No Shampoo Routine

.....Category: Natural Hair Articles
No Shampoo Routine

No Poo Natural Hair CareThe no-shampoo method is a concept explained in Lorraine Massey’s book entitled Curly Girl. There is a section for black hair, but unfortunately it doesn’t cater to unaltered coily hair. It touched on straw-setting, twist extensions, texturizing and “type 3″ hair.

However, there are three sections in the book I found interesting which includes “towel-scrunching”, the homemade hair recipes, and the “no-shampoo method” (or “no-poo” which is short for “no-shampoo”) in which I will discuss this routine in detail on this page.

If you find that after shampooing, your hair is hard, tangled or take a few days to ‘recover’ back to normal, you’ll definitely want to read this page or buy the book.

Note – I’ve received tons of e-mails from women (and men) of all racial backgrounds and hair types and with/without chemicals who said that this routine works for them as well.


Here are some highlights from the no-shampoo section of the book:

1. Curlies should not use shampoo as often. There are a few mild shampoos out there, but most containsodium laurel sulfate and/or sodium laureth sulfate. These ingredients will dry out your hair. Hair needs moisture – especially curly/coily hair. You can use a conditioner to “wash” your hair and it will get your hair clean. Her theory is that using friction from your fingertips along with water and conditioner gets the hair and scalp clean.

2. Instead of using shampoo, try using doing a “Conditioner Wash”.This a gentle way to cleanse your hair and to get rid of product buildup. For better results, try using light, inexpensive conditioners such as VO5, White Rain, or Suave. As long as the conditioner it is not heavy, it should be fine to use since there are enough detergents in them to cleanse the scalp & hair. (Also you can simply rinse your hair with water).

How to do a Conditioner Wash:

  1. Thoroughly soak your hair with warm water. Work out the tangles with your fingers.
  2. Take your conditioner (don’t use too much), place some in your hands and apply it to your hair and scalp (in sections if you have ‘longer’ hair). Let it sit for a bit then massage it in as if it were shampoo. Be sure to concentrate on your scalp. Use your fingertips, not your nails. Gently work out any knots in your hair with your fingers.
  3. Rinse very well with cool water.
  4. Some may use more conditioner and rinse that out after doing the “conditioner wash”. I find that this is not necessary for my hair, but experiment and see what works for you!
  5. Lastly, style your hair. The book calls for using a clear gel…I don’t care for hair gels so I usually apply a leave-in to soaking wet hair, gently towel-scrunch and I’m done!

3. Try to avoid silicones. These are any ingredient ending with “cone”. They weigh down and coat the hair shaft so moisture can’t get in. Silicone products may look great at first (shine/softness), but they may cause a nasty buildup that’s hard to get rid of without shampoo.

Here is a link that give definitions on various cones and check out this link on ingredients you should try to avoid.

4. Stay away from blow drying.Try towel-scrunching, air-drying or wear styles that don’t require heat like twists/twist-outs etc.

5. Lastly, try to accept your curls/coils & work with them instead of frying them.

This is the theory: This routine *may* work since you’re not drying hair out with shampoo, you’re keeping hair well conditioned, removing build-up of styling products in a gentle way, and you’re using products that do not weigh hair down.

Here’s an interesting quote from the book Curly Girl:

“You’d never dream of washing a good sweater with detergent. Yet most shampoos contain harsh detergents (sodium lauryl sulfate or laureth sulfate) that one finds in dishwashing liquid. They’re great for pots and pans because they cut grease so effectively.

You’re hair on the other hand, needs to retain some natural oils, which protect your hair and scalp. Stripping them away deprives the hair of necessary moisture and amino acids and makes it look dry and dull.”

The truth is that lathers don’t cleanse at all – manufacturers put lathering agents into products so you’ll buy into the joy-of-suds myth.”

Clarifying Treatments

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You may need to clarify you hair once in a while to remove build-up. If your hair is starting to look dull or not responding to products, try using anyone of the these hair-clarifying treatments. It will help bring you hair back to life, get it clean and most importantly they are all gentle on the hair.

