How does no poo work?


I have gone no poo over the last few months and thought I would share some things I have learned.

My hair is fine and I don’t have a “lot” of hair (as opposed to my sister who has fine hair but very dense!). At the moment my hair is short but I have had it long in the past (before no poo).

When I was using shampoo and conditioner my hair always needed washing daily, on the second day it was just passable in the morning but by the end of the day it was always really greasy.

After successfully transitioning to no poo, my hair is soft and I no longer have dry flyaway ends and greasy roots. I wash it in just hot water every few days. My hair does not smell bad, it just smells like skin.


  1. Shampoo removes the hair’s natural oils, even if you use a gentle or non-SLS shampoo.

  2. Conditioner often contains silicone which coats your hair with a layer that your hair’s natural oils cannot penetrate.

  3. Bicarbonate of Soda is alkali and any kind of vinegar is acid. These will interfere with your
    hair’s natural pH balance.

  4. Every part of your body has evolved to thrive with a colony of helpful bacteria on it. These actually form part of your immune system and help keep bad bacteria away. Washing these away with shampoo or killing these bacteria (e.g. with tea tree or a course of antibiotics) will lead to the chance that you’ll get only the bad bacteria colonising your skin or scalp (these can make the bad smell that you may fear from not washing).

  5. You pretty much have to be committed to letting your hair be in its natural (normally beautiful) state. Using styling products will lead to you having to wash your hair. Salt spray will wash out with water though! Your hair will probably not need styling products as the natural oils will condition and style it wonderfully!


All of these things will contribute to the experience you have transitioning to no poo.

  • Your scalp may be overproducing oil while you are using shampoo and need time to adjust.

  • If you don’t wash off the silicon with a strong detergent (perhaps washing up liquid) you may find your hair seems greasy in the first stages.

  • If you use Bicarb (alkali) and vinegar (acid) you may make the scalp less friendly to the good bacteria you want to encourage. Chemically, you may also damage the structure of the hair (in fact hair dyes deliberately damage the hair by using acids and alkalis to allow the colour to penetrate the hair).


  1. Wash your hair with a strong detergent to remove silicone.

  2. Comb it gently, it will be at its most vulnerable now as it has no natural oil or artificial conditioners on it.

  3. Let your hair dry naturally.

  4. When you start to get some oils at the roots of your hair, use a natural bristle brush to gently brush these down the hair root.

  5. Repeat the brushing no more than twice a day, make sure you wash the brush with gentle detergent daily and let it dry naturally.

  6. Wait as long as you like before washing. When your hair seems too oily, wash your hair with water as hot as you can stand (this is not to kill bacteria, any water hot enough to do that would also burn you, instead this is to soften the oil in your hair and help to wash away any dirt). Rub your scalp thoroughly with your fingers.

  7. Straight away blot your hair thoroughly with a large towel, using a fresh bit of towel each time, this will help to remove excess oils while they are hot and most liquid. Then comb your hair with a clean comb.

  8. Over the coming days and weeks continue to wash your hair like this whenever you feel the need (no more than once daily) and pay attention to what your hair and body is telling you.

  9. You may not find that you need to use the bristle brush over time as your hair reaches a steady state.

  10. You can style your hair with a home made salt spray. I use Wellness Mama’s recipe at half strength.

NOTE! Bear in mind that you will need to accustom yourself to the feel of natural oils on your hair. It may feel sticky, waxy, oily or greasy. Try to be open minded and come to view this as normal, not the abnormal squeakiness of shampooed hair or sliminess of conditioner.


  • Washing my hair with soap. It was fine for a while but I got a soap scum residue in my hair eventually which was so horrible and was very hard to get rid of.

  • Not clarifying my hair before going no poo. It took a long time for the silicone from my conditioner to wear off so my hair could absorb the oil from my scalp. This led to greasy hair while transitioning as the oil sat on top of the hair shaft and didn’t sink in.


I just had my hair cut and the hairdresser said she would never have known I don’t use any products on my hair!


