ShamPHree: Why I decided to stop shampooing my hair

May 2 2013 | Guest post by Roxie Hunt

IMG_1780When I was a kid, I had a DIY hair-ruining experience that traumatized me. My hair melted off and it was my own fault for not reading the warning on the perm bottle. Over processing happens to many of us at some point. But it left me feeling very self-conscious about the way I looked. At the age of nine, I had officially became the perfect target market for Big Beauty ad campaigns.

For the same reason that a junkie might turn to religion, I turned to the enticing promises of beauty products to fix my down-and-out hair. I entered the Big Beauty marketplace as an up-and-coming insecure teenager with bad skin and hair and a will to be beautiful. It took me 20 years to look back and understand the origin of my unwavering belief in the words printed on plastic bottles.

As a hairdresser, I had been hearing about the no-poo method for years. No-poo-ing means using Baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar or lemon juice to cleanse and condition the hair. My first thought was 1. Gross for not shampooing your hair, and 2. Double gross for using the word "poo" associated with hair.

First thing I did was rename it the ShamPHree method. It sounded prettier and made it easier to talk about.

But there was something about it that I found intriguing. Everyone I encountered who used this method generally liked their hair, while I complained and bitched about my hair, desperate for that hair product system that would magically turn me into a Pantene model.

My hair has gone through many changes: cuts, colors, styles, bangs, not to mention texture changes due to hormones. After I had my first child, my curly thick dry hair straightened out, thinned out, and got oily. Nature's way of being an asshole while I nursed my colicky baby. Nice.

Still I remained, notoriously a hair product whore. I was controlled by my restless and constantly unsatisfied hair. I would find a product or product line that I liked, use it until it ceased to please me, and then move on to another. A new one would work for a while but at some point my hair would inevitably stop liking it, meaning it was time for a switch. I would be happy with my hair for a couple weeks, and then all of a sudden it would be lank, lifeless, and oily all over again. Over my now nearly 30 years, I have spent more money than I would like to admit on hair products.

One day, while watching Mad Men, I had one of those "DUH" moments when I realized that a good ad makes you think that you need something. A necessity. Without even wanting it, it becomes absolutely necessary to have it. I had been naive enough to let myself get tricked into thinking that I needed to empty my pockets to buy my own beauty.

This "duh" moment was the origin of my no-poo journey. I got tired of searching all over for something to fix me and make me beautiful. I was being fed BS by companies who wanted my money in return for my promise to never feel beautiful enough and keep on buying. And as a mother, my bullshit sensors are now very fine-tuned.

I must add that I am not anti-hair product. There are some great hair product companies out there. I respect the companies that are breaking the mold instead of defining what is "beautiful," and are encouraging people to work with what they have naturally instead of fighting against it. I love that there is more of a focus on sustainability, natural hair, and social awareness emerging within these smaller companies. The industry is slowly changing to suit the wants and "needs" of 99% of the population who are living in an economy that is deep in recession, disillusioned by corporate America. People are slowly starting to get back to their roots. (Pardon the pun.)

I got tired of searching all over for something to fix me and make me beautiful… All I wanted was to like my hair and not pay dearly for it.

But it isn't changing fast enough for me. All I wanted was to like my hair and not pay dearly for it. I started blogging about hair to share my hair trials and tribulations with others. Part of starting my blog was to report about jumping off the hamster wheel of beauty industry standards, into the great black abyss of what I hoped would be a more sustainable and self honoring beauty regimen. I switched to the no-poo method.

First thing I did was rename it the ShamPHree method. It sounded prettier and made it easier to talk about. Sham for Shampoo, PH because it balances the PH of the hair and scalp, and ShamPHree because it is about freeing your hair of shams.

It took a bit of experimenting with different ways of applying the Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar. I went and purchased paint mixing bottles from my local art supply store to use as my applicator bottles. I also purchased some yummy-smelling essential oils to add to my apple cider vinegar so I would still get the yummy, clean, and fresh scented hair that I missed from my shampoo days.

My hair looked and felt great after my first ShamPHree. Two weeks in, my hair was better than it had ever been. After two months, I had my ShamPHree system down. My hair was shiny, soft, smooth, and balanced. I could go for four to five days in between ShamPhree-ing and it never looked or felt oily and limp like it did before. I honestly didn't expect it to be such a drastic change.

I am now eight months into my ShamPHree journey and I have no intention of ever going back. I have spent a total of $26 on my ShamPHree journey experiment. My hair is as happy and healthy as I could ever have imagined. I have successfully detoxed my hair and mind from the grips of mainstream beauty and now I'm on to questioning and personally boycotting other corporate shams like useless baby gear, Febreze, and gimmicky kitchen appliances. I only wish I would have started sooner. But then, had it been sooner… it may not have inspired me to share my journey with you.

  1. Thank you for the term ShamPHree! I think it's a fine idea but I also get grossed out when I hear the word "poo" in connection with hair…

    • I know! Like the extra syllable and letters makes the word "shampoo" waaay to long and difficult to say or type … haha!

  2. I've been doing "shamPHree" for about 2 years. I sometimes use shampoo, usually when we run out of baking soda though.

    • Works well!! It's chaotic to apply and is messy to prepare, but my hair looks excessively beautiful then. Of course, the color would turn out to somewhat red, but everyone known to henna does that. I like natural formulas I can make with the powder and other hair-friendly ingredients available in my kitchen cabinet and refrigerator like I can mix the eggs, natural hair oils, coffee and other things as well to get more fine and satisfactory results. Thumbs up!!! The Henna Guys!

