The No Poo Method – What Is It and How Does It Work?

Written by Camelia Smith

Updated on

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No poo method

The No Poo Method (short for No Shampoo Method) is a way of cleaning hair without using commercial shampoos. Instead, natural alternatives such as baking soda, apple cider vinegar, or just water are used as shampoo alternatives.

It is a movement that encourages people to use natural, non-toxic, environmentally-friendly products and DIY techniques to wash their hair while preserving their scalp’s natural oil (sebum), which plays a critical part in keeping the follicular ecosystem healthy.

It’s not a rule but rather a way for people to learn and accept the reality that chemicals do more harm than good to their hair and skin in the long term.

Where Does the No Poo Movement Come From?

The no poo method originates from the Curly Girl Method handbook written by Lorraine Massey, in which she encourages the use of sulfate-free and silicone-free hair products for people with natural hair (curls, coils, and waves).

The concept is simple: To stop using shampoo and conditioner altogether.

The Curly Girl Method handbook was originally published in 2010 and has since become a popular method of caring for curly hair. While many people find this method effective, others may find it too extreme and prefer to stick with traditional shampoo and conditioner.

Is No Shampooing Good for the Hair?

why ditching shampoo is good for your hair and scalp health.

Cutting down or foregoing the use of shampoos and conditioners can be beneficial for the maintenance of healthy hair. That’s because commercial shampoos are typically designed to strip the hair of its natural conditioning oil, treating it as dirt, which causes hair dryness and scalp irritation.

But the oil produced by the scalp isn’t the main contributing factor to dirty hair; therefore, it does not need to be eliminated to make your hair feel clean. It’s actually a normal and healthy part of the body’s biological process that helps keep the hair and scalp healthy.

The no poo method helps to break the cycle of overwashing the hair. Its primary objective is to teach you that you don’t need to remove the natural oils that your scalp produces. Instead, you must learn to embrace it and help your scalp adjust. This natural oil keeps the scalp in its acidic state to prevent bacterial growth. It is nature’s ultimate conditioner for the hair that no other synthetic conditioner can replace.

How Does the No Poo Method Work?

preserve scalp natural oil called sebum

The no poo method works by rebalancing the scalp’s sebum production to optimal level, thus reducing the dependency on detergents-based shampoos and the need for frequent washing.

This idea comes from the fact that our hair naturally produces oils to keep it clean and healthy. Frequent use of shampoos, however, strips the scalp’s natural oils, which triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more oil and maintain balance.

Shampooing creates a never-ending vicious cycle of scalp greasiness. The more we wash our hair with detergent-based shampoos, the more our scalp tries to compensate by producing even more oil. So, if you stop using shampoo, your scalp will eventually adjust and stop overproducing oil (at least as much).

Going no poo involves using only water or a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar in place of actual shampoo until the scalp adjusts to the routine. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on how often you shampooed before and what your hair is like. You may find the first week challenging as your hair adjusts, but once you get past the adjustment period, you will find it easier to wash your hair without a conventional shampoo. Even better, you won’t require dry shampoo as much, and you’ll notice less oil buildup.

Benefits of Skipping Shampoo

Healthier Hair and Scalp

Maintaining healthy hair and scalp is the main goal of the no poo method. This technique helps to rebalance the natural oil production of your scalp, thus eliminating dryness caused by over-washing or using too many harsh chemicals.

This method can help fortify and protect your hair from environmental damage when done correctly. An added bonus is that your scalp will be free from irritation, itching, and dandruff caused by excessive shampoo.

Smoother Hair

No poo also helps to make your hair smoother and softer by eliminating the buildup of styling products that many regular shampoos can leave behind. This makes it easier to style your hair without the use of heat and chemical products.

Better Color Maintenance

The no poo method can be beneficial for those who color their hair. Since this technique doesn’t involve the use of harsh detergents, it won’t strip away the color as quickly as regular shampoos do. This means that your color will last longer, and you won’t have to dye your hair.

