Going "Natural"

Back to Basics: How to go “No ‘Poo”

Ok, first I’d like to apologize for the lack of photos in this post, as well as the extreme length of what’s to follow; but I realized that a lot of the basic information on how to go without shampoo and conditioner is a bit chopped up on here (and on the internet… yeah, it’s a sh#@ show out there for those of you researching going no ‘poo), so I’ve decided to condense the necessary info into one post (think of it as the Campbell’s soup version of no ‘poo info — dense, but all you’ve ever needed.  Minus the water and microwave…)

First things first, I recommend brushing your hair before getting into the shower to assist in the detangling process (as, remember, you’re not going to have the detangling power of conditioner on your side).

Here’s what you’ll need to go no ‘poo (seriously, who the F named this movement??):

-Baking soda
-Apple Cider Vinegar
-2 squeeze bottles (I use two 8 oz ones I found in the travel section at Target — 99¢!)
-Tablespoon measure
-Any additives you want to add to the Apple Cider Vinegar rinse (see ADDITIONS TO THE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR RINSE discussion below)


Ok, onwards and upwards.


Use 1 tbsp. baking soda mixed with 1 cup (8 oz) water.  Make sure to shake up the mix before applying it to your hair, as the baking soda tends to settle at the bottom of the bottle.  I like to use one of those 8 oz squeeze bottles I found at Target in the travel section (99¢!  Can’t beat that.)  for this and the Apple Cider Vinegar rinse.

Wet your hair thoroughly.  Squeeze the baking soda rinse over your hair, paying particular attention to your roots (as the baking soda is what will keep your hair from becoming a greasy mess over the course of the week, so put it where it counts).  Once the entire mixture is on your hair, comb through your hair with your fingers or a comb.  Make sure to massage your scalp as this step is important in making sure your scalp gets clean, which will give your hair greater volume once dry.  I like to use a comb for this step as it helps keep my hair untangled as well.

Leave the rinse on your hair for 30 seconds to 1 minute (or longer if you find your hair is getting very greasy throughout the week), then rinse well.  When I say rinse well, I’m not joking (I know, if I was it would be HILARIOUS).  If you don’t rinse adequately, some baking soda can be left on your scalp which will leave you with an itchy head until your next wash (“Um, ew, do you have lice???”)  Yeah, neither fun nor funny.


The basic recipe for this is 1/2 – 1 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with 1 cup (8 oz) water.  You can increase or decrease the amount of vinegar based on your hair’s reaction (add more if you find your hair is dry — 1 tbsp; add less if it’s on the oily side — 1/2 tbsp).

After cleansing and rinsing, squeeze the Apple Cider Vinegar mix over your hair, then comb through.  With this mix, you may want to pay more attention to the ends of your hair as this is what generally needs more moisture.  Once you’ve let the mixture sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute, rinse well.  (I rinse this mix out with cool water as I’ve heard it increases shine.  Whether this is actually true or not, I have no idea; so, experiment and decide for yourself.)

REMEMBER: Though you may be turned off by the smell of the vinegar in the shower (I call it “Romaine fresh”), the smell will not stay on your hair (even if you don’t rinse the vinegar out). Once your hair is dry, it will smell normal (unless you style it with something weird after the fact. Gross.  I mean… no judgment.)

You can adjust the Apple Cider Vinegar mix as follows based on how your hair is reacting to the natural diet:

If your hair is EXTRA DRY AND/OR CURLY/VERY PRONE TO TANGLES: comb the ACV rinse through your hair and don’t rinse it out.  Leaving the rinse on your hair will help maintain moisture as well as act as a detangler.

If your hair is DRY: comb the ACV rinse through your hair and do a very quick rinse (like, if you were being graded on how thoroughly you’re rinsing your hair — A, being totally rinsed — you’d basically get a D… or an F+.  Don’t worry, you won’t be graded in real life on this…  If you are, I don’t know what to tell you; other than your home life sounds weird.)

A note for those of you who experience dry hair on this diet. If you’ve left the ACV rinse on your hair (no rinsing) and still experience dryness, you can cut down the Baking Soda rinse to once a week(or less), or even cut out the Baking Soda rinse altogether, as this is the part of the routine which is drying.  Know that if you up the number of times per week you use the ACV rinse, it may actually be more drying for your hair (thus, why you should cut down on the baking soda, rather than up the ACV).

If your hair is NORMAL: comb the ACV rinse through your hair and rinse thoroughly.

If your hair is OILY: squeeze the ACV mix over the ends of your hair and avoid your roots (as this is where your excess oil is coming from).

If your hair is EXTRA OILY: skip the ACV rinse altogether.  (However, after a week or two on the natural diet, your scalp should re-adjust itself to not be so greasy so you should be able to add the ACV rinse back into your routine.  See below.)

