Julianna Yu's Blog


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No ‘Poo Resources & Solutions

If you’ve been following the No ‘Poo series so far then you’ve read about my secret, my transition & method and maybe you’re ready to give it a go or maybe still on the fence but enjoy reading about it, that works! Everyone is welcome.

This post will have resources I used as well as factors to consider and finally a section on solutions to common problems. I’m not an expert on No ‘Poo (although, not sure if there’s such a thing). I’m sure I haven’t covered all factors and don’t have all the possible solutions. I write from my experience and from what I’ve learned from others.

My Go To No ‘Poo Resources (AKA My faves!)

1. How To Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo by Simple Mom. There’s also The Oh-So-Important Hair Update (24 months later). Tsh’s blog posts are what convinced me to give this whole thing a go. Her blog is about simple living. There’s always something interesting to read and learn. She’s got a book out on “Organized Simplicity” too.

2. No ‘Poo To You, Too!! by Crunchy Betty. In this post, she shares what convinced her to go no poo, what shampoo does to your hair and her method. I like this blog because there are lots of DIY sharing going on namely putting food on your face, hair and skin and household stuff. Love it!

3. Going no ‘poo by Stephanie over at Keeper of The Home. She shares a link with resources and info and goes on to share what excerpt made her want to try this out. Also her No ‘Poo Update post (a year later) with details on her hair washing method.

4. The No Shampoo Alternative by Christi at Nature Mom’s. This was where I learned about the importance of really giving your scalp a good scrub. The post also shares about why you should go without shampoo (your health), the chemicals in shampoo, how to no poo and trouble shooting (including a tip on dealing with frizzy hair).

5. Secrets to My No Poo Success by The Eco Cat Lady Speaks. Extremely informative post. It covers her system, motivation, sebum, silicones in shampoo, dealing with hard water (you need to use more acid the harder your water is), baking soda, acid rinse and brushing.

Factors to consider when going No ‘Poo

  • Hard water versus soft water. Washing with baking soda in hard water can leave hair feeling like it is dirtier than before washing. As Veggie_One describes “the minerals coat your hair with a fine powder which can mix with sebum and cause hair nastiness”. The baking soda combined with the minerals in the hard water leaves soap scum in your hair. I noticed this texture in the early stages of no poo. Using baking soda and water is like a natural soap and the hard water will leave a residue in your hair making your hair feel greasy, waxy or dusty. This is unlike traditional shampoos which are detergents that are made to lather in both hard water and soft water.
  • Ratio of baking soda to water. If you use too much baking soda it dries out your hair, start with 1tbsp and go up and down. You can also try making a paste of baking soda in your palm.
  • Ratio of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) to water. Start with less if you’re hair is normally on the greasier or oily side. Focus on your ends rather than on your scalp. I only use about 1-1.5tbsp (I eyeball it) on my actual scalp. Also, if you’re worried about lightening or darkening your hair. I’ve read that lemon juice lightens dark hair and apple cider vinegar can darken light hair. Keep in mind, the purpose of the acid is two fold: 1. Cut through the soap scum 2. Restores the pH in your hair.
  • Frequency: How often you wash during the transition (less is better – start with less than before you started No ‘Poo) AND how often you use to wash (at least in the beginning of your transition) can have an impact on how your hair/scalp reacts. You might want to consider stretching out your washes with water only washes or dry shampoo’s between actual washes (no ‘poo)
  • Other products you use in your hair. I would refrain during transition time and stick with natural oils to style your hair – like almond, coconut oil, jojoba oil and grape seed oil, but this is my personal preference. Do what works for you!
  • Hair brushing routine. Make it daily. (Confession: I didn’t use to do this, couldn’t be bothered before. So this whole no ‘poo thing has me playing with my hair more than EVER before. Cannot stress the importance of this.).
  • Brushing your hair before you wash
  • Pre-mix your solution or mix as you go. I pre-mix my acid/conditioning rinse but make the clarifying rinse (“shampoo”) right before hopping into the shower.

