Shampooless Hair Experiment: Week One

I won't lie, it's been a little rough.

My hair certainly doesn't feel the same after I wash it without shampoo and conditioner.

First, let me explain the method. I read of a couple different ways of applying the baking soda:

The first was to sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda over your dry hair and rub it in. The only benefit to this method is getting to see what you look like with gray hair. smile Otherwise, I didn't like it. It was difficult to sprinkle it on so that it stayed on, plus, because the hair and soda were both dry, it was impossible to scrub my scalp sufficiently.

The second method was to make a paste and scrub that into dry hair. That didn't work very well either.

What I've ended up doing was mixing a tablespoon of baking soda into at least half a cup of water - probably more - and pouring it into my hair. That's worked the best so far.

For the vinegar, mixing one part vinegar to three parts water and rinsing with about half a cup of that solution seems to be a pretty universal method.

Anyway, the first time I washed it, after the baking soda wash, my hair felt so rough and tangled that it really bothered me. Fortunately, the vinegar smoothed it out a lot - but not as much as conditioner.

After that, it wasn't so bad, though my hair has been really greasy. That's why I'm giving this experiment four weeks. From what I've read, that's how long it can take for the oil glands in your scalp to settle into the new routine. In the mean time, keeping my hair in a pony tail is working (so far) to keep my oily hair from bothering me. (sorry if that's gross folks)

One thing I have definitely noticed is a build up on my scalp (again, sorry if this is gross, and yes, I'm scrubbing like crazy). Is it because I'm sweating so much? Between the garden, not running the A/C, and the super hot weather, well, you get the picture. So maybe this isn't directly related to the baking soda/vinegar thing. Who knows.

Hopefully, it'll clear up by next Tuesday and I'll have some good news. smile


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Crystal | Jul 5, 2012, 7:17 PM

Hi Elise,

Thank you for linking up to The Mommy Club last week. This post was the #3 most clicked link last week! Congrats and thank you for sharing with us.

Stop on in and see your feature. I hope you share more of your wonderful ideas with us!


Elise New | Jun 27, 2012, 3:33 PM

@ Jenny, Glad I’m not the only one with scalp build up. raspberry but I’m hoping that after my hair “adjusts” it will go away.

@Patrick, the soap bottle is a great idea! Wish I had one. I had read that the hair will get better, and sometimes it would take up to a month, but I didn’t know it was because of the ph levels. That’s interesting!

@Michelle, I have heard that you should avoid getting the vinegar on the roots to avoid oily hair, but that’s really hard! Good to know that you only wash it with soda every few days. I usually wash every other day, but wasn’t sure how that would work with the soda.

Michelle | Jun 27, 2012, 12:39 PM

I have been “poo free” (as one of my friends calls it) for over a year now.  The first 2 weeks were horrible!  I now use 1.5 Tbls baking soda to 1 cup water and mix it up and put it in mustard squeeze bottles.  I do not use vinegar because my hair is short and it’s always been oily. 

I used to always have a buildup in my scalp and this is the only way i’ve felt that i have clean hair in years!  Also, I should mention that i really now only use the baking soda every 2 or 3 days.  Other days - if i get a shower in - i just use water on my hair!

so far so good!

Patrick | Jun 27, 2012, 6:13 AM

Oh also, that build up is your body over producing your natural oils.  It is adjusting to new pH levels, and is feeling like it has to work in overtime to produce it.  It levels off too, and you will be left with great hair.

Patrick | Jun 27, 2012, 6:12 AM

I actually started this back in May.  I use a table spoon of baking soda to a cup of water.  I mix it in an old Dr. Bronners soap bottle.  I make it up before every shower, and then after rinsing I follow it up with a mixture of one tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of water.  I put this in a spray bottle, and spray it on my hair.  I leave the vinegar in until I am finished washing, and then rinse it before getting out of the shower.  It took about 4-6 weeks for my hair to fully adjust, but it now feels even softer than when I would use regular shampoo and conditioner.  It also has a really great shine.  Both of my sisters also use this method, and have been doing it for over a year.  Stick it out because it does get better, and it is a great money saver.

Jenny | Jun 26, 2012, 4:03 PM

I am really looking forward to hearing the rest of your experiment. I have tried several times to give up shampoo. I always get the greasy look and a crazy build-up in my hair and scalp. I have searched through the web and you are the first person to mention this kind of build-up. It always preplexed me because you read that it is shampoo that gives you a build-up, not baking soda and vinegar. I always give up after a couple weeks. I hope you can muscle your way through it and come out squeaky clean in the end. Please post a follow up. Maybe you will convince me to give it another go. smile
love your blog!