This method to wash your hair naturally without shampoo works wonderfully. I made the switch years ago & it’s been great – no shampoo & no greasy hair! Learn my exact method plus how to make your own natural shampoo bar.
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 as I did.
But making the decision to go shampoo free has had great benefits! Now that we’ve been ‘poo free for over a year, I thought it was time to share my secret tricks with you!
Is it good to wash your hair without shampoo?
I don’t have anything personal against shampoo per se, but I choose to not use shampoo for two reasons:
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?
Quality shampoos also 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.
How I Wash My Hair Without Shampoo – Ways to Wash Your Hair Without 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. While I was figuring out my own version of no ‘poo, my hair never LOOKED greasy. Which means I did not need dry shampoo, or a hat or a ponytail.
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.
My Favorite Soap for Washing Hair Naturally
Switching to soap alone doesn’t make your hair care routine any better. You have to choose a soap that doesn’t contain junky ingredients.
- You can make your own herbal shampoo bar or even liquid herbal shampoo.
- Use goat milk soap from Bend Soap Company. I already use it on my face and body (and for laundry and cleaning the tubs!).
- Or 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 Naturally
- Get Your Hair Wet.
- Scrub Your Scalp for 1-2 minutes. 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. Be sure to get the crown (the top/back part of your head) and your hairline in front.
- Rub the soap over your scalp and massage. 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, then massage the bubbles all around your head just like you would as if you used shampoo. When you’re done washing, rinse!
- Use a natural conditioner. A 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!
- Brush your hair. When your hair is wet, comb through with a wide-toothed comb. 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.
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!
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Can you wash hair with just water?
You could but I wouldn’t recommend it. I personally have loved the soap method. It is toxin-free and I feel like my hair is clean.
How do you get rid of greasy hair without shampoo?
Simple: scrub your scalp! This is key to getting your hair to not feel greasy. Your scalp has natural oil production, and scrubbing helps cleanse your hair. You cannot skip this step.
Can you wash your hair without shampoo, using only conditioner?
I personally would not recommend this. Conditioners are meant to close the cuticles of your hairs, making your hair soft, shiny and manageable. Washing your hair with soap helps get your hair clean. Using the conditioner process alone would probably leave your hair extra greasy.
Hacks for Washing Hair Without Shampoo
The method I outlined above works, so here’s my straightforward troubleshooting guide:
- Greasy or oily hair? You didn’t scrub well enough.
- If your hair is tangled, use conditioner.
- Does your hair feel like it has 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!
What I learned from years without shampoo
Going without shampoo, I’ve noticed my hair is stronger, softer, and has natural volume!
Grass-fed collagen is known to help your hair and nails grow long and strong, so I recommend including this as part of your natural hair care routine if you struggle with thin, breaking hair. I added one scoop each day to my natural hair-care routine and my hairdresser couldn’t get over how much my hair had grown in just 12 weeks! I thought the extra length was just in my head, but her comment was proof that collagen really does work!
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!
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, depending on your hair type. Your hair could have tons of natural volume that you never knew existed because shampoo and conditioner were weighing it down (that’s me!).
If you like having a nice scent in your hair, you can add a natural smell to your hair by choosing a scented bar of soap. You can also make homemade linen spray with essential oils and use it on your hair when it’s dry.
Just got my Bend Soap this week and a boar’s hair brush. I love it so far the only issue I am having is static in my hair, after washing and using the brush. Any ideas? I read somewhere about honey but not sure if that is in the wash stage or condition stage?
Hi Kerri! Have you tried homemade conditioner? Here what we use: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2015/02/diy-homemade-conditioner/
Try in the shower first to see if that helps. If not, spray lightly on your hair after you brush (when it’s dry) and finger through or use a wide-toothed comb. Enjoy!!
I have used your apple cider vinegar recipe for conditioner, but just had a thought. I have medium, long hair. Should I soap all the way to the ends or just the scalp area when washing. Last night I used just the soap on scalp and no conditioner and this morning doesn’t seem to have static. Not sure if it was the only soaping the scalp or not using conditioner this time. (Or maybe my hair just adjusting since I have reached the 1 week mark 😉
Hi Kerri! Whether you soap all the way down depends on how dirty your hair is, and the texture. Some people can get away with skipping the “rest” of the hair half the time, doing just the scalp every other wash. So many variables –
including weather too! My hair was NEVER “poofy” because of humidity until I stopped using shampoo, lol. I’d say keep testing, trying to limit the causes to just one so you know the true cause. And your hair will continue to adjust after the one week mark too, but that’s where I personally was passed the in-between stage.
