The Top 7 No Poo Mistakes
There are an average of 15 toxic chemicals in a bottle of commercial shampoo. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, allergies, fertility problems, autoimmune disorders, and hormonal disturbances. I choose to avoid those chemicals by using the no poo method. 

Lots of people attempt no poo and lots of people fail. I get lots of messages from people asking me to help troubleshoot their method. Here are the most common mistakes I've seen and how to correct them.

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. 

What Is No Poo?

"No poo" simply means that I don't use commercial shampoo.  Natural, nourishing, healthy ingredients are what make natural, nourished, healthy hair. The idea that your hair needs chemicals to be healthy is crazy! And frankly, the commercial shampoo marketers are genius to convince us of that.

Mistake #1: Too much baking soda

Baking soda is the most popular no poo wash. But too much, too often will damage your hair. And it could damage it quickly. How much you need will vary from person to person. Here are 2 ways to use baking soda:

  • Paste method: 
    • Keep your baking soda in a small container with a lid in your shower. 
    • When you wash your hair, get a small amount (will vary based on needs, about a teaspoon) in your palm. 
    • Mix with water to make a paste. 
    • Massage into your scalp for a few minutes.
    • Rinse.
  • Spray method: 
    • This method is more popular. 
    • Mix about one tablespoon of baking soda in about one cup of water. You can warm the water to dissolve the baking soda if needed. Store in a spray bottle. This amount will last one to three applications (depending on your hair). 
  • For either method:
Too much baking soda could damage your hair. If your hair becomes dry or damaged from using this method, then you are probably using too much baking soda, too often. I recommend trying a different no poo method without baking soda.  


Mistake #2: Using the wrong method for your hair type

The phrase “the no poo method” is a little misleading. There isn’t just one no poo method; there are lots of different methods. When I say "no poo", most people think of the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method. However, I could interview 100 no poo-ers and there is a good chance that not a single one of them follow the same routine. Everyone has different hair needs and wants different results.

Many people start no poo with great intentions but quickly quit because they were using the wrong method for their hair type. Baking soda is not for everyone. A major factor in no poo-ing successfully is finding the right method for you by finding out more about your hair characteristics. The important characteristics are:

I have low porosity, low density, fine, straight hair. My personal favorite method is the rye flour method. Simply make a past with equal parts rye flour and water, massage into your hair and scalp, rinse. Easy peasy. Read more about rye flour and other methods here.


Mistake #3: Not committing enough time to make it through transition

If you have been using commercial shampoo for your entire life (and most of us have), your hair has a lot of buildup and toxins. It took a lifetime to accumulate it, it will take awhile to get rid of it. It took my hair 3 full months to transition. It takes most people 1-6 months to fully detox their hair. This is what I experienced (everyone responds differently during transition):

  • The 1st month: My hair was very, very, very, very greasy. Always and constantly.
  • The 2nd month: My hair had a lot of static.
  • The 3rd month: A lot better, but still a little frizzy.
  • The 4th month: My hair was better than ever! It was a long 3 months, but it was worth about 90 bad hair days!
Many people that start no poo quickly give up because they think it isn't working for them. Actually, it's the transition phase that isn't working for them. Transition is hard and may take a long time. Most people that make it through transition never go back to commercial shampoo.

My bff during transition was dry shampoo. Dry shampoo stretched out the time I could go between washes and absorbed the oil on greasy hair days. Learn how to make dry shampoo for your hair color here.


Mistake #4: Thinking it's dandruff

Often 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.
  • 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’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 to soothe– 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:
  • 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 hereKefir 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.

Mistake #5: Thinking your 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.

Some things could cause hair loss:

  • stress
  • diet
  • 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 (learn about that here). 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, diet, or a medical condition and you should seek medical attention.

Mistake #6: Not rinsing your hair well enough

No poo ingredients can sometimes be tricky to get out of your hair. Coconut oil, eggs, honey, yogurt, kefir, baking soda, bentonite clay, and rye flour are just a few of the ingredients you can use to wash and condition your hair. If your hair isn't rinsed thoroughly and you have residual product in your hair, you could end up with greasy hair, itchy scalp, buildup, or limp hair. Here are a few tips:

  • Use an egg wash to get oils like coconut oil out of your hair. Learn more here.
  • Be sure your no poo method is pH balanced. Learn more here.
  • For ingredients like eggs, bananas, etc., be sure you are rinsing with luke warm or cold water so you don't cook the ingredients into your hair and scalp.
  • Learn more about the different methods and ingredients here.

Mistake #7: Not giving your scalp enough attention

In order to be a successful no poo-er, you need to pay a lot of attention to your scalp. Scritching & preening is a big part of no poo hair care. Scritching is simply massaging your scalp. Preening is pulling the natural oils from your scalp down the shaft of your hair. Learn more about scritching and preening here

Most of the time when you wash with a no poo product, you will want to focus the wash on your scalp. And when you condition your hair, you want to focus on your hair. 

Brushing your hair often is also important. This helps with natural shedding, distributing your natural oils through your hair, exfoliating your scalp, and promoting hair growth. A boar bristle brushis a popular brush for no poo-ers.

If you have a healthy scalp and use your the natural oils your scalp produces to moisturize & nourish your hair, the result will be healthy hair. However, if you have healthy hair, that doesn't necessarily translate to a healthy scalp. 

So There You Have It

Correcting one no poo mistake at a time! Since I have used the no poo method, my hair has been healthier, shinier, more manageable, and grows much faster. If you are going through the transition period, stay with it! Keep troubleshooting. It's worth the effort! 


This site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. We hope this information motivates and empowers you to make your own wellness journey decisions based on your own research and partnership with your healthcare provider.
 If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult a health professional prior to use. Information on this site should not replace or substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The statements here have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.