  3. This makes me so happy to hear/read! I love it when other people get on the ShamPHree bandwagon!
    In July it will be 9 years since I've shampooed my hair. I don't use the baking soda and vinegar, though I might try that now. I have very, very thick, curly hair, so I still use a ton of conditioner, but the shampoo stripped the natural oils and made it super fuzzy and big. I scrub my scalp with conditioner every 3-4 days, and in between only spritz, and my hair has never looked better. The funny thing is, my husband is completely bald and he uses shampoo every day!

      • As the daughter of a man with an incredibly bald and oily scalp, I would say that it's probably to try and cut down on oil production. Little does he/they realize that it makes it worse! A couple of weeks of water-only would probably do them wonders.

    • I have very thick wavy/curly hair, and when I first quit shampoo, I still just used the conditioner I had before. Then I discovered that the conditioner wasn't making my hair any healthier, so I quit that too and moved on to just a few drops of Moroccan Argan oil once or twice a week, with baking soda first if there's buildup of oil or dead skin on my scalp. Honestly, I'm so happy I quit shampoo and conditioner because my hair is SHINY and SOFT, in a way it hasn't since I was a small child.

  4. I went shampoo-free with baking soda and ACV for a few months with great results. But then I cut my hair short (above the shoulders) and suddenly it was far too greasy and oily. I'm working on growing it out again, but any thoughts why this might have happened? (My hair is very thin and very fine and my skin has always been super oily.)

    • So far your hair sounds a lot like mine, except I always leave it short since half of it fell out years ago. So I've never had it long, and my hair's traits might still be very different from yours!

      I only wash with a wee bit of baking soda (mixed with water) about every 2-3 days. No vinegar. Depending on the humidity this works out perfectly, but in D.C.'s winters I have to use baking soda almost every other day.

      • I agree with this. Even without cutting my hair, I find that your hair continues to go through small changes after the transition period, so it seems entirely normal that you may occasionally need to readjust your ratios.

    • Interesting……Sounds like maybe without the long ends to soak up oil, it just built up more on your short hair…….I have a post coming up soon on my blog about modifications to your ShamPHree routine for different hair types. Next week, I think.

    • Thanks for the ideas, folks! I'll try some of these and see if they work. Hope they do, because I really like how my hair looked and felt when I ditched shampoo. πŸ™‚

    • I'm curious too. I cut my hair about six months ago (chin length and undercut) and noticed it get greasy so much faster than my long hair used to. My friends say it's because I touch it more now that it's short, but I avoid touching my hair because washing means watching my lovely blue hue go down the drain bit by bit.

  5. I stopped using shampoo a few years ago when I got a haircut at a salon that specializes in curly hair. I had been shampooing less often, and my hair was looking better and better, and I just bit the bullet and stopped shampoo all together, just rinsing my hair with water and then with conditioner – a method that the "natural"/black hair community calls "co-washing". There is no shampoo substitute, no vinegar or baking soda or lemon juice. I don't stink or anything. My hair is healthy. Am I gross?

    • I don't think that is gross. In fact, a hair dresser told me NOT to shampoo my hair very often and just use hot water and conditioner. She said conditioner has a cleansing property to it. I have thick, curly, dark brown hair.

      • I work the front desk at an awesome salon, and let me tell you- most of the stylists wash their hair maybe…once a week? I still use shampoo but I've switched to a bar shampoo and shampoo about twice a week (and use a LUSH dry shampoo in between), and my hair is so much happier for it.

      • See, and conditioner DESTROYS my hair!
        I had a shampoo and serum routine that I desperately need to get back on; the split ends are driving me frizzy!

    • I have also been co-washing for about 5 months after it was recommended to me by my boss, a black woman (I'm white with thick, curly hair). I rinse conditioner through, the way you would shampoo, and then condition again and comb out. This, combined with a few other detailed steps, is known as the Curly Girl Method.

      I honestly have not noticed much of a difference. It has not given me the frizz-free, defined curls I imagined. It also has not led to greasier or dirtier hair, and I work out 4 days a week. So I've kept doing it because it has been no easier/harder than my old routine. I do shampoo after swimming, I also put conditioner on my hair under my bathing cap before swimming.

      I'm stumped about my curls though. I want to be able to sleep on my hair and still wear it down the next day. As it is I can only wear my hair down right after I wet it, comb it, and gel it again. If I sleep on my hair it gets all matted down in the back and sticking up on the sides so I basically have to wear it in a pony tail. I even bought a satin pillow case, and satin cap to wear under my bike helmet, no luck.

      Anybody know how to make curls wearable the next day?

      • Have you read the book Curly Girl? I assume you have, but I wanted to make sure. If I go to bed with mine wet, I put it in a super tight ponytail very close to the top of my head so I don't sleep on top of the curls. Usually with just a few scrunches in the morning it's fine. Also re still having the frizz – are you still using a hairdryer or other heated things on it? In my experience, and I am not an expert, but for me, stopping using those made a huge difference. Good luck!

      • Have you tried wrapping it at night? I don't have curly hair, but most of the women I work with wrap their hair to keep their curls looking fabu. A clean t-shirt will work fine, if you don't want to buy a hair wrap.

      • I do pincurls wrapped in a silky scarf. It works great! I also use a hair oil (knockoff Morrocan oil from Organix) and NEVER towel dry my hair – I use the "plopping" method with an old T shirt. All of those plus the co-washing have really helped me. (P.S. I am also white, but the most helpful tips I've found for our hair type have come from black hair blogs! True story.)

