My No Poo Experiment: How To Give Up Shampoo


Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar to you: you have the best intentions about organic products. You even buy the expensive all-natural shampoo. Then – shock horror – you realise you have run out of conditioner (you always run out of that first) and the shampoo is dwindling. You don’t have time to go to your health store which is the only one that stocks the non-chemical brand and you have an event which means you can’t wait for online delivery. So you give in and get a crappy $3 job to tide you over.

It happened to me ALL the time. 

But enough was enough. I decided to quit, once and for all.

Why Quit?

Recently I got some test results back that showed that I have extremely high oestrogen levels. Which in scientific terms is (careful – it’s hard to pronounce) – a bit shit. But if you want an actual scientific opinion then you should head over to Nat Kringoudis site and check out this article. Bottom line: I have a pretty pressing deadline to balance my hormones.

It is so important for me right now to only be putting good stuff into my body. And considering our skin absorbs a lot, what goes in includes what goes on.

I also recently saw an amazing presentation by Narelle Cheneryfounder of amazing eco beauty brand Miessence, all about toxins in our cosmetics and hair care. I won’t go too far into it on but you can check out this article here from Mukti about toxins we find in our cosmetics and hair care. Basically we are slathering and lathering with proven carcinogens, endochrine (hormone) disrupters, skin irritants and nasties which effect our immune, reproductive and respiratory systems. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it would be illegal to use dangerous ingredients in our skincare but that simply isn’t so. (cough cigarettes cough). In fact, Australia is one of the least regulated chemical industries in the world.

And where do we apply shampoo? In a warm shower were our pores are open and we are primed to absorb. This was all especially driven home by the fact that my daughter sits on my feet when I shower (don’t worry, she’s 2 not 15). The thought of marinading her in the stuff made my head spin.

I also love the idea of not having to buy shitty wasteful packaging. As some of you may have seen here before, I try very hard to be plastic free (check it here, here and here).

The Clincher

And while those reasons are all noble and good there is one fact that could trump those who would possibly risk it because they like their hair looking a mermaids; giving up shampoo is actually better for your hair. Yep.

Firstly, products coat your hair with silicon. That’s what makes it feel smooth and shiny – literally a chemical coating. Then to add insult to injury these products strip out the natural oil that our hair produces. However our hair (reacting to the loss of the oil) then goes into overdrive producing more oil to compensate for it. It’s a vicious cycle. In a nutshell your hair gets greasy because you clean it too much.  My jaw hit the floor.

Your hair almost has it’s own built in cleaning system. On top of that your hair and scalp will be truly healthy. People report shinier hair, less hair loss, no more dandruff and no more stingy eyes.

The No Poo Bible

The book that inspired me to give it a go was Happy Hair: The No Poo Book!. Written by thrift-maven Lucy AitkenReid over at Lulastic and the Hippyshake it is a funny, simple eBook that only cost $3.

No, I am not an affiliate, I just think its a great little bible to have in your corner. Plus it is just efficient because the girl has tried everything. As she says herself, if there is the remote chance something could clean her hair, on it would go. Applesauce? Yes, please.

bad hair day

How To Give Up Shampoo

Just as our bodies react differently to foods we consume, our hair reacts differently to well… also food we put on it.

My big take away from it is that it is all an experiment. 

The basic plan is to wash with bicarb soda (1 tablespoon diluted in a cup of water) and then condition with Apple Cider Vinegar (again 1 tablespoon: 1 cup water). The fancy way is to put it in a spray bottle, but I was under-prepared and just mixed little bowls at first. Note that the spray bottles certainly enhance the user experience. Throw in a daily scalp massage and then lots of brushing (to disperse the natural oils).

When my hair got dry I massaged coconut oil in and left is as an overnight masque. Note: that was too effective in solving my dry issues and I woke up as a Grease Monkey and decided to stay in costume for two days after it.

When my hair got crazy greasy I washed with an egg and then rinsed with lemon (I’m basically a lemon drizzle cake!) and it got better.

See, all an experiment. Google natural hair treatments for whatever ailment (dry, greasy, frizzy) and play. Greasy, greasy play.

But perhaps invest in some hats and headscarves for the transitional period which can range from 2 weeks to a month.

And my result?

I can categorically say that I will not be returning to shampoo any time soon. While the transitional stage was a bit awkward my hair has come out the other end healthier, thicker and more lustrous. It’s easier to manage and style. Plus I am saving money and reducing my toxic load all while returning to my bodies completely natural function. Winning.

