Have you thought about going no ‘poo? Avoid these common mistakes of washing your hair without shampoo and your hair will be beautiful every step of the way!
Years ago I attempted an experiment to wash my hair with just baking soda and shampoo.
It lasted one day.
I attempted to mask my greasy hair by sprinkling some homemade powdered foundation at the roots, hoping the corn starch would absorb the grease, but all that did was garner funny looks and the comment “Did you put baby powder in your hair?” from a friend we saw at church that night.
Needless to say, I washed my hair as soon as we got home.
Four common mistakes people make when going no ‘poo:
1) Go cold turkey.
2) Expect hair not to be greasy.
3) Focusing all your attention on your hair.
4) Expecting a lather from baking soda.
People who have stopped washing their hair will tell you that there’s a transition period lasting anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months where your hair will look greasy.
They say to pull your hair back into a ponytail or a braid and just stick it out and then one day, it’ll all be better.
My experiment only lasted a whopping ONE day, but the brevity doesn’t really matter. If I can’t last one day, how in the world can I last 3 months?!
And what about people (like me) who have short hair? Ponytails, braids and “just wear a hat” aren’t viable options. And neither is just sticking it out.
I certainly didn’t want to give up on natural hair care, but I knew there had to be a better way.
Fast forward a few months, after my ego had healed and I attempted another experiment:
Washing my hair with goat milk soap
Long-time readers know that I LOVE Bend Soap Company’s goat milk soap. It’s been pivotal to clearing up my acne and it’s the base for my own homemade laundry detergent.
With a bar already in the shower (I make a separate liquid face wash for night), I figured what the heck – what did I have to lose?
Worst case scenario it would be a repeat of the baking soda fiasco and I would just rewash with regular shampoo, right?
Friends, my shampoo days were over because using goat milk soap as shampoo WORKED!
- My scalp wasn’t full of grease.
- My hair was clean.
- It lathered (superficial, but still a perk).
- I could comb my hair WITHOUT conditioner (I now use this homemade conditioner, but didn’t use any during this trial experiment).
With such great success on day one, I kept the experiment going.
But as I already mentioned, this is a far cry from how I first felt about going no ‘poo!
Despite being relatively new to the world of natural hair care, I’d like to share my advice to those who are traveling the natural living journey and struggling with the same issues I was.
4 Common Mistakes When Washing Hair Without Shampoo
1. Going no poo cold turkey
When you’re used to lovely locks each morning, skipping just one day is a huge shocker.
- Consider easing into the routine by washing your hair every 36 hours by washing one night (say Sunday), completely skipping the next day (Monday) and then washing it the next morning (Tuesday). Do this once a week for a few weeks, then twice a week. Eventually work your way up to washing one morning and going a full 48 hours without washing and continuing to stretch it out from there.
- Another option is use less shampoo. Most of us could get away with about a quarter-sized amount of shampoo, but try cutting it back to just a dime. This will force yourself to really work it into your hair. You might miss spots, or your hair might not feel as sparkly clean. But it won’t be as greasy as if you had gone cold turkey and that’s the whole point.
After awhile, see if you can cut it back even less. If neither of these options will work for you, I suggest washing with goat milk soap.
I originally started using it as a way to manage the in-between of shampoo versus no-shampoo, but found that it did such a great job that it became my new hair washing routine!
2. Expecting your no ‘poo hair not to be greasy
The ingredients in shampoo are designed to “clean” your hair by stripping it of the oils your scalp naturally excretes.
- It’s a very vicious cycle: Your scalp release oils, you shampoo to strip the oils and have clean hair, then your scalp in turn makes more oils to compensate.
- When you no poo, your hair WILL be greasy. It’s just the natural cycle!
- But I assure you, it will get easier over time and your hair WILL eventually stop producing so much oil. You can ease the burden by trying one of the techniques mentioned in point #1 above, or by following my advice in point #3 below.
3. Focusing all your attention on your hair
When you are doing the no poo method, your focus should be on your scalp, not your hair.
A healthy scalp will naturally lead to healthy hair, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Focus on scrubbing and cleaning the scalp to distribute the naturally occurring oils and your naturally beautiful hair will follow!
4. Expecting the typical shampoo-like lather
Friends, it was just silly of me to expect baking soda and water to somehow magically produce a lather in the shower. An unrealistic expectation will only lead to frustration and feeling discouraged!
Amidst my disappointment, I found a shining light: Washing with goat milk soap does create a lather!
This made the transition of leaving commercial shampoo so much easier and much more enjoyable. It’s just like the “old” days of shampoo, but without the chemicals!
How to Use Goat Milk Soap as a No Poo Shampoo
In the picture above, my hair was freshly washed with goat milk soap, rinsed with homemade conditioner and blow dried with my fingers. It’s the healthiest my hair has ever been!
