The No ‘Poo Experiment Failure

No 'Poo
Maybe it’s because I was feeling the Whole30 rush, or maybe I’d just spent one too many hours scrolling through Pinterest, I’m really not sure, but whatever the reason, I gave up shampoo about four weeks ago.And you know what? 

My hair has never looked worse.

Did you even know that going ‘No ‘poo’ is a thing now?? I was all enthralled with the idea of using baking soda and vinegar for something other than making volcanos and in the process getting luscious Lady Godiva locks. (If you’re reading this and thinking, this sounds like a horrible idea, you’re smarter than me. Please don’t rub it in.)

pinterest no 'poo
Look how happy everyone is! How hard could it be?!


I read several posts from other bloggers who were all “My hair looks better than evah!” and “I get compliments all the time!” to finally “My hair grew like three feet in one year since I stopped stripping all the natural oils off my scalp like a loser!”

All were accompanied with semi-blurry befores and really happy car selfie afters. You can’t argue with happy car selfies! (You will note, and kindly thank me later, that I am not including any ‘Before’ or ‘During’ pictures.)

I decided to give it a shot. I had just chopped a few inches off and was disappointed that my fresh ends still seemed dry and frizzy. Even after losing the weight of my hair everything was still so limp.

I really don’t like putting a lot of time into my hair, so I hoped that a ‘poo free routine would minimize input while maximizing big sexy hair output. I would no longer feel bad or dirty that I couldn’t find time to wash my hair more than every three or four days. No, now I realized that I was actually pampering my scalp by going longer between washes and using only baking soda to scrub my scalp and a vinegar rinse. No harsh detergents to strip all those natural oils! I’ll show those shampoo companies I won’t be taken in by their lies and chemicals!. ….those, sweet, sweet, lathering chemicals….

I knew there would be an adjustment period. I invested in some head bands and I had some hats on hand too. I was going to keep it a secret from my family, but the kids saw me on Pinterest reading about ‘poo and well, I had to explain myself. (“No I don’t have a problem with that kind of poo in my hair!”)

So, I persevered and went a full seven days between hair washing, but I’d hoped in a few weeks, I could go longer. In between my weekly ritual of dumping tepid water laced with baking soda on my scalp I would just rinse my hair with water in the shower, being sure to massage those healthy scalp oils around. A few times I tried to use a homemade dry shampoo powder on the hair around my face with minimal success. (AKA my hairline looked caked with powered while the remainder of hair on my crown looked doused with motor oil.)

I rocked the hats, the headbands, the slick (very slick) ponytail. (I experienced no wind resistance while walking outside.) I kept waiting for my hair to stop looking like it was perpetually wet after day four and then I noticed flakes started appearing. FLAKES.

Eventually I noticed that the few grey hairs I had stood out like bolts of lighting against the greasy blackness of my dark tresses. White flakes and grey hair were becoming more noticeable, and after three weeks, the baking soda rinse didn’t seem to be cleaning as well. Was my hair too healthy??? Did I need to dump a full container of Arm and Hammer on my scalp?? What kind of sick joke was this?!?!

And then finally, as I was preparing to step in the shower and massage my scalp I pulled off my headband and noticed that my hair was thinner just over my left temple. Trying not to freak out I walked into the kitchen and calmly said “OH MY WORD TONY DOES MY HAIR LOOK THINNER HERE?!? IS THIS A BALDING PATCH!??!” To which my husband calmly said, “Yes. I might not have noticed, but the hair on this side of your head looks different than the hair on that side.”

As I was loudly trying to figure out how this cold be happening to my flaky, grey, oily scalp Tony said, “Your hair looked fine before. I’m all for using natural stuff, but just use some shampoo and stop worrying about it.”

I might have protested a bit more, placing the blame squarely on those super tight headbands that, while lifting the loose skin around my eyes nicely, might have been working as a slow epilator around my hairline.

But ultimately,  I had to concede. I started the no ‘poo challenge to make caring for my hair easier and one less thing to think about, yet since starting, I’d been thinking about my hair more because it looked so heinous. So I’m giving up. I bought a couple of bottles of fancy detergent-free all natural shampoo and conditioner because I’m not ready to embrace the $1.98 VO5 supermarket special yet.

I don’t know why going no ‘poo didn’t work magic on my hair. If you’ve got suggestions on how to improve my chances, kindly keep them to yourself. I’m not investing in a 100% boar hair bristle brush made by naked aborigines, breaking out my kids chemistry set to discover the perfect combination of volcano ingredients for my hair type, or raiding the rest of my pantry for a miracle conditioner that will sap up my coconut oil supply.

