Anyone who has attempted to go no ‘poo (no shampoo) will tell you that the transition from shampooing daily to not shampooing at all isn’t easy.
Your hair will look greasy and dirty and you might be embarrassed when your friends ask if you’ve showered lately.
Or you’ll be equally embarrassed if they ask if there’s baby powder in your hair… just in case you try to cover up the grease like I did.
Why You Should Consider Skipping Shampoo
I don’t have anything personal against shampoo per se, but I choose to not use shampoo because of the harmful ingredients.
When you think about how often you wash your hair (every day for most people), it’s a lot of chemicals that your scalp and skin come in contact with on a regular basis. And since it’s relatively easy to avoid these chemicals, then why not do it?
Aside from the ingredients, another reason to consider not using shampoo is the cost.
By default, quality shampoos come with a higher price tag. I’ve seen some bottles cost upwards of $8 or even $12 each. One regular sized bottle won’t last long in our house, and buying in bulk will help reduce some of the cost, but it’s still really expensive.
To me, it’s an expense that can be easily reduced by using a different method to wash my hair.
Methods for Not Using Shampoo
A lot of people swear by the typical method of no ‘poo and use baking soda, but that just didn’t work for me. Instead, I found amazing results by using a bar of soap (goat milk soap, to be specific) instead of shampoo.
Going from typical shampoo to washing your hair with a bar of soap still comes with a learning process though. After all, I’m used to 30+ years of fake lather and suds, right?
It took about a week to figure out the best strategies for washing my hair, but once I figured out “the trick,” it was smooth sailing. But even while I was figuring out my own version of no ‘poo, my hair never LOOKED greasy.
No need for dry shampoo, or a hat or a ponytail.
I went to church, had dinner with friends and there wasn’t a single day when I was tempted to go back to typical shampoo. Which is a far cry from my original, horrifying experience!
My “secret tricks” to using a bar of soap were working so well, we now wash my daughter’s hair with soap too. It was fantastic even on her super long and prone-to-tangle hair when we first started, and still now as her hair grows long again.
I’ve had friends comment on my hair and my daughter’s hair too, and now that we’ve been ‘poo free for over a year, I thought it was time to share my secret tricks with you!
Choosing Your Soap
Before I dive into the nitty gritty, I want to point out that switching to soap alone doesn’t make your hair care routine any better. You have to choose soap that doesn’t contain a bunch of junky ingredients.
You can make your own herbal shampoo bar or even liquid herbal shampoo, but I personally use goat milk soap from Bend Soap Company. I already use it on my face and body (and for laundry and for cleaning the tubs!), but you can use any soap you’d like. Just know that the only ingredients required to make soap are oil and lye, so read the labels to avoid the icky stuff!
How to Wash Your Hair Without Shampoo
(1) Get Your Hair Wet.
I first thought this step was a given, but there are recipes for dry shampoo and I didn’t want to confuse anyone. So first things first, get your hair wet.
(2) Scrub Your Scalp.
Your skin naturally secretes oils. It happens all over your body – you just don’t notice it… until you stop washing your hair!
Scrubbing your scalp is absolutely vital to washing your hair without shampoo because the ingredients in shampoo are designed to strip your hair of their natural oils. If you don’t scrub your scalp, your hair will be greasy and going no ‘poo will feel like a failed attempt.
Dedicate a full 1-2 minutes of scrubbing the entire scalp before you do anything else. I do this under the water just because it’s easier to move around my head.
It’ll take practice to know how much to scrub and where you’ll need to scrub more, but be sure to get the crown (the top/back part of your head) and your hairline in front. After that, you’ll soon see and feel spots you miss (I once forgot a big spot just above my ears!).
Don’t worry – you’ll get better about not missing spots the more you scrub, and over time, your scalp will release less oils too (meaning you won’t have to concentrate so much on scrubbing every single time).
(3) Rub the soap over your scalp.
I prefer to cut the bars in half to stretch my investment in quality soap, but also because it makes the bars easier to handle in my small hands.
With wet hair and the soap in your hands, simply rub the soap against your hairline in circular strokes until you start to feel bubbles. I like to start at my forehead and work around in a circle around my head to make sure I haven’t missed a spot.
When you make it all the way around, move in about an inch away from the hairline and go around the head again. Finally, rub the soap around the crown of your head (top back part), until you feel bubbles.
Set the soap down and using your hands, massage the bubbles all around your head just like you would as if you used shampoo. If you’ve lathered your head well, this should be easy to do. If not, pick up the soap and rub against the spots you missed.
If you’ve scrubbed your head well, you won’t have to work too hard at washing your hair. If you’re not sure, feel free to scrub a little bit with the soap too.
When you’re done washing, rinse!
(4) Use a natural conditioner.
Conditioners are meant to close the cuticles of your hairs, making your hair soft, shiny and manageable. They do this with a bunch of ingredients that you don’t really need and using conditioner at this point will just add gunk that will build up over time.
Homemade conditioner will make your hair soft and pretty, but more importantly it will do the job of a traditional conditioner and prevent the “stuff” from everyday life from building up inside. It also eliminates tangles!
Between using soap and homemade conditioner, I can easily go two full days without washing my hair AND not having to pull it back. A far cry from my old routine where I had to wash every day otherwise my head was topped with a big pile of grease!
My daughter can go five days, although we do pull hers back for the sake of sanity and keeping typical child tangles to a minimum.
(5) Use the right tools.
But naturally healthy hair doesn’t stop there – you have to brush it regularly to help distribute those oils!
When your hair is wet, comb through with a wide-toothed comb. Those skinny combs that barber shops use will only tangle and break your hair and make you want to quit, so use a wide-toothed comb anytime your hair is wet.
When your hair is dry, use a brush with natural bristles like boar hair. These bristles will pick up and distribute the naturally occurring oils at the scalp throughout your hair, helping your hair to be shiny and keeping the build-up of oils at the scalp at bay.
It’s not the end of the world if you use a brush with nylon or plastic bristles, but just know that those won’t help the cause of distributing oils. Yes, they help with tangles, but that’s about all they’re good for. Invest in a good natural brush and use it daily as part of your natural hair care routine, then feel free to use a different brush for styling if you need to.
A Few Words of Wisdom
Thanks to phthalates, you’ve likely become used to the smell of shampoo. You might even buy your shampoo BECAUSE of the way it smells.
Don’t feel guilty if you do – I’ve done it too!
For most of us, we’ve been using traditional shampoo for so long that we don’t recognize what hair should REALLY smell and feel like. I’ll give you a hint: Hair!
Recognize the natural feel, smell and texture of your hair. It could be soft or it could be coarse. It could be thick or thin. Your hair could have tons of natural volume that you never knew existed because shampoo and conditioner was weighing it down (that’s me!).
As for smell, you can add a natural smell to your hair by choosing a scented bar of soap. You can also make homemade linen spray and use on your hair when it’s dry.
There was really only one week where I was actually concerned about my hair looking funny, but I finally realized on day 6 that it didn’t – it was all in my head!
The method I outlined above works, so here’s my straightforward troubleshooting guide:
- If your hair feels greasy, you didn’t scrub well enough.
- If your hair is tangled, use conditioner.
- If your hair feels like there’s build up, scrub well AND use conditioner.
- If your hair felt fine for a few days and suddenly it feels dirty, you got lazy in your scrubbing.
That’s it folks! That’s all it takes to wash your hair without shampoo!