Washing hair without shampoo: options, risks and products

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Everyone loves clean hair. That’s why shampoo is a more than $ 29 billion global industry. But you can legitimately wash your hair without shampooing and come out with strong, healthy, shiny locks.

The no-poo movement has grown rapidly in recent years. If you’re no longer head and shoulders in love with Head and Shoulders anymore, here’s what you need to know to avoid pooping.

Here is all the information you need to apply the shampoo.

To start

Before you begin, regardless of the method, you will need a bath, shower, or other water delivery device.

Rinse your hair to make sure there is no excess dirt or grime. Then the poo-free magic can begin.


To wash your hair using a co-wash (or cleansing conditioner), you will first need a bottle of this product. Until recently, it was difficult to find co-washing solutions outside of specialty stores and salon suppliers. These days, more stores are stocking them than ever.

A co-wash is a conditioner that manufacturers have formulated to cleanse your hair at the same time. Some can be labeled as “no-poo” or “low-poo” products, making them super easy to spot on a shelf.

Many drugstores and store brands have started selling their own co-washing solutions. You use it the same way as a regular shampoo:

  1. Wet your hair.
  2. Massage the co-wash into your scalp and hair.
  3. Rinse it off.


They are especially useful for textured or relaxed hair, and when trying to repair heat damage.


A popular poo-free cleansing method is to simply skip the shampoo and go straight to the conditioner. Shampoos contain a lot of harsh detergents that conditioners do not. This is why shampoo fills your bath water with foam bubbles, but conditioner does not.

This makes it easier for the hair and scalp. Plus, the method is super simple: wash your hair like you would shampoo, but don’t use shampoo. Instead, use a conditioner.

Conditioner does not strip hair of its natural oil and moisture like shampoo. But be careful with the conditioner only method – if you do it long term or haven’t rinsed yourself off properly after application, product buildup can leave you with a dry, scaly scalp.

apple cider vinegar

Those who want to go for a complete alternative to healthy rustic shampoo can go for the true apple cider vinegar method.

Unlike using a co-wash or conditioner, there are a few easy steps to follow before washing with ACV:

  1. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water. It is important to dilute apple cider vinegar properly, otherwise it could irritate your scalp. Adjust the ACV / water ratio if your head feels a little raw after washing.
  2. Rinse any dirt off your hair in the shower.
  3. Apply the ACV / water solution to your head.
  4. Massage it in and let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes for it to take effect.
  5. Rinse.

Hey, hop! You have clean hair!

Some people like to include baking soda in the solution. However, none of this is exact science (and scientific data suggests that baking soda may actually not be ideal for healthy hair due to its high pH). We therefore cannot in good conscience recommend the use of baking soda.

We can however recommend apple cider vinegar. Unlike baking soda, there is scientific data to back up claims that it is good for cleaning hair. Apple cider vinegar has proven antifungal and antimicrobial properties. People in lab coats have proven that there is some merit in what no-poo beauty bloggers raved about.

So yes, you can use apple cider vinegar to clean your hair. Crazy world, right?

How to remove oil from your hair without shampoo?

One of the biggest worries about not pooping is oily looking hair. But don’t worry, you don’t need to flush out the oils that build up. The shampoo removes natural oils from your scalp and hair. Your body overcompensates for this, and it takes a little while for it to realize that it can reduce fat.

After 2 to 3 weeks, your hair will start to appear less oily. If you’re particularly embarrassed about it, anecdotal evidence suggests that massaging your scalp with certain soaps (like goat’s milk soaps) can degrease unshampooed hair pretty well.

Yes, your hair will be clean after washing it without poop.

However, the results will not be immediate. Your hair will likely be a bit oily in the first 2-3 weeks – don’t worry, it’s natural. It’s not a sign that your hair is dirty. Your hair has a lot of natural cleansing mechanisms that shampoo removes.

Shampoo has been a staple in the shower since we took showers. This is not an exaggeration either – the first modern shower was not invented until 1767, more than 250 years after the first evidence of shampoo use.

But many shampoos strip your hair of natural oils. These oils take a few weeks to reach their ideal levels again once you cut the poo off your do.

