Julianna Yu's Blog


My No Poo Update

8ZzOUHeyyy! I’ve been keeping you in suspense for months. Hope you had an incredible summer and great kick off to the fall season.

Does she still no ‘poo? Has she done more experimenting? What is she washing her hair with?  So many changes ya’ll.. mm..not really..but sorta.. hang on tight. I’m going to address all of that. 🙂

First of all, I went into this alternative hair washing method for mainly these reasons:

  1. To go longer without hair washing
  2. Reducing my exposure to harmful ingredients
  3. Neat DIY

And most importantly, I went in with an open mind. I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy transition but I wanted to make an effort to try this routine out. I knew that as my routine and life circumstances changed, it might make more sense for me to buy shampoo (cleaners with low toxins of course).

I can’t believe I started making my own rinses since the end of April 2012 – That’s 2 years and 5 months. Whoa.

Early on this spring, I tried a few shampoos from the health food store with mixed results. I tried a few bottles but I still felt my hair felt cleaner with no ‘poo and could go longer without washes with no poo. My hair tended to feel oilier after a day of washing. I’d use dry shampoo to stretch out my washings by another day or two and style my hair in braids. As with no poo, I could usually go 3 days from wash day to my next wash. So naturally, I went back to no poo after I finished a bottle.

A couple of changes I made since my No Poo series was I swapped ACV for lemon juice this summer, mainly to just see if it would work and so I wouldn’t have to refrigerate it. The latest change I made was stop using baking soda for my washes… Let me explain. 🙂


Baking Soda, ACV Rinses & PH levels

The last time I washed my hair with baking soda might’ve been a couple weeks ago. *sigh* here it goes. I read Baking Soda Destroyed My Hair by Kanelstrand (Her blog goes into detail about the PH level with diagrams too! Definitely good to check out if you’re currently no poo’ing) that highlighted the effects of raising your scalp/hair’s PH level ((baking soda is alkaline and ACV is acidic) and lowering it in a short amount of time isn’t good for your hair in the long run because it makes your hair prone to breakage and dryness. And hence the importance of looking for a PH balanced shampoo.

The more I read, the more it made sense for me to try another alternative. I was experiencing some dryness and decided to try a shampoo recipe with aloe vera and glycerin from a blog post about no-poo alternatives by Sara at My Merry Messy Life. The mistake I made was that I read the post really fast and missed the part where Sara says she likes using it to freshen up her curls. She has curly hair but I don’t…and I didn’t realize this until after the 2nd wash. Regardless of my mistake, I really appreciated the insights from her post.

I happily mixed up a concoction of vegetable glycerin with aloe vera and some essential oils and I washed my hair. My hair felt heavy but I figured I was probably transitioning. So, I waited 3 days and used dry shampoo for the 2nd and 3rd day. On wash day, I washed it and it felt kind of greasy but I figured once again it was probably the transition. The next morning I looked like I had just slicked my entire scalp in gel.. So, I put my hair in a bun. I looked like I was ready to ready for a ballet exam or recital. GROSS.

I had no time for tears. My hair looked absolutely disgusting but it was clean and I was going to work out that day so I would deal with it in the evening.

I tried a PH balanced coconut milk and aloe vera gel recipe. I loved how simple this recipe was but given the state of my GREASY scalp, it wasn’t cutting it. I felt I needed baking soda. It’s a hard habit to break. I tried to mix a little bit in my palm with water and I scrubbed my head. It was still heavy with the residue/grease. I reached for the last bit of Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Shampoo by Live Clean from my pre-no ‘poo days. It was the best decision in that moment but I also felt defeated to be honest. I knew I needed something to remove all the buildup in my hair. There have been different times that I have returned to using this clarifying shampoo – a couple of weeks in June 2013 and a few times during my mom’s treatment this fall and this instance.

I had revisited the curly hair shampoo recipe post after I woke up with the really greasy ballet bun hair and realized the mistake I had made.


My Current Routine.

I decided the day of the greasy ballet hair bun to pick up a couple of new products to try from the health food store because I had no time/energy/patience to devote to tweaking hair recipes on top of my current routine. I probably spent about an hour in the store reading labels and checking the handy Good Guide app on my phone that scores the product based on the health concerns, the environmental and societal impact of the product. I can easily scan the product’s barcode with my phone to pull up this information while I’m shopping.