More Volume

The no poo method can help your hair unlock more volume from the roots.

That’s because regular shampoos are designed to strip away natural oils, leaving the hair stripped of its moisture and flat. By replacing them with water or the baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixture, you can maintain the natural oils that help add body to

Less Frizz

By helping the hair retain more of its natural conditioning oil, the no shampoo method helps to reduce frizz and dryness, which is often caused by the lack of moisture in the hair.

How to Start with No-Poo

There are a few things that you should consider before starting the no poo method.

First, it’s important to note that this isn’t a good idea for everyone. If you have dandruff or other scalp issues, this probably won’t help with those problems – in fact, your scalp may become even more irritated at first if you stop using shampoo altogether!

You should also be aware that some people experience an initial period of greasiness or oiliness during the transition phase; this usually goes away after a few weeks or months of no poo use. Finally, it’s important to note that you may have to experiment with which products are best for your hair. Don’t worry if your first few attempts don’t work out perfectly – just keep trying new things until you find something that works for you!

Things to Consider Before Adopting the No Shampoo Method

Hair Type and Scalp Condition

No Poo may not be suitable for everyone, as it can be challenging for people with certain hair types or scalp conditions. For example, people with very dry or damaged hair may find it difficult to transition to the no poo method, as natural hair cleansing alternatives may not be enough to nourish and moisturize their hair adequately.

Time and Effort

Going shampoo-free requires trial and error to find the right combination of ingredients that works for your hair, and you may need to spend some time to find the right balance.

Potential Risks

There is a risk of irritation or other adverse effects when using natural ingredients on the scalp and hair. It is important to be mindful of any allergies or sensitivities you may have and to test a small patch of skin before using any new product or ingredient on your scalp or hair.


Natural ingredients can be more expensive than traditional shampoo and conditioner. It is important to consider whether you are willing and able to pay for these products or if you are willing to make your own natural hair care products.


The No Poo method can take some time to get used to, and it may require a period of adjustment as your hair and scalp get used to the new routine. It is important to consider whether you are committed to making this change and to be patient as you transition to the No Poo method.

How to No Poo (Washing Hair Without Shampoo)

remove dirt from hair without shampooing

There are many different methods to start no pooing. You can use different natural products such as honey, eggs, baking soda, cider vinegar, and many others. However, the most popular method for no poo is baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

Here are some quick no poo recipes to get you started:

Baking Soda and Plain Water

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water in a small container.
  2. Wet your hair thoroughly with warm water
  3. Pour the baking soda mixture over your scalp and massage it into your hair
  4. Starting at the roots and working your way to the ends
  5. Rinse the mixture out of your hair with warm water.

Baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water in a small container.
  2. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a separate container with 1 cup of water.
  3. Wet your hair thoroughly with warm water.
  4. Pour the baking soda mixture over your scalp and massage it into your hair, starting at the roots and working your way to the ends.
  5. Rinse the baking soda mixture out of your hair with warm water.
  6. Pour the apple cider vinegar mixture over your hair, starting at the roots and working to the ends. Gently massage the mixture into your hair, then let it sit for a few minutes.
  7. Rinse the mixture out of your hair with cool water.
  8. You can use natural oils, like coconut or argan oil, to help tame frizz and add shine.

Herbal infusion and water

  1. Steep 1 cup of dried herbs, such as chamomile or nettle, in 2 cups of boiling water.
  2. Leave it for about 15 minutes.
  3. Strain the herbs and let the infusion cool.
  4. Wet your hair thoroughly with the herbal infusion.
  5. Then massage it into your scalp and hair.
  6. Rinse the mixture out of your hair with cool water.

Honey and water

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of honey with 1 cup of water in a small container
  2. Wet your hair thoroughly with warm water
  3. Pour the honey mixture over your scalp and massage it into your hair
  4. Starting at the roots and working your way to the ends
  5. Rinse the mixture out of your hair with warm water.