        • I've finally started doing something like this the past week or so, after coloring my hair last weekend, although I haven't been able to do the actual rag curls thing I really want to do. When I've taken my shower at night I've been towel drying for a few minutes (loosely wrapping it and then the towel tends to fall off after I've been moving around for a few minutes, lol), then after combing it I've been twisting small sections somewhat loosely but tightly enough to hold, usually just around themselves at the root, and then at the end I sort of unwind the separate sections and twirl them all together in a loose bun.

          It's worked pretty well so far. Actually I did it the other night and when I woke up just now, after just doing a loose bun for the night) my hair is still pretty curly in a way that I LIKE and not a way that I have to live with for the day.

          I really want to switch to no shampoo but just haven't really been able to do it yet. Although the weekend might be a good time to start :p I'll have to try the plopping thing. I've been wanting to go no shampoo or dry shampoo route for years but all the stories I've seen of it have had some convoluted recipe and I just don't have time to make a casserole on my head every night.

          • Does no shampoo make the color fade faster? I use red hair dye on mine and red fades fast as it is, would using the baking soda mixture make it fade faster?

          • @Randi Smith: I'm not really sure. I just mentioned it since I know that coloring is also not necessarily good for hair, and so I kind of wonder myself if coloring kind of negates the effect of not shampooing. I haven't tried any of the mixtures (soda, lemon juice, eggs, whatever), but I did try to wean myself off of shampoo for a while a couple years ago. I got to where I was shampooing about twice a week, but lately my hair has been a sweaty disaster when I wake up in the morning so if I don't get to shower right before bed I need to give it a thorough cleaning before work in the morning.

          • @Randi Smith – not using shampoo will actually keep your hair color longer. I started co-shampooing when my hair was hot pink, and still do it now that I've gone back to a more normal shade. Everyone was always amazed at how long my color stayed true, even when I went through all the shades of red, which as you know, is notorious for fading. It was also much easier on my normally very dark hair to not use shampoo, because bleaching it before coloring it pink is super hard on hair. I never had a problem with breakage even though I was bleaching my roots every 6 weeks.

        • I do "plop" after I shower and apply hair oil. If I do it in the morning and head straight out it looks great. If I do it at night after the gym I wake up looking crazy. Or if I don't wash my hair at all on a particular day and try to re-wear yesterday's awesome curls, again with the crazy.

          I have thought of wrapping at night. I guess I just don't want to add anymore time to my nightly routine or come to bed with weird contraptions on my head. Maybe I'm sacrificing good hair for my relationship?

      • I have super curly hair too. If I want to "recycle" my hair as I call it, I hang my head over the tub and spray down my hair with a spray bottle with water in it. It doesn't have to be soaked right through, just enough to get rid of the frizz and redefine your curls. Re-scrunch and you will be good to go. I have heard you can dilute a small amount of conditioner in the bottle as well, but I don't find it necessary. The water does the trick, and my hair products are recycled and work just as well the next day.

      • Everyone's hair is different, but I find that combing my hair destroys the curls and creates frizz. I get much better curls if I just finger-comb while washing (with conditioner) and then scrunch some leave-in conditioner into my hair while it's wet. If you're having problems with frizz don't rub a towel all over your hair to dry it. Scrunch (don't wring) as much of the water out as you can and then bundle it up with a towel for a bit.

      • My daughter has 3c style hair, thick, perfect s curl pattern with afro-centric traits. We spritz her hair in the morning and remoisture when and where needed. I make a distilled water solution with vitamin E oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, and tea tree or lavender EO added to it. I eye the measurements but a few drops of each creates a great spritz. It always cures her morning bed head if we want to wear a beautiful cascading afro. Hope that helps!

  6. I tried No Poo for about a month, but I was doing the Conditioner Only version where you rub conditioner into your scalp to loosen the dirt and oil and then condition the rest of your hair as normal. I went a solid month being completely convinced that this was a better, more natural way of caring of my hair while at the same time ignoring the fact that the ball of hair in the shower each day was much larger than it was before. The ah-ha moment came when I was loosely twisting my hair around my finger and three hairs came out. When I looked closer, I saw that the bulbs were still attached. When hairs are "ready" to fall out the bulb dissolves, so clearly this wasn't normal. Did I mention that my wedding is coming up in three months?

    I googled "no poo hair loss" and saw that this is a somewhat common problem. I started shampooing again and my shedding is back down to normal. I might try shamPHree again one day, maybe the baking soda and apple cider vinegar version, but not so close to a major event! I'll also pay more attention to what my hair is telling me instead of stubbornly sticking to a system.

    • I had the EXACT problem. I really loved this method, but after a week I couldn't run my fingers through my hair without coming away with a handful. Anyone know why this happens? I would have used this method forever if I could have πŸ™

      • I would love to hear the reasoning behind this, too. I felt like I lost much more hair *in the shower* when I switched to conditioner only, but I otherwise like my hair much better. I couldn't think of any reason I'd be losing more hair overall and assumed it must be that I was losing less throughout the day and subsequently losing more in the shower. I've been doing conditioner washing for over five years now, so boy will I kick myself if I find out that I caused my own thinning hair by trying to make it healthier!

    • Conditoner- whether with shampoo or without, actually makes me lose more hair than oil.
      I think it's because of lanolin vs actual oil.

      Conditioner is like lotion- fluid, but full of solid pieces- the lanolin. The thicker the conditioner, the more lanolin it tends to have in it.
      This means the solids- the fatty bits- don't get distributed very evenly throughout your hair. Which means you need LOTS of brushing/combing to do this job. Which means lots of pulling and if the hairs are frayed lots of co-tugging.