I have been using TheraNeem Gentle Therape Shampoo for the past two weeks (washing every 3-4 days), I am loving the mild scent and the lather was a surprise. I wet my scalp and scrub it as I normally would before adding rinses, and then I add in the shampoo and scrub really well all over. I wait a few minutes then rinse out the shampoo and towel dry as much as I can then blow dry.

I brush with a boar bristle brush everyday and I use my own dry shampoo (another recipe for another post) when my the crown of my head looks a bit oily (usually 2-3 days after a wash) or I’ll just put my hair up or braid it.

I will likely experiment with DIY shampoo recipes again – I would love to use more pantry items like herbs and tea. But right now, I’m going to use up what I’ve bought so far. I am not too ecstatic with the higher price tag.

Are you a no poo’er? Do you wash with baking soda? If you’re a no poo’er have you experimented with any baking soda free recipes? Do you have any PH balanced shampoo recipes to share?

Hope you have a great weekend!

If you’re interested in reading about the No Poo series: start with My No Poo Secret followed by the Transition Phase & Method and if you want more, Resources & Solutions 



No ‘Poo: My Transition Phase & Method

This is the second post in my No ‘Poo series. If you didn’t read that one yet, check out my No ‘Poo post here. If you’re still following this blog after reading that last post, well I’m glad we’re friends still and you aren’t completely put off by the idea. Thanks for keeping an open mind.

I’m at a cafe right now listening to The End is Near by Band of Heroes. I Shazam’d that. I definitely don’t use Shazam enough but I love that this app exists. I’m always tempted to use it at cafes but it’s difficult when it’s too loud inside. Luckily, it’s quiet here so it picked it up. I can barely make out the lyrics but the tune is familiar… Oh yes, The O.C. lol Yeah, I use to watch that and as much as I’m embarassed to admit that, one of the reasons I liked that show was the music.

I just reread my journal entries of my No ‘Poo Experiment from the first two months. I journaled weekly. WEEKLY!? Revisiting the entries reminds me of how far I’ve come and boy how frustrating the transition felt. I’m not going to lie, I had moments where I felt like I was going crazy. I still look back and think, really? I did that and for the most part I only consulted blogs? That’s some serious commitment to giving this a shot. I didn’t want anyone to convince me to give up on this, so that’s probably why I didn’t tell very many people to begin with. It’s too easy to give up when things get tough.

A couple of friends became involved when I ran up to them in my very honest moments saying things like: “Do I look gross? Greasy right?? *nervous chuckle* Be honest.” and happier moments like “Smell me. You’ll never guess what I used.” It’s obvious I trust these two. And I’m lucky to know them in real life. Cherry and Shaza are bloggers too. Definitely check them out.

Before I explain my transition, I thought I’d list out the reasons behind why I decided to embark on this No ‘Poo experiment.

My Reasons for Going No ‘Poo

  1. Better for scalp and hair. Shampoo is a detergent. It strips your hair of sebum (the oil your scalp naturally produces). The more you wash, the more often you need to wash. It’s a bad cycle.
  2. Less chemicals: The chemicals used in traditional shampoo can easily get absorbed into your scalp. Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Sulfates (SLS and SLES) creates a lather that we associate with “cleaning”. The mineral oil in shampoo coats your hair giving it that oh so lovely but artificial shine that we associate with healthy hair BUT this chemical doesn’t easily absorb into your skin, so you’re left with grease that you need to wash out with more shampoo. GROSS. Learned this tip from SimpleMom.
  3. Less waste: when you reuse bottles and refill them, you are cutting back on waste. Hurray!
  4. Another way to use household ingredients that serve other purposes (multi-use products): essential oils, aloe vera gel, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and water
  5. Save money. 🙂
  6. Feels good to have a DIY beauty product that’s easy to make and travel with.
  7. Hair looks better and styles better. Yes, even curly and wavy haired ladies. Like Faye here.

Most posts I’ve read will share that the transition phase can vary from a few weeks to a few months. Everyone will be different because our hair is different, our old washing routine and how many products we use can effect how long it takes. I decided to only share the first month of my transition. You’ll see that a lot of tweaking happend but that over time I got a handle on things. I would say that it took me a good 2-3 months of tweaking which was due to many factors: washing too much, humid and hot weather, getting better about brushing and washing brushes and scrubbing/rinsing well.

In most no ‘poo posts, you’ll find people usually have a rinse with baking soda (or make a paste with baking soda and water) followed by a rinse with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. The baking soda opens up the hair cuticle and the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar closes it up. This restores the PH of the hair and leaves it soft, shiny and smooth.

My No Poo Ingredients.

My Transition Phase.

