The No ‘Poo Method
Published on June 7, 2014
by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

The No ‘Poo Method

Published on June 7, 2014 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

The no 'poo method supplies

What:  Not what you might think. ‘Poo here stands for shampoo. The no ‘poo method is a haircare approach that uses no commercial shampoo or conditioning products.

Why: With the no ‘poo method you enjoy fewer costly products, no toxic chemicals, a healthy scalp, thicker stronger faster-growing hair, less time on haircare, less frequent washing, etc.

How: The no ‘poo method is simple: 1 TB baking soda in 8 oz water for shampoo; 1 TB apple cider vinegar in 8 oz water for conditioner and argan oil or coconut oil for ends of dry or damp hair and deep conditioning. I use old shampoo and conditioner bottles to mix up the baking powder and vinegar solutions and keep them in my shower. I am trying to transition away from all my products being housed in BPA-leaching plastic, so empty glass Pelligrino bottles is next. Put enough baking soda mixture in hair to coat it and scrub scalp as if using shampoo. Rinse well. Pour vinegar mixture over scalp and let it run through to hair ends, then rinse very well. Use a few drops of argan oil on the ends of damp hair to protect against split ends. Every few weeks, coat hair in coconut oil and wrap in a towel overnight to deep condition. You can do this more often if your hair is very damaged.

  • If your hair is oily: try white vinegar and dilute more.
  • If your hair is very dry: use more diluted baking soda and more apple cider vinegar. Use coconut oil masks.
  • If your scalp is flaky: add a couple drops of tea tree oil to your vinegar rinse. Read more tips for flaky scalp here.


The no ‘poo method reduces time, money, and energy spent on hair care and is a great way to keep your hair healthy. It may take several washes to strip the build-up from your hair and scalp from commercial products and then anywhere from 1 week to 1 month for your scalp to regulate oil production. The idea is to try to wait as long as possible between washings so your scalp produces less oil and you eventually only need to wash your hair every 5-7 days! Just like with the oil cleansing method this is a wonderful option for reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals while saving time and money. Many people experience the added bonus of faster growing hair that looks thicker and shinier and is less susceptible to breakage. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if you’re a health or environmentally conscious person I highly suggest you try it.

Read about my experience with the no ‘poo method!


Won’t my hair smell like vinegar?
Nope! It washes completely out and doesn’t smell a bit. I put a couple drops of lavender essential oil in my palm and run through my dry hair when I miss the shampoo smell you don’t get from the no ‘poo method. Your normal fragrance of choice–be it perfume or essential oil–works great, just don’t heat style after doing this or you may fry your hair.

My wet hair is very tangled, what do I do?
There’s no silicone coating your hair strands like you’re used to. More vinegar rinse usually takes care of this as does a little oil like argan. Use a wide-toothed comb to detangle gently.

My hair just dried and still looks greasy, what now?
Baby powder or cocoa powder will absorb the oil and buy you at least a day. Throw on a hat or put your hair up if you can, since waiting as long as possible between washings will help your scalp (down)regulate sebum production most quickly. Most likely, the culprit is that you didn’t get enough baking soda all through your hair or you didn’t rinse we’ll enough after the vinegar. Another possibility is too much dry oil.

Can I still blow dry and curl/straighten my hair?
Yes, but with more care. Don’t apply oil to hair before using heat styling products. Use lower heat settings on the blow dryer or let hair air dry for a little first. There’s no silicone or other cuticle coating products to protect your hair from the heat. However, there also isn’t a lot of build-up so you may find your hair dries faster and styles more quickly. I wash my hair at night and let it dry while I sleep. I use heat styling tools 2-3 days per week and I have no split ends 3 months since my last haircut.

Won’t the baking soda be too harsh and drying?
It strips any product buildup and oil, but the vinegar helps neutralize the ph and adds shine. So, it balances out in the short run. For long term use, I believe baking soda is too drying for most people. Read my verdict on this issue here.

I dye my hair, will this fade my hair color?
I do not dye my hair anymore, so I can’t answer from personal experience. However, I have read several blogs on this no ‘poo method topic, and it seems that people with dyed hair find no issues with increased fading, and in fact, find that this method helps keep their blonde colors from turning greenish and browns from looking brassy. That being said, the thing that will fade your hair color most quickly, is being out in the sun. Keep that hair covered if it’s dyed dark.

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