Give It A Try – No Poo, Take 2

Posted on August 23, 2007 by Allie

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About a month ago, I attempted to give up shampoo in favor of baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but I wasn’t impressed with the results.  A few weeks ago I read about going “no poo” by using conditioner only, so I tested it out. 

The theory is that most conditioners contain mild surfactants that will remove dirt and oil gently when you rub them through your hair.  When harsher detergents found in shampoo are used, they strip natural oils from the scalp.  This encourages the scalp to produce more oil, which is why hair gets greasy when it isn’t washed.

I was skeptical, but I figured I’d give it a try.

After a week of using only conditioner, my hair was soft, tangle-free, and not the least bit greasy, even when I skipped a day of washing my hair.   I’ll still probably wash my hair with shampoo once a week, but I like this version of going no poo so much, that I plan to keep it up.

To use conditioner only, gently work it through your hair as you would shampoo.  Rinse, and then apply again and leave in for a minute, rinsing with cool water.  I like to use a wide tooth comb to distribute the conditioner through my hair and get the tangles out.

If you decide to give it a try, let me know how it works out!

18 Comments +

  1. I will be the ultimate test as I have very oily hair. I will try it but am VERY skeptical. Hmmm

    August 24th, 2007 at 3:59 pm
    Comment by nicole
  2. My hair tends to get oily too, but it wasn’t a problem. The only thing that might be an issue is if you use a lot of styling products. I’m not sure if conditioner will break those down as well.

    Let me know how it works for you!

    August 26th, 2007 at 2:49 pm
    Comment by Allie
  3. I was once told by a hairdresser that it takes the root of the hair 24h to dry up completely (even if you use a hairdrier on the hair itself), so if you wash it everyday, the root is permanently wet. She said you should only wash it two days in a row, if you needed to wash off some substance that was even worse for your hair (salt, swimming pool chemicals, that sort of thing).

    I wash my hair every other day, and it looks great. Plus, I’ve cut down my use of hair products in half.

    I might give the conditioner thing a try, though.

    August 31st, 2007 at 6:17 pm
    Comment by ali7
  4. Another option is using sulfate-free shampoo. I’ve been doing that and it makes my hair feel super-healthy!

    October 2nd, 2008 at 9:03 pm
    Comment by Lara
  5. I cannot believe this works. Every morning I am the biggest greaseball and have had to wash my hair every day since I was a teenager, so you can imagine my skepticism. Not only does it work, my hair feels like it has more body, it’s more manageable (no flyaways) and it’s not greasy the next morning! Unbelievable!!

    December 13th, 2008 at 1:25 pm
    Comment by Care
  6. I must be doing something wrong. I used just conditioner this morning and my hair looks greasy and limp today. I’m using Giovanni Smooth as Silk Conditioner. Maybe it’s the conditioner. I’ll try it again this weekend with another brand. I so wanted it to work too.

    December 26th, 2008 at 1:52 am
    Comment by Heather
  7. The type of conditioner does matter. If it’s too thick or heavy — if it tends to cause buildup, it’s not going to work as well. If it feels like it rinses clean, it’s good. I use Burt’s Bees Super Shiny Conditioner, and it does the trick.

    December 26th, 2008 at 2:59 pm
    Comment by Allie
  8. I’ve been in this method for 2 months and I can’t see improvement in my hair, maybe because it’s curly and I need to use products. At this moment I’m using Suave Naturals conditioner (apple one); do I need to change it??…Can I keep washing my hair every two days?? please help me.

    December 29th, 2008 at 11:28 pm
    Comment by sophie
  9. Hi Sophie,

    I have curly hair too. I’ve found luck with Burt’s Bees Super Shiny Conditioner because it doesn’t leave a lot of build up (and I swear, I’m not associated with Burt’s Bees, that’s just what I like the best after doing the rounds of natural conditioner testing).

    I also really like using a (very little) bit of Weleda Rosemary Hair Oil to tame the frizzies. I used to have to use a lot of gel to keep my hair from going crazy, but after I got rid of the build up and stopped stripping my hair with conventional shampoo, I didn’t need to use it anymore. I used Suave years ago. I think it probably has a lot of chemicals in it you might want to eliminate from your routine. If you feel like you need to keep using product, look for something that’s alcohol-free. I think the alcohol can be very drying.

    December 29th, 2008 at 11:34 pm
    Comment by Allie
  10. Thank you very much Allie, and I really appreciate your suggestion,I´m so going to take it. I’ll get rid of the Suave conditioner and use the Burt´S Bees. The only problem I have is that where I live I can’t find those products. Anyways I’ll handle it. Just wanted to thank you again. I’ll let tou know what happened.

