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To shampoo or not to shampoo?



  • SamiliciousSamilicious Raw Newbie

    Hello everyone, I confess! I’ve been no-pooing solo for over 2 months—or maybe its been 3 months? I thought I can do this on my own, taking it casually, reading this forum once and a while…So far so good, EXTREME dandruff however. It get on my clothes, my pillow, etc. Another issue is that my head/hair kind of smells. Does anyone have any solutions for these two issues? Especially the hair smell? I’m thinking essential oils. If so, what scents do you guys recommend?

    lol, I feel like I’ve been a hidden follower who finally reveals herself!

    By the way, I use baking soda once in a while. And I recently used a bit of salt for the first time.

  • amysueamysue Raw Newbie

    Samilicious – that is a tricky one, I would have though 2 or 3 months would be enough time for your scalp to regulate itself. Before I rinse my hair I always give it a serious brushing with a wood bristle brush which gives it a super scalp massage. The essential oil that I always read about for hair and scalp is rosemary. Good luck, I hope this passes soon!

  • Queenfluff – I was able to pick up most of what you said by reading the entire thread, but I wasn’t sure if there was anything that needed to be done as far as cleaning the scalp. As you can see from my photo, my hair isn’t very long, but neither is it a crew-cut (if it were, I’d just use a wash-cloth).

    Out of curiosity, I haven’t washed my hair for 4 days now. I wouldn’t say it feels oily, more like I put too much pomade in it. But I can start to see little bits of dry skin from my scalp. I’ve never had dandruff before. The water here is pretty “hard” (lots of minerals), so I should probably get a shower-head water filter.

    I’m not completely sold on this no-poo thing just yet.

    Has anyone done it long enough that their hair/scalp has “stabilized”? How long did it take? What do you do to it now on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to keep it looking decent?

  • Greg X999

    It can take a few weeks to stabilize.

    I have been no poo for about 2 years now. In the winter I might get some flakys after a week or so of cleaning with baking soda paste (water and baking soda) and apple cider vinegar. If I clean my hair every 4-5 days I don’t get flakes. I usually scrub my scalp with the paste. If you have a tender scalp, don’t scrub too hard.

    I sometimes get a dry spot at my hairline, so I will use some shea butter or coconut butter to help with that. I don’t suggest using any oily things on your scalp where you hair is though because it is really difficult to get out without 2-3 shampoos.

    I have heard that spreading gooey soaked flax seeds on your hair is really good too. I bet that would help with the flakes. I don’t know about the mess though!! I have wanted to try it, but I am not sure what to do about rinsing the flax out. I don’t think my drain would handle that.

  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    Samilicious – To completely transition into no poo can take up to 26 weeks – it is really individual – some people go up and down from clean nice hair to problem hair, others have no problems whatsoever. I went up and down for at least six months (I am at one year now) and honestly, it really wasn’t until after the six months that my hair kind of settled into one “state” – the waxiness was gone and never came back and my oily areas even out and my hair became pretty predictable. Start doing serious scalp massages everyday to loosen those flakies. Do a lot of brushing and combing (fine toothed comb) to get those loosened flakies out.

    If you can use a small amount of coconut oil (or whatever hair oil you like best – rosemary or jojoba are good too) on the dry, flaky areas and massage it in. If you use coconut oil or any other oil that has a nice scent that should take care of your scent problem too. Don’t freak out – it will run its course. There are people who think that bad cases of dandruff (oh, also there is a difference between dry flakies and dandruff – dandruff is actually OILY flakies) are caused by an imbalance in the body – if you are recently getting into raw, you might be doing some detoxing too. You probably didn’t notice it doing shampoo since the shampoo gets rid of it all. But it is important to “attack” those flakies – you don’t want them building upon your scalp. Keep your scalp as clean as possible and get those flakies a-shedding! Definatley do the scalp massages – they can work wonders. And if you are not rinsing everyday, you might want to for a while until the flakies clear up. (you can just do water rinses – massage scalp in shower too!)

    Yeah, unfortunately, 2 to 3 months is really not enough time for the scalp to regulate – It took me longer than that. Just hang in there – you will get there eventually.

    GregX999- For the scalp, if you are getting the dry flakies – do scalp massages like I advised above. That will loosen the flakies – it also helps get your blood going up to you follicles and feeds your hair better. Since the majority of the time, we are standing up – the head is the last place blood gets too. For general everyday scalp cleaning, water should be good enough – but if you can use a massage or pulsating setting on your shower head can really help clean it – that is what I use. Try to think of how the pressure of the water against your scalp would really clean away anything on it. Sort of like you were showering under a waterfall. There is a shower head called a “RainShower” (big silver round one) that has a good hard setting on it. Gaiam sells several good ones that might help increase the water pressure:


    I have this one hear but I would like to get one with a stronger spray:


    Yes, definatley get a shower filter but shower filter only remove chlorine and some other substances – it will not change hard water to soft – in order to do that you need a water softener. I have seen ones for the shower only on Ebay – they run around $100 (that comes with a shower filter for the chlorine) and I so want to get one but I will have to wait until I have an extra $100 laying around! I just moved to an area whether the water isn’t as hard.

    Yes, the “stabliziation” can be up to 26 weeks for some people. Mine took around six months. I do water rinses most days and for build up removal I do sea salt, white vinegar or baking soda rinse. I comb with a wooden fine toothed comb and a wide tooth wooden comb and wooden paddle brush.

    Redhouse – I have the same problem you have – just flakies at the hairline every once and a while. I put coconut oil on mine too. I have shea butter put haven’t tried it yet. I usually massage the area to remove them and than dab on the oil and comb out any flakies stuck in my hair.

    For the flax idea, Victoria Buetenko uses flax shampoo. She soaks the seeds overnight and blends them in the morning and uses that for her shampoo. I am sure it would work but I haven’t tried it. I think she makes the mixture on the watery side – you have it blend well. :)

    If you use coconut oil or other oilies on your scalp, you can do to very sparingly and massage it in and your scalp will absorb it (do it before bed and it works better because it has all night to absorb it) and you won’t have a problem when it comes time to rinse. If you accidentally use too much, it will eventually dissipate out of your hair – it might take a few days but the excess oiliness will go away. (I did with an avocado once!)

  • SamiliciousSamilicious Raw Newbie

    Thank you Queenfluff and Redhouse. I should mention that the dandruff is “dry” flakes and that it has calmed down recently, I think. I agree with your advice, Queenfluff, about massaging my skalp well to remove and prevent this dry skin from building up. I think this is what I need to do.

    On a brighter note, my hair has been feeling great! Its so fluffy and bouncy and light..I love this feeling! You know, I’ve never experienced this waxy sebum stuff (yet?). Just dry flakes. But the best part about this no-pooing experience is that since my hair is short above my shoulders, when it dries after taking showers (unfortunately I blowdry my bangs though), it poofs right up with so much volume!! I love this! And then I like to shake my head side to side and I looove the light feeling of my hair. This is great!

  • queenfluff, thanks for the flax info. I am going to try it!

  • I tried soaked flax, ground in the blender today. I did my baking soda paste, then acv rinse first. Then I spread the flax mixture on my hair and face. I rinsed, it made a mess. Now the flax flakes are still in my hair, and all over the house!

    My hair feels nice though. I think I used too much.

    Anyone else try flax.

  • SamiliciousSamilicious Raw Newbie

    Yikes! That sounds messy. That’s why I waited until you tried it first before I risked it! lol. I’ll try it eventually anyway, though. Just for you. ;)

  • I’m so excited about nopoo! I just shaved all of my (previously nasty, colored, processed, frizzled) hair off a few days ago, and I intend to grow it back naturally. I’ve been using a raw cocoa butter (or so the label says) on my scalp for the past couple of days, but I wonder if that may be a bit too heavy. I couldn’t find any mention of cocoa butter in this thread, and I was wondering if anyone has any experience with it. Thanks!

  • kundalalitakundalalita Raw Newbie

    you shaved it off? GOOd for YOU! i wish i had had the guts to do that! you’re hair is gonna be so pretty… i dont have an idea about cocoa butter.. i endorse coconut oil/ butter/ food all the way though… also i would say use essential oils on your scalp, lavender, jojoba… essential oils are supposed to do the trick for healthy hair and scalp.

    that must feel so wonderful to have that fresh start

  • So I cracked the other night… I used a little diluted shampoo on the top of my head. I didn’t really scrub and I tried my best to not let it touch my scalp. Also, the shampoo is all natural. The crown of my head was really grose and waxy and there were a ton of flakes in it. As much as I massaged, brushed, combed and rinsed, it just wouldn’t get clean. I couldn’t handle it. The crown of my head is the only problem area and let me tell you…it is a HUGE PROBLEM. How do I know if the flakes are oily or dry if my hair is already oily?

  • Kundalalita- thanks for the advice! I think I’ll give coconut oil a shot after I finish up my cocoa butter. Shaving my head was a big change (I’ve always been a bit protective of my femininity!), but it feels great.