Solutions for Common Problems

Issue: Oily/Greasy hair

  • If this happens during the transition, it could just be your scalp over-producing oil like it use to when on shampoo, it will take some time to adjust.
  • In the short term, to combat the greasiness, I’ve tried increasing the baking soda to 1/2 tbsp for the next wash to get rid of the grease, but make sure to follow that up with an acid (ACV or lemon juice) on your hair.
  • Try lemon juice in place of the ACV. This worked for me and I stuck to lemon juice up until late November. I decided to try ACV again now that my hair had adjusted.
  • It could also be too much of the conditioning rinse. I remember finding that I was using too much apple cider vinegar when I first started and it left my hair feeling heavy/oily.
  • You might want to use a dry shampoo when you are stretching out your washes. Sprinkle a bit on your scalp where it is greasy (usually the crown), scrub it in and brush it out with a comb. It will soak up the sebum. You’ll have nice volume too. For ex. Assuming you’re in the transition phase, if you were washing everyday before No ‘Poo and now you are doing every other, you might find your hair is getting greasy by day 2 around your crown.
  • Not rinsing out well enough. Make sure you are scrubbing your scalp well (focus on your scalp not your hair) when you wash your hair and spending a good amount of time rinsing out the solutions.
  • Try putting just a small amount of the conditioning rinse on your head (some people omit this all together) and pour more on the ends and bottom half of your hair.
  • Brush and comb your hair right before hopping into wash
  • Brush daily. Start with the ends of your hair and work your way up. I like brushing from my bottom layer up to the top (4 sections).

Issue: Itchy Scalp

  • Scrub your head for longer during the baking soda rinse. Spend a while rinsing it out and making sure to scrub all over your scalp paying close attention to the crown of your head.
  • Add aloe vera gel to your baking soda solution. I felt that this help me when I had an itchy scalp.
  • Also add lavender essential oil to your conditioning rinse. Tea Tree oil or lavender, peppermint essential oil could work well too.
  • Brush daily with your boar hair brush.
  • Wash your combs/brushes weekly or every other week.

Issue: Dry Hair or Straw-like Texture (Cause: Too much baking soda)

  • Reduce baking soda ratio
  • Leave your conditioning rinse in longer before rinsing it out.
  • Use oil to condition your ends. Just a drop can go a long way. (coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, and sweet almond oil).
  • Brush daily with your boar hair brush.
  • Don’t wash too often

Issue: Waxy, dusty residue in hair. It feels like there’s gunk in your hair AFTER you washed it. (Cause: Hard Water)

Assuming the cause is hard water, try one of the following suggestions:

  • Install a water filter in your tap. This will filter out minerals in your hard water.
  • Using distilled or previously boiled water (way to soften hard water). Here’s a post on the no shampoo method with hard water using boiled water for the baking soda rinse.
  • Water temperature. This worked for me not sure if this would work for everyone. I just use hot tap water when I make my baking soda rinse and I also wash out the baking soda rinse with hot tap water in the shower. I finish with a cold conditioning rinse and the very cold water (the coldest I can handle). In my quest to find a post on how to solve another issue I was having, I came across this post by Sara Valor where she shares that hot water opens up the hair cuticle and cold water closes it up. Two birds, one stone.
  • Switch from ACV to lemon juice. Some people have also switched from ACV to white vinegar. The acid helps cut through the soap scum. Let the acid sit in your hair for a few minutes before thoroughly scrubbing and rinsing out.
  • Increase the amount of acid you’re using.
  • Brush your hair before you wash and scrub your scalp really well while washing and rinsing.

Issue: Washing Too Much

Maybe you’ve found yourself washing more than you’d like (just as much or more than you use to with traditional shampoo) or maybe you want to cut back.

  • Stretch out the no ‘poo washing with water only (WO) washes. Still scrub your scalp really well but without the baking soda and ACV rinses. I’ve done hot water followed up by cold water.
  • Another way to go longer between washes is to use dry shampoo. I explain how to use it in the Greasy/Oily section above.

Issue: “Dandruff” or Dusty White Residue Covered Bristles (Cause: Baking soda residue)

  • Wash your brushes. Gets the gunk out of the brush and keeps it out of your hair. I started doing this when noticed the white stuff on my bristles. I also started scrubbing my scalp longer and rinsing longer because I knew it was probably baking soda residue on my scalp.
  • I wash mine once a week with a simple solution of warm water and Dr. citrus liquid soap and an old tooth-brush.
  • I leave it to dry overnight lying on its bristles on top of a towel.
  • Up your lemon juice or vinegar in your acid/conditioning rinse.

