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

The No ‘Poo Method Reviewed

Published on June 7, 2014 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

If you’re unfamiliar with the no ‘poo method, read more right here.

My experience (photo at bottom):

First, let me just say that I am vain about my hair. I would not dream of shaving my head because I would feel ugly and naked and do not have the strength to voluntarily endure something like that (at this point in my life at least). Despite the hair vanity, I am also very hair-lazy. I blow dry my hair once every other week. I will style it before going out to a concert or dinner, but day-to-day I do little to nothing with it. So, what would possess me to give up all haircare products and risk having a greasy homeless-looking matted mess atop my head? My environmental/health-nut side mixed with the desire to find ways to spend even less time dealing with beautifying routines.

I love the idea of using fewer products, reducing my exposure to chemicals not even legal in many other countries in the world, and allowing my system to self-regulate instead of trying to force it into some beauty ideal with expensive crap the media brainwashes us into buying (can you tell I have some opinions on this?). I read some blogs on the no ‘poo method and decided to go for it. I am a big fan of experimenting…on myself.

Not wanting to be wasteful, I finished all my current haircare products before switching to baking soda and vinegar. In my case, this meant for about a month I was washing with organic shampoo and conditioning with a vinegar rinse. This is a good way to transition if you are using a lot of commercial hair products (i.e. your shampoo contains more than 10 ingredients). My hair looked and felt great the month I did this.

The last month I have been using only baking soda and vinegar (minus a week I was on vacation and used some Aveda conditioner one day–made my hair super greasy). I am still in the transition phase where my hair gets oily about 3 days after washing. However, it feels amazing the first two days after washing.

Issues so far:

  • I have had days where I didn’t get enough baking soda in my hair, didn’t rinse well enough or put too much dry oil in my hair and my hair looked greasy once dry.
  • My hair had more frizz initially, but a little drop of oil takes care of it, and it seems to be gradually improving the last two weeks.
  • Because I’m oil cleansing, I have to be careful about my hairline. If it gets oily, I am not washing my hair often enough to solve the issue. If I don’t wash my hairline, I break out there. Currently, I am swabbing my hairline with witch hazel as a solution and when I’m consistent, it works.
  • I have issues with seborrheic dermatitis (aka dandruff, runs in the fam), and it seemed to get worse. I believe it is because I was going too long between washes and it was creating flaky buildup on my scalp. I increased the apple cider vinegar (ACV) content to about 50% of my rinse and let it sit for 3 minutes on my hair before rinsing. I also started washing every other day—Dramatic improvement with the seborrheic derm. I highly recommend trying this if you have issues with a flaky scalp. The more frequent washing might seem to be at odds with the point of no ‘poo (reducing washings to every 5 or 6 days), but once your flaky scalp has cleared up, then you can start extending out washes again. This solution for seborrheic dermatitis is likely far more effective than any prescription meds or Head & Shoulders-type product. Other things I have found very helpful:
  1. Raw honey scalp mask: just rub raw honey diluted with a little warm water into the scalp and let it sit for 2-4 hours then wash with the no ‘poo method. Raw honey is anti-fungal and antibacterial, calms irritation and soothes itching.
  2. Add some tea tree oil to the vinegar rinse (maybe 5 drops or so). Tea tree oil is naturally anti-fungal and helps calm inflammation.
  3. Sea salt scrub: I ordered some dead sea salt and scrub my scalp with salt for a few minutes in the shower before continuing with the no ‘poo method routine. This is super helpful! Breaks up build up, minerals help with scalp health and this isn’t disruptive to the healthy bacteria on your scalp.*

*Because seborrheic dermatitis stems from a candida fungus overgrowth, it is necessary to rebalance the healthy flora that lives on your scalp (and your whole body) in order to treat the root cause and achieve lasting relief. Most commercial products are harsh and while they may alleviate symptoms temporarily, they will continue to throw off the balance of healthy microbes, preventing your scalp from ever fully recovering. There are many internal ways to rebalance the flora that lives on your skin and scalp, like acupuncture and diet, contact me for more information.

Benefits so far:

  • I haven’t had any issues with overly dry hair and mostly it has been easy (I like easy)
  • I certainly have fewer split ends than usual
  • My hair feels much thicker
  • When I blow dry, my hair looks luscious and shiny
  • Washing my hair takes less time
  • Scalp is less flaky and itchy
  • Satisfaction of knowing I don’t use synthetic junk and am reducing my exposure to toxins
  • Saving money
  • My hair’s natural wave is enhanced

Verdict: I’m intrigued enough to continue another month and I’ll update with a final verdict. Stay tuned!

Update!: Well it’s been another month since I wrote this, and I came to the conclusion that the baking soda is causing my hair to be too dry and brittle. Chemically it is very alkaline and opens the hair shaft. The ACV, being acidic, is supposed to balance this out–but it isn’t strong enough to effectively do this. I think all these little baby hairs I’m seeing are not 100% new hair growth but also some breakage. I am noticing some shorter pieces breaking off when my hair is tangled and I try to brush through it, and this didn’t use to happen. I believe the baking soda is causing my hair cuticle to become fragile. For this reason, I am switching to a very gentle 100% organic non-toxic shampoo and continuing to use the apple cider vinegar (which I love!!) as a rinse in place of gunky conditioner.

My recommendation

The no 'poo method hair of boulder acupuncturist caitlin gordonDo no ‘poo for 1 month or so. It strips your hair and scalp of product buildup and makes it shiny and happy. Then switch to a gentle, organic, minimal ingredient shampoo, and rinse with ACV. This will keep the pH balance in a sweet spot for your hair and you still reap most of the benefits of no ‘poo, without any risk of damage.

This is my hair after a no ‘poo method wash, letting it air dry overnight in a loose bun and waking up in the morning and brushing it. I do not dye my hair and have used no heat or styling tools for this photo. 100% au natural: