No-Poo Method: Crazy Idea or Great Idea?

This post may contain "affiliate links." This means if you click on the affiliate link and purchase the item, I'll receive a commission. I disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255. I only recommend products that passed my strict criteria. Read about my research methods in the Start Here page.

No-Poo Method
The Picture Taken That Night

One night I came out of the shower and announced to my husband that we are going to go viral (that’s our ongoing joke). To tell you the truth, he was not thinking about my hair at that moment until I forced him to. I told him that I had used baking soda on my hair followed by a vinegar rinse and nothing else (no-poo method). “And look at my hair! Look! Look how soft and light it is!” I exclaimed. My hair had volume but yet was manageable and looked as if I had just come out of an expensive hair salon. It had shine. It had everything I was looking for in my hair. I was amazed.

What is no-poo method?


Let me backtrack a bit. What on earth drove me to use baking soda on my hair? I read a lot of shampoo labels and tried a lot of shampoos. One of the shampoos I liked and used for some time suddenly stopped working. My hair would still be greasy and dull after I washed it with the shampoo. I contacted the manufacturer and told her my problem. She suggested that I have soap residue in my hair, which can happen if I have hard water. To remove the residue, she suggested rubbing baking soda on my scalp and rinsing with diluted vinegar.


Later that day, I googled this method and realized that it has a big following on the Internet. It is called the “no-poo” method because you do not expose yourself to any toxins commonly found in shampoos (see my Six Dangers Lurking in Shampoos post here). It is very easy to find numerous women boasting about their beautiful hair achieved with the “no-poo” method.


Despite my initial success with the “no-poo” method and numerous success stories by others, I was skeptical. After all, we are talking about baking soda used on my hair. I did find a few stories about the no-poo method damaging hair. The reasons are that the pH of baking soda is 9 (for more information on pH scale, read here), which means that baking soda (1 tablespoon diluted in 1 cup of water) is too alkaline for hair, which has a pH of about 5. The opposing side argued that the vinegar rinse brings back the pH to normal and thus solved the issue of baking soda’s high alkalinity.


My Findings of No-Poo Method


While I wondered about the reasoning and motives of the opposing parties, I kept using the baking soda and vinegar twice a week for a total of about a month. And here are my findings.

  1. For the first 2-3 washes, my hair felt wonderful like after the first wash;
  2. After the initial washes, I started noticing some negative changes; my hair was not as soft, felt dry instead;
  3. Right before I discontinued the experiment, my hair felt course, brittle, and damaged;
  4. I did not feel that my hair was less oily and needed less frequent wash (which is what is supposed to be one of the benefits of the no-poo method);
  5. It did not seem to make a big difference if I varied the relative amounts of baking soda and diluted vinegar, although I noticed that 1 part of organic apple cider vinegar to 1 part of water and leaving it for a minute on the hair worked better.


Can I discredit no-poo method?


I can’t fully discredit the no-poo method though. I find that it is almost impossible to come to any definite conclusions in the experiments set in real life settings. Life is multifaceted, and it is very challenging to experiment with one variable while holding all the other ones static. There were a few obvious variables that I had to deal with. First, I have an autoimmune disease. So how do I know that I did not have its flare up, which reflected poorly on my hair? And second, I had dyed my hair 4-5 months prior to the experiment. Hair dyes damage the hair but coating agents or fillers help your hair look shiny and healthy. So baking soda might have removed the hair coating, which revealed the real damaged hair.


 Conclusion About No-Poo Method


With that said, as much as I wanted to, I am not willing to experiment with the no-poo method anymore. I moved on to something else and my hair feels and looks better. But before announcing what it is, let me use it for a little while longer. In the meantime, I am excited about reviewing shampoos you said you use in the comments to my Six Dangers Lurking in Shampoos post. Thank you for sharing!

Let's start creating a healthy home today!

I read labels for you

When you join the I Read Labels For You community, you'll receive weekly emails with inspiration, exclusive content and coupons to gain clarity and confidence to create a healthy home. Plus, you'll get the FREE guide: "5 Powerful Steps to a Non-Toxic Home You Can Take Today!"

"I find your knowledge so helpful, to the point and like a gold mine. You have saved me so much time and have taught me so much. Toni

Powered by ConvertKit
Spread the love

11 thoughts on “No-Poo Method: Crazy Idea or Great Idea?”

  1. Hi Irina,
    Thank you for your honest opinion on the baking soda/vinegar “no poo” debate. I’ve read other bloggers that say “it’s great and I’ll never use anything else…” Then, awhile later they are going on about some other poo or no poo thing. Anyway, I think more people than not have had your experiance, but really WANT it to work for green and health reasons, but it doesn’t so they never mention it again. I’m excited to hear about products you come up with that work for the long haul, with some variation for different types of hair. I’m growing mine out so I want the hair I’ve have the longest (the ends) to be as healthy as the roots! Thanks! Elizabeth

    1. I can’t wait for my hair to be the way it was before I processed it with hair dyes, baking soda, and who knows what else. We’ll get there. Today I am buying a book on how to achieve healthy hair. It looks promising. We’ll see what they have to say on the subject. Good to hear from you, Elizabeth!

  2. I had very similar results with both the initial luxurious hair after the initial no-poo wash and the less fantastic hair after several weeks of the no-poo method. I have yet to find a shampoo and conditioner that leave my hair feeling fabulous and don’t contain an abundance of questionable ingredients. So I’ve opted for a hybrid method which involves shampoo and conditioner every couple of days and treatments of the no-poo method every couple of weeks. A warm, herb-infused olive oil treatment every couple of months before washing is a nice addition to bring back softness as well.

    1. Thank you, Hannah! What shampoo/conditioner do you use? Sonya Kanelstrand explains on her blog, “Highly alkaline solutions such as baking soda make your hair soft and manageable BUT that is really the disulfide bonds in your internal hair structure being weakened by the alkaline solution.” Maybe that’s the reason we both had luxurious hair initially.

  3. Have you considered Morrocco method shampoos and conditioners . The ingredients are vegan,raw and wild crafted . There’s 5 different shampoos based on the elements. I just started using them. I’m loving them so far! Would you consider reviewing them?

      1. I use there apple cider vinegar and pine shale shampoos. They don’t foam at all. There super concentrated and they recommend you dilute them.

  4. I’m so glad that you posted the pros and cons of the no-poo method! After a reaction with a popular “natural” shampoo, I started down the path of my all natural journey with body products. I used the baking soda and ACV method for about 1-2 years. My hair looked better and had no more split ends. I did find that if I did not use ACV that my hair felt dry. Though I still felt like it looked and felt better than after using “traditional” shampoos. On a whim, I tried an organic and all natural shampoo bar that I also used as soap and have been using that every since. It’s easy and my hair is doing well. I still use the ACV rinse from time to time because I like the way it makes my hair feel.

    I look forward to reading about your new method!

  5. I just went a month with water only washing. Brushing my hair with a bore bristle brush daily to get the sebum all through the hair. It never smelled and when it finally got a little too oily I did a scalp rinse of baking soda followed by ACV delute rinsing. My hair is in better shape than ever and is truly luxurious! I think those that fail and have bade experiences are those that do the baking soda too often. …like daily…uh…yeah that will kill your hair. Don’t discredit this until you have utilized your own hair’s sebum properly is my advice! 🙂

    1. Wow – you definitely have more patience than I do. Thank you for letting us know. Unfortunately, you set your comment to receive no notification so you won’t be receiving this. 🙁 ~Irina

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.