The effectiveness of the no poo routine can vary depending on a person’s hair type, scalp condition, and the specific ingredients and methods used. Because everyone’s hair is different, it may take some trial and error to find the right combination of ingredients that works for you.

It’s also important to be mindful of the potential risks of using natural ingredients to clean the hair and scalp. Some people may experience irritation or other adverse effects, particularly if they have sensitive skin or allergies. It is always a good idea to test a small patch of skin before using any new product or ingredient on the scalp or hair and to consult a Dermatologist or other qualified healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

How Long Does It Take for No Poo to Work?

The length of time it takes for the no poo method to work can vary from person to person. While some people may see positive results in a few weeks, some may not experience any changes for several months.

Many factors can affect your transition to a shampoo-free washing routine.

For example:

Hair type: Different hair types may respond differently to the no poo method. For example, people with oily hair may find that the no poo method works well for them, while people with dry or damaged hair may experience more difficulty.

Scalp health: The health of your scalp can also affect how well the no poo method works for you. If you have a healthy scalp, you may find that the no poo method works well for you. However, if you have a dry, itchy, or sensitive scalp, you may experience more difficulty.

Water quality: The quality of the water you use to wash your hair can also affect the transition period. Hard water, which is high in minerals, can be more drying to the hair, while soft water may be easier on the hair and scalp.

The Method: The specific method you are using can also influence the transition period. Some people may find that using a small amount of a natural, sulfate-free cleansing agent (such as baking soda or apple cider vinegar) helps to ease the transition. In contrast, others may prefer to use only water.

Can the No Poo Method Be Bad for Your Hair?

The most popular recipe for the no poo method involves using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Two household ingredients that have polar opposite pH values. Oftentimes, it takes a lot of trial and error and a lot of patience to find the right combination that works for your hair, but it’s not impossible to do. The most common issues that people have with this method are dry hair, dandruff, and scalp irritation, which are mostly related to an acid-alkaline imbalance.

When washing hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, when not done correctly, can do more harm than good by disrupting the hair’s pH balance.

Being on the opposite ends of the pH scale, using them together means you are essentially taking your hair on a pH rollercoaster.

The cuticles remain flat and closed when the hair is in its natural pH range (4.5 – 5.5). But when exposed to an alkaline environment, the cuticle scales open up, and the hair becomes porous and brittle. This is what happens when you use baking soda & vinegar together.

It’s essential to note that the hair cuticle layer is not a door that you can be opened and closed repeatedly. It’s a dead protein structure that will start falling apart with repeated abuse.

You Don’t Have to Use Shampoo to Wash Your Hair

It’s a common misconception that you must use shampoo to cleanse your hair. In fact, plenty of natural alternatives can offer just as much—if not more—cleansing power than traditional shampoos.

Baking Soda: Baking soda is a great way to get rid of buildup on your scalp and roots. It also helps increase volume and moisture in your hair, which makes it a great alternative for those with fine or thinning hair.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, which is known as an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). AHAs help remove dead skin cells from the scalp so they don’t build up there and can reduce dandruff symptoms too!

No Poo Products to Help You Transition

If you are struggling with DIY methods, here are some of the best shampoo alternatives to help with the transition period.

We may earn a commission from the links below.

best no poo cleansing conditioners for curls
Boucleme Curl Cleanser
chemical-free shampoo that keeps hair healthy
Hairstory New Wash

Final Thoughts

The no poo method is all about embracing natural and non-toxic ways to cleanse the hair and scalp.

The main objective of this method of hair care is to cut down on synthetic shampoos and conditioners that often contain too many chemicals that do more harm than good to the entire follicular ecosystem.

About the Author

Camelia SmithCamelia Smith

Camelia Smith can color hair, perform keratin treatments, bleach hair, and even cut curly hair. She is our go-to person whenever we have hair treatments and styling questions.

She's also currently training as a freelance makeup artist and is passionate about helping others feel beautiful in their skin. When she's not writing or doing hair, she's usually spending time watching British period dramas.