Shiny, bouncy hair without shampoo! Theoretically.


Shiny, bouncy hair without shampoo! Theoretically.

Want to have clean, shiny, silky, good-smelling hair without having to use detergent-based shampoo??

So do I.

I have tried, really I have!  But so far, no luck.  I hit rock bottom the other week when my boyfriend said “You know, your hair really doesn’t look very good.”  Which means it must have been really obviously greasy for him to even notice it!

The rest of my beauty detox is going pretty well.  I’m loving making bath treats (like bath bombs, body scrub and herbal bath bags), infused oils and lovely scented creams.  I’m even dealing with my homemade toothpaste and experimenting with face cleansers.  But my hair has been much less successful.

In internet land, there is a cult of “No ‘Poo” converts who preach wonderfully manageable hair by stopping shampoo completely.  I read a great summary of how to go shampoo free with lots of positive comments.  Unfortunately it hasn’t worked for me.  Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

1) Baking Soda – Following these instructions, I washed my hair with baking soda dissolved in water, then rinsed well.  While rinsing, I could barely get my fingers through my hair it was so stuck together – not a pleasant feeling!  When dry, I liked a bit of the texture it gave my hair (lots of natural curls and no flyaways) but it definitely looked greasy, and not shiny.  I tried this for a couple of weeks, and it didn’t seem to improve!

2) Homemade herbal shampoo – I got this recipe from my Rosemary Gladstar book – it’s a combination of castille soap and a herbal infusion (rosemary and sage for my brunette hair).  Smells good.  Foams very little.  Slightly more clean feeling hair than with the baking soda, but still not very good!  Still left my roots looking greasy.

I read somewhere online that if you have very hard water (which we do in London), you should rinse with distilled (or boiled then cooled) water.  I will try this when I get up the courage to test the baking soda again!

I’m a bit frustrated at the moment.  I love the idea of having low-maintenance hair, and being able to travel without numerous hair products … so I really want this to work!  But so far it has just been a greasy disaster.

Have any of you successfully gone shampoo-free? How did you do it?  Please send any tips & tricks my way.

For the moment, I’m going to start testing organic/natural shampoos from the health food store… stay tuned!

About the author

Amanda Cook is an author, entrepreneur & alchemist. She helps entrepreneurs, business owners & executives rediscover their inner guidance, so they can create meaning, success & magic in their next stage of life & work.

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  1. Did you ever find a solution to this problem?
    I have recently tried another round of going without shampoo. I’m so glad I found your blog last month. I had been wanting to know more about my cosmetic ingredients and found out about Skin Deep on your site. I’ve looked up a great deal of my products and realized that my Bumble & Bumble shampoo is just awful. Perhaps that is why I all of a sudden developed terrible dandruff and had never had a problem with it before?

    I’ve constructed my own hair rinse from a great deal of recipe searching.
    I have extremely long, thick and coarse hair and it seems to be working just fine so far.
    I’ve washed my hair 4 times with this rinse waiting about 3 days between each wash.
    My scalp is definitely healing.

    Here’s the recipe.

    Make a very strong tea from fresh thyme and filtered water, add some baking soda, ACV and any essential oils you would like. I use just a drop of two of tea tree and cinnamon.

    I dampen and prescrubed my hair with warm water and then work in the rinse and leave on for about 5 mininutes.
    Rinse again. Repeat. It smells great.
    So far – I love it!
    All the best!

  2. I tried the no poo also and it was horrible My hair was greasy but since it was shortish no one really noticed or commented on it. As an upside I noticed that if I left my hair greasy for a day then washed it it was wonderfully shiny and moisturized. In the end I resulted to less poo instead. I have a shower every night if I can, only using soap on my armpits, privates, and anywhere particularly dirty (soap makes my eczema come back :S). Going less poo gives you the same benefits as no poo. I’ve only had my hair cut once in over a year (I had it cut short last fall) and I have absolutely no split ends. My hair is super healthy

    ps. Don’t worry I use “live clean” shampoo which is over 95 percent organic ingredients 🙂

  3. I went no poo in March, and my hair is the shiniest and bounciest its ever been, EVER. I use Liggett’s old-fashioned shampoo bar, and I follow with a vinegar rinse (about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a giant cup of cold water). And I only brush with a boars bristle brush when my hair is dry. I have hard water where I live, and my regimen still works fine. I will warn you that whatever method you choose, your hair will be a giant greasy mess for approx 2 weeks because your scalp will still be over producing the oils it is used to producing because of the daily stripping of the oil with conventional shampoo. Give it a try, I promise you will find results!

    1. Glad you’re having good results. I love the vinegar rinses! All my friends think I’m crazy though 😉

  4. I did the no-poo thing for a few years, but when I moved & had hard water, I had to end it. For a while, I did use distilled water to rinse my hair, but that got a bit tiring (and cold if I didn’t have the time to heat it).
    Rinsing hair with apple cider vinegar did help some, but only for a while.
    Anyhow, good luck, I could never get past not using anything at all either, BS & ACV worked with soft water but otherwise I’d recommend using the distilled water.
    Love the blog, btw. 🙂

  5. I also read a few articles about using mineral clay based masks if you have greasy hair. I usually do masks for my face with clay and lemon/tomato juice (I have oily skin) and it works wonderfully! so it must be good for hair also.
    You can try mixing clay with some Chamomile tea / water. The texture is most probably just as worse as the baking soda recipes 😛
    The clay would help with the greasy part and the Chamomile will make your hair shiny… one issue though, the Chamomile makes your hair lighter… hm, lets see… replace Chamomile with walnut tree leafs (probably in powder or tea form), that will make your hair have a healthy shine and colour you’ll love.
    Nettle also makes your hair shiny and clean. One of my friends uses nettle tea to rinse her hair after washing it. I use vinegar to rinse my hair after washing. Makes it all shiny and clean 🙂
    Now, these are a few ideas, hopefully these will help you make your hair look gorgeous again 🙂
    I am still not really ready to give up my shampoo yet, anything but the shampoo 🙁

  6. Heya! Sorry to hear you’ve hit a wall there. It’s ever so brave of you to go weeks with you hair not looking the way you want while working / socialising as usual!
    My dad is a big fan of natural products (oh I remember looking in disgust as a child when he was popping spirulina tablets and made it sound like it was the best thing in the world and didn’t taste bad! 😛 ). There was a time he used Rhassoul for his hair. I tried it too and it makes the hair rather thick if I remember well… He bought it at the local organic shop.

  7. Courage Amanda! Can’t believe you’re doing this. It’s great though! I’m looking forward to hearing the perfect solution to shiny bouncy hair. 🙂 (BTW, last time I saw you, I thought your hair looked great!)

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