      If you wash with hot water(Me: oh so GUILTY), the cuticles open up and fray. Cold water helps to seal these back up, and oil also helps to seal these as well, so they don't fray as often.

  7. (Possibly TMI ahead) I have been wanting to do this for ages but haven't. First road block was being a wrestler and constant nastiness of the mat. Now I'm done with those days, but I have to use medicated shampoos and other topical solutions because my head is constantly covered in sores (even the lymph nodes at the base of my skull are inflamed). Nothing the dermatologist gives me helps. Any sham-PHree experiences with helping this problem? I'm so desperate.

    • My brother has seborrheic dermatitis on his scalp (very oily, itchy, redness/irritation), he's tried dandruff shampoos and special prescription shampoos without much luck. He ended up using the baking soda/apple cider vinegar method and told me his scalp condition improved a lot. YMMV, but maybe it's worth a shot.

      • I just looked this up and I think that's what I have too! (I was told it was psoriasis and there wasn't anything beyond dandruff shampoo that would help, even though it didn't. Of course, that particular doctor had a habit of phoning in his diagnosis…) I may get this checked out and give this shamPHree method a try! I've been curious about it for a while, but I always worried what it would do to my scalp…

      • The sulfates in most shampoos (the stuff that makes it sudsy) can be very drying and irritating to the scalp – even causing dermetitis. I used to get sores on my scalp because I developed and allergy to a product I had been using for several years. So I switched to a gentle shampoo with higher ingredients, and have had good results.
        The shamphree method is something worth trying. As stated, it's a pH balancing hair cleanser. The vinegar acts as a conditioner, if you're worrying about it being too acidic or drying to the scalp. And in my experience with skin problems, the more natural method is the best way to calm everything down.

      • I was scrolling down to comment about having SD and how this method works with it. I have SD on my scalp and face (and it is super oily because of it). I have a shampoo that works, but it is expensive, so I was curious to try this method.

        My head is mostly shaved too, so yeah I don't know if this is going to work for me!

    • I have chronic folliculitis on one particular hair follicle on my head – one spot that gets enflamed, sore, tender, and swollen, over and over. The only thing that's gotten it to go away is a little dab of coconut oil. I try to pay attention to that spot and treat it with oil even when it's not enflamed, and when I'm good about it, it seems to keep it at bay.

      • Not to alarm you, but if you haven't already, I suggest seeing a dermatologist about that hair follicle.
        Many people develop skin cancer on their head first, because most people don't use sunblock on their scalp. And skin cancer usually first shows itself like some other common skin problem: moles, acne, blisters, folliculitis, etc. Since you described it being chronic, I would get it looked at by a specialist. There may also be a way for the doctor to remove that one follicle, so you aren't constantly battling swelling, pain and chance of infection.

    • Baking soda and white vinegar helped my stupid sensitive skin. I had awful dandruff, and now I just have a bit of it.

      I was raised by hippie/eco people, so it might be that talking, but I don't think dumping a bunch of harsh chemicals on your skin will help it. Also, you may have a chemical sensitivity you don't even know about, and that could be contributing to the inflammation. And in my experience, doctors kind of don't care about finding out what's causing the problem, they just want to throw medication at it.

  8. I went low-poo or low-shamPHree a few years ago, & I love the way my hair feels. Basically, I just rinse my hair with water any time it feels greasy or I've gotten sweaty, & about once a week, I use a dab of conditioner or sometimes a very light shampoo diluted w/lots of water. The only reason I still use a bit of shampoo is that I do enjoy using styling products (hair spray & gel), & those build up in my hair, dulling it down & attracting dirt. Water isn't enough to remove them after a while. I tried baking soda & vinegar as a kid (raised by hippies) & hated the feel of it, so I stick w/low-poo & still get good results. My hair is a whole lot less oily & I never get dandruff, problems I'd had when I shampooed regularly!

  9. I'm still unconvinced on this shamPHree method. I started doing just conditioner almost a year ago, but I think the trouble is that I wash my hair so infrequently in the first place (once every week or two) that I'm never quite certain what worked or what I did last time. On the one hand, right now my curls look reasonably tame, but on the other hand, they do feel a bit oily with some fly-aways. And am I shedding more or less hair than I was before?

    I dunno, maybe I need to start documenting my hair and what works. It's all a confusing mess to me though. Maybe next time I get it cut, I'll just buy the salon stuff. They always make my hair feel nice.

    • The salon stuff in the front of the store is different in makeup from what they use on you in the sink.
      The ingredient lists on store front bottles are almost EXACTLY like any other shampoo you buy at the store. If you can, get the bottles *they* use.

  10. I am really excited to try this but I have a couple of questions. If my hair is thin, straight and greasy, should I really be going a week without cleansing it? Skipping just one day of normal shampoo leaves me looking like a greasy mess, and I don't use conditioner so I know its not that. My other question is for the author, how often do you use the coconut/shea polishing mixture? I was all over the place on your blog. so I may have missed it somewhere, but I'm curious if this was used like a weekly conditioning treatment. Thanks!

    • On her site, she details her schedule. She rinses her hair in water everyday, using ACV every other day, and baking soda and then ACV every 4-5 days (as needed). Every 8-10 days (every other baking soda session), she uses the overnight coconut oil treatment.