    December 30th, 2008 at 1:39 am
    Comment by sophie
  11. After a extra-strenuous roller derby practice tonight, I have come to the conclusion that this method will not work for me. When I came home from practice tonight my hair was so soaked with sweat I looked like I had taken a shower. I’m pretty sure conditioner is just not going to cut it. I do use paraben and pthalate free shampoo and conditioner, which makes my color last and my hair stay so soft, but with practice 3 nights a week, skating two more times a week and the gym on other nights, I’m going to have to stick with the suds. On a side note, I’ve discovered that I don’t smell any worse after practice using crystal deodorant vs. antiperspirant. And I sweat A LOT. More than you ever needed to know, I’m sure, but maybe it will help some people make a decision about what products are effective. I’m a great person to test out alternative cleansing methods because I get REALLY dirty. :)

    January 13th, 2009 at 5:10 am
    Comment by Heather
  12. I’ve read comments from gym rats that say no poo-ing even works after a workout… maybe try the baking soda and apple cider vinegar before conditioner? I just tried that for the first time today. I hadn’t shampooed in a couple days and my hair was pretty greasy but after the bs/acv wash it feels really clean! lots of body too, without the thick conditioner weighing it down.

    May 11th, 2009 at 5:46 pm
    Comment by Jackie
  13. I’ve been doing this for several months now – it’s especially good for curly girls like me because shampoo is very drying to our hair (which needs boocoos of moisture). I recommend also using not just ANY conditioner, but a conditioner that is also free of silicones. I “wash” (or, as the curly girls call it, “CO-wash” (with the CO meaning “conditioner”)) with Suave Naturals Conditioner, and then I actually condition with Loreal Vive Pro for medium curly-wavy hair. This is the cheapest combo I’ve found, and also the one that makes me and my hair the happiest. Be careful if you go for the Vive Pro, though – read the label on it, as there are about 10 kinds of Vive Pro and only one of those is silicone-free.

    November 4th, 2009 at 5:14 pm
    Comment by LaraBoBara
  14. I have short hair that gets sweat-drenched most days. I’ve been using a touch of dilute Dr. Bronner’s castile soap followed by a light conditioner, and it works great. But my hair is very easy . . .

    June 20th, 2010 at 9:49 am
    Comment by Kerry
  15. I really want to go organic on hair products, what conditioner would you recommend? I’m scared to trial this because I also have oily hair as it is.

    November 15th, 2010 at 11:09 am
    Comment by Beth
  16. I’ve been using “Wen” tea tree product for a couple years. It is like a conditioner only cleanser. Don’t know much about it’s footprint… It works well, if you use cool water. Much less fly-aways-more body, less scratchy scalp, less dandruff. :)

    December 27th, 2010 at 9:25 am
    Comment by Nancy
  17. I have been Shampoo and Body Soap free for about 4 months now.. My skin and hair have never been happier.

    Now – I’m a bit of a crazy hippie in my head, but I am in no way dirty – in fact, I am near-OCD about hygiene.

    However – my hair is down to my waist and shampoo was doing nothing that I was happy about! I researched other methods and created a routine/method that I love. (Just FYI, my hair is thick but very straight and I have an extremely sensitive scalp)

    Currently I use conditioner (aubrey’s organic or aveeno when I run out) every other ‘wash’. My showers are every other day.
    I also use no body soap whatsoever – just a scrubby cloth! I have noticed the following things about this routine:

    -I feel absolutely clean when I come out of the shower
    -My hair is in no way greasy
    -My hair is extremely healthy looking with no split ends anymore, no frizzies, and very cooperative to boot!
    -My scalp is no longer itchy, scabby, or sore
    -My skin stays soft and moisturized-feeling all the time because it retains its natural oils. (I live in Chicago, so this is a pretty amazing thing for me!)
    -I have noticed only one difference in my body odor – there is virtually none! (I don’t wear deodorant and I really only shave under my arms once a month – get over it. :p)

    This method definitely works for me and I feel much healthier and look forward to showers much more!

    February 23rd, 2011 at 6:51 pm
    Comment by Anya
  18. I have been doing this to my naturally curly hair for a few years now…and I love it. I have never had so many comments on my hair as I did when I stopped “washing” it!! I revive my curls in between wetting it by using a Lavendar spray that I made following a recipe in the book “Curly Girl the handbook” by Lorraine Massey. She is the goddess of curly hair. Check it out! She has recipes for homemade conditioners and hair masks too! I even use them on my 3 year old daughter and her curls come out beautiful.

    PS: Just finished reading your book…fantastic! Loved it and left me wanting to read more!

    August 23rd, 2011 at 9:59 pm
    Comment by Elaina

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Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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