Many conventional shampoos contain toxic ingredients. But not all natural shampoos are great for hair either. In light of this, the no poo method of washing hair is growing in popularity.
Let’s get something out of the way first. It doesn’t matter whether a shampoo contains all-natural ingredients or toxic ones such as PEG, sodium lauryl (or laureth) sulfate or parabens. Either way, washing your hair too much can strip your natural oils away.
That’s why many people are turning to cleansing their hair without shampoo. And, it’s been catching on as the no poo method (‘poo as in shampoo) that eschews using bottle shampoo.
It may sound like some bizarre new health fad that involves holding in your bowel movement. But, it’s a popular hair cleaning technique designed to preserve the natural oils of the scalp.
It’s tough to pinpoint when exactly this hair cleaning method became a trend. Although, to be sure, people have been cleaning their hair without shampoo for thousands of years. Humankind has only recently, though, begun blogging about it.
Alternative to shampooing
As more and more people become aware of both the dangers of conventional shampoo and the potential damage done to hair by too much washing, even with botanic ingredients, the no poo method gains adherents.
One alternative to using shampoo is dry, powdered shampoo. But some people take the method to an extreme. They use no shampoo whatsoever. In fact, they avoid all kinds of specially made hair cleansers for several months, or even a year or more.
But there’s a dark side to the to not using shampoo. The very thing the practice seeks to accomplish, which is attaining revived, thick, high-luster hair, can backfire. That’s because many people who try this approach to hair care use baking soda.
Baking soda and the no poo method: friend or foe?
It seems that in reading no poo method reviews (see below for a couple examples), baking soda can wreak havoc on hair. And it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in chemistry to figure out why.
You see, your scalp should contain natural oils. Baking soda is highly alkaline. Consider that purified water has a pH of 7. By comparison, baking soda’s pH is 9.
But that does not mean that baking soda is only slightly more alkaline than water. After all, the difference is only two, right?
In fact, the difference on the pH scale between 7 and 9 is a factor of 100. In other words, baking soda is 100 more times basic than water.
Now, you might be wondering, well, isn’t it good that baking soda is higher on the pH scale? After all, if you’re hair is too oily and oils are acidic, won’t using baking soda make your hair more balanced?
The answer: not necessarily. Like with virtually every other aspect in life (politics, exercise), you want to avoid extremes. Just washing your hair with baking soda may excessively dry out your hair.
Apple Cider Vinegar: The Yin to Baking Soda’s Yang?
To counteract the harsh basic properties of baking soda, some people also wash their hair with apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar pH is about 3, which makes it very acidic.
The reason why virtually every shampoo is labeled as pH-balanced is because using an ingredient that’s either way on the acidic or basic side can damage hair.
Unfortunately, many shampoos contain harsh chemicals that not only can strip away the natural oils of your hair, but may also contribute to cancer.
That being said, however, some people swear by using just baking soda, or a combination of it and apple cider vinegar. If you want to try this no poo method, only do it once or twice a month. And only use a tablespoon of each diluted in a full cup of water.
No poo method without baking soda
In light of some people’s experiences using baking soda, there are other no shampoo methods that don’t include it.
More and more brands of shampoo are turning to all-natural ingredients that contain moisturizing properties. For example, some essential oils are beneficial for your hair.
You can simply pour some drops of various oils in your palm and massage into your scalp and let sit for several minutes. Then, you just wash out the essential oils with warm water.
Some of the oils you can use are coconut; jojoba; almond oil, sesame oil, and avocado oil. Have you heard of babassu oil? It’s like coconut oil, but less oily.
And how about blackstrap molasses? It’s not an essential oil and it is something that’s more common in a supermarket rather than a beauty salon, but it works.
Another great no poo ingredient for your hair is marula oil. Unlike other oils which only penetrate so far down into the hair shaft, marula sinks way deep.
Furthermore, marula is rich in minerals, which can promote healthy hair. It also contains the omega-9 fatty acid, oleic acid. Oleic acid can help stimulate hair growth and make hair thicker, longer and stronger.
In addition, there’s also the popular Moroccan oil no poo treatment. AKA argan oil, Moroccan oil helps deep condition hair.
Try mixing some with marula oil or one of the other above listed oils and ingredients. It’s nerve-wracking experimenting with the no poo method. But that’s what lots of bloggers have done. And some have had great success.
No poo recipe
One such blogger who has had success with not using shampoo does in fact use baking soda and apple cider vinegar. She says she uses both the baking soda and vinegar about every 3-5 days.
Over the course of one year, using the following recipe, the blogger claims her hair grows more quickly and has a healthier luster. It’s also less frizzy she claims.
In the no poo recipe, the blogger uses up to two tablespoons of baking soda per wash, adding it to her scalp after wetting her scalp. She then rinses her scalp. Next, she dilutes equal parts water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle. She applies about five sprays worth on her hair. Next, after letting the vinegar sit for a couple minutes or so, she rinses it out.
The blogger also uses argan oil. Though she probably isn’t familiar with marula oil, otherwise she’d probably want to give that a try. (Marula might just be better for hair than argan/Moroccan oil.) She applies a few drops and uses it in between the baking soda and apple cider vinegar steps.
Without doubt, there are limitless possibilities of no poo recipes. With all the essential oils and other natural moisturizing ingredients at your fingertips (no pun intended), experiment with some different no poo recipes.
No poo method reviews
According to this blog, the no poo method is an epic fail. Originally, she started hearing reports about baking soda causing other people’s hair to become brittle. “I told myself that these ladies were just doing no ‘poo the wrong way,” the blogger says. “Like using too much baking soda, washing too frequently, and not doing occasional oil treatments like I did.”
Another possibility she thought was maybe their hair was naturally a little bit more on the dry side. Thus, the practice of using baking soda is bad for them. Nonetheless, the blogger stuck with her no poo hair routine.
However, she eventually noticed her hair was getting shorter in sections. “I wanted to believe it was new hair growth,” she says. Ultimately, though, her no poo method she was using with baking soda caused “disastrous breakage.”
Another reviewer says that after one week of doing no poo and just using 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and warm water once during that week, her hair became “greasy, stringy and yucky.” (When she showered the other days of the week, she wet her hair but didn’t apply anything else to her hair besides water).
After a couple weeks, the reviewer’s scalp, became itchy. But problem solved with adding tea tree oil to the baking soda. And after a month, the reviewer’s hair was no longer greasy and oily.
“My scalp recalibrated!” she says. Ultimately, after about a month and a half, just by using some baking soda and tea tree oil, the reviewer says her hair has never looked better.
No poo method: conclusion
Perhaps the lesson to be learned in the no poo method of hair care is that patience pays off in the long run. For some people, baking soda as well as apple cider vinegar will be too harsh. For others, it may work. It will likely take experimenting on your part. But for most people, natural moisturizers such as the ones above can make for wonderful shampoo alternatives.