Besides, I just found a couple great pins about all natural skin care and I need to dig up some castor oil, olive oil, and soil from a part of my yard currently covered in fresh dew that receives at least five hours of daylight in the spring. I‘ll let you know how it goes!





  1. I’ve actually heard several people who I would describe as very, very crunchy say that baking soda can be really bad for your scalp and dry it out horribly. (I don’t remember what their alternate solution was though.) I’ve never tried no ‘poo but I’d love to try just going a few extra days between washing my hair. My hair gets greasy so quickly if I wash it everyday but if I have the patience to have some greasy days, after a short time, I can go every other day or every third day without washing my hair and it looks fine. I have a lot of back pain though and take frequent showers (sometimes multiple times a day) because that’s often the only thing that makes it feel better and I inevitably wash my hair. Oh well, I’m crunchy to an extent but just can’t give up the shampoo yet. I’ve thought about trying homemade shampoo bars made with more natural ingredients, but since they aren’t in the shampoo aisle at the store, I’ve been too lazy to seek them out.

  2. It never worked for me either. It was a horrible atrocity in action. I ended getting red patches everywhere on my scalp.

  3. I haven’t had good success with going ‘no poo’ either. Also a boar bristle brush just spreads all the grease around and doesn’t really improve things. I bought a relatively inexpensive sea minerals shampoo from Vitacost and am trying that now. We’ll see how it goes…

  4. Bwahaha!!! You so crunchy your HAIR is crunchy!! Fwiw, I didn’t notice anything…..but I’m not a good noticer, so that might not mean a whole lot. If you want to do something nice for your hair you might try a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. Crunchy minus the crunch.

  5. I refuse to try washing my hair with baking soda. Refuse. I know it works for some people but I feel like it can’t be good for your hair long term.

    I’ve been using sulfate-free shampoo stuff for a while, and you know what? It seems to have STOPPED WORKING. My hair gets greasy faster (I am an every-other-day-shower type person), and it looks thinner and limper than it has in a long time. Maybe I can blame post-partum except my babies are 17 months old …??

    So …. yeah. I am becoming disenchanted with natural alternatives. Maybe they just don’t work for people with straightish, fine hair like me. :-/

    1. I have fine hair and I use Nioxin shampoo and conditioner. It’s probably loaded with chemicals but it also does a great job of making my hair thicker.?

  6. I have thick, coarse, thinks it might want to try being curly hair. I was using tons of expensive shampoos, conditioners, and products to manage…and not having any success. I switched two years ago to the no poo routine – washing once or twice a week – and its been amazing! I can straighten my hair and it doesn’t frizz the minute I walk out the door. My hair is touchably soft for the first time since like second grade. It takes less time to dry. My skin has been clearer, too. And it’s saving me tons of $$$$….that said the folks I know who have been successful with no poo all have a similar hair type to mine…so when you used the word limp to describe your hair I’m not surprised. ..I don’t know what the difference is, but it seems to be the case.

  7. I tried no poo for awhile, and low poo. Low poo was my friend for awhile until I developed this greasy spot on the side of my head that would not. wash. out. It turns out these methods don’t work if you have hard water. I do like to go low poo for a couple of weeks and then wash with the good ol’ chemicals. I like the boar bristle brush. Found it at the grocery store for $3 so it wasn’t much of an investment!

  8. I tried no-poo for a few years back and it didn’t work for me either. Although my hair does best if I go 2-3 days between washing.

    I really think it’s one of those things that depends on your hair type. I think it works best on people with drier, courser hair.

  9. I did no poo for about 8 weeks, and my hair handled it well! I have thick and coarse perpetually dry hair, and it did make it really soft and more manageable. But I eventually gave it up just for conveniences’ sake, and my husband HATED the smell of ACV, even though it didn’t bother me. I think I definitely would look into more natural options (like organic shampoos or even homemade shampoos) in the future, but for now I’m back to basic Dove shampoo.

  10. I tried the No Poo thing, but it wasn’t for me. No thinning hair, no flakes, but I really couldn’t handle the waxy feeling after the third or fourth day. So I became a low-poo gal- I washed with shampoo on day 1, just water on day 2, then the baking soda mix day 3, and then water day 4… and then back to day 1 again. It worked pretty darn well for me– no waxy hair, but I was using WAAAAY less shampoo.

    I’m trying out an all-natural shampoo bar (just started on it today!), so we’ll see how that goes!