  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    Actually, it is not so uncommon as you think for those who decide to go no poo to shave off their hair and start from scratch (of course, I could never do it!) But it will definatley make your transition easier.

    Ssarah – the cocoa butter will be great while you are shaved to help moisturize your scalp (if you have any dry on your scalp that is – if you not, it might make your scalp oilier so you should skip it).

    Once your “virgin” hair starts growing in you will find that the cocoa butter will make your hair all sticky.

    Ducky85- You will know if the flakes are oily. Normally oily flakey tend to be big flakey pieces (meaning dandruff). Also feel your scalp – does it feel greasey and slick? do you have oil on your fingers that you need to get off with soap after you touch your scalp? More than likely your roots are what are oily (well, they have sebum buildup) and your scalp is proably dry (esp since you used shampoo). But before the shampoo, you might have been rinsing with water that is too hot – that can cause flakies.

    Next time you get that waxy buildup – try baking soda or white vinegar – it will remove it. I had the same problem before and it wouldn’t go away until I used the white vinegar.

    Redhouse – I was just wondering how do you do your baking soda? The first time I did mine I made a fresh paste and I think I used too much so this next time I made a very dilute mix of it that I kept in a bottle in my shower. It didn’t seem to clean as well so I am guessing it was too dilute or that it needs to be fresh. My hair is a little shorter than yours. It is pretty clean from doing no poo for a year so I pretty much put the baking soda on and rinse it off and it works good.

  • kundalalitakundalalita Raw Newbie

    Ducky, that happened to me too when I was a few weeks into no poo. There was like a layer of sebum cake on my scalp and it was totally unmanageable. Even the bakig soda, salt, and/or vinegar wouldn’t make a dent. I dipped my hair in bath water with shampoo in it..a diluted solution. I thought that it meant I was gonna have to start all over, but actually your body just picks up where it left off. I’m kind of glad I did that, because i was able to get rid of that awful build up without wasting all the sacrifice i went through, and it never got that bad again. Its a transition, i think shampooing only when it gets bad is still much better than shampooing everyday, its a process… decrease the times you shampoo as much as you can and you get there eventually guaranteed.

  • Today is day one for me. :)

    I actually just got out of the shower a little awhile ago and my hair is already almost dry! I’m amazed. I have really long, straight hair and it usually takes hours to dry. When I wash it before bed, it’s still wet in the morning.

    Anyway, I’m not looking forward to the weeks ahead, but it was a good start.

  • amysueamysue Raw Newbie

    starofnight – it is weird, it’s like having Barbie hair. All I can say for the weeks ahead is hats and scarves! If you can get through the rough part it’s worth it.

  • CarmentinaCarmentina Raw Newbie

    Starofnight, the waxiness repels water – my hair usually takes ages too to dry, but not now. I’m two months on and still waxy. I’m ready for the next phase.

  • CarmentinaCarmentina Raw Newbie

    Oops. Has anyone else noticed that baking soda seems to lighten the hair somewhat? Strange…

  • Carmentina, I think I read somewhere yesterday that if the baking soda is lightening your hair you may be using too much. I’m definitely NOT an expert on this though, lol. :)

  • Also, how often should I be doing the water rinses? Does it matter?

  • CarmentinaCarmentina Raw Newbie

    I’ve only done a baking soda wash three times in more than 2 months – so I don’t think that’s it! That said, my hair is very reactive, it takes anything right up. Lemon will lighten it (and thrash it) in a flash. It also seems to be growing faster than usual, but that might be the raw food. I like the lighter hair though. Starofnight, the more water rinses the more manageable your hair, especially during the transition. My hair is at its best the day it water rinse it.

  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    Hey all!

    It seems weird and I honestly don’t know too much about baking soda in general. But I read this on one of other no poo forums.


    According to this no poo girl, a strong solution of baking soda can lighten your hair. I think I remember reading before too. For me, I don’t care since I wouldn’t mind my hair being lighten anyhow. I think you have to use ALOT of baking soda for it to lighten or if you leave it on too long possibly might effect it too.

    Here is a good article about how different things work on the hair (lot of other hair info too -explains how all the different “products” work on the hair in case you were curious -there are four pages so keeping clicking “next”). It talks about the vinegar and baking soda:


    here is the part about vinegar and baking soda: ”...solutions that are acidic (like vinegar or lemon juice) and ones that are alkaline (like a mixture of water and baking soda). In an acid solution, the cuticle cells shrink and harden. In an alkaline solution, the cuticle cells swell up and soften.