A note for those of you who experience oily hair on this diet: this should be temporary.  Shampoo is basically a detergent which strips your hair of its natural oils (the very oils hair needs to regulate itself and look healthy and shiny).  On the natural diet, your natural oils aren’t stripped away when you wash.  Because of this, your scalp might over-produce these oils for a week or two while adjusting to the no ‘poo.  Know that the greasy period should be temporary, and stick it out (maybe with a hat or two).


You can add a number of things to the ACV rinse to cut down on the “salad smell” and/or add to the natural benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar.

Herbs: (information below comes from this site)

Burdock: great for thinning hair, dry, irritated scalp, dandruff, and seborrhea
Calendula: conditions
Catnip: Promotes healthy hair growth (among other hilarious benefits…)
Chamomile: a healing and soothing herb to soften hair, soothe the scalp, lighten, condition, and stimulate growth
Horsetail: Helps brittle hair due to its high silica content
Lavender: useful for all hair types it stimulates hair growth, and de-greases
Marigold: lightens hair color
Nettle: conditions, improves color and texture, helps with dandruff, irritated scalp, and dry scalp
Parsley: enriches hair color and gives a nice luster
Plantain: great for dry, irritated scalp, dandruff, and seborrhea
Peppermint: stimulates the scalp
Rosemary: excellent for all hair types and problems it acts as a tonic and conditioner, one of the best herbs to use, gives luster and body, stimulates growth, helps with dandruff, and brings out dark highlights in the hair
Sage: traditionally used to restore color to graying hair, excellent for week hair
Saw Palmetto: good for hair thinning and hair loss
Thyme: good for oily hair, dandruff, and mild hair loss
Witch Hazel: leaves and bark are astringent and cleanse oily hair
Yarrow: for oily hair
Yucca: Navajos swear by yucca root to prevent hair loss and to cure dandruff

For these, the rinse will be made from the actual herbs (not essential oils). You can use dried or fresh herbs. As a reference, if making a Rosemary rinse, use 2 sprigs, approximately 5 inches each, of fresh Rosemary; or use 1 tbsp. dried Rosemary in 1-2 cups water. If using loose herbs, use a teabag (or something similar); or strain your mix before using (because, really, is that a thyme leaf in your hair?) A coffee filter is helpful for this. Also, you can steep your herbs in boiling water (15 minutes minimum), or simply leave them in hot tap water (overnight at least, 2 weeks is ideal — seriously). Remember, the longer the herb sits in the mix, the more concentrated the beneficial effects of the herb will be in the rinse.

Essential Oils:

Do your research on essential oils before adding them in to your ACV rinse, as some essential oils can irritate your skin if not used correctly. Lavender essential oil (which I use in my rinse) is one of the few essential oils which can be used directly on your skin.  If you decide to use an essential oil in your rinse, MAKE SURE that it is pure and not the cheaper “fragrance oil” or “nature identical oil.” Although this is the most expensive part of the natural diet (if you opt to use one), you only need one drop (yes, that’s right, 1 drop) in the ACV rinse; so that little vial that cost you somewhere between $9 and $30 will last you a whopping 3 years.

Where to buy: essential oils are not super common, but can be found at health food stores like GNC or Whole Foods, or online. I got mine at The Vitamin Shoppe (I have no idea why it’s called “Shoppe”; last time I checked it wasn’t an old-fashioned candy store) $8.99 for .5 oz of lavender essential oil.

I think that’s pretty much all the info you need.  This will be one of the last no ‘poo/go natural posts, as the month is nearly over and I will be making the transition to my next 30 day challenge very soon.  If you have any additional questions, post a comment or email me (I’ll get back to you, I promise).

I hope you all try going no ‘poo for 30 days; and if you do, I’d love to hear how it works for you!  Good luck (and, more importantly, good hair!)

0 thoughts on “Back to Basics: How to go “No ‘Poo”

  1. Beth

    Hey Chelsea!
    Bravo for braving the “no poo” challenge. Any idea how this works for those of with colored hair? (Read highly processed, highlights every 6-8 weeks?) I’ve found a pretty good natural system, but would love to simplify things further. Hope things are well!

    1. chelseagofor30 Post author

      Hi Beth! Based on my research, the colored hair arguments are inconclusive at best. Some say it strips your color faster, others say it’s the same as with shampoo/conditioner, and others say it helps them keep their color longer because the wash their hair less (1-2 times per week as opposed to 3-7 times per week). My hair isn’t colored, so I’m not sure. If I get my finances back in order and start coloring again I’ll give an update. So nice to hear from you!

  2. Kat

    Thanks for creating detailed, easy to understand directions for going no poo (with you on the name–gah)! I’m saving this for when I finish off my (last?) 2 bottles of shampoo.

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