Do you think this method would work well in areas with hard water? I live in an area with very hard water, and have been having issues with build-up with regular shampoos. Has anyone tried the soap method in hard water?
I think it would Helen. I don’t know how hard our water is, but it’s definitely not soft. I thought someone else left a comment about it working in hard water too. It’s worth a shot!
I am a woman of color and do not have the oil problem, in fact my hair tends to be dry and I have had to put oil based conditioner on my scalp and hair to counteract the dryness and breakage. After finding out about what is in most of those products I searched and discovered ACV. I didn’t want to spend the money on ACV if I didn’t have to and then I found out about using a kombucha rinse. I make my own kombucha and I set aside a separate bottle and only put rosemary in it because I found out online that the herb rosemary is good for the hair. I let that sit and continue to ferment for at least 2 months, longer if I can, and decant the herb out of it. I pour a bit into a cup and add water and use it as just a rinse. No poo at all. I make my own hair conditioner out of organic coconut oil with lavender or geranium essential oil added. Both multipurpose oils that I keep on hand for many applications. The geranium is excellent as an insect and tick repellant which is handy to have when you live in a rural setting. It was a really easy transition for me because I was in the habit of really giving my scalp a work out when I washed it because I was prone to dandruff when my scalp was really dry. I have been no poo for a couple of years. I just give my scalp a good scrub while applying the rosemary kombucha making sure to work my hair over also. Really inexpensive – the cost of 8 teabags and a cup of sugar gives me a bottle of rinse that can last 2 months depending how often I “rinse” and also several bottles of a healthy beverage to drink.
I love this idea Fayette! I brew kombucha, and never thought of using it as a rinse. And the idea of adding geranium EO is brilliant! What a great way to naturally repel bug without even trying!
Maybe somebody already asked this (I didn’t real ALL of the comments)… I have curly hair, so brushing is not an option after it dries, and I’m kind of a germaphobe, so I just can’t go to bed without a thorough shower… Would this work well for every day? I tend to have dry hair, not greasy (which is pretty typical for curly hair) if that matters…
I have greasy hair, not dry Amanda, so you might want to search (control + F) for “dry” on this page to see if another commenter has shared about their daily experience with this method. I personally do this daily, and haven’t had any issues!
I don’t recall seeing Bend soap in Canada. it sounds like a wonderful product. I use a bar soap called Kiss My Face. It’s an olive oil soap and I use it for everything! Shampoo and follow with an ACV rinse, wash my body and face, my son uses it as a shaving soap, I use it for hand washing my dishes and even grate it into my laundry in place of laundry detergent and I use it for washing down cupboards, table and chairs, doors, etc. I even tried it in my dishwasher once and it wasn’t too bad. I love finding products that can be used for more than one use and also saving the $$’s in not having to buy multiple products. I just found you blog today and since I’m down with a cold I spent most of the day reading it. I really enjoy it and your wonderful sense of humor.
So glad you found us Kathryn – welcome to Crumbs!!
You can buy Bend Soap online. I live in Canada too and just order it online, they are a wonderful company with fantastic natural products! Great for sensitive skin.
thanks for this awesome article! I love Bend Soap too but haven’t tried using it yet as a shampoo. when you say “scrubbing the entire scalp” can you describe a bit more what that is like? like just using your fingers to scrub while your hair is wet?
You’re very welcome Esther! When I say “scrub,” I mean use your finger tips and rub really hard while you’re in the shower. You don’t have to go really hard forever though, just during the first few weeks as your hair adjusts. The best way I can describe the scrubbing is this: you know how when you have a stain on the carpet and the spot remover says to “scrub with a clean towel”? You’re doing the same type of scrubbing on your scalp. 🙂
I am so loving your blog! I ordered Bend soap when you recently let us know bulk sales were on. The first day I used it on my face, it was fabulous. I have been recently going no poo with only rye flour and vinegar, which works well, but after several weeks the sebum builds up and I had to do something and started using Lush shampoo soaps. Too pricey for regular use though. But after reading your blog, as soon as I finish the Lush bar I’m switching to Bend. It is so great on my face; I have no doubt it will be awesome on my hair. Thank you for sharing Bend with us and all your tips!!!
You’re so welcome Carolina, and I’m so glad you’re enjoying Bend Soap! I L.O.V.E. their soap, and definitely make a point to stock up when they have these bulk sales. I’ve even taken sample bars to my hairdresser because she was amazed that I didn’t use shampoo AND she struggles with acne too. Winter is a great time to switch too!!
Hi! I read your post on how you turned the soap into a liquid face cleaner-do you think that would also work as a liquid shampoo/body wash? I’ve never liked using bar soap, but if I could turn a bar soap into a liquid soap, that would work out great!