If you want a blow by blow I decided to include my No Poo Diary, where I wrote a few lines every day about the experience.


My No Poo Diary – The first 14 days

Day 1 – Ran out of shampoo today. Bugger.

Day 2 – Still have not bought shampoo. Best get onto that.

Day 3 – Read a little eBook about No Poo and decided, hell I am already on Day 3. Lets give this a crack!

Day 4 – Hot and sweaty. It is Winter. That is all.

Day 5 – Decided to rock out to grunge style today – you know, greasy roots and dry ends. Nailed it.

Day 6 – Took my ponytail out and my hair stayed in pony form. I am virtually excreting hairspray through my head. So I am saving money on styling products too! #optimism

Day 7 –  Dinner with the girls tonight at a fancy restaurant. Dress code; Wash your goddamn hair. The nicest thing they could say to me was “your hair is really shiny”. Yeah, that’s grease.

Day 8 – Was walking along the beach this morning and got chatting to a stranger who asked me whether the water was fresh. I hadn’t been swimming. Have I mentioned I am little greasy?

Day 9 – Ends were so dry that I decided to rub a bit of sesame oil onto them. Craved stir-fry all day. Coincidence?

Day 10 – Ingeniously concealed my crazy hair in a ‘messy’ bun. Felt quite chuffed. Brother in law (genuinely) asked when I got my dreadlocks done. Master of deception.

Day 11 – Now I don’t want to get crazy here, but I almost pass for “bathed”. Almost.

Day 12 – Doth my eyes deceive me? Are those luscious locks atop my head? I do believe they are. Still a little dry but I am not ashamed to venture into the public today.

Day 13 – Keep randomly telling people in the street that I haven’t washed my hair in 13 days! “Can you believe it? Touch it. TOUCH IT!” Someone is yet to take up my generous offer. What can I say? Haters gonna hate.

Day 14 – Ran along the beach in slow mo today. It just felt like it was the right thing to do.

Tips (cause i’m totes an expert)

  • It can be very tempting to try and bicarb it every time it looks greasy. Don’t. Try give it a break and just water wash it some days. Let it adjust. I can now go 4 days just water washing and apparently this will get longer as time goes on.
  • Cornflour or arrowroot are an awesome no fuss dry shampoo. If you are brunette at equal parts cocao or cinnamon unless you want to channel Grandma-chic. Plus you will smell lovely!
  • Approach coconut oil with caution. As mentioned above, in a fit of dry desperation I slathered coconut oil onto it overnight. I couldn’t get it out. It amped up the grease factor and made me feel like I was dipped in candle juice. So waxy.
  • Learn how to tie a headscarf
  • Do not plan to try this in the month surrounding any major events in your life where there will be things like photos, fancy dresses or other people.

Most of all though; LAUGH. Laugh at yourself, loudly. Consider yourself a scientist. Be prepared for people to look at you strangely. Do not be ashamed to add the “I haven’t washed my hair” disclaimer and revel in the sans-poo conversations. You may just inspire someone in the process.

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What about you? Have you gone No Poo or are you thinking of it? Shout out in the comments.


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    • Haha thank YOU for the inspiration!

      I was reading Tribes the other day, by Seth Godin, and he was talking about movements. How you have to create movements, no matter how small they seem. It made me think of no poo. Seems so small but look what it’s done. Go you!

  • I went “no poo” 10 days ago. However, I did the bi-carb and vinegar treatment again 3 days after the first one. ( I used to wash my hair every 2nd day, so that’s already an improvement. This time, I’ll try going 4 days instead of 3. Today is the 3rd day, and it still looks clean and fresh, and my scalp isn’t itchy (it used to drive me insane with the itch)..LOVING THE NO POO!!

  • haha, you are the BEST! Love this account (and the happy ending!).
    I also made the coconut oil error (eeekk! rookie mistake!), but thankfully it came out EVENTUALLY. Day 12 for me and things are improving. Hurray for No Poo! Thanks for the inspiration, Em. xx
    Bex recently posted…Three Tales of FreedomMy Profile

  • Haha the sesame oil part made me laugh. I have had the no poo idea swimming in the back of my mind for a while now, but this post has inspired me to bite the bullet and do it! Thanks 🙂

  • I am loving no poo. I have been using shampoo bars for the last couple years so i was able to skip the greasy side affect when i had that when i switched to shampoo bars originally. It is the best, but i still carry a shampoo bar for when i travel.

    What I love most about this option is that it is plastic free and who knows what kind of weird plastic stuff gets into natural shampoo/conditioner.

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