First things first.  Why on earth am I suggesting you reconsider shampoo?!

Well, to keep it short and in layman’s terms…

Chemicals; lots of them.

You’re working so hard to remove chemicals out of your diet, avoiding packaged, hyper processed foods with ingredient lists longer than the Constitution of the United States but have you ever turned over some of those “innocent” body care products and looked at the ingredients?  I was shocked when I did…

It’s like closing all the doors to all these chemicals and they just sneak in the back window!  And if you’re highly sensitive to gluten and there’s “wheat this or that” in the ingredient list, it certainly won’t help your efforts either.

Shampoo and conditioner becomes a vicious cycle.  We wash our hair and it strips all the natural oils off which we quickly attempt to replenish with conditioner (hint: not very successfully) and then our scalp goes into overdrive to produce more natural oil, and before you know it you’re having to wash more and more often.

So, how do you clean your hair without shampoo?

I’ll never forget when my mom visited me when I was pregnant with my third, living in Abu Dhabi and asked why there was salad dressing in my shower.  What she meant, of course, was apple cider vinegar.  Since then the joke has been that I wash my hair with salad dressing.


The No ‘Poo Method

You may have heard of this method on the interwebs.  The ratios of the recipe depend a bit on your hair type and length and also how hard  your water is.  It took a little tweaking but this is the method that works best for me.

Shampoo= 2 Tbsp baking soda dissolved in 1 cup of warm water

Conditioner= 2 Tbsp organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of warm water + a few drops of lavender essential oil (optional)


I eyeball the quantities but in the beginning I measured it out so I could figure out how to adjust if needed.

I usually only wash once a week (unless its super hot out or I’ve been working out more than usual) and I make the mixture right before going in the shower.

To wash I swirl the baking soda till it dissolves in the water and then pour over my head. I gently massage the scalp only allowing the baking soda to absorb the grime and rinse it out.  Then I pour the vinegar mixture over my head to balance the PH and promptly rinse that out.

After towel drying I sometimes apply a tad of coconut oil or argan oil on the ends and scrunch up my curls.

FAQs: Does my hair smell like apple cider vinegar?  Only while its still wet and only if you really stick your head in it. When it dries it smells like nothing and when I use the essential oils it smells like lavender!

Water Only Method

The name says it all.  Sometimes, between washings I simply rinse my hair and use the argan oil on the tips.

This is also what I do with my 2 toddlers most of the time and I no ‘poo them about once a month when their scalp looks a bit grimy.  If they get a bit of dinner on their hair does it really need a full on washing or will a rinse suffice?

Ironically, Sofia, my 3 year old has the best looking hair in the house. I may have to consider this method for myself some day!  The Paleo Mom does it and it works for her


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Need a few other reasons to try it?

  1. It’s dirt cheap!
  2. It makes your plumbing happy, I imagine
  3. My split ends are few and far between which means haircuts happen every 9 months to a year
  4. Your hairdresser and your friends will be shocked that’s what you’ve been up to (when Natalie’s friends asked what she did to make her hair look so good, she and I practically fell on the floor laughing- true story)

Will this work for you?

Caveat: I tried this method years ago and was unimpressed.  My diet was not great back then and I’m sure that’s why “it didn’t work”.

I hear water quality/hardness plays a factor but so far I’ve done this while traveling in Argentina, Austin, TX, Hawaii and in Los Angeles, CA where I live without trouble.

There is definitely a transition period like with anything else, where your hair detoxes and learns to slow down the oil production that is no longer necessary.  During that time pony tails are your friend since your hair may be a bit greasy!  During my transition period I used Crunchy Betty’s sorta ‘poo method (castile soap and coconut milk) every other time I washed.  My oldest (14) uses this method still today and loves it.  She also adds the lavender oil to the ACV conditioner.

My rule with body care products nowadays is the same as with food: if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, do not consume.  Which is why when I ended up in a fancy schmancy hotel in Hawaii earlier this year with all these high end products (pictured below), I left them aside and stuck to my no ‘poo- ing.


If you just can’t fathom using cooking ingredients on your head I’m sure Whole Paycheck carries some cleanish varieties of shampoo.

These are the 3 girls of the house with no shampoo.  I swear I never thought this would actually worked.  Just wait till I tell you what we brush our teeth with!

(photo by Selma Al-Faqih)

If you still need convincing perhaps a picture of the beautiful Liz Wolfe who is a no poo-er will do.  I highly recommend her Skintervention guide for more natural beauty product recipes! (Click here to learn more)

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Do you no ‘poo?  If not, what clean shampoos have you found to work for you?

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Sylvie McCracken is a former celebrity assistant in Hollywood turned full time entrepreneur currently living in Ashland, Oregon with her kids. She writes about treating and preventing health conditions with real food and natural remedies, as well as anything else she feels like writing about because she's a rebel like that. 😉 he also mentors health professionals turned entrepreneurs on her other site,