We Tried It: Going Shampoo Free For Healthier Hair

Let the record show: going shampoo free will not make you a dirty, smelly person.*

*I can say this with confidence because for the past two weeks I’ve tried it.


I put my hair through a lot during the week. Usually, it goes something like this: regular shampooing—sometimes even twice a day, blow drying, curling, straightening, covering with a shield of hair spray, pulling it back tight for work outs, and reaching for the dry shampoo on those morning when I’m running late (hey, it happens).

After all of that, it’s no surprise that my over-worked tresses start to hang tired, and heavy. The ends start to look like straw, my scalp itches, and my color—sadly, this blonde is not natural—dulls.

So, I set out to find a way to give my hair and scalp some TLC.

Over the past few months I’ve noticed an increase in the number of bloggers and lifestyle sites jumping on board to become advocates for, and tout the benefits of, going shampoo free and oil training.

While it certainly isn’t a new topic, having it continuously show up on my news feed felt like a sign from the Universe that it was time to “get off the bottle” and start reaping the benefits of ‘poo free living. 

The Benefits of Going No ‘Poo 

-For starters, no more chemical-ridden shampoo on your precious tresses

-Shinier hair

-More tame hair—we’re talking less frizz, relaxed curls

-Healthier hair—less build up, stronger, thicker, and possibly even faster-growing (Remember: benefits aren’t always immediately visible—be patient!)

-Healthier scalp—no more shampoo stripping away your scalp’s natural oils!

-You’ll save some money! Using shampoo less frequently = having to buy shampoo less frequently

Enter: All The Shampoo Alternatives I Could Get My Hands On

As someone with semi-thin, easily-made-greasy hair, ditching shampoo was something I was willing to try…But not washing my hair at all was not.

So, I set out to find the best ‘poo free alternatives out there.

Here’s what happened…

Lemon Juice

First up, lemon juice. With its natural anti-bacterial properties, and a naturally delicious scent, I assumed lemon juice would be sure to give me a clean, fresh look.

It did, but there are a few things to point out.

One: I have psoriasis on my scalp, and while lemon juice is supposed to be good for combating the condition it did sting quite a bit in those areas.

Two: For color treated blondes (like me), sun + lemon juice = a potential change in hair color. Be careful!

Three: The fresh lemony scent didn’t last as long as I’d hoped it would.

All in all, though, the lemon juice proved to be a suitable shampoo alternative with results that lasted! My hair looked clean and shiny, and I was able to go an extra day without washing.

For the lemon juice rinse, use equal parts lemon juice and warm water. Remember, it won’t lather like shampoo! Massage through hair and scalp for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is arguably one of the most popular ‘poo free alternatives, and a household staple for most—so no need to run to the store for this one.

For this rinse I mixed 3 tablespoons of baking soda + 9 tablespoons of water.

Like the lemon juice, the baking soda won’t produce a lather. As soon as I poured the mixture onto my scalp I figured this would be one of my least favorite alternatives. I did not like the consistency. It felt instantly drying, and almost chalky, making my hair incredibly knotty.

When it came time to brush out my hair post-shower it was like brushing through straw. However, I was incredibly impressed with how my hair dried! What a twist! It was shiny, felt thicker than usual, and voluminous, too. Like the lemon juice, these results lasted, too, keeping the grease at bay.

Conditioner

On the in-between days when I don’t wash my hair I like to condition it. So, I wanted to keep that routine going during this experiment—especially after the baking soda trial left my hair feeling a bit rough.

For my somewhat thin and prone-to-grease hair, using conditioner in lieu of shampoo leaves my hair feeling a bit heavy, and flat. It doesn’t give my hair a clean and refreshed look for long, and my hair gets greasy fast. Conditioner-only days tend to be ‘up-do’ days.

Personally, I like to opt for a natural, vegan conditioner, like Veganese by Lush Cosmetics.

Water

Rinsing with just water definitely appealed to my lazy side. No muss, no fuss, but no luscious locks afterward either. Downside: rinsing with water didn’t do much to combat grease for me.

Beer

Non-conventional, for sure, but not exactly a new alternative in the hair care world. Beer has been said to make hair extra shiny—and it did not disappoint! The smell did not bother me at all, and my hair was unexpectedly smooth and soft, too. Sadly, this didn’t combat grease for long, though. Probably wouldn’t opt for this alternative again.

For reference, I used Heineken. Pro tip: Let the beer sit in a glass and go flat before using it on your hair.

Apple Cider Vinegar  

I saved the best for last! Apple Cider Vinegar is undeniably the MVP of the ‘poo free movement.

Yes, I was totally put off by the smell. No, the smell does not cling to your hair—well, not mine at least. Thank. God.

For this rinse I mixed 4 tablespoons of ACV with 1 cup of water and massaged the mixture into my scalp, leaving it on for a few minutes (until I could no longer stand the smell) before rinsing.

I was completely shocked, and thrilled, with the results. My hair dried full, shiny, and so smooth. Like, Drybar worthy results (For me at least! Everyone is different.). The results lasted longer than any other alternative I tried, and I was able to go two days between washes.


All in all, the two weeks proved one major thing to be true: shampoo is not an essential. With so many alternatives hiding in your pantry, it’s worth trying new things and giving your hair a change in routine.

Did I miss shampoo? A little bit, but mostly because I missed the way it made my hair smell. Apple Cider Vinegar could easily go up to bat against my tried and true Maui shampoo, but there’s no denying that it doesn’t smell nearly as good.