Julianna Yu's Blog

No ‘Poo Resources & Solutions

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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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Author: juliannayu

I love food, people and cats. I love reading about people's kitchen adventures, taking pictures of it, and sharing it with good company. I enjoy strolling, playing with cats on the street, chewing my food slowly, playing in the kitchen, curling up to a mug of hot tea and laughing with friends. This blog will include things I've done, eaten, seen, my interests, and anything else I can dream up. My hope is that you will find something you can perhaps relate to or enjoy during your visit here. Welcome to my world.

20 thoughts on “No ‘Poo Resources & Solutions

  1. Pingback: Wash Day: Natural Hair | Allie Beauty

  2. Pingback: The Many Uses For ACV | Love A Natural Me

  3. Hi, I hope you can help. I’ve been no poo for 5 1/2 months now, since sometime in October of 2012. I have wavy curls and was using the BS wash and acv condition until about January then added home made flax seed gel (no other ingredients) to my routine. I have started to notice how straw like my hair has become. Everything I find says it’s the baking soda (Issue: Dry Hair or Straw-like Texture (Cause: Too much baking soda)) I’m very confused because my hair doesn’t become straw like until I use the acv, and no matter how much I use, how long I leave it in my hair or the ratio of acv to water, my hair always turn out rough and tangled. If I just use BS and flax seed gel my hair is soft and easy to comb through. Do you have any suggestions or websites I can visit that deal with stringy tangly hair from the acv? I can’t seem to find anyone else with this issue, everything says it happens from the BS but that’s not my case. also if I use any conditioning item, oil, avocado…etc, my hair does the same thing, very straw like. I’m so confused by my hair!

    • Hi Christi,

      It sounds like you’ve done a good job of isolating what the cause may be. Unfortunately, I have not personally experienced dry/tangled/rough hair from ACV but I feel like my hair feels heavier/greasier when I use to use ACV on my scalp and ends. Even when I used a little on my head and focused mainly on the ends.
      I’m also one of those people who ended up with straw like hair from too much BS and I just decreased my BS amount to handle that.

      That being said, I’m not a no poo hair expert (is there such a thing? lol) so I’m going to suggest what I use instead of ACV.
      Since I didn’t like ACV, I ended up using fresh lemon juice (some people use the bottled stuff). I put 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice with 1 cup of water and I add lavender essential oil and keep this in the fridge in a squirt bottle. I use a bit on my scalp after the BS rinse and focus mainly on the roots of my hair.

      As for your tangled hair, I’m not sure if you brush your hair while it’s wet or dry. If you’re doing it while it’s wet, try brushing it after it’s dry. I usually blow dry and brush it out the next day. I can get away with it because I have straight hair.

      Wish you luck! Sorry I couldn’t be more useful.

  4. Hi, I’ve been “no-poo” for about 6 weeks and hair looks good but I have brown gunk coming out of my hair and I have to brush my hair so much mire often than when I used shampoo. I’m not sure if the sticky brownish stuff that’s coating my hair is coming from my brown hair dye I applied 2 months ago? Hair looks good on a positive note.

  5. Ok i research a little bit then just desided to do this no poo. The main thing im wondering is every one is washing with stuff i kinda thought it was to help durung the transitional process. It has only been 1month now for me. I work in a shop were i always wear a baseball cap any ways. So i figured why not give this a try. I have straight, kinda thin hair about down to my shoulder blades. So i guess my question is will have have to make a mixture or is no poo mean i can just rinse my hair with water & it will b ok? Which is what i thought when i was first reading things but all im seeing is people making up things to wash there hair with. Yes way better than hair soap though.

    • Hey Jane!
      I have read lots of no poo posts where some people may have started out with baking soda and apple cider vinegar/lemon rinses and then eventually just did water only rinses.
      I think it’s really up to you what you want to do. You could try doing water only and see how that goes or trying the baking soda and apple cider vinegar rinses first and then gradually mixing in the water only rinses.

  6. Hi! This post is pretty old at this point, but I thought I would add: you say that the dandruff and/or dusty white residue on brush bristles is from baking soda. I don’t believe this is the case, as I have been water-washing my hair for over a month now and it is still happening to me. I have small white flakes dispersed through my hair, the hair that come out with brushing is dusty white, and my brushes get coated in it too, to where I have to wash them daily.

    I thought I was just in the transition stage, but now I’m not sure. I’m thinking it might be hard water, or possibly that my scalp is lacking moisture or protein (which possibly a better diet might help). I’ve thought about deep conditioning periodically with coconut oil, which I did when I was no poo, but I’m hesitant because I’m not confident the water alone will wash it off.

    Anyway, you have lots of good tips, so thank you! Now to figure out how to soften my water.

    • Hi Katie!
      Thanks so much for sharing. You make a good point. Since you’re doing water only washes and experiencing the dusty white residue it could be the hard water.
      If you do soften your water and it works. Please share your results with us. 🙂

    • Hey! I have the exact same problem. I water wash and I brush everyday but I always get that dusty white residue that looks like powde in my brush and even in my fingers when I passe them through my hair. I can’t find a solution. I anyone has it, please share!