      I have thin, straight, and (formerly) greasy hair. Diet has a lot to do with it, but if you pick up this method, you aren't really going more than a day without "cleaning" your hair. It can take a few weeks for your scalp to adjust, so be prepared with greasy-hair hairstyles (braids are great, if your hair is long enough). Even if you stick with regular shampoo, it's really good for your scalp to use less (you could water it down to make sure you cover everything) or use it less often (start skipping every other day, give it a couple of weeks, then stretch it out to every 3 days etc.).

      A lot of people in the no-poo communities recommend using a boar bristle brush to help distribute your natural oils. It keeps the shaft of your hair hydrated while not letting it accumulate on your roots.

    • Ultimately, I think with this method you'll need to observe what works for your hair, and the current weather, and tweak it until you're satisfied.

      I have fine and thin hair and for the longest time nothing seemed to really work well. With the baking soda I wash it about 2-3 days (day 4 I start to look a little unkempt) and every day in between I just rinse it with water. Someone I know with coarser hair prefers to wash with baking soda & vinegar nearly every day.

    • I would start with doing ShamPHree 2 or 3 times a week and gradually ween yourself down to once or twice a week. My ideal ShamPHree vision is that there are no cut and dry rules, you just experiment with mixture and frequency till you find what works best for your own hair. It is definately a journey.
      I will be publishing an article on my blog about how to tweak your ShamPHree to suit different hair types in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned. And the coco/Shea butter I do every 2weeks as needed for a conditioning treatment the day before I ShamPHree…….put it in my dry ends, wear my hair in a bun all day, ShamPHree it out with nice hot water and a cold rinse at the end.

    • This was me too. I'm on the cutting down stage I haven't committed to doing this all the way yet because there really hasn't been a good time when I can go through the "adjustment" stage as I work with the public and if I'm looking a wreck I wouldn't hear the end of it from my senior citizens.

      The coconut oil hair masque did wonders. I leave it in for like an hour once a week and that alone did so much to change my hair, its much fuller now. And I switched to a low sulfate shampoo, I'm using a nockoff WENN atm. Give it a shot, I was totally expecting massive hair fail but I was totally surprised.

      Maybe try it on a Fri night so if by Sunday you can't handle it you can start fresh on Monday.

  11. Do people who work out use this method? My hair (long, straight, greasy roots 20 hours after shampooing) gets drenched during my workouts, and I can't imagine NOT washing it.

    • Yup, I work out 3-4 days a week. I co-wash only (conditioner) it works fine. My hair is coarser then yours sounds though.

  12. Does the baking soda/vinegar method work with colored hair? I just want to make sure it doesn't strip out all my color before I start! I've been considering no poo/ShamPHree for a while now.

    And what about the conditioner only method? From what I read of the comments (not all of them), these ladies had thick curly hair, and i have very straight and thin hair. Would that be a hinderance?

    • It won't strip all the color but if I recall it does fade it a bit faster than, say, just using conditioner. Baking soda is a heckuva clarifier. (It's been awhile since I tried it though so…I'm sure someone with more recent experience will pipe up.)

      • Hm, that's what I was afraid of. I usually get the el cheapo box stuff (literally the cheapest stuff in the store) and it fades on its own pretty well. My mom's having me get my hair done professionally for my birthday and wedding, so while it's much better quality, I don't want to ruin that either! haha

        • I've got an experiment with ShamPHree and color treated hair on my blog, under the ShamPHree dropdown. Results show that it does not fade hair any faster, in fact, in many cases does the opposite

          • Sweet! I'll definitely try it out then, especially with how much you said it cost!

          • I would use apple cider vinegar and not white vinegar for colored hair, because I believe the apple cider kind is more gentle, and may even bring out any red tones.
            You could also try rinsing with beer. Some people believe beer is better for colored hair, specifically.

          • Ooh, red is what I usually do with my hair! I feel like beer would add up really fast though haha

          • Okay, so I tried this yesterday and I must say I'm impressed. My hair was really greasy since I hadn't showered in a while, and it came out looking clean and shiny, if not feeling a bit dry for a while (later in the day it felt just fine!).

            I do have a few questions though. While I have been on HTHG, I haven't scoured the entire website, so forgive me if the questions are already answered there.

            If you have shorter hair, is it okay if you don't use the whole 5oz concoction? I only used about half (now granted I didn't measure, but it looked about the same amount as in the video!) of both the BS and ACV. If it does work with less, how long does the mixture hold? Can I make a bottle and let it sit out, using it the next time, or do I have to mix it new every time?
            My next question is about the coconut oil treatment. How do you apply it without getting it all over your face/pillows/bedding when you sleep on it? It just seems really messy!

          • Haha, that comment was meant as a general comment, instead of reply. Thank you for the link though! I'll definitely be keeping up with this if it holds color better!

  13. I use shampoo/conditioner once a week to 10 days or so. I work out (pretty intensely, I do crossfit) 5 or 6 days a week and have waist-length, thick, mostly-straight hair. Yes it gets sweaty but I find once it dries it's not usually greasy or smelly or anything. I have definitely noticed that my scalp produces less and less oil the less frequently I wash it. A couple years ago it looked gross and greasy after 2-3 days. Now I can push it to 10 days or so (it's usually in a ponytail or bun the last couple days though). I do use a dry shampoo from time to time as well to absorb some oil. I guess this all goes against the "no-poo" thing about eschewing hair products as I do use shampoo and dry shampoo, but I just wanted to share my experience that the less you wash your hair the less you need to wash it, and that it can be true even if you work out. =)

  14. The no-poo/shamphree thing didn't quite work for my hair (the ends were so dry that the vinegar wasn't enough to condition it, and I refuse to bring mayo in the shower…) but switching to "cleaner", sulfate-free, 'cone-free, shampoo has been wooonderful for it. I should try baking soda and vinegar again now that it's short but…meh. I'm pretty happy with the system I have going.

