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No ‘Poo For You [UPDATED]

No ‘Poo For You [UPDATED]

I wash my hair maybe once a week, and when I do, it’s with Dr. Bronner’s Magical Botanical All-One-Or-None. It works pretty dang good.

Why no shampoo? Because it’s expensive, for one thing. For another, it’s full of phosphates, which (in addition to being hard on your hair and scalp) can kill fish and other friendly things. Personally, I felt like shampoo was killing my hair and making it break too much.

Becky Striepe at The Green Upgrader switched to No ‘Poo last year. She uses good old baking soda and apple cider vinegar, with water and some scenty stuff to mask the vinegar smell.

The results have been the best yet! My hair comes out super soft and only needs to be washed about two to three times per week.

image via

Becky’s recipe:

I’m using a mixture of 1 part baking soda to 3 parts water and the same ratio of apple cider vinegar to water. Just mix up the two solutions in separate bottles. Bonus points for reusing plastic bottles that would have been headed for the landfill! For the vinegar rinse, I added 20 drops of tea tree and lavender essential oil blend to mask the vinegar smell a bit.

I’ll definitely be trying that mixture soon (especially since I can’t get Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree soap in Reno). I might use her winter formula, which includes brown sugar and agave nectar for a little extra protein. Even in summer, these desert winds are intense.

More on No ‘Poo, including what to expect for first-timers: What the Heck is No ‘Poo Anyway?

More on what you can do with these amazing wonder ingredients: Baking soda and vinegar are cool.

UPDATE! (january 2011)

I tried baking soda and vinegar on and off for about 5 months. It worked well, but as my hair got longer I found it was hard to wash. I’d recommend this solution for people with less BULK than I have. I also noticed some breakage and dullness, and that really bothered me since I’m trying to grow it out.

So I’ve gone back to Dr. Bronner’s, with lots of conditioner and shea butter hair cream. For my dry, thick hair, oil is crucial and I think the baking soda-vinegar thing was just too harsh a cleanser.

Still, sometimes when my hair feels too oily or matted, I give it a rinse with ACV and water.


  • (ahem) this is my 100th post on Love and Trash. How fitting that I plastered a huge photo of myself at the top of it.

  • hmmm i should try that. I’ve been using shampoo bars by an Etsy lady. I think the water in SF is better for my hair. Or maybe its the atmospheric moisture. Before when I was using commercial crap, my hair was breaking and falling out all the time. Now, it’s much happier.

    • Could be the moisture in the air, for sure. Could be nutrition, too!

    • What is this “nutrition” and how do I put it on my hair?

    • I think she means the food I’m feeding myself? I’m sure nutrients directly on the hair would help too.

    • Actually, there’s question as to whether the proteins in food can actually penetrate the hair shaft when applied directly. However, if you are low on protein, vitamin E, collagen etc., it can cause your hair to be weaker and more breakable. So yes, eating nutrition.

  • I love your hair. If mine would look anything like that, I’m doing it.

    • Do eet!!

    • I dood eet! It is awesome! I have baby fine, thin, oily, prone to damage hair, and it’s made mah herrs feel thicker and less oily. Still soft but not strung out day two? CRAZY.

      I sound like a commercial.

    • That is RAD. I’m totally out of Bronner’s… washing hair tomorrow maybe? I’ll report back.

  • i use the aveda stuff. luckily i have a friend who works there so it doesnt cost me the same arm and leg that it normally would. they take back and recycle all the plastic they use, they use exclusively natural ingredients (they have taken really popular shampoos off the market because they couldnt replace some synthetic ingredient that they used to use with a natural one) and i like the ethic.
    if i use anything else my hair rebels.
    but boy oh boy Hun, do you have the purtiest hairz

    • Yes aveda is totally awesome. And thanks :)

  • congratz on the first 100!

    i’ve heard magic about washing your hair with vinegar, and as i’m out of shampoo i think i’ll give this a try sooner than anticipated: apple cider vinegar and baking soda are definitely well within my budget means, and the recipe is just too simple to be ignored!

