Nourishing Flourishing

No ‘Poo Update!

8 Aug

So, Heather (of Heather Eats Almond Butter) recently linked to me because she is trying out the “no-’poo” method I wrote about here and here months ago. I had no idea so many people were interested in thiswhoa! To summarize (though I highly recommend checking out the second post, in particular, which answers many FAQs), the “No [sham]Poo” method uses a mixture of baking soda and water to cleanse your hair. Then, a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water is used as a conditioner. I have been meaning to post an update for a few weeks (as I mentioned in my 7 Links post), but am just now getting around to it. You can read about HEAB’s experience thus far here, and Stephen [of neverhomemaker] hereThis little article (featured on NPR) explains some of the reasons why people are avoiding shampoo. And now, I’m going to write the next chapter of my own story…

Where I left off last time was this being my new favorite. I had found my groove after a transition period, washed my hair a little less than usual, and was generally really pleased to not be dumping unnecessary manufactured chemicals (many being known carcinogens) onto my body and down the drain. (Not to mention that I was saving some serious cash. [P.S. Why do we use the phrase "not to mention" when we obviously always follow it by mentioning the thing we are supposedly not mentioning...?]) But something was going on that I kept dismissing… it seemed like it was just in my head. But it wasn’t. It was on my head.

(Yes, sorry… I am indeed warming my bum over a fire
whilst drinking coffee out of a Klean Kanteen cap. You know how classy I am.)

After searching through some forums, my suspicions seemed tentatively confirmed; I found out that I was not the only one wondering if my hair was turning a bit lighter, and maybe even a tad chestnut, after using this method for a few months. While the vast majority of individuals no ‘poo-ing it thought the rest of us were taking crazy pills, we were a small but sane bunch. Now, just to be totally clear: I am not 100%, convinced that the baking soda method was the culprit for my hair tone changing. In fact, every summer (including ones before I started this no ‘poo jazz), my hair gets natural highlights from the sun like whoa, and stylists often think I dye it to achieve such results (I have never colored my hair). I didn’t start noticing the lightening until months after I started using the baking soda, and I wonder if I was getting overzealous with how much I applied. I have only read about a few other people experiencing this lightening, so don’t let this freak you out. It could work beautifully for you! I just wanted to be transparent and keep you in the loop since so many were curious. Currently, I’m trying to find my new shampoo substitute; I gravitate towards Dr. Bronner’s because of it’s simple and healthy ingredients.

So. Here’s the thing: you should not disregard the method simply because of my (very uncertain) experience… Give it a shot! I still believe this is a great method for most people, and I will always swear by the ACV conditioner — nothing has made my hair healthier, ever. If you try nothing else, try the ACV and water as a conditioner. If you notice something that bothers you after 6 weeks (yes, remember, you need to give it a good transition window), drop the baking soda like it’s hot and move on to Dr. Bronner’s. No worries. But if you don’t find any troublesome side effects, why the heck not? It will cost you about 50 cents a month to do this, and be better for the environment than 99.9% of conventional products.

I’ll keep you posted on my final routine — whether or not I return to the baking soda method : )

Ok. Enough of this. Epic recipes coming your way this week. Get your excited face on, and your tea hot. You heard me.

What “eco-friendly” and healthy/healthiER personal products do you use? Is this something you have tried or want to try?

Have I scared you off?!?

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Related posts:

I Don't Wash My Hair.
Learning to Love
Love from Colorado, and Beyond...

52 Responses to “No ‘Poo Update!”

  1. Matt @ The Athlete's Plate August 8, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    I <3 my organic coconut shampoo and body wash :)

  2. Holly @ The Runny Egg August 8, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    Thanks for the honest update Katie! To tell you the truth, this does not scare me off — if your hair had turned a strange color, then maybe that would scare me, but just lighter? No big deal :)

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      Some people like the fact that it lightens things up, so more power to them! I just have black eyebrows so it looks preeetty awkward ;) Hehe.