    • What shampoo are you using? I've been pretty happy with baking soda / vinegar, but it's kind of a pain for traveling (I'm worried about the vinegar leaking even a bit, and making my whole bag smell). I thought I might get some sulfate free shampoo to bring on trips, and stick with baking soda / vinegar at home.
      Do you use conditioner also, or just the shampoo?

  15. I've always wanted to try this method, but I have extremely oily hair and skin. I have blonde hair and it will look more brown with the grease within one day of not washing it. How does one convert to not using shampoo if within a day your hair has enough oil to change your car?

    • I have the same problem with very oily hair and skin, and this morning I tried using conditioner as shampoo as some people suggested. Just for the heck of it I also tried not using soap on my face and instead just rubbing vigorously with my fingers under the shower.

      That was 9 hours ago, and my hair is not oily at all, and it's also less frizzy (my hair is wavy and very fine). My skin is still oily but much less so than usual. My forehead is normally the worst and I have bangs so I worried it would be a problem but it's not!

      This is just one day but it's encouraging me to keep going!

  16. I've got a lot of thin, pin-straight hair that's been bleached and dyed blue. Here's what's been working really well for me: I wash my hair every other day. Every other hair washing I use shampoo. The 'poo-free washings are just plain water. I use water that's as cold as I can stand to make the hair shaft seal back up. No conditioner (although I have used ACV to good effect, I haven't really noticed a difference between using cold water and the ACV). I've used baking soda in the past when I had longer hair and didn't use any styling product and it worked quite well.

  17. I color my hair. Well, I don't. A professional does. I prefer super bright, unnatural colors for my hair, and was having issues with fading. I was using color safe shampoo, but washing every day becuase I have short, fine, straight hair and an oily scalp. I started using dry shampoo to be able to skip a wash day. After a while, it seemed like my head was less oily on the second day, so I'd do nothing that day and dry shampoo on the 3rd day. Now I'm washing it about every 5 days, and using dry shampoo once in on day 3 or 4. My color is lasting FOREVER!

  18. I started no-pooing after I found the How-To Hair Girl blog through the ad on Offbeat Home. I've been meaning to contact you to thank you! I have longish (bra strap length when it's wet), curly (3a), thick hair. I've been using baking soda and apple cider vinegar every other day for about the past two weeks. My hair seems to be responding well so far; I have almost no dandruff and the curls are more defined and less frizzy.

  19. am I the only one who is totally freaked out by the nine year old giving herself the perm???? Or did I understand the article wrong? I am so glad my mother would never ever let me do that. And the baking soda method has been sitting in my head for a while, now reading about all of you doing it, I think I might give it a shot. Is there anybody with lightened hair who does this??? I was always happy with shampoo and such, but lately my hair and skin on my head is just sad sad sad…. and me too. I was considering cutting it super short, but this might be a way!

    • If you read the related link, what ended up happening was the mom was giving her the perm, and halfway through they got a call that the grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. They all freaked out for an hour, then remembered they were in the middle of the perm, rinsed out the chemicals and didn't follow through with the next steps.

      Then added henna trying to fix the last mistake, which turned green and patchy. At which point… I'd go bald instead. Oh, and the grandfather turned out to not have cancer after all.

      • I know, but my point was that she was nine and getting perm… I guess that is because I am not american or something…. I was kid during the same time and I do not know anybody at all who would get anything done to their hair until they were teens… But reading some other comments I see that it was probably normal thing to do. Another cultural shock, I guess πŸ˜€

      • I was a child in the 1980's, of course my mom permed my hair when I was a kid! I remember at 3 years old having to sit very still while my mom wrapped my hair in curlers and squirted the foul-ammonia-smelling solution on my hair.

        • Wow, sounds just crazy to me :-D, as I said in previous comment, all just because I am not american, I guess πŸ™‚

  20. Thanks so much for this! I have been waiting for a hair stylist to confirm my suspicions about expensive hair products! The best thing I have ever done for my hair (admittedly a bottle blonde) is only wash it 1-2 weeks. It has pretty much fixed my split ends and dryness problem, but perhaps if I use this method I can get some super duper shine too!

  21. Ok, maybe I'm crazy here, but… isn't baking soda and vinegar the way to make a fake volcano? Not ONE comment has addressed having a VOLCANO on your HEAD. What is that like????!!!

    • Apple cider vinegar has a higher pH than the white vinegar traditionally used in making a volcano. So while you may have some reaction from mixing a base & an acid, it will be much less. Also, the ratios used on your scalp are different than the optimal ratios used for science experiments.
      So don't worry, you're not going to blow up πŸ˜›

    • It's baking soda, rinse, followed by vinegar, then rinse. πŸ™‚ I guess if some of the baking soda wasn't rinsed out completely, you might get a little fizzing, but it's just carbon dioxide gas – same stuff as in carbonated water.

    • Not that it would cause a volcano, but putting your hair through an up and down pH cycle might not be the best thing for everyone either.

  22. I so envy people for whom the no-shampooing works… so far I have tried it twice (and will probably try again), and every time within a matter of days my hair looked like straw and was starting to come out in clumps. No matter which method I tried! That is not exactly my definition of "healthy hair", so I have switched back to silicon-free shampoo and simply go for several days in a row without shampooing to keep my scalp as relaxed as possible.

