Before you get started with the no poo method, I have to warn you about something.
The dreaded transition phase.
Transitioning to no poo can be tough. Many people who attempt the no poo method don’t make it past the transition phase. Keep reading to get some tips to make the transition process go smoother and quicker.
What is the Transition Phase?
Transition refers to the time it takes for your hair and scalp to detox the chemicals it has been exposed to. If you have been using commercial shampoo your entire life (and most of us have), your hair probably has a lot of buildup and toxins. It took a lifetime for you to accumulate it; it will take some time to get rid of it.
It takes most people 1-6 months to fully detox their hair. How long depends on your hair type, the water you use, and how committed you are to ditching all your commercial hair products. Ditching your commercial styling products will quicken the transition process.
I don’t recommend starting your transition phase the month before you are the maid of honor in your best friend’s wedding or, honestly, before any big event. Some people transition easily & don’t skip a single good hair day. I was not one of those people.
The goal of the transition phase is to detox your scalp & let it reset to its natural sebum producing state. During this time, it’s important to go at least 4 days between washes (5-7 days is better, but 4 is a good start). Depending on your hair, this might be difficult especially since you aren’t using the products you are used to. I promise it’s necessary.
You can wet your hair between washes just don’t wash it. As you progress in the process, you will get to where you are washing every 7-20 days.
Your hair will probably get worse before it gets better. That is normal and part of the detox process.
I can’t emphasize enough that the transition phase is difficult. The majority of people that make it through this phase love the no poo method & very few ever go back to commercial shampoo.
This is what I experienced (everyone responds differently during transition):
- The 1st month: My hair was very, very greasy. Always and constantly.
- The 2nd month: My hair had a lot of static. I looked like I stuck my
- finger in an electric outlet every morning.
- The 3rd month: A lot better, but frizzy.
- The 4th month: My hair was back and better than ever!
It was a long three months, but it was worth about 90 bad hair days!
Tips for a Smooth Transition
I really wish I had this list of tips when I got started! Here are some things I learned during my transition phase:
Tip #1: Learn Your Hair Type & Characteristics
- Everyone has different hair types and desires different results. Curly hair has different needs than straight hair. Oily hair has different needs than dry hair. Learning your hair type is a key part of discovering your no poo hair nirvana.
- The main hair characteristics you need to know about your hair are:
- Curl Pattern
- While there are always exceptions to the rule, knowing your hair characteristics will guide you to what methods to try first based on what typically works best for your hair type.
- Start here by learning your porosity type.
Tip #2: Create pH Balanced Hair Care
- pH (power of hydrogen) is a measure of how acidic or basic an aqueous (water based) solution is. The scale goes from 0 (acidic) to 14 (basic or alkaline). 7 is neutral.
- Hair at a normal, balanced level has a pH of about 5 (give or take 0.5) which is slightly acidic.
- It’s important that the products you use are pH balanced so your hair can maintain a normal pH level. If you use a basic wash, you need an acidic conditioner to balance it.
- If your hair care routine isn't pH balanced, you could end up with dry, damaged, and brittle hair.
- Learn how to pH balance your hair care here.
Tip #3: Dry shampoo is your friend
- However, it is important to note that dry shampoos do remove sebum, so overuse can damage and dry out your hair. It’s best to use your dry shampoo sparingly.
- Using it every day will counteract your transition efforts of balancing your sebum production prolonging the transition.
- Get my dry shampoo recipe here.
Tip #4: Invest in a Boar Bristle Brush
- Scritching and preening helps distribute the sebum from your scalp down the shaft of your hair. Your hair will more than likely still be greasy, but it will help. Don’t worry this extra greasy hair only lasts during your transition phase.
- Use a boar bristle brush when you scritch and preen.
- Get your scritching and preening guide here.
Tip #5: Use a Clarifying Shampoo or Mask to Get Started
- This will help remove waxy buildup from silicones and sulfates (common ingredients in commercial shampoos).
- You can use any commercial clarifying shampoo. Most brands offer one. You will only use it once to clarify before you get started so don't invest in an expensive one.
- I personally did not start with a clarifying wash because I didn’t know about it. People who do seem to have an easier transition.
- Don’t use a commercial conditioner after using the clarifying shampoo. You can use a conditioning product listed here, or skip the conditioning step.
- You could also opt for an applesauce mask instead of the clarifying shampoo to get rid of waxy buildup. Learn how here.
- Learn more about clarifying your hair here.
Tip #6: Know Your Water Type
- Hard water has a lot of minerals, mostly calcium and magnesium. To determine if you have hard water, you can check your water company’s website (if it’s not listed, call to ask them). These minerals can cause waxy build up on your hair (an applesauce mask or clarifying shampoo is good to get rid of wax buildup)
- In general, hard water does not work well for:
- In general, hard water works best with
- Learn more about different no poo methods here
Tip #7: Invest in Some Hats & Cute, Over-Sized Headbands
- I had 3 months of bad hair days during my transition. Hats and headbands were my BFFs.
Tip #8: Experiment & Have Fun!
- You can take your natural hair care routine to your comfort level.
- There is no right or wrong way to do it. There is only what is best for your hair that gives you the desired results. What works for one person might not work for another.
- I did not get my routine right the first time I tried. It took lots of trial and error. And I still like to test out new methods and try out new ingredients. Experiment and have fun!
- If you are ready to fully attack no poo, then remember to ditch your commercial styling products as well as your shampoo. If you use a hairspray with synthetic ingredients after washing your hair with rye flour, you will counteract your efforts and your transition phase may take longer.
Get Everything You Need to Know About No Poo!
I went 4 years with no shampoo and then went viral! I share everything here. Get my tips, recipes, books, guides, and more!
Pin this article to save it for later!
Also check out: