The No-Poo Method: Natural Alternatives to Shampoos

Have you heard of the no poo method? If not, don’t worry, it has nothing to do with “poo.”

Want to ditch chemical filled shampoos? Learn about the No Poo method and how you can keep your hair clean naturally.
Want to ditch chemical filled shampoos? Learn about the No Poo method and how you can keep your hair clean naturally.


The No Poo movement has been around for awhile but has regained popularity in the past couple of years. Essentially, the No Poo Method is washing your hair with a gentler, more natural products, washing less, and ditching the commercial shampoos.

Humanity has been bathing for centuries but only within the past couple hundred years has bathing every day, and in private bathrooms, become the norm. People used to bathe in rivers, stream, lakes, and ponds before the public bathhouse was created. From there private bathhouses and smaller bathrooms became the normal thing in every household.

The way we wash our hair today is nothing like what our ancestors did. The word “shampoo” is believed to have been derived from the Hindi word “campo” or “chapo” which means “to press.” This was essentially a deep full body massage that was part of a bathing routine and the hair would be washed at the end. The word “shampoo” first appeared in English print in 1762. The word was brought back to England from colonists who were in India. Over time the word “shampoo” came to mean “washing hair with a cleansing agent.”

Brushing and combing were very important to the health of hair, especially in the Victorian era. It was recommended that hair should be washed once a month, depending on the type of hair. A mixture of egg yokes, soap, and water was commonly used to wash hair as well as borax, bear fat, vegetable oils, and dry powders.

By the 1930’s washing your hair twice a week had become normal with the introduction of the first synthetic shampoo. In the 1960’s the formulas for the shampoos, we are familiar with today were created. By the 1970’s washing your hair every day had become normal.

Today, the No Poo Movement is wanting to get away from the chemical filled shampoos with the belief that it is stripping away the natural oils your hair produces and is, in turn, destroying your hair and possibly the planet.

Here are some chemicals found in shampoos that are often avoided:

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Polyethelyne Glycol
  • Diethanolamine
  • Triethanolamine
  • Parabens
  • Formaldehyde
  • Synthetic Fragrance
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Dimethicone

For the sake of not making this post a small novel, next week I will break down these ingredients and more, and discuss what concerns are associated with them.

So if people are moving away from shampoo what are they using to clean their hair? You’d be surprised by what people are using now…

It is important to consider the pH levels of ingredients when washing your hair.

Baking Soda & Apple Cider Vinegar– This is one of the most popular methods in the no poo movement. What you do is dilute baking soda in water or make a paste with it and use it as shampoo. You then dilute ACV in water and use it as a conditioner. You will find countless people raving about how wonderful this method is and how nice it has made their hair. I’ve even tried it. However, using this may not be a good idea. The blogger over at Kanelstrand found out the hard way after washing her hair this way for 3 years that it was destroying her hair. She does a great job of explaining what happens to your hair when using baking soda and vinegar from a chemical standpoint. Another blogger broke down and showed all of her equations to show how this method is not good for your hair.

To summarize, you want products that have a pH balance close to your hair’s natural pH levels. Baking soda has more than twice the pH levels and is not good for your hair.

Coconut Milk Shampoo– There are many recipes out there for coconut shampoo and even conditioners. Some people like using an AVC and water mixture as a conditioner.

Egg Washes– Pretty much you use an egg, and sometimes other ingredients like honey or essential oils, and you put it on wet hair, let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then rinse. This is not meant to be used very often.

Rye Flour– You mix rye flour (not gluten-free) and water, add it to wet hair, let sit for 5-15 minutes, and then rinse. Some use ACV as a conditioner. I tried this for awhile. Never felt like I could get all the flour out of my hair…

Clay– This includes clays like bentonite, rhassoul, and kaolin clay. Mix it with equal parts water, massage into scalp and throughout hair, let sit for 5-15 minutes, and then rinse. This is used as either as a detox or sometimes as an everyday shampoo. Should be followed up with a conditioner like ACV. I did this once. Never again.

Soap Nuts– These are the shells of berries that contain natural soap. There are a couple recipes out there. It’s used the same as regular shampoo. I tried this once as well and was not impressed.

Water– Nothing complicated. You literally just use water.

Here are some other things people use to wash their hair:

  • Applesauce
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Aloe Vera
  • Castile Soap
  • Green Tea
  • Honey

The no-poo method of washing your hair can take some time to adjust to. It could be weeks to months before your hair begins to actually look nice. Going the no-poo route also means washing your hair less frequently (anywhere from every other day to 1-2 times a week). There are many different ways to wash your hair without the use of commercial products, however not every option works for everyone. The no-poo method may not work at all for some people.

It takes time and dedication to ditch the commercial shampoo. Do your research to find what is best for you and your hair if you decide to pursue a life without commercial shampoo.

If you are like me, someone who wants to ditch the chemicals but has given up or doesn’t want to do the no poo method, you can try looking for more “natural” shampoos and avoid some of the known chemicals put in commercial shampoos that have health risks. A great place to look up chemicals found in cosmetics is the EGW’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. Not only can you search for chemicals but you can actually look up product too. For example, ShiKai Natural Tea tree Shampoo has a score of 2 which means the shampoo has a low health risk. If you look at the breakdown of ingredients only one of the ingredients scores a 3 at a moderate health risk.

Have you ever tried the no poo method?

The ‘No Poo’ Method

Disclaimer: All information on Not Your Typical Hippie is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for every person. Please consult a doctor before making any health changes. I am not liable for any choices you make based on the information provided on this website. (Learn more here)