No Poo Shampoo: The Natural Alternative to Conventional Shampoo

No Poo shampoo healthy sustainable alternatives to conventional shampoos
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Tim Mossholder

No poo shampoo is a trending alternative to washing your hair frequently with harsh chemicals contained in conventional shampoos. No poo shampoo is all-natural, healthier and will leave your hair just as clean as any commercial soap – all without the daily shampoo dependency. 

We put our hair through a lot. With all the synthetic chemicals we use and how often we wash, condition, color, straighten or dry our hair, it’s almost a miracle that we have any left at all. Our hair actually becomes accustomed to constant treatment. Thus, we wash with chemical shampoos even more frequently to get rid of excess oil buildup our hair has learned to overproduce. But what if instead of getting rid of the oil, we got rid of the chemicals?

No poo shampoo hair wash reasons to switch
All-natural no poo shampoo is simply the better option for maintaining healthy hair. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Matthew Tkocz)

There’s a trend making the rounds aimed at breaking the daily shampoo cycle: No poo shampoo. This all-natural shampoo method has been an item of interest among bloggers and Hollywood stars going back to 2014. Today, however, no poo is the talk of the town all around the United States.

All-natural no poo shampoo promises less oily, conditioned and vibrant hair. This hair-care method eliminates the need for harmful chemicals often found in conventional shampoos by using either all-natural ingredients, pure water or even the most radical of no poo approaches: not washing at all. All you need is the right hair brush, the right shampoo alternative and a little bit of time and patience.

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No Poo Shampoo: Why Should I Stop Using Conventional Shampoo?

No poo shampoo why to stop using commercial shampoos
Standard commercial shampoos often contain a number of harsh ingredients you may want to avoid. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Lasse Møller)

Conventional shampoos often contain harsh chemicals that can leave you hair and scalp in bad shape – with lasting effects. Some usual culprits include surfactants (surface-active agents), perfumes and silicones, the latter two of which have been widely criticized in recent years by weary consumers. As a result, a large number of new shampoos without silicone are now sold in stores all around the country.

It is getting easier to say no to products laced with silicones or perfumes and this is one step in the right direction. However, there are other common shampoo ingredients that are just as effective at irritating your hair and scalp. Surfactants, for example, can bring the natural PH value of your scalp out of balance. When it comes to commercial shampoos, the rule is: The more often you wash, the oiler your hair will become.

Consumers aren’t only making the switch from conventional shampoos to more natural shampoos because they’re better for your hair. Organic shampoos are also kinder to the environment: They are made without the use of a large number of harmful chemicals known to pollute the environment either through the production process itself or by entering our ecosystems via wastewater.

In addition to these reasons, people that exchange shampoo for no poo shampoo entirely also save quite a considerable amount of plastic packaging from landing in the trash. Even more “radical” no poo fans can go without producing any waste at all.

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No Poo: The Alternative to Conventional Shampoos

No poo shampoo the sustainable alternative
In short, no poo shampoos work to regulate your body’s own “natural conditioner” – the natural production of oils by the sebaceous glands. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Gregory Pappas)

As varied as the long list of no poo shampoo options may appear, they all share one common goal: To help regulate our hair’s natural production of sebum, an oily, waxy substance that serves as our scalp’s own “natural conditioner”.

When your hair dries out, the body’s sebaceous glands are triggered to produce extra sebum. Conventional shampoos rob your hair of this substance and essentially send your sebaceous glands into a panic, resulting in the overproduction of sebum. In essence, your hair reacts to being deprived of its naturally produced oil by making even more. Since nobody likes greasy, oily hair, we give our hair one shampoo rinse after another to keep it looking the way we think it should. This dependency further feeds into the vicious cycle of daily shampoo use, one that you can break with the help of no poo shampoo.

No poo shampoo brings your hair back into balance by mending the damage caused by artificial chemicals contained in conventional shampoos. Yet, everybody’s hair is different. You may need to try out a couple no poo shampoos before you find exactly the right one.

Many no poo fans make their own shampoo using a number of natural ingredients. This takes time, but will undoubtedly pay off down the road.

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Popular no poo shampoos

Bentonite clay no poo shampoo method
Bentonite clay is a widely popular no poo method for those looking to “detox” their hair. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Kristiana Pinne)

Bentonite Clay: Medicinal clays such as bentonite clay are often used as a “hair mask” by no poo shampoo fans. Bentonite clay is an absorbent natural clay fine and soft in texture. This clay is formed from aged volcanic ash and has been used for centuries as a way to detoxify the body, ease digestion and improve skin tone. When mixed together with water, this healing clay forms a negatively charged clay “sponge” which draws out positively charged toxins as well as impurities such as dust and dirt directly out of your hair.

In a way, this no poo shampoo is essentially a “detox” for your hair – it kills bacteria, gets rid of excess oils and dandruff. Yet, this no poo option is far less aggressive than conventional shampoos and helps to maintain your scalp’s natural oils. Plus, one package of bentonite clay will usually last up to six months when used regularly.

For a bentonite clay no poo shampoo, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water (or enough to form a runny paste-like consistency)
  • 1 tbsp. bentonite clay
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (optional)

(Ingredient measurements are intended for single use. You can also increase the ingredient amounts and store in a resealable glass jar for your next no poo wash)

Apply this no poo shampoo, massage into your wet hair, let sit for around 3-5 minutes and rinse. That’s it! Depending on your hair type, you may only need to wash your hair every other day. After extended use of this no poo method (after your hair’s oil production levels have returned to normal), try washing only once or twice a week!

You can find bentonite clay in some supermarkets and online:

  • Bentonite Clay Powder from Lone Star Botanicals found on Amazon**
  • Aztec Premium 100% Natural Organic Calcium Bentonite Clay found on Amazon**
Rye flour no poo method
When using the rye flour no poo method, it’s important that the flour you use is as fine as possible. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Vlad Kutepov)

Rye Flour: This no poo shampoo method is a tried-and-tested favorite. Rye flour is packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients and is well-suited for a variety of different hair types. If you choose to take this no poo route, be sure that the flour is a fine as possible – otherwise the mixture will clump up when you wash your hair.

Mix around 4-5 tablespoons of rye flour with water and massage the mixture into your hair. Whatever you do, be sure to stick to rye flour: Rye flour makes for such a good no poo shampoo due to its gluten contents. This ingredient allows the flour to be mixed with water without clumping up into a dough. Whole grain rye flour is recommended as no poo shampoo due its particularly high mineral, amino acid and vitamin counts.

Coffee: A handful of veteran no poo bloggers swear by another all-natural no poo shampoo mix: rye flour along with coffee. The caffein contained in coffee supports blood circulation to the hair roots. Coffee is also a proper no poo pick for beginners as coffee removes unwanted smells from your hair.

No Poo Shampoo organic soap bars
You can very likely also find organic homemade soap and shampoo bars at your local farmers’ market. (Photo: © Utopia / Binford)

Hair Soap Bars: Wash without harsh chemicals with a no poo hair soap. Look for soaps – at best handmade soaps – which contain all-natural ingredients and are PH neutral. Hair soaps foam a little bit and are thus great for no poo beginners. There’s no thinking around it: Many of us are staunch believers in that the only way to clean is with suds. Numerous bloggers attest to having to work at getting used to not seeing foam when they made the switch to no poo.

When it comes to soap bars as no poo options, the oils contained within should be made with all-natural ingredients and certified organic. “Luxury” hair soaps don’t count – these are merely commercial shampoos in bar form. Although they don’t contain silicone, they usually still pack synthetic surfactants into the ingredients list.

Check out these popular all-natural organic shampoo bars:

  • Old fashioned Shampoo Bar by Falls River Soap Company found on Amazon**
  • J.R.LIGGETT’S All-Natural Shampoo Bars found on Amazon**
  • Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo Bar for Dandruff Touchy Scalps found on Amazon**

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No poo shampoo homemade chestnut hair wash
This no poo recipe calls for around 20 horse chestnuts, some water, a thinly sliced unseeded apple and an empty shampoo bottle. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Markus Spiske)

Chestnuts: It’s also just as easy to make your own no poo shampoo using horse chestnuts. For this no poo recipe, you’ll need around 20 horse chestnuts, water, a thinly sliced unseeded apple and a small empty shampoo bottle. You’ll also need a thickener: You can use either 4 tbsp. cornstarch or 3 tbsp. of flaxseeds to give your no poo shampoo a gel-like consistency. To get started, toss the finely crushed chestnuts along with all other ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer at medium heat for around 25 minutes. For the next step, pour the mixture through a strainer covered with a towel into a second pot, wring the towel out thoroughly. Now you can add the thickening agent: Stir thoroughly until smooth in consistency (no clumps!). If you’ve chosen flaxseeds as your thickener, pour through a strainer once more. And you’re done!