You sure can Katie! It will have a different texture for suds and foaming, because it’s all-natural, but it works just as well!
Hi Tiffany! Thank you for your informative article. I have just ordered the Bend soap and I’m excited to start this no ‘poo method as soon as it arrives. I’m compleyely new to this natural way so I have a question: How do I scrub? Do I just use fingers or need a wash cloth or loofah?
Hi Esperanza! Congrats on your order – I know you’ll love it! As for scrubbing, just use your fingertips! I use a wash cloth for my face to exfoliate, but for hair, your fingers (or knuckles, if the fingers get tired) will do the job!
A few months ago I tried using bar soap on my hair, thinking it might be great. Unfortunately, the results were horrible! It took two hair washings to get the nasty weird feeling out (I wash it every other day). I was so bummed! (I used Kirk’s Castile soap). I have tried all sorts of natural shampoos and even made my own, but nothing really works. My hair has become extremely oily over the past year, and I’m super frustrated with it!! I do get my hair highlighted, but I can’t bring myself to live with my natural hair color…it’s mousy and boring. But between hair appointments, I want to go as natural as possible, while actually being able to control the oil production. So all that to say, thank you for this post! I’m excited to try this soap! I’m really hoping it works.
I hope it works for you too Alicia! I think scrubbing your scalp is VITAL, and rinsing with ACV helps if you experience build up. Remember that your hair won’t feel the same as you’re used to, so give it a few weeks before deciding!
I took your advice and used Bend soap on my hair for several months with great results. Then, we moved to a state with VERY hard water. Like, there is a thick layer of mineral buildup on the bottom of our tea kettle :/ So the soap stopped working, and my hair always felt sticky after I washed it. I caved and bought some “natural-ish” shampoo/conditioner. Any ideas?
I have a couple thoughts – one is that it can take time for you and your hair to adjust to different environments. My hair did great in CA, but then got that same sticky here in GA. I kept going though, making sure to SCRUB my scalp and then started using the ACV leave-in conditioner. After about a week, it went back to normal like nothing happened!
Do you use or suggest anything for frizz? I live in humid Texas and even though I’ve only used the bar soap washing method twice now, I’m noticing more frizz than with shampoo. It may just take time, or do you have any sneaky tricks or products?
Do you know how this method would work on ethnic hair? I would love to switch, and will for myself, but I wasn’t sure if it would work for the rest of our family. Our kids are a quarter black. Our oldest has extremely curly hair that tends to get dry. Any suggestions for how I could use a method like this for them?
Hi Jena – I have no experience with ethnic hair, I’m sorry! Hopefully someone else can chime in here and help. 🙂
I do not have “ethinc” hair, but it is naturally curly and dry. I’ve been “no poo” since 2006 (there were a couple times, visiting friends, that I used regular shampoo and I regretted it later!). It’s been a process for me to figure out what works best for my hair.
Soap doesn’t really work for me, because my scalp isn’t oily. Although I haven’t tried Tiffany’s method – I might just to see.
I do occasionally (every 1-2 months) use baking soda that has been dissolved first, rinsing extremely well, and then followed up with a vinegar rinse (about 2 Tbl apple cider vinegar to 1 qt of water. I actually do this over a bowl in the sink and run it through my hair a couple times and then put it in the fridge for next time.)
I pretty much stick to the Curly Girl method, which is cleansing with conditioner. I still need to try making homemade, but the last store-bought I got was Tres Semme’s Natural kind, as it has fewer of the nasties in it. The Curly Girl book (and look online, too) has recommendations for all variations of curly/wavy hair, and includes recipes for different hair products.
Thanks so much! Someone very recently gave me the Curly Girl book. I haven’t had a chance to open it yet. I’m excited to check it out. I have curly hair, but not like my daughter’s. She has the most amazing curls. She doesn’t always like them. So maybe figuring out how to make them look and feel better will help her love them. I appreciate your help!
Yes! I follow the Curly Girl method as well and am interested in trying Tiffany’s bar soap idea. I have found that scrubbing my scalp (a couplea times a week) first with (the best I can find) rinse-out conditioner and then using a small amount of some sort of cleanser , and then using the vinegar rinse….and then a leave in conditioner to finish had been helpful….but it’s still dry.
This is exactly how I wash my hair! I couldn’t find any shampoos I was happy with as far as the ingredients and the price, so I figured why not just use my natural soap bars? So far, it has worked for me. I love getting out of the shower feeling like my hair is actually clean, and not full of chemicals!
Isn’t it awesome! 🙂
I’ve been using pure African black soap bars on my hair for a couple of years now. It’s great! The only downside is that my scalp has a bit of a funky smell. I’ll try the linen spray you suggested.