It seems odd to not reach for a bottle of shampoo, and I had a hard time figuring out the best way to use goat milk soap as a shampoo. After trying a few options, the simplest method turned out to be the best!
Step 1. Cut a bar of soap in half. This makes it easier to hold, and stretches the life of the bar. (More tips on stretching a bar of soap.)
Step 2. After you’ve scrubbed your scalp, make sure your hair is wet. Starting at the front hairline and holding the bar in your hand, put the bar directly into the hair and start massaging it around. Continue this around your head until you have sufficiently covered the roots and your hair.
Step 3. Massage into the roots and cover all of your hair thoroughly.
Step 4. Rinse.
Step 5. Follow up with homemade conditioner.
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Has anyone tried the goat milk soap with naturally curly thick hair? I’m trying to find something that doesn’t make my hair dry and brittle and something more natural. Also, my scalp has been more than normal itchy. Any suggestions?
I cannot attest to your hair type as I have thin, straight hair but I do have itchy scalp, especially in the winter. The goats milk soap as shampoo has helped tremendously!! And I’m pretty sure that it’ll work on your hair. It has such a good lather that you’ll be surprised. Tip: make sure you rub bar well around hairline not forgetting the nape of your neck. I’ve learned that by doing this and also rubbing it well at the crown of my head, I can get the lather evenly distributed and then I can wash well. Good luck!
I actually use a no poo recipe of coconut milk (from the can) and aloe (supposed to be gel but I accidentally grabbed juice). It has worked amazingly well. Occasionally my hair gets greasy but if need be, I just wash with shampoo and run more of my no poo through my hair and it works wonders. I was blessed with frizzy hair and this…this has made the difference for me. Its been years since I left my hair down and now, aside from a few bobby pins to keep the short pieces out of my face, I don’t have to put my hair in a pony tail every day and I live at the beach where its not only humid, but windy as well.
I absolutely agree with you! It isn’t healthy for the scalp to be washed so frequently with shampoos and there is a way to have a clean hair without doing this! I would love to try your way! Your hair looks so clean and healthy! Thanks for sharing!
Sounds like it’s worth a try–I am picking up some goat milk soap from a nearby producer tomorrow morning. I’ve been using basically only water and conditioner for over a week now, so I’m hoping for some really good results from the goat milk soap. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂
I hope you do too Dayna!
does it need to be goats milk soap?
can it be any kind of bar soap?
I’ve only tried goat milk soap Teresa, and the soap that I use is VERY gentle and doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients.
I have severe allergies and after reading this started using the goats milk soap. I love how the results on my skin, however I have a residue in my hair. I was wondering if this is something you have come across? I’m not sure if the soap is not working for my hair type, I’m not getting it all out, or if it’s the fact that the only soap I could use before had lotion in it and now this soap is trying to wash it all out? I really want to make this work I really have no other options to wash my hair. Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
Hi Michele! I know the residue you’re talking about – it’s a combination of two things in my own personal experience: not scrubbing well and not using a conditioner. If I do both on a consistent basis, I’m fine. If I skip one or the other (or both!) often, I’ll get build up residue. I don’t know how long you’ve been using it, but it took about four weeks of washing before my hair felt like it was finally rid of all the yucky stuff from commercial shampoos.
*””didn’t know”, not “no” 🙂
After hearing about my DIY adventures with personal care products and shifting away from harmful chemicals, my mom (who’s fairly conservative) has completely switched to goat milk soap and loves the results. She says her scalp is healthier, her hair has a good texture, and she doesn’t have to wash as often. She’s even been telling all her friends about it, including her hair dresser who says her hair feels great.
But I didn’t no it was no-poo friendly. Now I can incorporate it into my routine when I need a little extra cleaning power!
That’s awesome news Trisha! It is completely no-poo friendly, and I think you’ll like how gentle yet effective it is. 🙂
Several months ago, I decided to go no-poo and started using only apple cider vinegar to clean my head. Granted, I’m 66 and way past a greasy head, but I actually had no problems and no transition. I just simply wet my head then squeeze on the vinegar from a plastic bottle and then rinse thoroughly. My hair is curlier than ever and looks good all the time. I’m thrilled!
That’s awesome Gail! I haven’t tried just ACV, but how wonderful that it works for you!
