Everybody loves clean, freshly washed hair, but can you wash your hair without shampoo? Yes, you can still wash your hair without shampoo and have great-looking, healthy hair!
There are a lot of hair cleansers available that can work as well as, if not better than, shampoo. You can use herbal cleansers, soaps, conditioners, plant-based natural shampoos, (1) etc., to keep your hair healthy and shiny.
The no-poo movement is about avoiding commercial shampoos and using other options to cleanse the hair. People started shunning shampoos after research found that most shampoos contain harsh ingredients including parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. (2)
Thus, the whole no-poo movement started, advocating the use of everyday household items such as baking soda, apple cider vinegar [ACV], conditioner only, and essential oils.
If you want to know more about how you can wash your hair without shampoo, then keep reading.
How to Wash Your Hair Without Shampoo?
Here are some ways to wash your hair without shampoo.
Conditioner washing, or co-washing, is a method where you need a bottle of conditioner formulated with a cleansing solution to cleanse and condition your hair simultaneously.
These shampoos are available in the stores and are labeled as low-poo or no-poo products. They have a low pH value and are sulfate-free, and the primary surfactants in them are from the amphoteric group (group 4), which are mild cleansing agents. (3)
How to use:
- Rinse your hair with water.
- Pump out 1–2 dollops of the product onto your palms.
- Apply it to your scalp and hair, and massage it well for 3–4 minutes.
- Wash it off with water.
2. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a popular ingredient used by many people to cleanse their hair. ACV is a brown-colored vinegar obtained from apples, and due to its acidic nature, it works well to prevent the growth of Malassezia, a fungus that causes dandruff on the scalp.
ACV can remove product buildup, dirt, dust, etc., from the hair and scalp and conditions the hair to make it soft and shiny. (4)
Note: ACV has a high acetic acid content and may be too strong and can harm the hair if applied directly. (4) So, always dilute ACV in water before using it. Moreover, ACV can be irritating to the eyes, mucus membranes, and inflamed skin and may cause hair fragility if used on thin, processed, or chemically damaged hair. (4)
How to use:
- Dilute 1 tablespoon of ACV in ¾ cup of water.
- Gently apply it to wet hair and wash it off in 5 minutes to avoid irritation to the skin.
- If you feel a burning sensation on your skin or scalp, discontinue use and wash it off with lots of water.
3. Baking soda
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a commonly used ingredient in the kitchen and has found its way into personal care products such as toothpaste, skin care, and hair care. Baking soda has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that prevent pimples on the skin and eliminate excess oil from the scalp.
Washing your hair and scalp with baking soda gives you a clean scalp and soft hair, as claimed by many users. (2)
Note: Baking soda has a pH of 9 and causes the cuticle of the hair to open, which results in higher absorption of water by the hair. Therefore, always dilute it adequately with water to avoid stripping the hair of its natural oils and making it prone to breakage. (2)
How to use:
- Combine 1–2 tablespoons of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of water.
- Apply the mixture to wet hair, and leave it on for 5–10 minutes.
- Rinse it off with water.
4. Rhassoul clay
People have used different types of clay to beautify themselves. Rhassoul clay is a brown-colored cosmetic product for the skin and hair found in a valley in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. “Rhassoul” is an Arabic word for “wash.”
Rhassoul clay is naturally rich in silica, an excellent exfoliant, and when used as a hair mask, it helps to make the hair shiny. Rhassoul clay can cleanse the hair (5) to eliminate scalp dirt, grime, and buildup while conditioning the hair.
How to use:
- In a wooden bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of rhassoul clay and ½ cup of warm water.
- Stir the mixture well to make a smooth paste.
- Divide dry hair into sections, and apply the hair mask to the scalp and hair.
- Wear a shower cap and allow the mask to stay on your head for 30 minutes.
- Wash it off with lukewarm water.
5. Amla powder + reetha + shikakai
Amla, or Indian Gooseberry, is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) as it contains 600–700 mg per fruit. It is one of the most popular hair ingredients in South East Asia because it is rich in tannin, an antioxidant useful to the scalp and hair. (6)
Reetha extract is a natural herbal shampoo that acts as an effective cleanser for the hair and helps to clear dandruff from the scalp and keep it clean and healthy.
Shikakai, or Acacia concinna, is an herbal product that is rich in vitamin C and is widely used to cleanse the hair due to its benefits. (7) Shikakai helps to keep the pH level of the scalp low, retains the natural sebum on the scalp, and makes the hair healthy, strong, and well conditioned. (7)
Amla, reetha, and shikakai can be used together as a shampoo to get lustrous, strong hair. These wonder ingredients can be used in two forms, dried fruit and powder. These herbal fruits suit every hair type and prevent split ends, hair loss, premature graying, and dandruff. (7)
How to use:
- Soak pods of shikakai, reetha, and amla in water overnight.
- The next day, boil them in the water till they soften up.
- Strain the water out and use it as a shampoo for your hair.
- It may not lather up much, but it works better than any chemical-laced shampoo.