    • Thanks Montreal! And by the way, it’s cool to see you here :)

      Definitely report back. If a few of us try it and post our results, I can do a wee follow-up about how it went.

    • Ok, so it’s been a month.

      1) The sweet smell of vinegar
      Before engaging in the experiment i read around a bit and noticed that the smell of vinegar is what people complained about the most, so I used rice vinegar because i love the smell of it: it reminds me of tasty rice for sushi. Once my hair is washed and dry I haven’t noticed any residual smell at all.

      2) The disaster period
      There is an adaptation time. for me it was a bit more than a week. My hair was soft but it was really dull. After that, though, it was looking great and up for it’s usual chaos.

      3) Getting your own working system
      I found i couldn’t really get a paste with a baking soda with the proportions, and i found i wanted to better control the quantities of each (these were too liquid to properly dispense in a bottle. so i just got a cup that i could pour the baking soda into, add shower water, mix, pour on my head, massage, wait, measure out a portion of vinegar, top with water, you get the picture. figure out what works for you.

      i’m pretty happy with the results, so i think i’m going to stick to it. it’s cheaper, my hair feels healthy, and i know i’m not putting chemicals on my head every second day.

  • I’ve been on and off no-poo for a few years, and I really loved what it did to my curls. Now that I’ve got dreadlocks I’m strictly baking soda and vinegar, and going about once a week between hair washes. Love it!

  • Hey there! I’m glad you dug the No ‘Poo idea! Let me know how it goes. :) Sometimes it takes a little experimenting to get the ratio of baking soda to water and ACV to water that your hair digs, so don’t give up! The baking soda helps get rid of oils, and the ACV is a conditioner, so you can sort of adjust accordingly until your hair responds.

    • Thanks Becky, great to see you here!

      I most certainly will give you the update. Oiliness is never a problem for me, so I’ll try going heavier on the ACV to start.


    Heh to that photo caption.

    I am now happily converted to your Dr Bronner’s regime after seeing what it could do for my curls. I hasten to add, those of us with what could be called ‘ethnic’ hair like to add a few drops of Argan or Monoi oil to our finger-combing after the final rinse.

    Interesting factoid – when I was gathering the clippings for Sunshine and Shores hair booms, I learned that most dreads are rejected for containing fungus. The ones that don’t – that’s right, are washed with baking soda-acv.

    More hair articles!

    • Really! I had no idea about the fungus thing. That’s really good to know.

  • UPDATE: it worked! Took 2 tries, though. The first time I didn’t have enough. My hair’s so thick, it didn’t really do much. So I came back again with more, and it worked really, really well. Better than Dr. Bronner’s. My hair isn’t dry yet so I’ll have to let you know if it does anything weird later, but so far it looks awesome.

    I’m officially convinced.

  • I have been considering giving this a try for a while. My mom has used a vinegar rinse for years and her hair is magnificent. It is incredibly thick and black and shiny. Everybody thinks she dyes her hair, but she has a few grey ones that disprove the notion.
    I am nearly out of shampoo and conditioner, and although I conveniently live next door to a healthy little general store and have been filling up my bottles with pretty good products, I am not quite satisfied. My hair is a disaster if I wash too frequently, but my bangs get greasy too quickly.
    I am going to give this a try today. I will let you know about my results. I will probably add a little chamomile to the ACV to bring out my summer highlights as well as some yummy essential oils.

    • I added chamomile flowers and essential oils of ylang ylang and rose to the ACV. I thought it smelled pretty good and not too vinegary.
      At the suggested ratio, the baking soda didn’t really form a paste, so I shook it up and squirted it on my scalp. I massaged that in, and my scalp feels undeniably cleaner and warm an hour later, as if the circulation has improved.
      I have been worried about giving up on conditioner, but the only ones that seem to really work for me are way too expensive, and only seem to be effective for the first few times I use them. My hair is massive at any length and pretty long right now. I have ridiculous layers that I am trying to grow out, which are simply always tangled. I don’t use product, other than a drop of jojoba oil on the ends every other day or so, so I rely on conditioner to keep my insane hair under control.
      The vinegar rinse had the added benefit of soothing my sunburned ears and neck as I poured it over my hair. ACV works for everything, doesn’t it?
      I was able to comb my hair after I used it without too much trouble, and if anything, my ponytail looks and feels even thicker than usual. It is almost dry now and soft without being weighed down.
      I was feeling pretty good and then my fella came home. The first thing he said was that I smelled like vinegar. Hmmm. What to do? I admit that I have been overwhelmed by the smell of my mom’s hair and was hoping to avoid that. I will have to adjust the formula until the vinegar smell is less obtrusive, but I think I will give it a few weeks before I decide to trade in the shampoo and conditioner entirely. It may be that I end up using both methods alternately.

