No Poo FAQ & Troubleshooting
What if you don't need all those expensive, fancy products to have beautiful hair? That you can go five, 10, 15, or even 20 days between washing your hair & your hair could be cleaner than ever before. That you probably already have almost everything your hair needs to be healthy. Well friend, it’s not a fantasy! All of those things can be achieved with a natural hair care routine called “no poo”, as in “no shampoo.” Let's discuss frequently asked questions, concerns, and myths.
Note: While I love hearing from you! It's extremely difficult for me to troubleshoot via email. If you need troubleshooting help, I highly recommend joining this facebook group with over 40,000 no poo-ers and ask there.
Is your hair dirty? Does your hair stink? Do you wash your body? Do you STINK?
No, no, yes, and no.
Naturally clean, pH balanced hair doesn't smell bad (learn more about pH balanced hair care here). Before no poo, immediately after washing my hair with a fruity smelling shampoo, my hair would smell like a (synthetic) floral arrangement. But after a couple days when that smell would wear off, I’d be left with the toxic aftermath and my hair would smell a little off. Now that I have detoxed my hair and my scalp of all those nasty ingredients, my hair no longer gets “that smell” between washes. It’s the synthetic chemical buildup causing that smell. Not your hair in its natural state.
You can still add yummy, delicious, and fun scents back into your hair care routine by using essential oils if you chose. Essential oils are great for your hair & scalp health and they smell great. Some of my personal favorite essential oils for my hair are Purification, Rosemary, Ylang Ylang, Sage, and Lavender.
My hair is greasy!
When I started no poo, I didn't wake up the next day with glorious, shiny hair. It rarely happens that way. It is a journey & process that takes time. I had three full months of transition where my hair was very difficult. This transition time is your hair detoxing the chemicals and yucky ingredients that you've been using for years and it's normal for most people. A lot of people who attempt no poo don’t make it through the transition time. I promise it is worth it if you can wait it out.
During that transition, it's likely you will have a lot of greasy hair days.Dry shampoo will be your best friend! Learn how to make it here.
Can I use the No Poo Method on my child?
Absolutely. One of the goals & bonuses of no poo is that the ingredients & products are safe, natural, & nontoxic. In fact, many children start with low poo for the first couple years (a natural baby body wash / shampoo product without sulfates, parabens, etc. I like this one, this one, and this one). It would be easy to transition them to a no poo method.
No poo gave me dandruff!
Sometimes it’s not dandruff.
- Make sure you are rinsing your hair completely. Many of the products used in no poo are grainy. And if they are left in your hair, they could be mistaken for dandruff.
- Too much baking soda too often can and probably will damage your hair and scalp causing dryness. So try cutting back on the amount and frequency of baking soda.
- You can use a deep conditioner to combat a dry scalp. Learn how to create a custom deep conditioner here.
- A big part of the transition period (my transition lasted 3 months) is your hair and scalp detoxing. Sometimes this results in products actually and physically being released from your hair. So you may just be detoxing (which is a good thing!).
Sometimes it is dandruff.
Dandruff can be treated with anti-fungal products and soothed with natural ingredients.
- Essential oils – check out my favorite essential oils here. Simply add a few drops of essential oils of choice to your products as you apply them to your hair. Essential oils that hair loves include:
- Lavender (soothing)
- Cedarwood (healthy scalp and promotes hair growth)
- Peppermint (healthy scalp and promotes hair growth)
- Rosemary (healthy scalp and promotes hair growth)
- Clary Sage
- Ylang ylang
- Sandalwood (promotes hair growth)
- Lemon (photosensitive, if you have sun sensitive skin or plan on being in the sun, don't use lemon)
- Purification (my favorite essential oil ever!)
- Tea Tree (healthy scalp)
- Honey – Massage into your scalp and allow to sit for several hours. Rinse. You can do this as often as needed but at least several applications over a 2 week period.
- Apple cider vinegar – Mix with water, about a 50/50 ratio and use as a hair mask letting it sit on your scalp for 20-60 minutes, rinse. Do this up to twice a week, as long as needed.
- Probiotics – Probiotics are the good bacteria. Read all about probiotics here. Kefir or kombucha are both full of probiotics and make an excellent hair mask. I use one of those monthly. Simply massage either kefir or kombucha into your scalp and let sit for 20-60 minutes. Rinse. Repeat as often as needed. Yogurt will also work. Taking a probiotic supplement regularly may also help eliminate dandruff. My family's favorites are here and here.
My hair is falling out!
It is normal to lose up to 150 strands of hair a day. If you go a week in between rinses and brushing, you will have a week’s worth of fall out at once. Many no poo-ers think they are losing more hair, but really it’s just they aren’t shedding their hair everyday anymore through daily washes. So when they do wash, it comes out in larger quantities.
Several things could cause hair loss:
- hormones / pregnancy
- thyroid problems
- transition / detox phase
- dry or damaged hair (but this usually results in hair breaking instead of falling out at the roots)
- seasonal changes (we lose more hair when it is hot outside)
Blood circulation helps with hair growth. So massaging and scritching & preening helps. Taking omega 3’s and drinking plenty of water may help reduce hair loss.
If you are experiencing larger amounts of hair loss, it is usually a result of stress and / or diet and you should seek medical attention.
I work out a lot and sweat. Can I no poo?
