Natural Shampoo {31 days to cleaner living}

Do you think you could ever give up your shampoo? I definitely didn’t.

Especially not after I finally grew to love my curls and found products that helped instead of hindered.

And you might be thinking, “Why do I need to bother when it’s only on my head for a minute or to?” Don’t worry, I’ve thought the same thing. But ended up deciding that I didn’t enjoy chemicals on my body for any length of time – and that the hot steamy water may be making it easier for some to be inhaled.

So I stopped washing my hair.

Washing my hair

photo credit: desiitaly

I went without shampoo and conditioner for more than a few months a couple of years ago and again last year and didn’t notice the switch all the much. It probably helps that I only use hair products (shampoo, conditioner, mousse) every few days in order to keep my hair healthy.

Yes, you read that right – your hair is healthier when you don’t wash it every day. 

The problem is, the detergents in shampoo strip the natural oils from your scalp.

The biggest natural shampoo “recipe” out there is referred to as the “no ‘poo” shampoo. Basically you take a water and baking soda mixture and rub into your scalp and rinse clean. I like adding a bit of Dr. Bronners into it every now and again for a bit of lather.

No ‘poo shampoo

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • one small squirt of Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap (very optional)

Method of Washing

Combine the baking soda and warm water in a spray or squeeze bottle and shake gently until the soda is dissolved. Once you’ve gotten your hair wet in the shower, apply to your scalp, massaging as you go. Rinse clean.

Natural Rinse

Dilute a 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of water and apply to your scalp and hair (just enough to wet it again), massage in, and rinse clean.

{we’ll cover conditioner tomorrow}

The truth

I don’t currently use this method, though I’ve meant to get back to it for some time. It was working wonderfully, really it was. I went through a short transition period where my hair was a bit more oily than normal, but it all went very well. But then our water softener ran out of salt and it took me about a week to catch it. (you can feel it as the water gets harder) Then another week or so for us to go get the salt.

In this time my hair turned into an oily mess. I tried every solution I could find on google to help me get my hair back, and it just wasn’t working. So I had to go back to shampoo and conditioner to fix it. And after that it’s been one excuse after another to not go through the, albeit short, transition period again. I just have to be really diligent on making sure we have enough salt in our softener or I’m going to have the same problems again…..

So now I use a store-bought (it’s not even that natural) shampoo and conditioner every few days, in the smallest amount possible.

I really should go back to being shampoo free – anyone want to do it with me?

For More Information:

Simple Mom – How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo

Keeper of the Home – Stephanie’s no ‘poo method


I know that many of you use this method, how has it worked for you?

If not – what natural or homemade recipe do you use?


for the full series, click here

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. Mallory Cook says:

    If you have hard water does this mean that the no poo method won’t work very well? I tried it last year and my hair never seemed to get out of a transition oily mess. :(

    donielle Reply:

    @Mallory Cook, I had horrible luck when our water was hard. It was oily and gross, my curls looked more like dreads from afar and laid really flat to my head.

    Mallory Cook Reply:

    @donielle, So you have a water softener then? I need to look into that. Is it a whole house system or how does it work? I hate how hard our water is here in Kansas :(

    donielle Reply:

    @Mallory Cook, We do have a water softener, and we needed one at our old house too. The water in our area is pretty hard and without it our appliances would only have about half the life. And I’d be cleaning all the time!

    We have a plumber friend who hooked ours up for us. Basically it’s hooked up near the main water pipe that comes into the house and all of our water goes through it. I don’t really know “how” it works, but it does! We have a fairly expensive one that I don’t like at all. :-) It’s all scheduled and hard for a normal person to figure out! At our old house we just went to Lowes and got one for a few hundred dollars – worked great and went through half the salt our current one does.

    Stacy Reply:

    @Mallory Cook,
    I tried conditioner only with our VERY hard water, with the intention of trying no-poo after that. My hair was horribly oily and messy- like I hadn’t even washed it, even after rinsing with apple cider vinegar.

    Julia Reply:

    @Mallory Cook, I don’t know about the hardness of water, but maybe try switching to a homemade shampoo and slowly using less and less until you don’t need it anymore. This worked for me a lot better than when I tried to cut out shampoo cold turkey, and using the baking soda and vinegar did not help at all! Now, after making my own shampoo out of castille soap and coconut milk, I can go 3 weeks without using it and only using water and occasionally some vinegar to moisturize. Good luck!

  2. I am currently using a soapnut shampoo I mix up. Very interesting… and I worried it wouldn’t clean “farm gunk” outta my long, straight hair. So far, so good. And no rinse needed.

    Aubrey Reply:

    @Kirsten, I’d really like that recipe if you don’t mind Kristen! I’m in the transitioning stage too where I’m trying to find something that works for our household and I’d sure like to try that mix if you dont mind! Gratzi.