Week 1 : Excited for something new, prepared for change in textures, change in routine and no lather.


  • Clarifying Rinse: 1 tbsp of baking soda (BS) and 1 cup of water
  • Conditioning Rinse: 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and 1 cup of water


  • Starting focusing on scrubbing scalp with finger tips and water. Then pouring the entire clarifying rinse scrubbing some more and rinsing the solution out.
  • Finished with pouring the conditioning rinse all over my head. Scrubbing all over and rinsing it out.
  • During washing hair felt greasy/heavy and after blow drying, I noticed a bit of dandruff
  • Crown was bit heavy/greasy but always looked better next morning
  • I wasn’t waiting too long between washes – generally about two days.

I’m going to be completely honest. My first couple of washes were not as bad as I thought it would be. haha My hair felt greasy/heavier around the scalp and my hair felt a bit dryer than usual after the conditioning rinse but once I blew dry it looked normal.

Week 2 : Oily & Greasy Mess//Lesson Learned – Don’t add oils during your transition phase unless you’re hair is really dry. If it is dry, try tweaking the BS amount first. And when you do decide to use jojoba oil, add a little bit and only on the ends of your hair not near the scalp.


  • Clarifying Rinse: 2 tbsp of baking soda (BS) and 1 cup of water
  • Changed the clarifying rinse to 2 tbsp of BS and 1 cup of water. My hair would still feel heavy/waxy after washing but after blow drying it looked normal.
  • Conditioning Rinse: 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and 1 cup of water


  • Used hot tap water for Baking Soda rinse and for washing out that rinse.
  • Used cold water for the conditioning ACV rinse only on the ends of my hair.
  • I read somewhere about using hot water for the BS rinse and cold water for the ACV rinse.

In retrospect, because my first couple of washes went well, it kind of fooled me and made me think that my transition wouldn’t be so bad after all. Wrong. My third wash made me crazy. I was excited about experimenting and wanted to try to incorporate some jojoba oil (I already had on hand) after the BS rinse but before the conditioning rinse. I added a few drops of jojoba oil into my palm (I meant to only add one drop but a couple of extra came out). It is an incredibly moisturizing oil that I find is heavier than almond and grape seed on my face. Oh dear.. I knew this wasn’t going to be good. I rubbed the oil between my hands and massaged it into my hair. Big mistake. As I’ve already mentioned my hair was already oily from my old washing routine. I finished with the conditioning ACV rinse and my head was left feeling heavy, waxy, and sort of greasy looking. This is going to be bad.

I blew dry my hair like normal hoping that after it dried it would look better. Nope. OK, so I have a bad hair day. Things could be worse. Side note: I say that a lot don’t I? haha Life has taught me that things can get worse and to make the most of it when things are going well.

I pushed forward and went to work. I needed to tell someone about my No Poo experiment (did I look as bad as I thought?) and so I told my co-worker & friend about my experiment. I went up to Cherry and told her I wanted to tell her a secret and I wanted her to tell me if I looked as gross as I thought I did. She said I did look greasy yes. hahah We both had a good laugh and I went about my day. I was so relieved when she didn’t make a face and called me gross. Cherry smiled and said that it was something she wanted to try too.

I knew I should hold back on washing for at least a few days but I couldn’t. I needed to remedy the situation asap. So, I told my bestest bud at work Shaza and she said that when people do an oil treatment on their hair with coconut oil and olive oil and find it’s still greasy after washing, they just wash more to get it out. Hmm… my dilemma was that I wasn’t using shampoo so it wasn’t going to be as easy as that. This is where I needed to tweak my ratio. It had to be more baking soda because my hair was oilier than ever. In my recipe above, I doubled the BS amount that night.

Week 3 : VERY Itchy scalp, dandruff and greasy around crown and dry straw-like hair. Not a pretty picture. Lesson Learned: Rinse out the BS very well and use a Boar brush.