  11. I have a balding patch over my left temple, too! It’s SO annoying. I thought it came from the postpartum hair loss.

  12. Man, you’re a lot braver than I am! I’ve done DIY laundry detergent (win) and DIY dish soap (fail) but I’m way too scared to go without shampoo!

  13. Oh my goodness! I started the no ‘poo thing over a year ago and it seemed to work okay. But then it started leaving a WEIRD residue on my scalp which was gross. It never felt clean enough – and I grease was never a problem for me! I had never had scalp problems before. I’ve gone back to using a bit of cheap head/shoulders generic shampoo with ACV. But now my hair is a bit dried out. Water definitely change it, I’ve found. At school the water is super hard, but at home, it’s much better. So I wonder what that might have to do with horror stories. But overall, the no ‘poo thing was definitely not as fun as it looked on Pinterest.

  14. See here is the problem with following beauty advice found on the Internet…these well meaning youngsters post discoveries that appear to work because they are young!!! They have youth on their side! They could wash with dirt and brush with a shoe and still look good! Proof…ripped jeans, baggy sweatshirts, messy buns? 20 something’s=glamorous, middle age=overweight and homeless. I rest my case.

  15. I never understood the advice to go cold-turkey on shampoo! Seems like a guaranteed way to hate your hair. I gradually (like, over a couple years) used smaller amounts of shampoo, and skipped washing it more days. Now I still wash it, with chemicals (!!!) but far less often and with far less shampoo.

  16. I tried going no-poo for Lent three years ago. I use a boar bristle brush (which feels sooo good on your scalp btw) but abandoned the baking soda and vinegar after a few weeks. Now I just use water. Best decision I’ve ever made! It was a rough transition but my hair is softer and easier to care for than ever! I have fine, curly, hip-length hair. I used to have the worst static and frizzies. My hair was flat and limp on the top half and a frizzy curl explosion on the bottom. It took forever to comb and tangled instantly. Without shampoo I never get frizzies and my hair has the most beautiful, soft, uniform curls from the scalp to the ends! I never knew my hair had such potential. I’m sure no-poo doesn’t work for everybody, but it is definitely not a scam, for people like me it is a lifesaver!

  17. I Had no success with it either, and then bought Burts Bees and it was a fail too. So I use shampoo with words like “natural” on it now because I’m sure that’s true.

  18. I thought this was going to be about toilet training. (It is a constant topic in our house right now.) I’m glad there were no failures on that front!
    I keep hearing about the no shampoo thing too. I was contemplating it, but since you did the work for me, I won’t.
    I’ve been trying to use less shampoo when I wash, which is difficult, and more conditioner.

  19. Love it! Sounds like alternative is the new black. I heard about this years ago from some people who were raving about it, but I got turned off by their dreadlocks and copious amounts of dandruff accompanied by hairy armpits and body odour. Guess it’s just not my thing. I did try making my own toothpaste for a while with salt and eating all organic, until having kids meant the time and money couldn’t justify it.

  20. I tried the no ‘poo twice, and it was a pain to do. The baking soda solution didn’t seem to do much, and the vinegar rinse would be cold, smelly, and make my scalp feel a little irritated. I also seem to have the wrong kind of hair, according to some comments here. (I have fine, thin hair.) I then tried shampooing less often and with diluted shampoo. This seems to work well, as full strength shampoo dries my hair out.

    Your article is hilarious. Thanks for my laugh of the day. ROTFLOL. Glad to find out I’m not the only one for whom this “breakthrough” does not work!

  21. It didn’t work for me either. I have straight, limp hair that tends to be oily. However, my husband has thick, wavy hair (darn him) and keeps it short and he hasn’t ‘pooed for a couple of years. So it worked for one of us at least!

  22. I can’t even fathom how bad “no poo” would be for my hair…BUT I did try “reverse shampooing” (per the recommendation of a blog comment) and it has done wonders. Reverse shampooing being – conditioner first, shampoo second. My fine hair has more volume and doesn’t get greasy as quickly – meaning I can last longer between washes.

  23. SAME HERE. I had both incredibly OILY hair with DANDRUFF at the same time while doing this method. I’ve sworn it off foreVER! I too just get natural shampoos and call it a day.

  24. I have scalp issues and thought maybe No Poo would be the answer. Long story short: it was not and I feel like my hair still hasn’t really forgiven me for the attempt. Chemicals 4-eva.

  25. I tried the baking soda/vinegar thing about a year ago and the exact same thing happened here, right down to the crazy hair loss. My sister has been doing it a about a year and a half and loves it though. So weird! On an even weirder note, about 9 months ago I started using coconut oil as a face wash and moisturizer (because all of the sudden I was allergic to ALL THE THINGS) and since then I only have to wash my hair twice a week instead of a very greasy daily. Coincidence? Maybe, but I’ll take it!

