiment is over, I’m definitely going to be a label-reader!!!

  4. Gotta say – your hair did look better this morning following the tea rinse. And no powdery residue in sight. So thats a step in the right direction. Don’t know about Marie Antoinette but I give you a great deal of credit for going out to face the world each day when you don’t feel particularly confident . Hey – at least the natural deodorant must be working – cause you have surely been under stressful perspiration rendering situations this week. Go get ’em!!!

    • Yes, I definitely think it was a step in the right direction and I hope we keep going that way!!!!!! Don’t know whether it was the tea or the vinegar or just getting all that powder out, but hey – I’m not asking ANY questions. I’m just cheering my hairs on at this point! BTW – props to you and Daddy – had it not been for your concern, I probably would have continued down the greasy path to nowhere and never found these emergency degrease cleanses!!!!

      • I’ve been doing the baking soda and water instead of shampoo and apple cider vinegar and water instead of conditioner, but I’m feeling (and looking!) like a greasy mess, too. Right now I’m looking for a solution… Maybe I need more baking soda? The recipe I found said 1 t BS per cup of water.

      • Hello! You have no idea how much I’d like to have advice for you!! If I had advice, not only could I be of help, but that would also mean I had found some semblance of success with No Poo. Unfortunately, if you continue reading deeper into my No Poo troubles, you’ll find that “success” does not necessarily define my No Poo experiences… While I’m still tempted to try other methods of No Poo, I’ve given up for now and am using a sulfate-free store-bought shampoo/conditioner made by Goldwell. There are lots of all-natural store-bought options out there, if you want to go that route, but if you’re a real trooper and you’re still No Pooing, then I would suggest trying a recipe that involves Dr. Bronner’s or another form of castile soap.

        There is more information about my No Poo experience here and you can try out some of my recipes for yourself. They didn’t work for me, but that doesn’t mean your hair type won’t take to No Poo better than mine! But before you continue, I would talk to someone at a green hair salon…I wish I had done that sooner into my efforts, because by the end of my 3-month stint with No Poo, I had horrible build-up, and my hair was downright gross.

        One final suggestion – have you tried the rinse method? Apparently, if you simply use water every day, your hair will learn to “self wash” after the obligatory greasy period. I know a few people who have tried this with success! Good luck!!

  5. Why don’t you try the baking soda before you wash your hair? That way some of the grease will get out of there and rinse away in the shower.

    • My aunt actually suggested the same thing, and I did try it once but gave up on the idea. I find it hard to measure how much baking soda I’m putting on my head when it’s dry, so I end up dumping a ton on. haha Although, I’ve found a better way to apply dry shampoo now, so I may have to give this idea another shot! Although, since I’m using baking soda as my dry shampoo in the morning, I wonder if it does work to cleanse a bit while I shower in the evening? So maybe this is working! Thanks for reading :)) Btw – did your mom tell you I saw her in Wegmans??

  6. Rachel! I love your blog! This is great. I’m not sure how long you’ve gone like this, but I actually experimented with this last year. I lasted for a month and then ended up traveling and just giving up. It did take like 2ish weeks for my hair to get used to it. I would wash my hair with a baking soda/water mixture, rinse and then add vingear to my ends ( as conditioner). actually, in the beginning my scalp was very very dry.

    anyway, this is awesome, i’m following 🙂

    • Wow I wish I had known you had tried it!! I would have asked you for tips!! But yea, it’s pretty difficult to get the hang of it and find out what works for your hair type and everything – that’s what I’m having trouble with the most. In the beginning, my whole head was TERRIBLY dry and my hair was waxy and gross, then it just became a greasy mess, as you can read lol Wanna take up No Poo again with me??? Thanks for following!!!!

  7. The easiest way I’ve found is BORAX and water. I used a post partum peri bottle and I found that if I get in the shower, and squirt all my DRY ROOTS and massage it in and let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse out. When I wet my hair first, it made everything out of control. Then I have a big coffee mug I fill full of ACV and then I dip my hair into it before getting out of the shower. BEST conditioner ever. The biggest issue I had was sebum build up, after the oil got under control. It took one use of regular shampoo to get all the ick off my hair and then the no poo worked PERFECTLY! I had such gorgeous hair. But don’t travel with no poo. It really is dependent on your water type. I had to make my solution a little more stronger than the usual recipe online, due to how nasty hard the water is here in San Diego. I hope you get it figured out! I went a month of sheer ridiculous hair before I ventured and started changing the “formula” and adding ACV. Then it was no big deal!

    • Wow, I’m so impressed!! I wish I’d been as successful as you are. I never thought to try Borax, but I will certainly look into it. I’m no longer No Poo (just couldn’t take it any longer, unfortunately); while you’re going through the grease period, it really feels like NOTHING will help, and it’s so depressing! Just wondering…when you went back to regular poo to get the ick off, were you able to switch back to No Poo right away afterward, or was there another adjustment period? Thanks for the info!!

  8. What works for me is just ACV; no baking soda. About once or twice a week max. I know other people who use a soap nut/patchouli solution for their oily hair though… Mine is normal/dry and curly.