  • Clarifying Rinse: 1 tbsp of baking soda (BS) and 1 cup of water.
  • Changed Clarifying BS Rinse back to 1 tbsp of BS and 1 cup of hot tap water.
  • Made an additional moisturizing BS rinse with oil: Used 2 cups of warm tap water and mixed with 2 tbsp of baking soda and 1 drop of jojoba oil (I read somewhere that essential oils should be diluted in oil) and 1 drop of lavender essential oil (to help with the itchiness) to fill my new squeeze bottle
  • Conditioning Rinse: 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and 1 cup of water


  • Used cold water for the conditioning ACV rinse only on the ends of my hair.
  • Bought a boar brush to bring sebum (scalp oil) from root to tips of hair. Started brushing daily
  • Before heading into shower for a wash, brushed with boar brush, then use a fine tooth comb
  • Scrubbed scalp throughly focusing on greasy crown areas in the hot water in the shower
  • Poured the cup of baking soda rinse (the warm water with 1 tbl of BS) all over and scrubbed again thoroughly focusing on all the problem greasy areas.
  • Waited for a minute. Then rinsed and scrubbed scalp again
  • Then used squeeze bottle to just squeeze a little bit of the moisturizing baking soda rinse (only used about ÂĽ cup)
  • Scrubbed scalp again really well then rinsed
  • Used ACV rinse on my ends and rinsed again
  • Towel dried (I read somewhere that this could help with the greasiness)
  • Then just use my fingers to arrange my hair (heard not to comb hair when wet)

Week 3 was probably the most challenging week. The itchiness made me feel like scratching my head like crazy. When, I got home and brushed, there was a bit of dandruff and baking soda residue on my boar brush. I felt this could be the source of my itchy scalp – leftover baking soda that wasn’t rinsed out. I spent a lot of time researching how to deal with dry hair and a greasy scalp and devised the above method. I read somewhere that essential oils needed to be mixed with a carrier oil so that’s why I incorporated the jojoba oil.

Week 3 & Week 4 : Other Good Habits I Incorporated

  • Washed my brushes and combs weekly with hot tap water and bit of dr. bonner’s liquid soap.
  • I cut back on washing to just twice a week. I decided I needed to in order for my scalp to regulate the oil production and not to further aggravate my hair (stop the itching!) by using BS so often.
  • I did a water only rinse (comb out my hair, wet my head with hot water, scrubbed my scalp, rinsed with hot water, then followed by cold water) between my hair washes
  • Used dry shampoo on days when hair around my scalp looked greasy. I will do a separate post on my dry shampoo recipe.
  • As a result of the changes scalp no longer itches

Present Day : After about 6.5 months of no ‘poo and going strong.


  • Clarifying Rinse: 1tbsp BS and 1 cup of hot tap water. Use entire solution every time.
  • Conditioning lemon rinse: 1tbsp of lemon with 1 cup of cold water with 1 drop of lavender and/or peppermint essential oil. Refridgerate after use. I just use a bit on my scalp and a lot on my ends after I use the shampoo rinse. In June (a month after I started No Poo) I started using lemon juice in place of ACV and at the end of the month I started to add lavendar essential oil. I didn’t add a carrier oil in my conditioning rinse because I noticed other similar recipes on the webs didn’t use a carrier oil and I was afraid at that point to over condition my hair with oil.


  • Comb before washing hair.
  • Massage head while wetting it in hot water.
  • Use shampoo rinse to cover head and massage/scrub scalp well, focusing on crown.
  • Let it sit in head for 1 minute.
  • Rinse well with hot water.
  • Use conditioning rinse all over scalp (just a bit) then concentrate on ends.
  • Let it sit in head for 1 minute.
  • Rinse well in cold water.
  • Towel dry well.
  • Blow dry if no time to naturally dry.
  • Don’t brush out hair when wet.

Also Essential to My Hair Care Routine

  • Brush out hair daily – start with tips and move up (Joyous Health hair brushing tip). I usually brush in layers separating my hair in 4 from bottom to the top. I’ve gotten compliments. 🙂
  • Wash brushes/combs weekly.
  • Occasionally use dry shampoo if I am in need of a touch up but it’s too soon to wash. Usually this might happen the day I’m going to wash my hair. The hair around the scalp will look shinier/greasier looking. Especially the more frequently I wash it.

My current method works well. I will continue to experiment though and just recently started using ACV again. Here are some pictures of me during my 2.5 month mark.

Feeling a little silly taking pictures of my hair outside while people are having lunch. Whatevs! Great sunny weather that day in July to be doing it.

Side shot.

Back shot.

Backshot with the crown of my head.

Hair washing day in New York. You can see the bangs are a bit greasy. Obviously a before hair washing pic. haha

Even though I only shared about my first month of my transition, I would say it took about 2-2.5 months for my hair to adjust

Look out for my next post on factors to consider and ways to tweak your method to fix your hair/scalp issues and the no poo blog resources I used.

Now, what about you? Have you tried no ‘poo? If not, what are your thoughts? If so, what was your experience like? And are you still going no ‘poo? Please share! Let’s get a discussion going.