  3. My experience has been the opposite while using baking soda. My hair does not get oily at all like it used to when I was using store bought regular shampoo. As an experiment I went 10 days and my hair was still not oily, but I couldn’t go any longer, it just didn’t seem right – I had to wash it. (I was still showering the rest of me, don’t worry) =) Also, sometimes my scalp has actually been too dry and flaked a little, so I have been wondering how to correct that, while still being able to wash my hair every few days. Even so I love the baking soda method aside from this (and the no scent) and plan to keep on using it. I mix it in a large cup that has a small hole for pouring, and pour it on slowly.

  4. I did no-poo for a while and liked it but then I got pregnant. I get really really sick the first 4-5 months of my pregnancies and I just felt like I needed to wash my hair every day to feel clean – hovering over a toilet multiple times a day will do that. The same with having a newborn, I liked feeling clean but this time it was a smaller person doing the spitting up. I tried again but we had moved to a place with hard water and it didn’t work. Then we fixed our water softener and I started again – only to get pregnant again! I’m not complaining but I’ve decided to go with a natural shampoo I get from vitacost and when my baby days are over, I’ll try going no-poo again.

  5. I’ve tried it all: using nothing but water (that didn’t last long), baking soda/water (dried my scalp out to use it too often), and Liggett’s shampoo bars. I liked the shampoo bars, but my hair never felt 100% clean. I still use them in a pinch. But I’ve found something even better. Now, I use the Simply Cleansing ( plain bar on my hair and couldn’t ask for better results!! It’s “lighter” than the shampoo bars and my hair feels nice and clean – and I do the baking soda rise once or twice each week.

    I find that after a lifetime of my hair refusing to do what I want it to, it now holds curl like nobody’s business – hairstylists have a reason for telling you not to wash your hair the day of having your hair done for a special event!

  6. I’ve been so tempted to do this for quite some time. Over the course of probably a year, I’ve gone from washing my hair everyday to only 2 or 3 times a week. (Better than nothing?)

    In between washes I spritz a little dry shampoo (you can sub baby powder) to keep the oil at bay. Is that defeating the purpose? My hair is blonde, thin and tends to get greasy pretty quickly.

    Janelle Reply:

    @Kerri, You should try it! =) You sound just like me, my hair is thin and blonde and would get greasy in one day. I was using dry shampoo too to combate this. After two weeks of using the baking soda my hair was great, and like I mentioned above sometimes it is even too dry. I haven’t used my dry shampoo in a year – I was just thinking yesterday I should give it away to someone!

    I think you have to watch how much baking soda you use, because maybe some people are not getting enough of the baking soda all the way to the roots, thus leaving their hair greasy? Having the baking soda/water mixture in a bottle with a pour spout works really well (maybe better than a spray bottle?) and I work it in with the other hand while pouring it out, and keep pouring until my cup (8 oz.) is empty.

    I have heard curly haired people have drier hair than straight haired people, so that makes me curious why it would be leaving their hair greasy still. Someone should try my pour method and see if it makes any difference. =) I would be interested to know.

    Kerri Reply:

    @Janelle, Might be a good time to start since I haven’t washed since Saturday… eek! I’m nervous.

    Do you know if the dry shampoo is just as damaging as washing it with shampoo? I’m definitely using it as a crutch right now :)

    donielle Reply:

    @Kerri, I think it makes it a LOT easier to switch when you only shampoo every couple of days. For those that shampoo every day, it’s going to take a lot more time for the oil production to slow.

    I guess you’ll never know till you try! :-)

  7. I have yet to go there, I have been thinking about it. I wanted to try one of those shampoo body bars. My hubby is not willing to go there yet he wants me to go there first. I am on well water which doesn’t seem very hard so this may be time to try something else out. I will probably wait until summer though when I am around less people daily.

  8. I have hard water where I am.

    I use this method, mostly. It was working great when I was pregnant and the first couple months postpartum. HOWEVER. I need way more baking soda (about 1/3 as much baking soda as water), and I had to add a few drops of either rosemary or grapefruit essential oil. It did not work for me with less baking soda or without the EO.

    Then my hair went crazy 3 – 4 months postpartum. I got some Burt’s Bees shampoo. But after once or twice that wouldn’t work either. My best solution then was to use both of them — using the “no poo” as conditioner, sort of.

    That’s not working great now either so I’ll probably go back to no ‘poo by itself.

  9. I think it has been at least a year since I stopped using shampoo. Right now I do conditioner only. However, it is store conditioner, & I haven’t found a natural option that I like any better.

  10. I’ve been using the no-poo method for about six months now. I like it for the most part, but my curly hair tends to frizz a lot more now. After a trip to a salon to get my hair cut (and being told that my hair felt brittle and dry), I’ve added a store-bought conditioner into my hair care regime. I wish I didn’t have to use that, though. Any curly-haired people out there have suggestions for hydrating hair on the no-poo method?

    donielle Reply:

    @Hillary, This post may help some –

    I plan on using a rosemary herbal rinse a few times per week as well as an oil treatment a couple times per month to keep my curls moisturized.