  3. Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats August 8, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    I love my body wash for Earth lovers from The Body Shop. I am looking to gradually switch out all of the products I use for more eco friendly options. As they run out, I want to replace them with something new! :) Do know if any of the Dr. Bronner’s products have a lighter scent? Some of the ones I have smelled are really overpowering!

    • lynn August 8, 2011 at 11:50 am #

      instead of using the lquid dr bronners, try the BAR. its like 5 bucks, but seriously i spin it in my hands twice and that does my hair [which, although thin, goes most of the way down my back.] i also use the bar on my body [2 spins does my arms and front torso, 2 spins for my back torso, and two spins for my 5' 7". i simply wipe 3 fingers over the length of the bar and that does my face and neck. you seriously do NOT need much of dr bronners! lol. but the bar is MUCH less potent. :) [plus, its one less ingredient since they dont add an additive to keep the soap suspended in liquid form.] HTH!

      • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

        Thanks for the tip, Lynn! I dilute the Dr. Bronner’s with half water, so now I need to see which of these is most cost-effective — I’m wondering if it would be the bar, since it “dilutes” itself when you add water to it for lather, right? Hmmm… Great point!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      Yes — they have a baby unscented one! And I have noticed that with the almond at least, the scent fades when you dry off. :) Let me know how it goes if you switch!

  4. Liz @ IHeartVegetables August 8, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Haha I think this is really interesting! I’m not sure if I could give up my shampoo habit ;) haha I do use dry shampoo sometimes, although that’s probably more chemicals than I wanna think about!

  5. Stephanie @ August 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Intriguing… what about post-wash/condition product, then? Any magical answers for that? That’s where most of my $$ and angst seem to go, anyway.

    I’m all about enviro-cleaners. I jumped on the Norwex cloth bandwagon and use natural cleaners for everything else, like the toilet. Next necessary amendment for me will be clothes detergent… the only problem is that in Sao Paulo, there’s no hot water for washing whites, so I need something that’ll really do the trick. Hm.

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

      Ah. Good question. In the second post, I list some other ideas and links for hair care products outside of shampoo and conditioner. It kind of depends on what you’re looking for. I know flax seed and water (w/aloe vera for moisture) works great as hair gel (see Noelle’s comment), and aloe vera can also be used on it’s own as a moisturizer/sealer/de-frizzer. Let me know what you’re specifically looking for and I’ll do some research! :)

      I haven’t heard about Norwex before. Have you heard of soap nuts? I’m looking into that right now. Not sure about the whites situation though… I’ll see if I can find any solutions for that conundrum :)

      • Stephanie @ August 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

        Duh. How did I miss that about products? I swear I can read! ;)

        I have naturally curly/wavy hair, and LOTS of it. Some is thick, some is fine. I usually straighten it with the flatiron, so something that might protect my hair when it comes to heat… that’s a dream come true for me.

        And Norwex ( is a brand of enviro-clothes, but I prefer it to the other brands because I’ve seen the clinical studies and their results first-hand. Haven’t heard of soap nuts, but now I’m googling! Thanks, Katie!

  6. Sophie August 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    This is a great post and I had a read through the original two posts – really informative! I have a question though, (which you might not be able to answer as we have completely different hair!) the main reason I wash my hair every other day and use conditioner is because otherwise it would get really knotty and messy, do you have any suggestions for a replacement? I don’t think coconut oil would be enough!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 9, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

      Thanks Sophie! Hmm…knotty and messy. Is you hair curly? If so, check out Noelle’s comment — it might be helpful! If it’s not, Dr. Bronner’s now makes a hair creme that looks really legit. It might be worth a shot — it is supposed to be great for those rat’s nest-prone hair types :) I’ll let you know if I come across anything else!

      • Sophie August 10, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

        Yes it is curly, I’ll read it now thank you!
        I’ve never seen Dr. Bronner, I’ll look it up. Thanks for your help :-)

  7. Heather Eats Almond Butter August 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Wow, your hair really did lighten up. Kind of hoping mine does – would save me from having to get it highlighted so often.