Yep! Sweat is water soluble, so the water only method might work well on gym days. You can always mix different methods so use the water only method most days and then wash it with another method as needed.
What about swimming & chlorine?
Don’t use baking soda to wash your hair after swimming in chlorine. Use other no poo methods. If you are able to, wet your hair with regular water from the shower before you swim. Your hair will be saturated with clean water and unable to soak up as much chlorine.
What about salt water?
Salt water can actually be good for your hair and a lot of people like the effects it has on their hair. But it can also be drying. You can wet your hair with clean water before you swim so it is saturated and doesn’t soak up as much salt water. Then rinse it with regular clean water after you swim. If your hair gets dry from the salt, you can do a conditioning rinse like aloe or coconut oil. Learn more about deep conditioning here.
My hair is not like yours. I have <enter your hair type here> (curly, thick, African American, blonde, red, short, colored, grey, etc., etc., etc.). Can I no poo?
Yep! But your routine will probably be different than mine. You will have to do some trial and error to find what works for you. There are lots of bloggers and facebook communities that discuss no poo. Find some people with your hair type so you can discuss what works with them.
Any tips for curly hair?
Curly hair and straight hair have different needs. People with curly hair have a few guidelines (as always, these are generalities and aren’t the rule for everyone):
- Avoid baking soda and castile soap. They are too harsh for your hair.
- Use a deep conditioner often.
- Curly hair usually has low porosity.
- Many people with curly hair prefer not to brush their hair. You can still scritch and preen using your fingers. Curly hair typically responds well to a bamboo comb.
- Aloe vera gel is a good gel and detangler for curly hair. A general dilution is 1 teaspoon aloe to 1 cup of water (but adjust to your preference).
- Curly hair responds well to rhassoul and kaolin clay.
No poo & hair color
You can color your hair and use a no poo method. A few things to consider:
- Chemical dyes are full of chemicals. If you want to embrace no poo completely, use a natural dye like henna.
- How you wash the dye out of your hair will depend on your hair, your dye, your water, etc. Some people use a commercial shampoo to wash the dye out and then return to their no poo routine. Some people just use a vinegar rinse.
- I do not dye my hair with chemical dyes and cannot give personal testimonials. But I have heard great reviews of egg washes, vinegar rinses, and deep conditioning on dyed hair. In general, I have heard negative reviews of using baking soda on dyed hair.
Can I blow dry my hair / use a straightener / curling iron / heat / etc.?
Yep, it’s your hair! I have heard from quite a few no poo-ers who use heat styling tools on their hair. For starters, many no poo-ers only wet their hair when they wash it. And they only wash it every 10+ days (in general). When they wash it, they will style it with heat styling tools. So their hair is only exposed to the heat 2-3 times a month.
It is of note that the heat can damage, dry out, and/or break your hair. I personally avoid using heat on my hair for the most part. Since I get my hair wet so infrequently, I plan my washes for when I know I have time to let it air dry (mostly at night). I will use heat curling tools on special occasions a couple times a year.
What about hard water?
Hard water has a lot of minerals (mostly calcium and magnesium) in it. These minerals can cause waxy build up on your hair (an applesauce mask is good to get rid of wax buildup). In general, hard water does not work well for baking soda, castile soap, or water only. Many no poo-ers with hard water have good success collecting and using rain water. You can also install a water filter to your shower head. I have heard the most positive testimonials with hard water using the following (I don’t have hard water and haven’t experienced it. This is based on conversations with people that do have hard water.):
- Soap nuts
- Egg wash
- Clay (rhassoul in particular)
- DIY recipes with honey, aloe, and/or coconut milk
What do you do when you get your hair cut?
I cut my own hair. I started cutting my own hair years ago for budget reasons, not for no poo reasons. And once I saw how easy it is, I decided to keep doing it. But you can still go to a salon if you are no poo.
- You can ask your stylist to rinse your hair only and not use shampoo.
- One shampoo is not going to set you back very much. You will not have to go through transition again. So if you want to get the full salon treatment, you can.
How do you get the vinegar smell out of your hair?
Most people report that the vinegar smell is gone by the time their hair dries. But I have heard some complaints that the smell never goes away. Here are some things you can try if your hair smells like vinegar:
- Dilute your vinegar more. I do about a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. You can go as low as a 20/80 mix.
- Try a different brand of vinegar. I like Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar.
- Add essential oils to your vinegar. You can add 10-15 drops of essential oils to about a cup of vinegar / water mix.
- You can spray your hair with an essential oil / water mix after you rinse the vinegar out. Don’t rinse the essential oils out, leave them in your hair. You can add about 10-15 drops of essential oils to about a cup of water in a spray bottle.
Pregnancy and No Poo
When you are pregnant, you go through a lot of hormonal changes and your hair definitely shows it. When I became pregnant, it was like my hair was going through transition all over again. My hair had just…..changed. It took a couple months of trial and error to figure out what my hair needed. And everyone’s hair will react differently while pregnant. For me:
- I found that what worked best for me was to use my boar bristle brush a lot more often than I had been (everyday instead of just 2-3 times per week).
- I needed to go back to washing with baking soda & rinsing with apple cider vinegar. I had been using rye flour before pregnancy.
- I could go longer between washes.
Your results and hair needs will be different. It's a fun and safe science experiment you can do with your hair! Have fun experimenting!