My Shampoo-Free Experiment

I didn’t shampoo my hair for 2 1/2 months.  Sounds gross, doesn’t it?

Back in November, I mentioned that I might give going ‘poo-free a try.   Right before New Year’s, I began using baking soda and vinegar to clean my hair.

Why on earth would someone do such a thing?  Several reasons, for me.  My family history of cancer is pretty grim.  My grandma had cancer, my grandpa died of it, my dad died of it (at age 51), and now my mom is in remission from it (at not too much older than 51).  I am very much at risk.  What can I do to give myself and my children a fighting chance?  Eliminate carcinogens from our daily lives.

None of us are smokers or are exposed to smoke regularly.  We don’t drink a lot of alcohol.  We exercise regularly.  So three major risks are out of the way.  But there are still a lot of horrible things hidden in stuff we eat, stuff we put on our bodies, and in our environment.  We haven’t made any giant, life-changing leaps as a family, but our small steps in the right direction are overall indicative of life change.  We filter our drinking and shower water, we buy organic when the price isn’t prohibitive, we make most of our food from scratch.  Most recently, I have been looking at the products we put on our bodies.  Many lotions, washes, and hair products have nasty things like sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and other carcinogens.  I began by purchasing organic lotions and shampoos.  Then I started seeing blog posts about making my own (which seemed cheaper and actually, less time-consuming than driving all the way to the natural foods store in my area).

So first up, shampoo and conditioner.  I began with Simple Mom’s method (click on the word “posts” in the previous paragraph), a baking soda and water solution massaged into the scalp.  I used this method for about one week, “washing” every other day, and my hair was  Greasy, and about 12 shades darker than normal.   I apologize to all of you who saw me during that phase (which was right around when Markus was born).  I took her advice and eliminated the vinegar from the equation.  Better, but still gross.  I decided I must be in “transition time.”  After about three weeks, I was feeling so dirty that I was ready to give up, but then I tried Mrs. Boo Radley’s method (here outlined on Sorta Crunchy’s blog) and found it worked much better on my fine (yet thick), greasy hair.  I didn’t need the apple cider vinegar rinse at all, though.

After 2 1/2 months of using baking soda, I still considered Day 2 to be a “ponytail day,” and I wondered if there was another product I could try that would still be economical but do a better job.  Some people had recommended Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, so I bought a bottle online.  Can’t say I liked it!  You could have topped off your car with the oil on my head that day!  I didn’t have time to re-wash, so I put on a hat and went on with life.  Thankfully Dr. Bronner’s can be used for a million other things, so it wasn’t a waste of money.  🙂

The next day I used a little bit of my old organic shampoo.  My hair was soft, shiny and blonde again for the first time since Christmas.  It was also lifeless.

For now, I continue to “wash” with baking soda every other day, and I have added a very light apple cider vinegar rinse (about 1 tablespoon ACV to 1 cup water) now that my hair has finally gotten used to the baking soda.   And every third or fourth wash, I use my organic shampoo to get me back to a normal hair color and rid my scalp of any build-up.  My hair has much more body than it ever did with daily shampooing, and it holds styles much more easily.  It still doesn’t look fabulous the second day, like photos I’ve seen of other ‘poo-free people…anyone know if there is a remedy to that?  It’s been three months now, so I figure my transition time must be over.

You may notice I called this an “experiment” in the post title.  Since I’m not yet fully convinced that it is something I will stick with (especially if I found an organic shampoo that worked well with my hair), I still do consider it an experiment.  Only time will tell if it will become part of my routine.

Next up, my face.


9 thoughts on “My Shampoo-Free Experiment

  1. Would love to try that!! I will keep checking to see if you found anything else! 🙂

    I have pretty long hair do you think that would still work? I would love to cut out the “bad” things from our lives too. I will just work on one thing at a time 🙂


    • Hi Tonia,

      I’ve read that it worked fine for others with long hair. Mine is only shoulder-length, but it’s worked fine. They say if you concentrate on the scalp, the rest of it kind of washes down your hair when you rinse and gets it clean.

      We’ve really done one thing at a time, too. I figure we’re more likely to stick with small, gradual changes than one giant overhaul!


  2. I just switched to a sulfate free shampoo. I can’t commit to going totally ‘poo-free just yet. But I was wondering, what are you doing to shampoo Anja’s hair? My daughter is about the same age as yours.

  3. You are brave AND funny! 🙂 My hair is disgusting within 20 hours of washing, so I don’t think so. Seriously, I went to church without shampooing my hair and I was so upset by all the people hugging me! I mean if I can smell my hair (grossss) then can’t they?!
    But I understand what you are trying to do. I will either die from being slightly (ahem) overweight or from diet soda poisoning. You can’t win ’em all! 😉

  4. Poo-free intrigues me. But I am a lover of scent. I choose shampoos based solely on scent, which is unfortunate and stupid. I have very, very, very (I really can’t emphasize this enough) thick naturally curly hair and several shampoos have been unkind to it. But I smelled good.

    Luckily, I never really get greasy, or if I do it’s hardly noticeable because there is SO much hair on my noggin.

  5. You gave me a huge laugh which felt really good, topping off the car with all the oil on your head that day! I have always enjoyed your writing and still do!

  6. Heidi – I am totally inspired by your experiment and am considering trying this myself. After you post about this and homemade deodorant a few months ago, we tried some homemade stuff and liked it. With all the traveling and such the past couple of months, we ended up buying some, but I want to go back to the natural stuff. Partly because buying deodorant in this country can be an extremely frustrating, difficult experience, and largely because I’m with you on eliminating harmful things when and where we can. And it seemed to wokr pretty well! Thanks for the info and inspiration!

  7. I have been poo free for about four weeks and I love my hair. The second week felt like I was wear an oil soak mop on my head but after that it has been great. It is soft, drys really fast(it used to take forever to dry my hair even though it is thin) and curls super easy. We don’t have softened water so maybe that has been part of my success. My problem now that it is kind of dry and full of static. I am going to try some coconut oil on it and see if that helps. I don’t use any apple cider vinegar, I didn’t have any cheap apple cider vinegar and I wasn’t going to use by good raw organic stuff.

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