I’ve been trying this with my 12 year old daughter, we have gone 6 weeks and her hair is still looking like it needs to be covered. We are both very discouraged because school is starting in a less then a week. I didn’t start with a detergent though. After investing this long in the process can you please suggest something that may help complete this transition to “no poo”? Also what kind of detergent do you mean specifically? She is also suffering with dry scalp


Hi mama, what is the problem specifically? If her hair is still seeming greasy I would give it a really good brush with a bristle brush and follow up with a hot wash in the show followed by immediate blot /rub with a towel, that should get some oil off. Ideally let the hair dry naturally.

If she has a dry scalp but greasy hair, just keep persevering with the suggestions above, plenty of bristle brushing and water-only washing so that the scalp bacteria can re-balance.

If you fear that there is silicone build up on the hair, wash with a non-conditioning, non-silicone containing shampoo, a cheap one for greasy hair or even washing up liquid would do. Only do this once as it will also strip natural oils.

After that it may take a few days and lots of brushing to reoil the hair.

One other thing to consider, some people find dietary changes to improve their hair and skin. I cut out grains, sugar and vegetable oils and added more healthy fats like butter, avocado, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil I’ve found it’s brought many health benefits.


One other thing, I know people say it takes 6 weeks but I found it took my hair more like 4 months to get to being “normal” again. Sorry :frowning:


That’s reassuring to read because I’m 6 days in and convinced it’s going to take much longer! I haven’t strip washed my hair in detergent as I’ve use parben/sls free, organic plant based shampoo & conditioner for 4 years so I figured I wouldn’t need to use a detergent to strip it, is that ok or should I still do it?
I do have another question, my hair dresser will .probably be dumb founded when I tell her I’m not using shampoo what should I do let her wash in their shampoo and start again or ask for no poo approach???


I’ve been no poo for over 2 years now. However, I use the baking soda wash/ACV rinse method. I would love to go water only but I have long, straight, somewhat thin hair and the greasiness is unmanageable. Here are my thoughts and I welcome any/all feedback:

The soda/ACV method does actually remove the “excess” sebum from the hair but does not strip the hair. I can tell very clearly that my hair is coated with its own natural oils and is not dry at all. I brush with a natural boar brush about twice a day but this does absolutely nothing to remove or move oil - I can brush and brush and the hair near my scalp is just as slick and oily. This after 2 years of no hair product or shampoo.

When I first transitioned, it didn’t take me 4, or 6 or 8 weeks to adjust - I’d say it took a solid 6 months, seriously. This is partially due to my learning curve about how much baking soda, how often to wash, etc.

Prior to no poo, I could not grow my hair longer than my shoulders - it would be like straw. Now its soft, shiny and I’ve got it way down my back. My hair looks and feels healthy - NOT dry and I use baking soda in water with ACV rinse between 1 and 3 times per week.

Bottom line - water only I don’t think works for every hair type, definitely not me but I’d LOVE to be more natural and have more no poo benefits so if anyone has any techniques or advise for me - I’ve love to hear it.


Hi I just wanted to know what type of detergent to use? I haven’t been shampooing for a month until recently my sister sprayed dry shampoo in my hair and now it feels like straw even washing again with water. Also how long does it usually take for hair to get to its natural state and my hair is starting to look damaged and fall out a bit? Not a lot of strands but I just wanted to know is that normal and what can I do because I’m a first timer with the no poo method


Hi there, thank you so much for sharing such an important hair washing method with all of us. Can you please tell me which detergent you used for washing hair. I have read somewhere that the baking soda can help to clean our hair. Combine one tablespoon of baking soda in one cup of warm water and stir until the powder is dissolved. Pour the baking soda mixture all of the hair and work it into the scalp and hair, according to TreeHugger. Rinse thoroughly and then move on. My friend always used to search on the internet and she found one website which provides all the things related to hair in one place like cheap hair wigs, shampoo and conditioner for wigs and hair. She had very thin hair that’s why, she had purchased organic oil shampoo moisture repair 8.5 from the Ehair Wig. After using it her hair is looking so shiny and natural.