  • Yay thanks for the report Helena!

    ACV is amazing, yes. I am totally in love with it. But the vinegar smell, not so good. What I did was to use storebought conditioner after I washed my hair. Because my hair is so dry and tangly, I just comb conditioner in and leave it, making it more of a styling product. That masks the smell very nicely.

    I think everybody’s got to find their own balance, obviously, and mine for now will still include some commercial products. So I totally feel ya about trying to find a better method.

  • One month later… I’m kind of crapping myself a little bit over how soft and amazing my hair feels. I don’t think I’ll ever go back, unless I’m traveling and/or don’t want to smell like vinegar.

  • Me too! I’ve started adding essentiall oils to the vinegar/water rinse and – for three months now – my hair has a better texture to it. Best of all – cheap cheap cheap!

    • I did that too! But you have to be careful not to overdo. I used rosemary and mint because that’s what I had around the house, and I ended up smelling like marinated mutton salad all day.
      Your avatar is adorabibble, btw

  • i am fascinated by this concept, mainly because i want my curls to look JUST LIKE THE HUN’s, but i have super curly, super frizzy, coarse, super dry hair. i get one big dreadlock at the back of my head in one day if i sleep with my hair down. sadly, i also have an oily scalp, so what i’ve been doing is washing just my scalp every other day, and then follow with conditioner all over.

    my hair being as dry as it is, i’m petrified to give up my conditioner for vinegar. won’t i end up with a frizzy tangled afro?

    • My hair sounds a lot like your yours, with a few extra-coarse grey ones in there, too.
      What I did was wash with a very diluted baking-soda solution, and rinsed with ACV and water 3-to-1 with a few drops of tea tree oil. I look like Medusa without some styling product, so I alternate between Argan oil for straight-hair days and cream conditioner raked through the bottom of my neck to the ends for curls. Since I’ve been using the ACV, my hair needs much, much less of either, so I say go ahead and splurge on some conditioning oil.

  • I think we have really similar hair, though mine is more dry and gigantically poofy than yours. I definitely recommend it. The baking soda does a really good job (I also used it yesterday to scrub the grease off a pan). Make it more like a paste than a rinse, and scrub it into the roots. Your skin is mildly acidic, so the baking soda alone will do most of the cleansing. Vinegar neutralizes it and restores the pH of your acid mantle. At least I think that’s how it works.

    Come to my house some time and we’ll have a pretty party.

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  • Hey everybody, I updated this post with the results of my experiment. Long & short of it: I’ve gone back to Dr. Bronner’s.

    Did anyone else try it for an extended period of time?

  • I have been doing this for about a month now. I have crazy curly hair and it has tamed the beast, but still a little dull. Anyone have a good deep conditioning treatment they recommend?

    Also, a little bit of almond oil with some mint in the vinegar and it smells so good you want to eat it. My finace says my head smells like a nice hot cup of tea.

    • Jessi, I found that no matter how much conditioner, oil etc. I used, the dullness never went away. I’ve gone back to Dr. Bronner’s because it is less harsh!

      For conditioner, I use TONS of Garnier Nutrisse, along with coconut oil and my own shea butter mix. I’m considering starting to whip shea and coconut right into the conditioner. Brushing my hair when it’s wet also seems to help distribute the oil to the ends. I know you’re not supposed to do that, but it really helps.

      Almond oil and mint, perfect!!

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