Why “No Poo” is No Good for Hair (& What to Do Instead)

I don’t know about you lovely ladies and gents, but I am constantly looking for ways to make my hair silkier, longer, more lush (and the list goes on and on)…

It’s been highly recommended by many people who follow the natural health and wellness lifestyle that no poo is the way to go, but is it really good for hair?

You may be sitting there thinking, “What on earth does she mean by “no poo?” Is she referring to people’s bowel movements?”

Don’t feel like you’re the only one who thought this, when I first heard the term, I thought it had something to do with IBS…

“No poo” refers to no shampoo.

Those who follow a “no poo” hair regime simply opt not to use shampoo, and instead switch to baking soda as a wash. It’s generally recommended that you use diluted baking soda as the “shampoo,” and follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse (which kind of acts like a ‘conditioner,’ giving hair back its shine).

Why No Poo is No Good

Baking soda seems to be the perfect choice for a shampoo as it’s a great cleanser, but when you use it for long periods of time, you start to see why it’s not the best option for hair care.

When starting out on the no poo method, most of us love it; it’s so quick and easy to do, leaves hair clean, and even adds a little volume. But as time goes on, the flaws start to appear; hair becomes dry, split ends and breakage appear, build-up happens…

Our once luscious locks have been reduced to unmanageable dreads. I’m overexaggerating here, no dreadlocks appear, but hair does lose it’s once healthy look.

Why does this happen?

Changes Natural pH of Hair

Your hair’s natural pH is between 4.5-5.5, so it’s a little acidic. Whereas baking soda has a pH of 9, making it way more alkaline and differing immensely from hair.

By repeatedly washing hair with such an alkalised solution, you force hair to drastically change its natural state, leading to problems like fizziness, dry and damaged hair.

The apple cider vinegar rinse which follows the baking soda wash is meant to help restore some acidity to hair, however, a lot of people don’t properly dilute and balance the solutions in order to restore proper pH . Furthermore, it’s no easy feat trying to ensure each strand of hair has been evenly covered from top to bottom (ain’t nobody got time for that), so some sections of hair might be missed.

Baking soda is also very abrasive, and can tear away and cause damage to hair overtime, resulting in dry hair full of split ends.

My hair after switching to using a homemade natural shampoo; it restored my hair back to health!

Natural Oils are stripped from Hair

The alkalinity and coarseness of baking soda makes it an excellent tool for getting things clean, however, it also strips away the natural oils that coat and protect hair. These oils protect the hair and scalp, keeping them moisturised. Each individual is different and will produce varying amounts of oil to coat their hair and scalp.

Once you find a hair care routine that works for you, your hair can often rebalance itself, becoming less oily or less dry.

Some alternatives to the no poo method include:

  • Making your own natural shampoo. This is my favourite recipe that I’ve been using for a while now and… wait for it… it actually works! It cleans hair and doesn’t leave it looking dry, brittle, or frizzy.
  • Hair detox shampoo. When switching from a conventional shampoo to a natural one, there may be a bit of an adjustment period while your hair gets used to the new hair care regime. To help speed up the process, using a natural hair detox shampoo may help hair follicles shed their coating, take in more moisture, and adjust to the new natural shampoo a little faster.
  • Making your own dry shampoo. This is by far my favourite shampoo to use on my hair. I can go a whole week only washing my hair once when I use this dry shampoo! It can be adjusted to suit any hair colour, too.
  • Shampoo bars. Since this post I’ve switched to using the St Clements scented shampoo bar for oily hair by Ethique. I got the recommendation off Ethically Kate, and it’s been absolutely terrific! These bars work really well in cleaning my hair (even after doing a coconut oil hair mask), are all-natural, and plastic-free! Plus, I’ve found the bars last way longer than my homemade shampoos (I used to have to make a fresh batch of shampoo every week, now, this bar lasts me about 1 1/2 months!). You can also make a homemade version using one of the many recipes available online!

Everyone’s hair is different, and so will respond differently to various hair care methods. If no poo didn’t work for you, that’s okay, there are SO MANY natural hair care recommendations out there, it’s just about trialling a few to find out what works best for your hair. Experiment, have fun with it.

As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. It’s important to check with a doctor before taking this or any new product, especially if taking any other medicine or supplement or if pregnant or nursing. Be sure to check ingredients to make sure there is no risk of an allergic reaction to it.

What hair care routine have you adopted? Do you have other suggestions for natural hair care options or even some recipes to try out? Share in the comments below.

Lots of love,

🖤 Vanessa

Sources:

Wells, Katie. (January 8, 2019). The Hidden Problem with “No Poo” (And What to Do Instead). Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/147654/no-poo-problem/

Dr. Mercola. (January 16, 2016). Is the ‘No Shampoo’ Trend Healthy or Harmful?. Mercola. Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/01/16/ditching-shampoo.aspx

Smith, Camelia. (March 7, 2019). The Ugly Side Of No Poo Low Poo Methods And How To Get It Right. Botox for Hair. Retrieved from https://www.botoxforhair.net/clarifying-shampoos/no-poo-low-poo/

Norris, Taylor. (September 27, 2017). What Is No Poo, How Does It Work, and Should You Try It?. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/no-poo#candidate

Why No ‘Poo Didn’t Work For Me. Traditional Cooking School. Retrieved from https://traditionalcookingschool.com/health-and-nutrition/why-no-poo-didnt-work-for-me/

Goldstone, Penny. (May 22, 2020). I’ve been trying the no poo method during the lockdown. Marie Claire. Retrieved from https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/beauty/hair/no-poo-method-698751

Layton, Vanessa. (September 2, 2015). What to Do When ‘No Poo’ Isn’t Working For You. Hello Natural Living. Retrieved from https://www.hellonaturalliving.com/what-to-do-when-no-poo-isnt-working-for-you/