The poo-free method is all about having clean, healthy hair, and people who swear by it believe that forgoing shampoo is the best way to go for hair hygiene.

Many shampoos contain chemicals like sulfates and silicones that remove natural oils from your hair. This causes your scalp to overcompensate and pump out excess sebum. It is for this reason that the no-poo theory suggests that shampooing is not healthy for your hair.

Each no-pooer has different reasons for going no-poo. Some people give up shampoo for health reasons like allergies. Others just want to do things a little differently and see if they get better results. Many no-pooers have found the movement because frizzy, thick, or naturally dry hair can be very difficult to maintain with shampoo.

Washing your hair without shampoo is not without its risks.

Your hair and scalp are unstable. A slight disturbance in the pH balance can lead to thinning hair, as can sudden changes in your hair care routine. There is always a chance that your hair will react badly to a no-poo method.

You also have to remember the important elephant in the poo-free room: the shampoo * always * cleans * the hair. In fact, it’s really, really good for that too. Washing your hair with shampoo can prevent dust, debris, and allergens from building up on your scalp.

Do you know what happens when these accumulate? Dermatitis.

Do you know who loves dermatitis? Anybody.

It is more than likely that your hair will look a bit oily for the first few weeks. Inspect your hair regularly throughout. If you start to notice damage beyond a little extra fat, consider changing your no-poop method or going back to shampooing a bit until you speak to a local hair expert.

Here are some products to help you start your shampoo-free life:

  • Cantu Shea Butter Complete Conditioning Cowash. Sold in 10-ounce tubes, reviews suggest Cantu Beauty’s co-wash is ideal for curly / wavy hair. It’s a climate-friendly product too, so you don’t get your poo-free hair benefits at the expense of some cute jungle creatures.
  • RENPURE Cowash Cream. According to the manufacturers, this option infused with coconut oil is suitable for all hair types. It is free from dyes, harsh salts, gluten and sodium chloride, which means it is ideal for restoring strength and shine without chemical aggression.
  • EDEN BodyWorks Cowash Coconut Shea Cleanser. According to customer reviews, people with dry hair are in good hands with EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Oil and Shea Butter Combo. It also contains avocado oil and aloe vera, which further help your hair to retain moisture.
  • As I Am Coconut Cowash. This coconut co-wash is recommended by people who have colored, treated or damaged hair (whether by heat or chemicals). However, reviews of people of all hair types attest to its effectiveness as a replacement for shampoo.
  • The best honey and castor bean cowash from Africa. Africa’s Best specializes in products for black hair. Their honey and castor bean co-wash is incredibly popular among people with this hair type. The co-wash is made from a 100% natural formula of honey and castor oil, and it contains traditional African herbs and oils.
  • Legend’s Creek Farm Unscented Goat’s Milk Soap. Many people suggest that scrub your scalp with goat’s milk soap helps shed the fat that can build up after going without shampoo. It’s up there with the top rated options on Amazon.
  • dpHUE Hair rinse with apple cider vinegar. It’s more expensive than the other options, but dpHUE has released an ACV designed for hair washing. No need to loot your Mee-Maw’s pantry before shower time! It’s infused with protein and oils rich in vitamin E, as well as a whole bunch of hair.

Traditional hair washing with shampoo works for many people, but not for everyone. For some, shampoos leave hair dry, damaged or matted. For them, the no-poo movement has been a blessing.

There are several ways you can opt out of hair care without shampoo. Co-washes and cleansing conditioners are hitting shelves more and more each year. For the more old school, apple cider vinegar washes are a tried and true nugget of family wisdom.

Most of the evidence for its effectiveness, however, is anecdotal. Hairdressing doctors keep on giving shampoo because it is still good for cleaning hair despite the trendy backlash against it. The poo-free method has gained popularity thanks to beauty influencers and bloggers, and there’s no hard science that exposes shampooing as a… well… sham.

If you want to do without shampoo, a range of products is available. Just be sure to talk to a doctor if the ones you try start to damage your hair (although it’s natural to feel a little extra grease for the first few weeks).

About Nell Love

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