    Just to confirm the response of the cuticle to acidic and alkaline solutions, I tried soaking one strand of hair in water and lemon juice and another in water and baking soda. I rinsed both strands carefully. When they dried, the hair from the lemon juice bath felt smoother and looked shinier.”

  • kundalalitakundalalita Raw Newbie

    I just saw this article on mercola

    Can Greasy Hair Protect Your Lungs?

    ”...They found that dirty hair absorbs seven times the amount of ozone—a respiratory irritant—compared to clean hair…”

    ”...they found that ozone reactions with certain chemicals contained in personal care products can lead to elevated, and potentially harmful levels of ozonides, which rapidly decompose into carbonyl compounds such as aldehydes and ketones…”

    hooray for no poo!

  • i’m just gonna jump in here, after reading this exact thread about a month ago, i stopped using shampoo. i just use water. i had been using dr. bronners or a natural bar of soap to wash my hair for, oh, the past 5 years. when i stopped using it, the only thing that happened was that my scalp got a little dry for a day or two then it moved on. my hair feels much less greasier than before, but i think its because i started washing it every other day. since getting a real job this year (my first) i had to start taking a shower much more often than i did before, i really think its the shampooing every other day that made my hair so greasy, i NEVER had that problem before when i was showering once a week-once a month.

    its nice to only have to buy natural body soaps, no more plastic bottles for me!

  • Morning everyone. Just signed up for this thread.

    Anyways, decided to start this 2 weeks ago to see where it went. I dont mind the greasy hair as half the people at my school rock it anyway.

    The first week was really, really bad in terms of grease. And that white fuzzy waxy stuff. The waxy stuff is still here, but my hair is starting to get better. It looks really kinda layered. Im going to keep at it until it gets really nice as eye problems dont excite me. Neither does paint stripper.

    Ill keep it posted.

  • I’m only on day 5, but really haven’t experienced anything bad. Just waxy hair, no white fuzzy stuff. When everyone kept talking about their hair being waxy, I didn’t understand that to be any different from greasy, but it really is.

    I haven’t been able to wear my hair down, it just too waxy and limp. Blah, hope that changes as I almost always wear it down. Normally it is shiny and flowing. =/

    I’ve noticed my forehead is greasy now. Guess it was close enough to be affected as well…

  • rawclairerawclaire Raw Newbie

    Wow this is the longest thread I’ve ever seen. lol

  • Well I tried pitting some coconut oil in my hair an hour or so before taking a shower. Not going amazingly. Even after the shower, my hair is still very oily. I dont think Ill experiment with oils etc until my hair sebum has completely balanced a few months from now.

    Now I have a question for all you “veterans,” what should one do if they swim in chlorinated water? Any special treatment in washing it? ACV and BS instead of just water?

    Just wondering. May have turned my mother onto it.


  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    beavers – how much oil did you put on? Use it very sparingly. It won’t wash out right away when you put alot on. I put on just a dab this morning and it didn’t rinse out much. It will come out of your hair though – it will just take a few days. I you want to do the Baking soda – that should remove it. Yeah, you probably won’t need ANY oil for quite a while – except for your ends if those are dry. For the chlorinated water, to remove the smell, you might want to try a rinse that is made out something with scented oils in it – like rosemary or even tea (cooled of course). I would wear a cap though if you can because the chlorine is very drying since it is bleach – it will strip your hair. I wouldn’t use baking soda after you swim in chlorinated water because the baking soda is drying too.

    Fellow no pooers – I tried something new that I think it definatley helping that stupid flaky spot I can’t get rid of. I used aloe vera gel on it. If figured if it helps flakey sunburn, why not my flakey spot? Mind you it is the bottled stuff (I have some old bottled aloe vera which isn’t pure aloe vera but I am going to use it up). and it worked pretty good. I put it on the flakey spot and the flakies were gone. This morning I put coconut oil on the spot and I rinsed and it didn’t go flakey again so I am pretty happy about that. I know that Lucy mentioned towards the beginning of the thread that she tried washing with aloe vera and it turned out good. So, we shall see…:)

    I have a few new ideas of things I want to try. I have been making a lot of sun tea lately so I might try rinsing with that and see how that leaves my hair. Also I am going to try a banana treatment (I remember that best commerical conditioner I ever used had banana in it) and my bf goes foraging alot and I was reading that sweet pepperbush flowers and soapwort are great for cleaning hair – hopefully we can find some! :)

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