Issue: Staticky Hair

  • Using some honey in your BS solution. I’ve read some people using 1 tbsp worth. I had static a few weeks ago and didn’t get around to try this tip out because I didn’t have any more static after the next time I washed.

General Advice

Don’t obsess about the basic ratio (1TBS to 1 cup). If it doesn’t work for your hair, change it. Keep experimenting. Don’t obsess about getting the right ratios quickly. You need time to figure out what’s best for you.  I found that I had to tweak when seasons changed and when I was working out or perspiring more. Your baking soda amount might be more than your apple cider vinegar (ACV) or lemon juice amount. I remember when my hair was greasy/sweaty in the summer, I upped it to 1.5TBS to 1 cup of hot water for my baking soda rinse. And in the fall I changed back to 1TBS to 1 cup of hot water.

Experiment, change things up, try something new, get dry shampoo (or make it) and make sure you have some hair ties, big hair clips for those not-so-pretty days. It’s not a quick and easy transition for most, so don’t fret when things are not as smooth as you had hoped.

For the acid/conditioning rinse with ACV or lemon juice, be careful not to get this in your eyes. I haven’t had any issues (it’ll hurt), but at the beginning I use to close my eyes tightly while carefully pouring the solution on my hair.

What do you think about alternatives to traditional shampoo? Do you have any shampoo recipes to share? What is your hair brushing routine like?

Have you kicked shampoo to the curb? What was your motivation and how are things going? Would love to hear your thoughts. 

If you start to no poo after reading my series, leave me a comment so I can hear how things are going. If you try any tips I’ve shared, let me know as well. Got any to add? Please share!

In case you missed the other posts in the series, here they are.

My No Poo Secret

My Transition Phase and Method

Have an awesome Saturday!


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My No Poo Secret

This post has been sitting in my queue for months. I’ve been tinkering with it here and there, every now and then. The longer I go between edits, the longer the edits take. Do you experience this as well? Here’s hoping the wait was worth it and you enjoy the post. :)

I stopped washing my hair with shampoo at the end of April 2012.

Really? Yes! Yes! And I’m not a mess! Totally wrote that because it rhymed and showed excitement.

I basically went No Poo. Which means I stopped washing my hair the traditional way with commerical shampoo products. I started to wash with baking soda, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, aloe vera gel, essential oils and water. Although, not all at once. I spent a few months experimenting. I’ll share with you in another post. Prior to this, I had been using Live Clean Apple Cider shampoo (just the shampoo, no conditioner) for well over a year. I loved using it. The bottle felt good in my hands and I felt like it was probably one of the better shampoos at the drug store.

After the earth week lecture I went to, I was convinced that a shampoo change among other greener changes was in order. I had researched about shampoos and came across some very interesting posts on “No Poo”. Sounds disgusting right? Like we’re giving up on going #2. As it turns out, “No Poo” is just short for “No Shampoo”. You read that right, No shampoo for real. And as much as I wanted to jump on the No Poo train. I didn’t feel like I could at the moment because I didn’t know how I would be after the operation and whether I would have time/energy to tinker with a washing routine. Heck, I didn’t even know if I would need assistance in the shower or the washroom for that matter, so I wouldn’t want to put it on anyone else to help me with my new no poo routine. The idea took a backseat.

I remember being a teenager and struggling with greasy scalp and dandruff and not really knowing what to do. I would go to a beauty supply store to pick up a fairly pricey shampoo to help me with this problem. That was expensive and I relied on these products to get my mane looking tame. Ohhh that rhymed! Eventually, I stopped buying the stuff (couldn’t afford it) and returned to the regular drug store shampoos and rotated around. I still felt like my hair would end up looking terribly greasy when I washed every other day, so I went from every other day to almost every day (as often as I could). Sound familiar? Many people are in this boat with shampoos. Even though I heard that washing it often was not good as it stripped my hair of it’s natural oils, I would do it feeling that it was a necessity. Eventually, I cut back to every other day and if I stretched it I would go two days without max. The point of this story was I needed to buy a professional shampoo to get keep my scalp grease and dandruff free and it just wasn’t economical for me. Also, that gradually I found myself washing more often to prevent the greasy look.

