It worked for Everyone Else: Adventures in ‘Poo


Shampoos (Photo credit: W610 Guy)

And by ‘poo of course I mean shampoo.

I always think of the internet as being a vast pool of information and resources: a place where you can find the answer to any question. Even though I’ve been proven wrong about this on multiple occasions, I doggedly stick to my belief. My experience with the whole ‘poo thing is the latest example of why I should stop believing that the internet is right about everything. I mean, to be clear, this project hasn’t been an unmitigated disaster or anything. But it also hasn’t been the miracle solution to all my hair problems, the way every blog you read about no-‘poo would have you believe it is.

I stopped using shampoo and conditioner over two months ago. My hair went through the predicted difficult phase of being kind of greasy and gross as it adjusted to being washed less frequently and not being stripped of its natural oils on a regular basis. Over time (I’d say about three weeks), things got better and I got to a point where I could get away with only “washing” my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar about once a week. The rest of the time, I just rinsed it with water. At this point, my hair isn’t really different from the way it was when I washed with shampoo and conditioner every day, although I guess it feels a bit less dry. Oddly, though, my scalp itches. Intensely. All the time. I’ve also noticed a gross build-up in my brush. And in spite of everyone saying that hair doesn’t smell so you don’t have to worry about that, mine does. Maybe it’s because of how sweaty my hair gets…but even after I’ve thoroughly rinsed it, I feel like it smells.

Once these problems started to develop, I turned to the internet (after all, it was the internet that had turned me on to no-‘poo in the first place) to find out what I could do to make things better. I was unable to find anything quick and simple. It seems like every blogger who writes about their experience with ditching shampoo and conditioner has nothing but good things to say. Everything you find is a slight variation on, “I stopped using shampoo and conditioner and replaced them with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. For a couple weeks my hair was gross, but now it’s so amazing! I can’t believe how healthy and shiny it is! It’s so easy to style! It’s never looked or felt better!” Obviously, that was not helpful. I finally came across a LiveJournal community of no-shampooers. I spent a considerable amount of time scouring the LJ threads, trying to find people with problems similar to the ones I’m having; doing so led me to a variety of different solutions: tweak your ratios of BS to water and ACV to water, use essential oils, boil the water you’re using to rinse your hair, try an egg wash, do a vinegar-only rinse and let it sit in your hair for ten minutes, do a hair mask, try a tea rinse…the more I read the more it seemed like there were hundreds of solutions to my issues.

Products from Milk and Honey Naturals

But the thing is, I don’t have the time or energy to deal with any of that stuff. Maybe that just means I’m not as dedicated to no-‘poo as I thought I was. I don’t know. But I know that if I’m going to have to spend wash after wash experimenting with different ingredients, amounts, and routines just to see what works, it’s unlikely I’m going to stick with it. So where does that leave me? Phase 2. I found a woman who makes all-natural shampoo and conditioner bars, available through Etsy. A lot of her customers are no-‘poo refugees, people who, like me, didn’t want all the fuss that can come with getting rid of your shampoo and conditioner, but also didn’t want to ditch the natural option. Her products are gorgeous and the descriptions make the sound delicious. I just received mine yesterday–coconut castile shampoo and sweet rosemary orange conditioner. I can’t wait to use them, and I’m really hoping that they’ll help with some of the issues I’ve had to deal with as a result of going no-‘poo. If nothing else, I know they’ll make my hair smell better since they’ve already made my apartment smell pretty great.

What confuses me the most, though, is the fact that I know I’m not the only one who’s had a hard time with no-shampoo. So why is everyone keeping so quiet about it? Maybe it’s a Big Baking Soda/Big Vinegar conspiracy. If so, remember that you heard it here first.



    1. What kind of shampoo bar did you use? And why did you decide to stop? I used mine for the first time this morning and so far I’m really happy with it. My scalp is already less itchy and my hair just feels better overall. And yes, let’s definitely get together. Maybe a run soon?

      1. I used these:
        The hair food in particular was niiiiiice. I stopped partly because I started using conditioner more (and I never found a bar version I liked, even though Lush sold one) and partly because they can dissolve very easily in the shower if you’re not careful, and I started feeling like it was slightly wasteful.

        But yes, PLEASE, a run, PLEASE! I’m gone this weekend – mid week sometime next week?

  1. I went ‘poo free for a few weeks too. A couple things.
    1. My hair looked fine but not great. My hair is normally pretty sleek and shiny with no real effort (I got lucky on that front). When i went ‘poo free, my hair was dull. Then I looked at pictures on blogs of people and their glorious, healthy, no ‘poo hair. Guess what? They all looked dull too. I’m not convinced that everybody’s hair looks as good as they think it does.
    2. I realized shampooing is one of my favorite things. Why would I deny myself that?

    Upon these 2 realizations, I went out and bought a whole shampoo selection. I do, however, use pretty natural shampoos anyway.

    1. You’re right, it probably doesn’t look as good as everyone thinks it does. And I really didn’t realize how much I missed the sensory experience of shampoo until I lathered up my shampoo bar in the shower this morning. It was such a good feeling!

  2. I’m very interested in hearing how your all-natural shampoo and conditioner bars work. Let me know because I might want to buy some of that for myself! Good luck!

    1. Thanks, I’ll keep you posted! So far, so good. And the smell is even better in the shower than it is when you just smell the bar. I also got some solid perfume, which also smells great.

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