Additional no poo options include soap nuts, additional medicinal clays such as rhassoul and koalin clay, cocoa as well as the somewhat unconventional no poo “egg wash” (used as shampoo wash and conditioner every month or so alongside regular no poo methods). Here’s where you can find some of these no poo shampoo ingredients:

  • Cocoboo 100% Organic Soap Nuts (USDA Organic Certified) found on Amazon**
  • NaturOli Soap Nuts/Soap Berries 1lb (USDA Organic Certified) found on Amazon**
  • Bentonite (Indian Healing) + Moroccan (Red Rhassoul) + Green (French-Sea) Clay Powder by Bare Essentials Living found on Amazon**

Read more: Dry Scalp: These Home Remedies Help Treat an Itchy Scalp

Conditioners: The No Poo Shampoo Alternative

How to make your own no poo shampoo conditioner
Shampoos and conditioners: There’s a no poo solution for both! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Katherine Hanlon)

That’s right – you can go no poo when it comes to conditioners as well. Here are a couple household tips to stop your hair from becoming dull and dry:

  • Protect your hair from dry split ends with a range of natural oils such as argan, coconut, jojoba or olive oil. Be sure to only apply oils to the ends of your hair – otherwise you’ll be looking at massive oil buildup and your hair will appear greasy. Some no poo fans swear by the combination of aloe vera gel and avocado oil: Leave this special hair treatment in for some time and wash with medicinal clay. Try this no poo option out and see what works best for you!
  • Apple cider vinegar will leave your hair soft and shiny. Simply mix the vinegar with water in a 1:10 ratio, wash your hair and (important!) rinse with ice cold water. The ice cold water works to close your pores and leaves your hair smooth to the touch while the vinegar in the mixture neutralizes the PH values of your scalp. Depending on your skin and hair type, you can also combine apple cider vinegar with plants such as marigolds, dried rose petals, lavender or any number of essential oils such as lemongrass, rosemary or lavender. Just be sure to add oils to your hair while wet – they’re absorbed better this way. The added benefit of herbs and essential oils: With this no poo shampoo, your hair will smell great – without a hint of vinegar.

Read on: Here are three simple recipes for homemade conditioner!

No Poo: How Often Should I Wash My Hair?

No poo shampoo alternative to commercial shampoos
How often should you wash using your new no poo method? (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Tim Mossholder)

Experts suggest retaining your ordinary hair washing routine in order to give your hair and scalp a bit of time to adjust. If you regularly wash your hair around every two days or so, you should keep this up with your new natural no poo alternative. After a couple months have passed, feel free to extend the time between washes by a couple days. By washing less frequently, you give your hair the time it needed to adjust.

Brush Your Hair the Right Way

Especially if you’re following the most radical no poo method – the so-called “NW/SO” method (“No Water/Sebum Only“), which uses neither household items nor liquid substances – brushing your hair becomes even more important. Healthy hair is hair with an even coat of sebum.

Our grandparents knew it best: “One hundred hairbrush strokes a day will leave you with beautiful hair.” Brushing your hair regularly ensures that sebum is distributed evenly. This substance (known as the “body’s natural oils”) goes to work to protect our hair and scalp with a moisturizing and protective coat.

For No Poo Beginners: Organic Shampoo without Silicone

For any out there hesitant in making the leap over towards no poo shampoo, the next best options include silicone-free organic shampoos: These moisturize and soothe the skin without unnecessary harsh chemicals and are just as effective as conventional shampoos and conditioners.

Check out some healthy and organic no poo alternatives here:

  • Natural Beauty Hair Care Shampoo from Maple Holistics found on Amazon**
  • Silk18 Natural Conditioner from Maple Holistics found on Amazon**

We hope you’ve enjoyed these no poo shampoo methods! Interested in all-natural household and hygiene hacks? Utopia’s got you covered.

No Poo Shampoo: The Natural Alternative to Conventional Shampoo
Pin it! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Tim Mossholder )

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This article was translated from German to English by Evan Binford. You can view the original here: No Poo: Haare waschen ohne Shampoo.

** Links to retailers marked with ** or underlined orange are partially partner links: If you buy here, you actively support, because we will receive a small part of the sales proceeds. More info.

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