  9. I’m part of a large group of women that has a large percentage of “no-poo-ers”, it seems like each person’s hair and scalp require different ratios of stuff to stay super healthy. One Mom uses baking soda (1T bs to 1 cup water) twice a week and uses a 2-3T apple cider vinegar to 1 cup water rinse on every second or third wash, only on her tips. I have to use the same bs solution, once a week, but use a 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water rinse, once to twice a week and I put it all over my hair. Another mom is somewhere in the middle but uses extra virgin coconut oil once a week in her hair for a deep conditioner. If your hair is greasy, rinse with more baking soda. If it is tangled, more of an acidic rinse such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in water… it’s about getting the right ph balance for your body. Some people use just water… that would NOT work for me. Ick. I also can’t no-poo while pregnant… my hair gets weird. Good luck figuring out what works for you. 🙂 Oh also… as far as powder… I use cornstarch baby powder, puffed up into the air over my head, then rub in and brush out with a pig bristle brush. The brush is key to moving the oils down your hair shaft… lots and lots of brushing with that type of brush will help.

    • Thanks for your help! I had heard about the pH balance idea before, and I started using things like Aloe Vera Juice and honey, but it still seemed that everything I tried only made things greasier and drier. It was a horrible mix. I wonder if it’s simply my hair type that doesn’t take well to No Poo, and I’ve often thought about going for just water. You mentioned that you couldn’t do just water – do you not think your hair would take to it or is it just the idea of it? Thanks so much!

  10. I have just ventured into no-poo 4 days ago. I opted to go right in with baking soda wash ACV rinse both I am currently using 1tbsp to 1cup water. I have no real complaints as of yet. Although I do have a bit more oil to my hair its not out of control or gross. As a matter of fact I already see some positive changes it feels softer and not nearly as tangled as before. I do have a bit of itchy scalp but for now, since I am just beginning this, I will contribute it to the changes that my scalp is going through…I hope you have found the right mix for you and would like to hear more! Thanx!

  11. Oh no the powder and dry shampoo is making your hair more oily!! Im just finished my second week of using a shampoo bar and acvinegar diluted in water, to get through the horrible changeover as fast as possible i only wash my hair with this once a week, BUT i rub a touch of shampoo and conditioner into the ends of my hair to keep my own sanity. You really just have to tough it out and dont apply anything like dry shampoo because your essentually prolonging the process your hair needs to go through to switch, if you strip the oils which those products do then your just making your hair produce more oil so your not getting through the detox, just tie it up under a scarf, the first week was AWFUL but the second has been alot better, and i have very long hair that reaches to my lower back so it has been tough!

    • Hi Jess – Thanks so much for reading! I’ve actually fallen off the No Poo Bandwagon for the time being, having finally reached my wits’ end with it all! I tried for a long time to get No Poo to work – experimenting with different shampoos and soaps and vinegar/BS mixtures – but all I got was the oily transition hair that you’re describing. When my hair got to the point of no return, I consulted my hair dresser, and she gave me some tips – I have resigned myself to the fact that No Poo doesn’t really work for my hair type….but I still have a slight desire to try again…someday! How is it working for you? Have you made it through the transition period?

  12. I too am venturing into the no poo arena. I am tired of chemicals on my hair, and have been experiencing hairloss since January of this year. I am hoping sls is the culprit, and banishing them from my life will make a true difference. I tried all the things you ladies mentioned, and nothing worked. I have the added dis-advantage of owning a restaurant, and I work the kitchen up to 13 hours a day (think grease floating in the air from morning to night!) I now use egg yolks. I break 2 or 3 eggs and just use the yolks, a few tablespoons of water and a couple good squirts of lemon juice. I mix this up and it becomes my shampoo. I wet my hair, then rub my fingers vigorously through it to break up the strands so the egg won’t just roll off the canopy of wet hair. I pour it on my head, concentrating on one section at a time, (top, then each side, then the back, then the length) I massage it in and let it sit for about five minutes. Then rinse. Do a final acv or lemon water rinse if you want to. I am going to get some rosemary tea and use it as a rinse next week. A word of caution; comb out VERY carefully, please! I also want to try using a teeny-tiny bit of coconut oil massaged onto the length only before combing out. I do this every morning, as the restaurant makes for a very greasy head of hair by the end of the day, not to mention the stench of hamburgers and fried food in my hair. But the eggs do work, and nothing is more natural than the incredible, edible egg!

    • Wow – great advice! Thanks so much for sharing! I have often heard of using eggs on your hair, but I never tried it during my forays into No Poo. Perhaps I should have, because I could never really find anything that kept my hair clean. I would definitely agree with you on the tea – green tea was a nice rinse for me, as well as chamomile, because I am blonde. I’d love to know if the coconut oil works for you – on my head, even the tiniest bit of oil (Coconut, Olive, even Jojoba) leaves me with a greasy clump of hair. But I think it all depends on your hair type! Thanks again for reading and sharing, and best of luck in your No Poo adventures 🙂

  13. I’ve been no poo for over a year, I like to use 1/2 squeezed lemon with water sometimes, I have thick curly hair which i hated, but its great (now I wear it straight) it stays clean for a good week. It took a good 4 months maybe to really work, (yes you are greasy and feel yucky, but I started in summer and kept it pulled back.) good luck!!!!

    • So it CAN be done!!! Thanks so much for your advice – I’ll post it on my Facebook page for all the No-Pooers out there!! I have to admit, I’m currently back on commercial Poos; I just couldn’t take the stress of the grease period. But I still have a hankering to try again (at some point when I don’t have to leave the house for a good half-year), and hopefully the next attempt will have better results! I appreciate your feedback – thanks for reading 🙂

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