So if you were like me, someone who found themselves washing more often than I knew was good for me, maybe you have a greasy scalp, dandruff, this post might be something for you to try out. Or maybe your a DIY’er or an aspiring DIY’er (high five!), whatever the case, you have nothing to lose by trying. Before embarking on this venture though, my hair looked and felt fine. I just wanted to try this greener and economical alternative out.

If this is the first time you are hearing about No Poo you maybe thinking this is disgusting, too “weird” for you to even consider. I would encourage you to just try to keep an open mind. This is just something that has worked out well for me and I’m sharing in hopes that if you have ever considered an alternative to shampoo, perhaps you might be open to trying this.

What is No Poo exactly? Washing without using traditional shampoo’s. The most basic method ratios.

1. Clarifying Rinse: 1 cup of water & 1 tbs of baking soda

2. Conditioning Rinse: 1 cup of water and 1 tbs of apple cider or lemon juice.

After my recovery and when I returned to work, I remember thinking about the idea and still put it in the backseat because I had gotten a few bottles I needed to use up first and besides, I was still transitioning back to real life. Lol! It was hard.

As I mentioned in this post, I had begun my journey of changing over to greener products well over a year ago. This spring (May 2 to be precise), I remembered I ran out of shampoo a couple days before and I needed to wash my hair. What was a girl to do? I was heading to the nearest Shoppers when a nagging voice inside of me went “This would be a good time to ditch shampoo”. I remembered No Poo and reread the blogs I had previously come across. This was it, what better time then now I thought. A small part of me was thinking, really? BUT it’s spring…and before I know it, it will be summer, won’t it be tough? And the bigger part of me thought, won’t I always have an excuse? Won’t life only get crazier? haha Doesn’t it always? :)

That day, I read as much as I could about other people’s experiences and was prepared for the transition that was going to happen. There would be no lather (bye bye sodium lauryl sulfates!) and my hair would be clean but probably feel very different than after I shampoo because there would be no leftover film coating it to feel soft. OK. Goodbye CRaP! Sounds good. I’m game.

Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited for this. To kiss my dependence on shampoo products goodbye was incredibly liberating. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs in excitement. I felt like this could be the one thing that inspires me to continue with DIY projects. And it did.

I won’t lie a part of me was also afraid. Could I lose friends over this? Haha Would I look so terrible that it would look like I hadn’t washed at all? Would I smell? All valid concerns. Naturally, I kept this a secret from most folks unless I felt like the opportunity was right to share. So I told a few people I trusted could handle this.

The other part of me was saying “What’s the worst that can happen? You will have pushed yourself to try something new and you will see what your hair is like without shampoo”. Things can always be worse.

I didn’t give myself a timeframe for a trial because I knew that the transition period would take a while. I figured a couple of months at least and see if I like it.

I’m proud to say I’ve been a No Poo’er a little over 6 months (it has been six months and 6 days) since I started No Poo on May 2, 2012.

During these 6 months, I got my bangs trimmed once in July and on Oct. 26, I got my hair washed and trimmed. I was so busy on Oct 26, that I didn’t think of washing my hair first before going to the salon (which is really the only way to keep it No Poo). And by the time it hit me that I was probably going to get my hair washed, I was panicking a little on the inside “What about my whole No Poo thing?” I was sort of bummed… but figured, I’m already here (there are seriously bigger problems than my hair) and my hair could use a wash (even though I would prefer washing it the No Poo way). Gross thing was, after my hair was washed and cut, my scalp tingled and the smell of the shampoo and the styling product kind of made me feel gross. I missed my No Poo ritual. haha

Needless to say. I’m a full fledged No Poo’er.

In another post, I’ll share pictures, more details on my method, resources and more on my experience so far.

Do you No Poo? What was your experience like? Enjoy this post or got something to share? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments.

Here’s wishing you a great Thursday!

- Julie

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