Does the soap co. you use offer discounts occasionally or have small samples? I’d like to try them out.
I just purchased several of the travel size bars to try them out. They were very reasonable and I figured I would just do that for a bit while I search for a “favorite.”
Are there any bar soap brands you would recommend for those with psoriasis or eczema on their scalp? I do wonder if the shampoo I use is making that worse, rather then helping it. I think it’s entirely possible!
Absolutely – Bend Soap! They created their soap b/c their son had severe eczema and broke out in rashes on even the most “gentle and natural” soaps. If you have any skin issues, I highly recommend their soaps (and no I’m not getting paid to say this, I just really truly love their products that much!).
Pure olive oil soap works the best with my ezcema. Kiss My Face is the purist I have found. No more bleeding sores, itchiness or dandruff either.
I still get my hair highlighted professionally every 5-6 weeks. Will this work on treated hair?
I would think so Marilyn, and I want to say that I remember another reader saying she used goat milk soap it on her color treated hair without issue. The vinegar rinse might do something, but you could always skip that. 🙂
How long does a bar of soap last when using it on your hair?
I only have to wash my hair every three or four days, and I use a pretty natural shampoo. But I’m always on the look out for other options. I have tried no-poo too and that didn’t seem to work for me.
I cut each bar in half and each half lasts me 3-4 weeks for both hair and body, for both me and my daughter. So one bar is maybe 6-8 weeks? I’ll mark the calendar on this the next time I start a new bar. 😉
Do you use the regular no smell soap from Bend Soap or do you use a “flavored” one? If you do use the ones with added fragrance, which ones are your favorites? I could easily see us switching to soap instead of shampoo for our hair. Plus, my mom lives right outside Bend, so I could stock up when we go! 😉
Hi Missie! I use scented ones and like the ones that have some sort of mint. If you mom is local, she can smell all the different scents!
Where is Bend made and can I buy it through them rather than in the store
I found going every second day without washing for one week and then then trying every three days for 2 weeks and then I went once every 4 days seemed to really help. My hair is NOT greasy by the fourth day. Our hair makes oils and the more we wash it the more it makes.
I’m glad this worked for you Shannon, but it didn’t for me. 🙁 Maybe my scalp produces more oils than others, but skipping just one day made my hair greasy – hence the reason for finding better soap!
Same with me Tiffany….I have always had greasy hair and about 5 years ago I really hurt my back…I could hardly move, so I was showering like once a week, it hurt that much to stand up, and my hair was a grease pit. This went on for about a month and my hair didn’t change. I’ve tried since because I’ve heard from others to not wash hair every day and this winter I tried it again. You can wear a toque to cover up the mess eh??? Nothing doing. I’ve had to wash my hair every day since puberty and I’m still having to wash it every day. I’ve used a bar of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for the last few years and my hair while not less greasy does look and feel better. We all use the castile bar for washing our hair and our bodies. I think that if you’re destined to have greasy hair, ya will…..:-) One bonus is that I’m almost 60 and I barely have crows feet so the greasy skin is good for something. That’s what I keep telling myself…..LOL
I just tried this yesterday and it totally worked! I did use goats milk soap and the diluted ACV conditioner. I couldn’t believe it! My hair wasn’t greasy anymore, it was soft, and had the same or better volume than with shampoo. Thank you sooooo much for sharing your process!!!
I stopped shampooing my hair nearly 3 years ago. I don’t wash it with soap of any kind. Instead I mix 2 heaping tspns of baking soda in 10 ounces of warm water, pour this over my hair and “lather” it in (it makes a very light lather that rinses out in the shower). I do this JUST before I get into the shower after I am completely undressed, then I get into the shower, bathe as normal, rinse my hair, and style it as usual. My hair is WONDERFUL. It FEELS clean because it IS clean. If I want to condition it (mine is short so I don’t really have to), I put 1 TBSP white vinegar in 8 – 10 ounces of warm water and pour over my hair after rinsing out the baking soda completely. This detangles long hair. I don’t even know how much money I’ve saved on shampoo and conditioner. A box of baking soda costs about 50 cents and a bottle of vinegar costs about a dollar. I only wash my hair twice a week and only condition it once a month. My hair is very healthy and manageable. If you want it to smell really good, spritz on some essential oil diluted in water and sprayed from a fine-mist sprayer.
I am wondering if your hair is straight or curly?
hey….so is it oky if i use dettol soap…..and when rubbing ur scalp at the beggining of the process,what is used when rubbing….water alone or withe soap mixed already?
Karen @ Team Crumbs
You will want to rub your scalp with your fingertips and water alone at first before applying the bar soap.