    And never thought about this: Why do we use the phrase “not to mention” when we obviously always follow it by mentioning the thing we are supposedly not mentioning…? Haha – so true! Why do we do that?

    Hope you had a good Monday Katie, and I totally stand with my butt facing the oven while I’m baking something or will warm my hands over the stove-top burner during the winter. No shame in trying to stay warm. :)

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      My mom said she used to use this method with the intent of lightening her hair, and she had great highlights as a result — should be worth a shot! You’ll have to keep me posted on that. If my eyebrows and lashes weren’t black as night, I probably wouldn’t mind the lightening effect so much…ha.

      I do the same thing in the winter — no shame in our game! :) Hope you are having a delightful time, sans bats now ;)

      • Rebecca February 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

        I’ve had naturally blond hair and black eyebrows/lashes all my life. I never really thought of it as weird ;)

        • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing February 25, 2013 at 8:04 am #

          You shouldn’t, of course — you’re gorgeous! I’m self-conscious of the lighter hair, darker eyebrows because my eyebrows are pretty thick, and my brothers teased me a lot. :) I think that look is beautiful when it’s natural, I just felt like when my hair lightened, it didn’t look like me anymore! xo

  8. Pure2raw twins August 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Thanks for the update Katie! We have tried the baking soda method but do not use it has often as we would like. Know seeing that it might actually lighten our hair color we are more intrigued LOL We will let you know how it goes!!!


  9. Noelle August 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    I have been using curl deva no-poo and conditioner…lots of essential oils which my curlies really love. Also have been making my own hair gel from flax seed and a touch of natural aloe vera gel for moisture – it works great! and you know how curly my hair is ;-) I think I need the extra oils for the curls because i only “comb” through my hair with my fingers when it’s wet and conditioned…i wonder if the acv would have the same knot loosening effect? Also, I am in love with Southwest Sunshine Herbal facial care. It’s poo and chemical free. My skin has never been healthier – beautiful!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      My grandma swore by the flax gel! Must be why all the women in her generation had such luscious locks in those old photos ;) I hear the ACV has the same knot-loosening effect, yes. I am going to check out the face schtuff you recommended. I love Himalaya brand face wash, but I want to look into this now! :)

    • Sophie August 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

      This is really great info, I have curly hair and definitely need a knot loosening effect! Thank you :-)

  10. Sarah August 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Funny that it lightened your hair. My daughter and I had the opposite effect. It actually darkened our hair quite a bit. Not sure why, but it happened within a couple weeks of making the change so I know that’s what it was. My problem though is I never feel like I can get the baking soda all over (I have really thick hair) and so I always feel like my hair is dirty. I tried twice to go no-poo and have finally given up. I think I’ll try Dr. Bronner’s and see how it goes. We already use that for our bodies, just never thought of using it for my hair. The almond scent is my fav!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      Hi Sarah! Yes, it darkened mine at first, but then after a couple months it went all blondish on me! So strange. I suppose that made it seem like a more drastic change to me. I know what you mean about the baking soda distribution; I ended up mixing mine with a lot of water in order to pour it all over, and it worked pretty well once I got the hang of that. I don’t have thick hair, just a lot of thin hair! ;) I saw one comment above that said to try using the Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps — I think I’m going to see how that goes, instead of the liquid I use now (I dilute it with half water). We have the almond too! :) I think I’m going to try peppermint next time to change it up. Have you seen their new shikaki soaps? They were awesome when I used a sample size on my hair while traveling! Loved it even more than the regular stuff. And I see they now have creme rinses for hair — interesting!

      • Sarah August 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

        Must be that I stopped using it before it went light again. Just to warn you, the peppermint is very strong and I can’t use it for my body. Bought a bottle and it’s just sitting on the bathroom shelf. Might work for hair though. Haven’t seen the shikaki soaps though. I need to look for those!

        • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

          Sarah — yes, I used the peppermint in a sample size it was definitely potent! Thanks for the warning :) I always dilute my Bronner’s with at least half water, so I’ll do that for sure. I do love the smell and tingle of peppermint though! :) If you try and like the Shikaki let me know. xo

  11. Sasha August 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Hi Katie,

    I am so glad to see that you are helping to raise awareness about the toxic nature of the American cosmetic industry! It is extremely important and I wish that more heath bloggers would recognize the damage caused by using mainstream personal care products. I also skip shampoo. My personal favorite line of products comes from Intelligent Nutrients. I use their hair conditioner, and gently massage it into my scalp which helps to cleanse it. They are a pioneering company that uses only USDA certified organic food grade ingredients in the products (and are supported by the Environmental Working Group). You should check them out!

  12. Kate August 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    thats crazy it lightened your hair, I still have yet to try the method but I definitely want to although I am afraid of my hair getting lighter, I might just have to try the vinegar!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 10, 2011 at 10:32 am #

      My hair actually got darker at first, and then it got lighter! :) But it’s totally worth just trying out the vinegar if you want to skip the baking soda part.

  13. Amanda August 10, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    Hi Katie
    I found your blog from HEAB. I have tried the no poo method twice now and ended up with a rats nest of tangled hair! I so want to make this work because I have interstitial cystitis and hate using chemicals on my body. I wonder if its because my hair is colored? I’m going to try and get that fixed on friday. I have thin, straight hair, but tons and tons of it! I usually have to use thick moisturizing conditioner from biolage, which has parabens in it, just to be able to comb my hair after a shower. Even now I don’t wash it every day
    Your hair looks great! And I wouldn’t mind the natural lightening effect either! Shampoo and conditioner are the only products I use that are not natural, and I want to change that.

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 10, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      Hi Amanda! Yes, having colored hair will affect the no ‘poo method, from what I understand. Did you use both the baking soda and ACV components? The ACV is what helped my hair become more manageable. I have thin hair, but lots of it, too! :) Have you tried the hair cream rinse that Dr. Bronner’s is putting out now? Might be worth a try! A more natural (though not chemical-free by any means) hair line I used to use is Giovanni, and they were pretty good at getting those tangles out of my hair. I’ve also had luck with coconut oil. This ( is a great site if you want to look up other products and find some that might be safer, but more conventional than, say, a no ‘poo method. Let me know if I can do anything to help! <3

      • Amanda August 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

        Yep I used the ACV…that seems to be where things go very very wrong! I wonder if honey would help to moisturize things for me? I have also used Giovanni products in the past…tangled, hair falling out mess! I don’t know what is up with my hair turning into such a mess I can’t even comb it with a wide tooth comb! I can only think its the color.
        I’m going to give the Dr. Bronner’s cream rinse a try to see if that helps. The BS did help clear up my mess of stress psorisis that broke out from bats in the house! EEKKK

        • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

          Oh no :( Hmm… I would guess it’s the color, but yes, I heard honey is awesome for moisture! And the BS helped clear up my psoriasis on my head completely for the first two weeks, and then it came back… Major sadface! Bats = stress. Truth!

  14. Stephanie @ August 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Oh—new question. As I’m getting some white hairs in the mix, I get highlights 3 times a year. How do you suppose the colour change thing you experienced will react to already colour-changed hair? Maybe *I* will be the one to let *you* know, eh? :D

  15. Rachel August 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    I tried this method for a while… didn’t end up loving the baking soda. However, I’ve discovered for myself the cheapest and most effective dandruff cure in the ACV. I use it as a pre-wash on my scalp, so that way it doesn’t leave my hair too oily at the roots, and continue with my normal routine :)

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

      Hi Rachel! That sounds like an awesome tip — thanks so much for sharing. I bet it’s good for hair in general, not just the scalp! I always felt that shampoos stripped my hair, so this is a nice compromise if one can’t go the baking soda route. I feel like ACV is close to a miracle product…it can just do so much! :)

  16. Michelle {the lively kitchen} August 19, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    I’m going to try the no-poo method as soon as the swim season ends. Not sure why, but I was leery to try something new during the season of sweating and swimming – I didn’t know if the chlorine/salt water would mess with the baking soda or something. I have no idea if that makes any sense….