  23. I did the baking soda and apple cider vinegar no shampoo routine faithfully for four months. It just did not work. I discovered that our hard water would not clean the baking soda residue out of my hair so I tried boiling it before mixing with baking soda and that helped a little but my color treated hair (blonde) just did not like it no matter what I did.

    The first week was amazing and I was telling everyone to try it but then the build-up cycle began and my hair became damaged and straw-like and I got really bad flakiness. The reason I stuck with it so long was because I did love not having to clean my hair more than once a week (such a time saver!) but I could not use styling products because they would not come out of my hair with just the baking soda. I did regular coconut oil masks and used tea tree oil for the flakes, seriously I tried everything. I would say that fine blonde color treated hair might not love the method but that's just my experience. My mother-in-law introduced me to Wen cleansing conditioner and I love it, I use less than half the amount they recommend and its amazing. I still really wish the true shamPHree method had worked, now I'm back to hair cleansing every other day πŸ™ if we ever have softened water I will give it another try.

  24. I have super-thick/wiry straight hair and an oily scalp, and I've found that I just can't not wash my hair. About 24 hours after a shampoo, my scalp starts to feel oily. 36-48 hours: my scalp gets more and more itchy, especially around my hairline. The itching gets so intense that I start raking my scalp with my nails without even thinking about it. It makes me feel crazy!

    My hair is also weirdly absorbent to environmental smells – or I'm really sensitive to odors, I don't know – so after a day, my hair starts to smell stale. If I cook with oil, go into a restaurant/coffee house/bar, happen to stand near somebody that's smoking, etc. I can smell it in my hair for hours and hours afterward (it doesn't bother me as much as other smokes, but woodsmoke is particularly stubborn; even with shampooing, I've smelled it in my hair for 2 days straight).

    Thus, when I did try vinegar and baking soda, my scalp still itched like crazy, and the vinegar made me smell like a pickle. So, uh… any tips for somebody whose scalp wants to peel off her skull after 2 days, and who can't deal with odors?

  25. I started the baking soda/ACV method almost 2 years ago. I used to not be able to go 12 hours without washing it. Once I detoxed my hair I'm able to go 2, sometimes 3 days between washes. Every now and again when I'm in a super rush I shampoo with Organix shampoo, but it's not often. Since I started the BS/ACV method my hair has actually grown in areas that I was having problems with such as those little broken bits around the crown of my forehead. I can even go longer between dye's in my hair as well. Once I did this method successfully I decided I needed to try and go more natural in more of my routines and searched other things as well. I use all natural deodorant, wash my face with honey, and only use all natural products.

  26. The only reason that I am not doing baking soda and apple cider vinegar is that with being 9 months pregnant (!), I found I was getting disoriented flipping my hair upside down so I could get the baking soda mix in effectively. I miss it – it is so much more effective than any organic shampoo I tried, and my Jair's drier and more brittle for it. Otherwise I was over 2 years shampoo free. Highly recommend it.

  27. Really like this method and using it now for 3 months. My hair is getting much less greasier and feels really clean. Also got lots of practical information from the howtohairgirl site, so thanks Roxy! However there is always build-up of the Baking soda in my hair. It looks if I have really tiny particles of powder in my hair and it makes my (dark) hair looks greyish. I tried a lot to deal with it, boiling the water before dissolving the BS and now IΓ‘m using bottled water to dissolve but the build-up stays. While I don't want to use shampoo again, I also do not like this build up.
    Any ideas? Thanks!

  28. You can pre-mix your ShamPHree and use it for weeks! just make sure that you shake it up well before applying it every time.
    And I would suggest using an old cotton pillowcase for your coconut oil treatments and just let it get greasy. keep in mind that you really only need to saturate your ends with oil, not your whole head. If you can, wrap the hair into a bun to keep it contained. If its short, just put the oil int, and brush it all back out of your face. Fortunately, coconut oil is also great for your skin;)

    • I am thinking of trying this method, but the coconut oil thing scares me. I tried using it on my face once, and it absolutely DESTROYED it – I got some of the worst acne I had ever had. Do you have any other possible conditioning recommendations?

        • haven't tried this part of it yet, but i DID try the baking soda / vinegar part, and wow, you aren't kidding about it being awesome! I used to be a salon receptionist, and so I tried all kinds of shampoos, and I've been using the "deva curl" natural shampoos for a long time now, and my hair still feels better than anything i've ever tried. i've never been able to let my hair go for more than a day without washing it, and i've already gone two days and it looks fine, after trying this. this is crazy and awesome.

  29. How To Hair Girl!!!! I love your blog!!!!! I haven't tried shamphree yet, but I hope to some day. I have super fine oily blonde hair and I know the first month is going to be so terrible ughhh, so I've been putting it off. I'm planning to chop a lot of my hair off in a year and a half (after the wedding) and want to try transitioning then.

    • I just started, and the first time I tried my hair was super greasy so I wasn't expecting much. My hair came out clean and soft! If it's a little greasy in the beginning, I would suggest washing a little more often in the beginning, and slowly weaning to fewer times per week.

  30. "I have a client who recently told me that she uses nothing but baking soda in her hair and on her teeth, as well as as an exfoliant for her skin. And her hair, skin and teeth look amazing."

    Please please please have your client submit a guest post! Pretty please!

    Also, do you (or anyone) know of any natural, DIY, it's-good-for-you-and-the-environment-and-your-wallet ideas for body wash? Or maybe even shaving cream? I'm now using the oil cleansing method on my face, and I'm now ShamPHreeing my hair, so the only not-natural thing I'm using in the shower is my body wash (and I don't shave often, but I usually just use conditioner when I do).