    • Hey! I have the exact same problem. I water wash and I brush everyday but I always get that dusty white residue that looks like powder in my brush and even in my fingers when I pass them through my hair. I can’t find a solution. If anyone has it, please share!

  7. Ok. So.
    I have gone water-only no poo2 months ago. Before that, I wouldn’t use that much shampoo, nor wash my hair that often (twice a week usually). The transition period only got bad in weeks 2, in which my hair was greasy and I was washing it on a daily basis and still not feeling clean, but it was alright around week 3. I moved to Japan.
    Now. 1. The water is not that hot here, and the pressure in the shower is pretty underwhelming, so i never feel like I’m washing properly. The worst part is, my hair has started falling off; every time I comb it (which has become a really troublesome task since the comb always has a hard time pulling through) I lose a bunch of it. I also have a lot of white residue on both my hair and the comb, and it’s not baking soda. My hair looks lifeless, it’s getting thinner, and while not looking totally like a greseball it pretty much feels like one; whether I wash it or not has become irrelevant since it just feels the same regardless. is this still a transition period thing, or is this how it’s going to be like unless i start using shampoo? The white residue especially looks disgusting.
    For the record, none of the other people in my dorm have this issue with the water, and we’re all using the same pipeline, so it’s definitely the lack of shampoo.

    • Hey Ruby. I’m sorry to hear about your hair falling out + looking like a grease ball.
      I’m not sure about what would cause your hair to fall out. 😦 I hope you find some answers online.

      • Hilariously enough, after I complained about it on the Internet I managed to solve the problem. All I needed was a vinegar rinse. I didn’t even think about rinsing with vinegar without using baking soda first. Live and learn!

    • Hi Ruby — I commented above about having white residue in my hair as well. Since that comment, my hair has gotten so much better. I discovered that I did in fact have very hard water, and I believe that was the contributing factor to the white residue. I have read that sebum is a combo of oil+wax — the oil moves the wax down the hair shaft and that’s what makes your hair look nice. Hard water can wash away the oil, leaving just sticky wax on your hair that collects dust (which is apparently the white residue) and making it really impossible to comb your hair.

      I now use filtered water (not sure if that matters, actually, but it’s easy enough) and I add ~1/2 tsp or less of apple cider vinegar per cup to rinse out my hair. I used empty shampoo bottles, they work well. The acv helps to neutralize the water. The less acv you can use, the better, as too much acv will ultimately dry out your hair. I no longer actually wet my hair with the water from the shower head — rather, I just lean over the tub and pour the water over my head, using my fingers to comb it through, to rinse out my hair.

      And so, I no longer rely on the water to clean my hair. Instead, I do scalp massages every day or every other day, I do what’s called “scritching and preening”, which means you use your fingers and nails to help flake away the little bits of dry scalp that everyone gets to keep your scalp healthy, and I comb through my hair with either my fingers or a boar bristle brush daily. The boar bristle brush is much better at cleaning and at moving the sebum down the hair shaft to alleviate greasy hair and make your hair shiny, but I have curly hair so it’s not my favorite thing as it ruins my curls until the next time I rinse out my hair.

      Anyway, don’t give up yet!! Try adding just a bit of acv to your water and see if it’s helps. I guess it’s not true water washing that way, but truthfully, the quality of the water does matter, and hard water is just really harsh on hair.

      • Hey =). The problem got way out of hand so I ended up getting a buzzcut and switching to medicated shampoo. I *really* don’t get along with the water here. Vinegar worked in getting the oily bits to stop being oily, but just turned everything into regular dandruff =(.

  8. I’m so thankful i found this page to solve the mystery on my dust filled comb bristles. I’ve been tackling the problem of having very dusty bristles since i started no poo two months back and i finally realised that it is most probably due to the hard water i used to make my baking soda and water solution as well as not washing away the residue enough! Thank you!

  9. Hi, I see a lot of people talking about waxy and dusty hair on the internet and most people put it down to baking soda build up or residue from hard water.

    I started no poo around 6 months ago, I had problems with flaky scalp which was bad even though using silicone free organic shampoo and conditioners for years. I used baking soda twice and then just ACV for another 2 or 3 washes each about 7 to 10 days apart which is how often I always washed my hair before since then I have been using water only which also seemed fine. My hair has never been greasy so that is not a concern, my hair seems fuller which is good but less shiny and less easy to style the way I want it. Messy natural look is the only way to go now. The main benefit is the flaky scalp has completely cleared which is why I stick with it.

    Here is the thing…I was living in London before which had hard water, I did get some of the waxy white build up when brushing but nothing too major. I have moved to another country with soft water 3 months ago and now my hair gets tangled in small clumps of waxy knots from half way down my hair, every time I brush with a comb or my BBB the brush is completely covered in white residue. my hair looks dull and lifeless and needs to be tied back in a bun most days. I still use my BBB and sleep on a silk pillowcase as I did before in London. The only thing that has changed is going from hard water to soft.

    Yesterday I lay in a bath with no soaps or bubbles, just water and a few essential oils drops and submerged my hair for a good 20 mins, so far it seems to have made a big difference. I have long hair so maybe so I am thinking that water only in the shower may not be washing dust and gunk out of my hair well enough.

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