Beauty Banter: Would You Stop Using Shampoo?

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For a period of time, I stopped using shampoo to clean my hair. I still washed it, just with simpler ingredients and less frequently than what the store-bought products recommend.

When I first came across the concept on the blog-o-sphere, I was simultaneously appalled and intrigued. My hair lends itself toward the oily end of the spectrum if it doesn’t get the cleansing it needs. So, while reading about women who had ceased embracing suds, I could only surmise they had naturally magic unicorn hair that stayed perfect no matter what. Using the same routine for decades can make you resistant to a change. But the deeper I dug, the more interesting and approachable the no-shampoo concept sounded.

Image via Antique bottle auctions

I eventually decided to forgo convention and give the method a try. The Web-sourced recipe I used was a combination of water and baking soda, mixed in an empty shampoo bottle. The main difference I noticed while applying the mixture was the lack of that bubbly, squeaky sensation you get with store-bought shampoos. It had to be specifically applied to different sections of hair (rather than just suds-ed up all at once) and rubbed thoroughly into the scalp and roots, then worked out toward the tips.

Image via The Old Design Shop

After the baking soda-and-water combo was washed out, my hair definitely felt as clean as it did after a regular shampooing. The quality was on par, but I found the entire process took longer, which is why I eventually went back to my usual hair care routine. Hair length was a deciding factor for me, too, in returning to my normal shampoo. If my hair had been shorter, it would have made for a quicker experience.

I can definitely see why skipping shampoo is appealing. I like knowing exactly what I’m putting on my body, but there are ready-made natural shampoos that make this easily possible, too.

Image via The Label Man

The second part of this adventure entailed increasing the time frame between hair washing. Using commercial shampoos can make your hair dependent on frequent washing. Stretching the days in between chemical applications on your hair, rinsing it with only water or not at all (within reason!), can end the shampoo-everyday cycle. It takes a while to train your hair out of its shampoo-dependence, but time and creative styling (hats, bandannas, scarves) to deal with interim periods can make it work.


Overall, I did the no-shampoo thing for a few weeks, and I’m so glad I tried it. It opened up a world of hair care possibilities that I had never before considered, making me more willing to alter my rigid routines. No more will I just lather, rinse, repeat, Phoebe Buffay! In fact, right now, I’m breaking all the rules and conditioning before I shampoo. (Wild, I know).

Image via Vintage Ephemera

What do you think: Would you give the no-shampoo experiment a try? Are you already skipping it?


About Rachel K

Rachel is the creative director of The Wood and Watch jewelry and the editor-in-chief of ParentGuide magazine. She knows how to wield a flame to shape metal; loves to travel; and is passionate about art, antiques, DIY, and nature.

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14 Responses to Beauty Banter: Would You Stop Using Shampoo?

  1. Victoria / Justice Pirate 08/06/2014 at 7:29 am #

    My husband doesn’t like a lot of the chemicals used in modern day shampoos so he had actually stopped using it completely and it actually brought about more hair growth for him too. He has oily hair and was surprised that not using shampoo made his hair less oily.

    I use a “baby” shampoo called Shea Moisture – Raw Shea Chamomile & Argan Oil Baby Head-to-toe Wash & Shampoo w/ Frankincense & Myrrh that was created by a woman in Africa who was widowed at 19 and a mother to four children. She made this to start her business and I love it. It does make my hair a little oily some days but it has no nasty ingredients in it and is sold at a CVS store near me. My husband uses it too. Much better than having nasty chemicals put on my head. I would have loved to try some of these old fashioned shampoos pictured above!!!

  2. mod customer 08/07/2014 at 5:34 pm #

    I use diluted castile soap to wash and a virus conditioner to rinse, 4x/week. Not washing your hair at all is just ewww.

    • mod customer 08/07/2014 at 5:35 pm #

      Stupid autocorrect–I use a CITRUS conditioner, not a virus one lol

  3. Cora 08/08/2014 at 11:06 am #

    I love making my own hair care products and have embraced all natural shampoo that its made primarily of herbal infusions or crazy as it may seem, beer! My fine hair loves a beer wash. I get incredible body without any styling products! I sell my “shampoos” on Etsy and have got great feedback on them from local no poo advocates :)

  4. Carolina 08/16/2014 at 12:22 pm #

    I haven’t shampooed my hair in 4 and a half years.I thought I had wavy frizzy out-of-control hair but after giving up shampoo and also any hair products with silicone my hair turned into a beautiful curly wonder that strangers feel compelled to approach me and compliment me for. It looks healthy, I don’t have one single split end, it’s moisturized and grows like crazy! I’m never ever going back to shampooing my hair again.

  5. Madeline 08/22/2014 at 2:30 pm #

    I am all about the “no poo” craz right now. Still figuring it out for myself. Its a little confusing because everyone has an opinion about it. Some people say the baking soda is damaging for your hair and some people say its great. Im so confused about it all. My hair still isnt out of the “transition” phase people talk about.