6. Rice water
Washing your hair with fermented rice water is an effective way to strengthen and repair your hair. When rice water is fermented, it contains a high amount of antioxidants, minerals, B vitamins, and vitamin E. (8)
Soaked, boiled, or fermented rice water provides shine, elasticity, and smoothness to the hair. (9) It can be used as a shampoo for the hair as it has cleansing properties and acts as a good hair conditioner.
How to use:
- To a bowl, add 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of shikakai powder.
- Add ¼ cup of aloe vera juice and 2 tablespoons of castile soap.
- Mix them well and store the mixture in a spray bottle for up to 9 days in the fridge.
- While in the shower, you can spray this mixture on damp hair. (9)
- Massage it well onto the scalp and hair for 3–4 minutes.
- Wash it off with warm water.
What Are the Positive Impacts of Not Using Shampoo?
Most store-bought shampoos contain synthetic detergents to cleanse the hair and scalp and keep it squeaky clean from dirt, dust, grime, sebum, sweat, scales, and product buildup from oils, lotions, and sprays. (10)
A small study showed that surfactants such as sulfates in shampoos are related to an increase in frizz, hair fragility, and scalp dryness. (3) Therefore, it’s advised to avoid chemical-laden shampoos and conditioners and opt for natural plant-based ones that are free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and fragrances to prevent damage to the hair.
What Is the Negative Impact of Not Using Shampoo to Wash Your Hair?
When you have used shampoos to cleanse your hair your whole life and suddenly switch to other cleansers, it will make you feel like your scalp is greasy in the first 2–3 weeks, but that should not throw you off track on your mission for no-poo hair.
General Queries on How to Wash Hair Without Shampoo
Can I use water to wash my hair?
Yes, you can choose to wash your hair with only water regardless of hair type. However, hard water can have negative effects on your hair. (11)
How long does it take the hair to adjust to no-poo hair washes?
It may take around 6 weeks to adjust to this new way of washing your hair.
Does shampooing less often make your hair healthier?
Yes, according to dermatologists, the more you shampoo, the more you get rid of oil and sebum that are needed to protect the hair shaft and keep it well moisturized. (12)
Which type of shampoo should I use?
If you have normal hair that has never been through chemical and harsh treatments, you must use normal shampoos containing lauryl sulfate.
For those with oily scalps, you must use oily hair shampoos containing lauryl sulfates or sulfosuccinates, detergents, and not conditioners.
If you have been through chemical hair treatments and harsh styling, then you can use dry hair shampoo that has mild cleansing and good conditioning properties. (10)
Can I use lemon to cleanse my hair?
Lemons are high in citric acid, which can help control excess scalp sebum and remove dandruff.
It’s difficult to envision a life without shampoo, but due to the harm the chemicals in them have caused humans for years, people are turning to alternative methods of cleansing their hair without side effects.
You can steer clear of chemical shampoos by purchasing natural plant-based ones that can actively clean the dirt and debris from the hair and scalp and add a natural shine to your hair. (13)
- Asifa N, Kusagur MS, SugaReddy. Prevalent practices and perceptions in hair cleansing. International journal of trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5596653/. Published 2017.
- No sulfates, no parabens, and the “No-poo” method: A new … – mdedge. https://cdn.mdedge.com/files/s3fs-public/Document/January-2018/CT101001022.PDF.
- Gavazzoni Dias MFR. Pro and Contra of cleansing conditioners. Skin appendage disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489037/. Published April 2019.
- Rizg WY, Hosny KM, Elgebaly SS, et al. Preparation and optimization of garlic oil/apple cider vinegar nanoemulsion loaded with minoxidil to treat alopecia. Pharmaceutics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8706394/. Published December 14, 2021.
- Gubitosa J, Rizzi V, Fini P, Cosma P. Hair care cosmetics: From traditional shampoo to solid clay and Herbal Shampoo, a review. MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/6/1/13/htm. Published February 19, 2019.
- Goraya RK, Bajwa U. Enhancing the functional properties and nutritional quality of ice cream with processed Amla (Indian gooseberry). Journal of food science and technology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4648887/. Published December 2015.
- (PDF) synthesis and evaluation of herbal based hair dye – researchgate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328388284/.
- Extraction, isolation and evaluation of Pitera from fermented rice … https://www.ijsr.net/archive/v7i7/ART20183820.pdf.
- © 2021 JETIR June 2021, volume 8, issue 6 use of Rice water (Oryza … https://www.jetir.org/papers/JETIR2106426.pdf.
- D’Souza P, Rathi SK. Shampoo and conditioners: What a dermatologist should know? Indian journal of dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458934/. Published 2015.
- Hamel AF, Meyer JS, Henchey E, Dettmer AM, Suomi SJ, Novak MA. Effects of shampoo and Water Washing on hair cortisol concentrations. Clinica Chimica Acta; international journal of clinical chemistry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023988/. Published January 30, 2011.
- Sunyani S, Tosti A, Hordinsky M, Yeomans D, Schwartz J. The impact of shampoo wash frequency on scalp and hair conditions. Skin appendage disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8138261/. Published April 2021.
- Review on hair problem and its solution – researchgate.net. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342174156/.