  26. I’ve been doing no ‘poo this whole year and I have to say, I LOVE it. BUT, I agree with everyone that the type of hair you have makes a huge difference. I have coarse hair but I don’t have a lot of it, and Ive had like, female pattern baldness happening on my temples for a few years and can contribute it to nothing other than bad luck. Anyway, when I decided to go no ‘poo it was just out of curiosity. I had already been going daaaaaaays in between washes (again, mostly out of curiosity – I wonder if I can go 10 days without washing? I can) so the transition wasnt a problem at all. I’ll go anywhere from 5-10 days between washes and in between I use dry shampoo to conceal some of the oil. I SWEAR by BioSilk silk therapy though. I’ve been using it for years and it’s my favorite thing ever.

    This probably wasnt helpful at all but I sort of started feeling bad for my beloved no ‘poo method getting all the hate! I hope you’ve found a method that works for you!!

  27. AVC is so incredibly acidic! I have used it as a home remedy to kill a wart…I am think that it is not meant for delicate tresses. Loved your thoughts on the no poo..too funny!

  28. Ermagah I tried it and was too grossed out by the state of things to even last a week. I have the hair of eight bearded Trojan warriors and without the lather ain’t nothin’ get clean up in there. Nothin.

  29. Yeah, i go no-poo alot too but it does not do wonders to my hair either. I have to prepare the baking soda rinse in advance though by boiling the water and then putting in 1 TS per 0,5 l of water because our tap water is super hard and the baking soda wouldn’t desolve otherwise. I also discovered that no-pooing in the shower doesn’t work for me either. I get the cleanest results by letting my head hang over the bath tub and rinsing with cold water. I usually return to natural shampoo when the bottle of premade rinse is used up and then it may take a couple of weeks to prepare a new one 😉

  30. This is hilarious, Kelly! I haven’t tried no-poo, but from experience all the amazing products that work for everyone else on my fine (but lots of it) straight locks. I’ve given up trying and am attempting to accept the fact that diffusers, volumizing, and scrunching products won’t magically bring out waves that are in hiding or suddenly give my hair fabulous lift. I’ll just own these straight and boring strands. 🙂

  31. Ok, so here’s the thing. No-poo tends to work well for those with curly hair because they need more moisture as natural oils don’t spread easily through curly hair. But they substitute shampoo with a ton of sulfate-free conditioner (like $1 suave coconut, my favorite!) that still has mild cleansing agents. It works well IF you don’t use styling products that contain silicones (most do – take a look at the ingredients!). Check out “the Curly Girl Method”. It can also work for those with straight hair, but it might just result in too much moisture (ie too much oil).

    Another thing to note – baking soda is TERRIBLE for your hair! It looks and feels good at first because it’s essentially scrubbing out the bad stuff in your hair, but it messes with the natural pH balance in your hair and essentially stripping your naturally acidic sebum that fights against bacteria and maintains your healthy scalp and oil production. This results in dry brittle hair and hair loss, like you experienced!

    Just some food for thought. I have spent that last several years figuring out my wanna-be curly hair and have done tons of reading on natural products and no-poo. There are definitely healthy, natural ways to clean your hair, but it isn’t baking soda.

    Hope this helps someone!

  32. I am with you on the natural shampoo but the baking soda thing really weirds me out. I use Trader Joes Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner. Lots of good without the bad. I don’t need to shampoo as often, every three or 4 days and it works great!. Also cornstarch mixed with cocoa works well as a homemade dry shampoo 🙂

  33. I have never even been remotely tempted to try this… I also don’t like camping and I enjoy coffee sweetener. I am a heathen, I guess…

  34. This is hilarious. my hair could def not handle the “no poo” situation, but the one thing that helps my hair from getting oily is putting some mousse right along my part before blow drying 🙂

  35. I got sucked in too and trieD it. With horrendous results. How and why does it sound appealing?!? Anyway my bathroom was also covered in white dried baking soda spots which was oh so glamorous

  36. Tried it with baking soda, then tried a knock-off “Wen” no-poo shampoo. Both made my hair fall out like CRAZY. And it was still limp and looked like I had just dumped olive oil all over it. I finally gave up (before I lost ALL of my precious hair) and started using sulfate free shampoo every other day with some seriously expensive conditioner. It has been a total game changer and I already have the tiniest little hairs growing to replace all that I lost in the great no-poo fiasco of 2015. 🙂

    But I will say that I “wash” my face in coconut oil (with a few drops of tea tree oil) every evening (and use Neutrogena Naturals in the morning) and my face has never looked better!