Great article! Hmm…since you find “regular” natural soap to be fine on your hair, maybe I will try the castile soap I got on sale. It’s not a shampoo bar, but I will see… I have never used goat’s milk soap, but I have tried shampoo bars from apple valley natural soaps. I’m just too cheap to buy more. lol
May I add another mistake made when trying “no poo”? Using hard water. Perhaps most people don’t have super hard water, but if you do, don’t use it to wash your hair using baking soda, egg yolks, or any other shampoo alternative, including shampoo bars. It will make your hair gunky and unmanageable. Been there. The softer the water the better, when it comes to natural hair washing! I actually find baking soda to lather when I scrub my scalp…but only if our water softener is working properly! I used to take filtered water into the shower with me to wash my hair when our water was hard, because I did not want to go back to shampoo. : )
I highly recommend cutting back on hair washing. I used to be a have-to-wash-daily kind of gal. My hair was super oily. I can attest that it is true that your scalp produces more oil the more you wash it. It’s taken awhile, but I now only wash my hair 1-2 times/week. Dry shampoo is awesome for those just-starting-to-get-oily days.
Just thought I’d share my experiences. I know everyone’s hair is different, so we all have to find what works best for us!
It took me several months to figure out hard water was sabotaging my no-poo attempts and think it should be mentioned in all the no-poo write-ups. So thanks for pointing this out to others!
A shower filter didn’t help enough, so my work around has been to do a final rinse with distilled water. It helps even more if I also mix my conditioning rinse with the distilled water instead of regular water (I use Dr. Bronner’s citrus rinse concentrate). It use to seem inconvenient, but now it’s just part of my routine and my hair feels fantastic. Plus, I only wash my hair twice a week now so I don’t mind an extra step. I just keep a jug of water with a spout on it in the shower and call it good!
So glad to know I’m not the only one doing this! I also tried no-poo. I’ve since learned that baking soda changes the ph too much, and ACV does NOT actually counter it. So what I’ve done the last couple years is order a big block of plain soap, melt it in a double boiler, mix in essential oils (which are also great for your hair), and mold in a muffin pan. It’s really good stuff. Also, I think your hair type plays a big role in what works for you- mine is thick and straight- so I had to experiment with conditioning too. I now use a mix of avocado, aloe, honey, and tea tree oil.
Very helpful! I tried doing the no shampoo, or “DIY” shampoo, thing a few months back but it didn’t work for me. After reading this post I can clearly see that it was my fault because I was not doing it correctly. I’m so glad that I read this and now I will definitely give it another go. Your hair looks great, by he way!
Thanks! Scrubbing the scalp is key. Good luck with your no ‘poo adventures!!
My hair has had a rough weekend! I decided to pick Easter weekend away to try out the DIY herbal shampoo you posted a recipe for, but it seems that my hair did not like it at all. It was a gummy, tangled mess, even after doing several ACV rinses. No harm, no foul; I’ll use the castile soap for cleaning instead! But I decided to try the goat milk soap that I just got last week this morning and, followed by two ACV rinses and a little bit of coconut oil, my hair loves it! I’m sure I’ll be able to go to just one ACV rinse and forego the coconut oil at the end of the week, but my hair is recovering from the herbal shampoo right now and needs a day or two without shampoo. Still, I’m thrilled with goat milk soap, and I’m so glad you’ve shown me a perfectly natural, healthy way to clean my whole body! I’m excited to make laundry detergent with it!
Bummer on the herbal shampoo Melissa, but so glad the goat milk soap is working for you!! I also love your “no harm no foul” attitude and that you’ve re-purposed the castille soap!! I hope you enjoy the laundry detergent!!!
So, let me get this straight. You can just take a bar of goatmilk soap, just as it is, and rub it on the roots of your hair and it won’t leave a residue and it will leave your hair clean and film free? I am allergic to corn and soy as well as nuts and many fruits so the ONLY shampoo I am not allergic to is almost $20 for 8oz.so I have resorted to using dish soap and I have long, thick hair. Am I really reading this correctly? Goat milj soap will clean my hair (insert phot of sponge bob with gleaming eyes)
LOL – pretty much! Your hair might FEEL a bit greasy for the first couple days (since your scalp is so used to being stripped of oils every day), but it’ll look fine. You’ll learn the art of scrubbing the scalp within a week and by week #2, you’ll start to feel the difference in your hair. Yes! Goat milk soap will clean your hair! (sending you a virtual high five!)
i used goat milk soap and it made my hair so soft and not greasy! There’s a great store near me that has great scents.
Lydia @ Thrifty Frugal Mom
I would love to try this, but I have a really long, fine hair and I’m just not sure that it would work very well. Super fascinating though!
I think it’s worth a shot Lydia. We do this on my daughter who has really long hair as well, and with great results. Why not try it for a week – what have you got to lose but the dollars you spend on shampoo? 😉
I tried this the last few days because I ran out of shampoo and I had some goat milk soap! My hair feels greasy, so I don’t know if I am doing it right. It does ,however, look pretty good!
Meagan – you’ve got to SCRUB that scalp! Mine felt the same way. It looked great, but felt strange… likely because we’re so used to that squeaky clean feeling after we shampoo (thanks to the stripping of the oils). Be sure to scrub the “greasier” spots super well, and everywhere else good too. It makes a world of a difference!