I always clarify before doing a deep conditioning treatment. Otherwise you will be deep conditioning over product buildup which really won’t benefit the hair. These are all great alternatives to those harsh clarifying shampoos:

  • Mix about 3 parts conditioner to 1 part lemon juice. I use bottled lemon juice instead of juice from a real lemon. It’s much easier and I don’t have to deal with pulp and seeds.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 cup of warm water (use 1 tbs to 2 cups of warm water). For longer hair, use 2-3 tbs of baking soda with 32 oz of warm water. You can place the mixture in a spray bottle or just pour it over your hair. Massage it in, rinse out well and use a conditioner afterwards. (I mix it in a cup and pour it over my head over the sink and I always deep condition after using this treatment.) It makes my hair feel so clean without that dry, squeaky feeling. The mixture is liquidity – not pasty. (Note – I find this cleanse my hair the best.)
  • Mix a little baking soda with your conditioner.
  • Use a ‘clarifying conditioner’, such as VO5 Kiwi & Lime.
  • If you need to exfoliate your scalp or combat itchiness, try a Scalp Scrub: Mix 2 tbs conditioner with 1 tbs brown sugar. It is not harsh or abrasive as it may sound. Don’t use regular sugar, it will just dissolve.


There’s quite a few women on many hair message boards with kinky hair that tried this method and had success. Some reported the following:

  • Softer hair.
  • Less dry hair
  • Cleaner scalp
  • Super moisturized hair
  • Having more curls/coils
  • No more flakes or itchy scalp
  • Less breakage and minimal shedding
  • Not having to comb-out as often (since it’s softer)
  • More elasticity (which leads to less breakage)
  • Not having to use as many hair products since it’s not as dry or hard as before.


This method may not work if:

  • You use a lot of oils and/or hair grease
  • You don’t like to wet your hair often (at least every few days when wearing your hair out)
  • You don’t like mixing basic ingredients together
  • You use chemicals often (hair color, texturizer, relaxer etc.)
  • You use lots of products and pile them all on your hair
  • If your scalp or hair is oily
  • If you have severe dandruff
  • If you’re concerned with shrinkage because your hair may *appear* to be shorter. My hair has gotten so much more coily/curly since I stopped using harsh shampoos. (Lorraine speaks about this in her book.)

Here is a comparison pic taken 2 months after starting this routine. Sorry it’s not clear, but you can still see the difference. :)

No Poo Natural Hair

My Experience

When I stopped using shampoo, I wasn’t having any specific problems with my hair. My routine at the time was working for me. However at times my hair seemed a bit dry at times or after shampooing my hair needed a few days to recover. I never thought it was from the shampoo though. I just dealt with it by piling on oils.

When I first heard about the no-shampoo method I was like ‘that’s gross!’ After reading about it and realized the method is not about promoting dirty hair (lol), I decided to try it because of the simplicity of it. Also, the concept made sense to me. I figured…I have nothing to lose. It’s free and it won’t damage my hair. If l liked the results, it’s just one less product I need to buy. If I didn’t like the results, I can always go back to shampooing.

For those of you who are concerned with doing this method, I have no problem keeping my hair clean, it doesn’t smell and it’s not itchy. I go to the gym at least 4-5 times per week and I don’t have problems with cleanliness. It did take me a few tries to actually go through with this. It’s so engraved that bubbles = clean, which is not really true. It may take you a few tries to wean your hair from using shampoo and seeing bubbles.

I noticed changes after the first two weeks (so did my friends and family). After being on the “no-poo” routine for almost 4 years now, my hair seems to get better and better. It’s much more bigger, softer and moisturized than ever before. Since I don’t use any chemicals, I don’t think I will ever use shampoo again, I really don’t need it! In fact the conditioners I use has a little sud action going on when I massage it in my hair. Here are my experiences:

  • It has made my hair softer.
  • I am able to detangle much faster and easier.
  • I have more curls/coils than I did before.
  • I have less frizz, (I was never concerned with that though).
  • I use way less products than before.
  • I’m saving a lot of money from not buying shampoo, extra hair products and oils.
  • My hair has become much more flexible and “elastic” thus less breakage and knots on the ends.
  • It may sound crazy, but my hair is cleaner than it was when I used shampoo.


If you’re not ready to give up the shampoo completely, here’s a list of some alternative things you do or use instead of using traditional shampoo:

If you use shampoo, lookout for these ingredients in your products:

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) – very harsh
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES)- harsh
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – harsh
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – milder, but still harsh
  • Sodium Myreth Sulfate, TEA Lauryl Sulfate & TEA Laureth Sulfate – decent choices
  • Coconut Soap, Olive Oil Soap or Cocamidopropyl Betaine – BEST CHOICE

Good luck!

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