  37. The one thing I’ve definitely noticed about Pinterest is that all these bloggers think, it worked for me, so it must work for everyone! Maybe that’s what happens when you’re 22 and the biggest problem in your day is how to make your messy bun look the perfect amount of messy while taking that car selfie.

    It is definitely your hair type.

    Naturally, I have very fine, thin hair. Looks a lot like yours. A year ago, I permed it (it looked great). I had to switch to no-poo and only washed it every few days with conditioner only. Never had an oily problem- could go well over a week without using shampoo (Burts Bees).

    We found out we would be traveling for 3 months and my permed hair did not take to that- it was like puberty all over again. SO, I cut it off, and now I’m back to fine, thin hair.

    Guess what? Co-washing with conditioner no longer works. Going once a week no longer works. Using Burts Bees also no longer works. Seriously.

    One day I had curly hair and it all worked fine, the next I had straight (fine) hair and it didn’t.

    Now I wash every 2 or 3 days with shampoo, but definitely scrub my scalp with my fingers when wet on days I don’t. But isn’t the same as when I had curls.

  38. Note to the crunchies who use apple cider vinegar, water, and natural oils because they’re afraid of chemicals: EVERYTHING is made of chemicals!!

    I tried going no-poo several years ago and my hair has never forgiven me: I’ve had stubborn dandruff ever since. In the middle of my attempt, I came across some blog posts that very conveniently noted, “Oh yeah, people with fine straight hair probably won’t be as successful.” Well, crap.

    I also have tried the method of washing hair only with conditioner, but that worked once or twice before I needed shampoo to cut through the buildup. And when I do use shampoo, OH BABY my hair feels GLORIOUS afterwards! I can’t go more than every other day without washing my hair before I feel gross. Sometimes longer just because I work from home and who cares? Hooray for chemicals!

  39. I apologize for the long post in advance. I have med length hair and it is slightly think with some wave to it. I have been no poo for about 3 months now and I had yet to have that ‘Hallelujah’ moment. My hair was terrible! It was heavy gunky/waxy I didn’t have the smooth shiny beautiful hair everyone was talking about after the transition period. (made it through transition thanks to a week at the beach where I didn’t have to do much to it!) Now I know I was done with the transition period bc my hair was different from the greasy mess it was in the beginning. I was looking around to figure out what the heck was wrong before I gave up on no poo I didn’t really want to go back I wanted to stick it out. I didn’t really keep good track of what I did to my hair but was trying all kinds of stuff from just water, to increasing and decreasing my BS, to switching between White vinegar and Apple cider vinegar and increasing and decreasing the amts of vinegar to really diluting both of them to using them at full strength. UGH! nothing worked! still had this like waxy build up. I FINALLY found what was wrong, HARD WATER! My husband said that our area is a 10 out of 10 for hard water (used to work for our city water dept) Through all my research I had found that if you have hard water the BS doesn’t dissolve in the water and therefore doesn’t clean your hair the way it should. So Friday night I boiled my amount of water that fits in my bottle( plus a little more bc you will lose some the evaporation. You also want to use a pan that is bigger bc when you add the BS it will fizzle and you don’t want a big mess) for about 10 mins. I then added a few tablespoons of BS and watched it fizzle. Once the water has cooled you can pour it into your bottle and voila! Use it like you have been using your BS mix and follow with vinegar. I finally noticed the slight lather everyone was talking about and when my hair was dry HALLELUJAH I had beautiful, smooth, shiny, awesome hair!!!! It is now Monday, usually I have to try some cute braid or some other type of up hair, but I have my hair half up and it is still gunk/wax free and BEAUTIFUL!! I love, love, love no poo and wont go back. If you feel you need the smell good from your shampoo you can always add some essential oils to it and you have pretty smelling hair.

  40. I just commented in another blog why I haven’t been able to no-poo for more than 2 weeks and it’s because I felt too embarrased for how my hair looked and smelled. May be washing every day is not recommendable, but I think sebum just smells bad and that was probably the main reason why shampoo was invented anyway. IThink about it: even small kids’ hair smell bad after a couple of days of no washing. The theory on no-poo is poor, is like believing your armpits won’t stink if you stop bathing and just ‘let them be’. Sometimes I can’t believe no-poo actually works, never seen it in a real person anyway, only among internet people with few or no pictures showing the results at all. And let me tell you, some of the people who dare to show their after no-poo pictures, have a dirty and greasy look.

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