This is an interesting post – I stumbled on your blog looking up recipes on pinterest. I too tried that baking soda and vinegar thing about a year ago and failed. I think I lasted maybe a week and my hair went from greasy looking to frizzy and fly away – not good! Anyhow – I may try the goats milk soap – I have some melt and pour base from Brambleberry that I have not used yet. Also, interested in finding out more on your face wash with it. I have made a soap using the shea butter base and like it for my skin so far. .
Wow – that’s quite the jump in a week!! Obviously, we love goat milk soap. 🙂 Here’s the facial wash I made: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2014/09/diy-homemade-facial-cleanser/
I use that at the sink since it’s easier than a bar (IMO).
Tried the on ‘poo thing last summer and it dried my baby fine hair out so badly, it was breaking. I do not recommend it for prolonged use, but trying to find something that did actually work has also been a challenge. I tried goat soap too, and it is an option, I just didn’t like the bar.
Just this week i tried a recipe I found on line – using only castile soap and coconut milk and it LATHERS! So far so good! Washed it Sunday morning and was still good today.
Wonder if making liquid goat milk soap and using it with the coconut milk would work and still lather? may need to try that next!
Lynn – I tried using a liquid goat milk soap that I already had (https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2014/09/diy-homemade-facial-cleanser/) but I felt like I was using an awful lot and still not getting enough to clean… And I tried making this same mixture with coconut milk instead of water (and also soap + coconut milk + water) and didn’t get a lather AND couldn’t get the coconut milk to rinse well out of my hair. I was hopeful, but the straight up bar did the best. What about the bar did you not like?
I tried to goat milk soap bar last night and realized for me it is more a tactile thing – I dont like the feeling of the bar rubbed on my roots. Once I got past that, it did actually leave my hair feeling nice. So it is an option.
I was very surprised that 1TBS of castile (used Dr Woods baby mild w/shea butter of all things!) with 1 tsp of coconut milk actually worked for me – i have long but fine hair that can get greasy quickly. The pain is having to mix it up, so the convenience of the bar being right there and covering all showering needs is compelling. Thank you!
Gramma always said we washed our hair too much!
Having always been on the oily side, the aging process (and dryness that comes with it) has been my friend. 🙂
I still get greasy at the scalp even in my mid 40s so I wash my hair twice a week in the winter and 3 times a week in the summer- with baby shampoo.
No ‘poo is not an option, as my career requires a professional image.
I even color my hair every 7 weeks, but have found “color safe” products break out my scalp (and my husband’s, who uses whatever I have on the shelf in the shower).
But that goat soap sounds intriguing 😉 I may have to give it a try!
I TOTALLY understand the “professional image” Jaytee, which is why I tried the goat milk soap out too as an experiment – and it worked! There wasn’t the typical grease-head that would come from not shampooing, and it made the transition of my scalp from one extreme to the other much more manageable. I hope you’re able to try it out!
I’d love to cash in on the bulk scrap soap deal from the Bend Co.! However, the unscented is out of stock right now. Do you know how long your coupon code is good until? Thank you for your wonderful tips and advice! My husband has eczema and psoriasis, so I’m hoping this will help for his body and scalp!
Hi Jennifer! I think the coupons are good indefinitely? I checked with Bend before publishing, and these seem to be their standard deals available most of the time. If scent is an issue, I’ve found that the citrus and mint blends are the most mild. 🙂
Being like “frugal- minded”, do you think it’s possible to purchase a big bag of the scrap or shredded soap, melt it all down in a pot and then pour into molds?! I was thinking of doing this because it’s more cost effective to purchase in scrap and I could do a years worth of soap all at once! I just don’t if this is possible- if I’d be ruining the properties of the soap by melting it? If I’m not ruining the soap and in the end I’d have the same end product, then I think it’s worth the effort of a day of soap making and saving the difference in cost!
Hi Jennifer! Many scrap pieces are actually quite big – nearly as big as a regular bar of soap itself! The ones I have right now are 3 x 3 x 1/2″, if that helps to give perspective.
The process you’re referring to is milling soap, and it can be done, but I personally haven’t tried it with Bend’s soap so I can’t say one way or the other. From what I’ve read, some soaps work great for this and some don’t. I’m sorry – I wish I could be more helpful!
I’ve been infusing herbs in hot water, and mixing it about 50/50 with apple cider vinegar. I put it in a big bottle and put a few tablespoons in my hair during my shower, rinsing and repeating once. After I’m out, I towel dry my hair (it’s medium-long) and add another few tablespoons to my scalp. A few drops of oil on the ends has replaced my shampoo, conditioner, AND rehabilitated my hair after it was damaged when I was ill with copper toxicity!
Brittany @ Team Crumbs
Thank you for sharing!