  6. MIGIGI 09/03/2014 at 5:37 pm #

    I just started the no poo craze about 6 weeks ago. I have always had long hair, so I have never washed it every day. I believe the use of baking soda is to remove all the goop that has been building up on your hair, I don’t think you’re supposed to use it every time you “no poo” your hair. With that being said, I have tried washing my hair with just water, then using 2 cups of water mixed with 2 TBS of apple cider vinegar. If I feel the need, I have used Johnson’s baby wash and no conditioner. My hair has been a little more wavy than normal, which is great! I guess removing all that build up has been a good thing. I still try to read all the posts about what the new discoveries are, so keep sending them in.

  7. Suzanne 09/03/2014 at 7:26 pm #

    My friend hasn’t washed her hair for 2 years. She doesn’t rinse it or anything. It gets a little tangly sometimes, but other than that, her hair looks great!

  8. Jennifer DePillo 10/01/2014 at 3:23 pm #

    I’m all about some no hair washing! Let me tell you! I have a dense forest of hair on my head, and it’s very long, course and thick to boot! It’s in fact not hair, it’s probably dark matter it’s so dense and thick.

    For about 6 years now, I have gone to shampooing my hair once a week with an ultra high quality natural shampoo. My hair is so much happier for it! My hair needs to be washed once a week, since there is so much of it and working in the automotive industry…there is soot and exhaust stink that gets trapped in it. Now my hair grows like crazy, and my ends are not split, but thick and plush! It’s turned into this velvety carpet that people feel compelled to touch all the time, plus the guys seem to really love it – they tell me all the time!

  9. Amy 10/26/2014 at 5:50 pm #

    A couple years ago, I did many experiments with natural hair care recipes. What works best for me is making the distilled water/ baking soda mix ahead in a bottle so it completely dissolves. Also, some blog I read once (I can’t remember which :( ) talked about the mix should have a silky or slippery feeling to the water. I always use about a tablespoon and then feel the water and add more until it has this feeling. This trick helped a lot for my hair. With conventional shampoo my hair is extremely oily and I did have to wash it everyday. I have very fine strands of hair and it is very straight, with switching to this routine I don’t have to wash it daily (I do wet it down in the shower in between my no poos b/c I get mad bedhead), I have actual body to my hair, and I usually have no issues with split ends. It makes my hair grow fast as well. I do occasionally use Shea Moisture Shampoo, if I dye my hair, it is awesome as well and very moisturizing. Hopes this helps others.

  10. Neko 12/19/2014 at 11:05 am #

    I am on the fence about this. When I was younger, I had an oily scalp and would have to wash nearly every day. When my hair was shorter, I need to wash it every day, regardless of hair color. But now, I color my hair a dark green and know that in order to maintain it, one needs to be limit how much they wash their hair. My hair isn’t as oily and I use baking soda to clean my scalp, but I use conditioner. I have my best hair styles when it has been washed for two days. I don’t really see a point in washing my hair every day or every other day. I should note that yes, I do shower and clean the rest of me on a regular basis, but my hair, not so much. Well that and its too cold to take a cold shower to clean my hair, so there is that.

  11. Katie D. 04/07/2015 at 8:42 pm #

    5 years and shampoo free! The Baking Soda and Vinegar made zero sense to me, but I couldn’t resist the blogging-peer pressure! I am also all about less is more, and if I can make something myself, I’d rather not pay someone else to do it. One trick: Add a tsp. Xantham Gum (Bob’s Red Mill) to your favorite Cider Vinegar. This thickens the vinegar and gives it the viscosity we are used to in a shampoo. Keep the cutes airtight container in the shower for the baking soda. Work a few tablespoons into your hair and massage your scalp. Have excess on your hands? Gently rub your face or underarms. Finally, with eyes closed (cannot stress that enough) and vinegar (perhaps in a reused peri bottle?) at a warm temp, squirt vinegar into roots and feel the chemistry! It is like a spa treatment, but would be extortion to charge anyone. Rinse this out and enjoy a clean, non flaky, not itchy no soap scum head of hair for days. Need to absorb oils? Use the talcum powder at your roots trick. Need conditioning or detangling? Before showering, fill a bowl with warm water and a few drops of Vitamin E and any essential oils you like. Take a thin towel (as flour sack) and plunge it into the bowl, wringing and soaking a few times to distribute the oil. When the towel is just a bit more than “damp,” wrap it around your head. Use fingertips and massage your head through the towel. Remove it and run ends through the oil-soaked layers. Style, snood or fascinate your hair as usual!

  12. Jessica 06/12/2015 at 1:57 pm #

    I use J. R. Liggett’s bar shampoo, which is a little expensive, but completely worth it. No conditioner and you can do the baking soda/apple cider vinegar treatments if you feel the need. I don’t and have had pretty good results.

    I’ve been using it since early May and my hair is much fuller. It does develop some waxiness if I don’t rinse it -very- well and I have to brush it more frequently.

    I tried the no shampoo method and it really didn’t work, even after weeks. I even tried washing it every other day and it ended up rubbery and flat. So if you have trouble with it, the bar soap might be a good alternative!

  13. Ryan 06/14/2015 at 1:51 pm #

    Baking soda is way too harsh for hair. The Ph level is all wrong- too alkaline, I believe. It may seem to make your hair softer at first, but over time will leave your hair brittle. It’s better to just go with a sulfate-free shampoo like Shea Moisture.

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