    I wouldn’t mind a little lightening. Interesting ‘side effect.’

  17. Pam November 1, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    I’m so glad I found this post! After a year of using baking soda almost daily to wash my hair, my normally dark hair ended up with brassy reddish highlights. I can’t decide if the summer sun really lightened my hair or if it’s the baking soda. I don’t really like the color, so I’m looking for a new no-poo alternative. Have you found an alternative that you like? Did your hair color change?

  18. Kristen May 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Hi Katie,

    I read your article about a month ago and on the spot I quit using shampoo, so it’s been almost 4 weeks since I’ve used any and I’ve been trying the baking soda and ACV technique you’ve described instead. Here’s my question: Does the oil really stop producing after some time? My hair is still so oily. I’m playing with the amount of ingredients I use like you said, still haven’t felt like I’ve gotten the hang of it but I’m still trying. How often do you use the baking soda and vinegar? Once, twice a week? Do you rinse in between? Does your hair take forever to dry like mine is doing with this method? And when it dries it still looks a little wet. That is definitely from the oil, but will that go away? I don’t want to give up but it’s just not looking pretty.
    Thanks in advance for your help!


    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing June 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

      Hi Kristen!

      Some people claim that the oil does stop producing, and while I noticed that it wasn’t as oily as when I washed my hair frequently with regular shampoo, it still produced oil. I have stopped using this method, moving on first to Dr. Bronner’s (diluted half with water), and finally just returning to a more natural shampoo. I have some scalp problems, so this ceased to work for me (as I hope I mentioned in the above article, but maybe didn’t?). I may do a post on what I’m using now, but feel free to email if you’d like more info on the brand (nfkatie (at) I used this method probably 2-3 times a week, and my hair did not look quite the same as it did when I used (and now am using) shampoo. Another option you might want to look into are shampoo bars — I know there’s a selection of organic ones that are supposed to work well, I just haven’t tried ‘em. They are usually made of simple and safe ingredients, and help keep oil at bay better. Hope this helps!


  19. Kore June 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Katie, Have you ever heard of WEN? If so, do you think it would be effective? :)

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing June 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

      I have heard mixed reviews about WEN, and when I looked into it for myself, it didn’t seem quite like what I was looking for. But, I did notice they have a 60-day satisfaction-guaranteed return policy, so it doesn’t seem like to big a gamble to try if you are considering it. Let me know how it goes, if you do! xo.

  20. lee February 27, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    my understanding is that “regular” shampoo darkens hair, which means that the no poo method returns it to a more natural coloring….

    my hair definitely has highlights it did not have pre-no-poo…. and i find this kind of delightful!

    • Katie April 8, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

      Hi Lee! That wasn’t my experience, nor did I find anything to indicate it in the little bit of research I did, but I’m glad you found what works for you! I discovered that after a few months, the baking soda just dried my hair out way too much (in addition to the lightening), so I left it behind. xo

  21. Kelly Ann Pope August 26, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    I have 60% grey hair and I color my hair roots about every 3 weeks at home. I color it about a 2N – 3N sometimes I put some Gold in it.. My hair is super strong with no split ends.. super thick and curly / wavy & actually healthy & looks better and feels better when I color it dark (unlike most people). I really have good hair but can be a little dry.. my scalp is dry and I don’t have oily hair. I don’t have to shampoo very much as well. My question is when I do color my hair using a product from Sallys Beauty, what should I do afterwards? Do I use the Baking Soda & ACV? I have not tried this yet.. but ready to go on it.. need help. By the way, Coconut Oil and some essential oils are great for my hair and I don’t use a lot of products at all.

    • Kelly Ann Pope August 26, 2014 at 10:38 am #

      Also, the reason I color it so often is because my hair grows really fast and always has. I was born in 1966 do the math, cuz I don’t really know how old I am, however that never stopped my hair from growing quickly (with age).

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    [...] (see, for instance when I first went (sham)’poo-free, details on how I did it, and then a few months later regretted it), I often shy away from these sorts of posts… in part because I’m not very exciting and [...]

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