  31. I've been "shamPHree" for about 4 years now (with the exception of when I go to the salon for a cut, but even then their shampoos are low/no sulfate; and I'm a once a year haircut person). I've always had a difficult relationship with my hair, and so now to be in my mid-20s with hair I would have killed for when I was younger is awesome. Added on top of that is the simplicity of my routine and the lack of product necessary to get my hair to look nice. I'm never going back to shampoo again!

  32. Will shamPHree-ing work on chlorinated hair? If so, do I need to do anything special? I'm a springboard diver and I am in the pool 3-5 times a week.

  33. Has anyone here tried the shampfree method on their kiddos? I was thinking of diluting my mixes and giving them a try on her. She's 4 and we only shampoo her hair 2-3 times per week at most. I recently switched to just using Dr Bronners soap for her hair, which is what we all use on our bodies. Like many kids, she hates the shampooing anyway.

  34. After reading this (thanks for the method, I've wondered about this for some time) I tried the baking soda and ACV method. I have short-ish (neck-long), straight hair with some dandruffs. When shampooing I would shampoo on day 1, have dirty oily hair on day 2 and shampoo again on day 3.

    First try : so far not so good. My hair didn't feel as clean as after shampooing. On the second day it felt oilier than my usual day 2.
    Second try, with a little more baking soda and ACV : getting better. My hair feels clean and light but doesn't look super shiny, just normally clean. On day 2 it gets a little dirty and oily but I still can wear it down. Day 3 is oily and I have to wear a ponytail.
    I will try the coconut/shea butter treatment tomorrow night (day 2) and wash again the day after.

    I am hoping my hair will get used to shamphree and need less and less cleaning, so I'm sticking with this method for now. I like the idea of not using shampoo, knowing what chemicals I use and not paying for expensive brands. But it's not the miracle I expected.

    • Keep experimenting with it. You will know when you have it just right when your hair feels healthy and balanced and stays that way for days.

  35. I had never heard of people not using shampoo on their hair until I came across a stylist's blog just before Christmas. Right then & there I decided to give it a try. My hair needed to be washed every two days with shampoo & got pretty oily by night 2, and I had dandruff/psoriasis issues. Two weeks before Christmas I switched to a baking soda/ACV routine & I've never been happier with my hair. Every now & then if it starts to feel dry, I comb some coconut oil through my hair the day I wash it.

    My husband just uses our handmade soap on his hair (but has dandruff, which doesn't bother him a bit). So now we have a bunch of shampoo in the cupboard that we'll probably never use…

  36. I have been trying the bicarb and apple cider vinegar for a week now, and I hate it! My hair is disgustingly dry yet oily at the same time, feels like straw. I only washed every 2-3 days. My hair is thick and wavy and I have patches of irritated scalp. Help! Should I stick with it or try something else? I have previously tried conditioner only, but this did not work for me at all.

    • How To Hair Girl has tips on how to change the recipe according to your hair type . Maybe all you need is a tweak in the recipe.

      As always, it's not an exact science, so try it a few ways and see what works for you. She suggests I use double the ACV because my hair is color treated, but that makes my hair feel greasy. I prefer 1tbs ACV to 3/4 c water (so a slightly higher concentration, but not double).

      I suggest trying to change the ratios, brush your hair a lot (get the grease from the scalp down to the ends) and if the ends are still dry she suggests a coconut oil hair mask.

  37. I've been doing this for almost 8 months, and I'm a HUGE fan. I will sing from the rooftops that I don't use shampoo and it's the best beauty decision I've ever made. I think everyone should give it a try for the same reasons you mentioned. We don't need corporations profiting from us and making us feel bad about ourselves. I feel so free now and so happy with my hair I'm now planning on going natural in other areas of my life, and will soon start making my own cleaning products.

  38. I've been wanting to try this for a LONG time! I only wash my hair once or twice a week as it is and would love to get results with only baking soda and vinegar. Perhaps this is the inspiration I need….

  39. I have been thinking about going a more natural route with my hair. I have been researching different recipes but was hesitant to try any of them. I tried an at home hair mask a few months ago with eggs, glycerin, etc and my hair freaked out. So I was afraid it'd be a disaster.

    I did my first baking soda soda, vinegar rinse last night and my hair LOVED it. I am going to keep with it and see if my hair continues to be happy. Although, I think I will start adding essential oil to the rinse (just because). After rinsing and drying, you really can't smell the vinegar.

    I used 3tbs baking soda with 9 tbs water then followed with 1/3c vinegar (all I had was white, which seems to be fine) and 1 1/3 cup water. I made the vinegar rinse in a cup so that I could hold the tips in for like a minute before pouring it over my hair. I read somewhere that the tips like the extra attention.

    So far, I am pleasantly surprised. I normally struggle with oily hair and have to wash every day. It's a cruel cycle. So far my hair seems great but it's just the first day after. My journey has only begun!

  40. I have only used conditioner on my hair for two years now. I used to use shampoo occasionally but realized it was doing nothing and was all psychological, my hair is just as clean conditioner only and I don't have to go though the reconditioning process after the once a month or once every two months shampoo. Shampoo dries me OUT!!!!!!!!
    Even when I work out or sweat a lot, conditioner alone will suffice. I am black and have natural kinky curly hair, I use all kinds of conditioners, I'm a beauty products junkie, but currently loving Hebal Essences The Sleeker The Butter.

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