What is no poo?

In the broadest sense, “no poo” means no shampoo. It’s a philosophy and method of cleaning your hair without traditional shampoo. People are attracted to the no-poo method for a number of reasons.

Some want to avoid overly stripping their hair of good and natural oils produced by the scalp. Others want to use fewer unnatural chemicals in their daily routines. And for some people, no poo means rejecting the commercial pressure to spend more money on hygiene than may actually be necessary.

Shampoo contains detergent that cleans your hair and chemicals that make it lather up in suds. “Chemical” doesn’t automatically mean something is unnatural or unhealthy. There’s growing interest among many people to better understand all of the chemicals we use every day, and how they affect our health and well-being.

Giving up shampoo doesn’t mean you have to give up showers or washing your hair.

Instead of shampoo, people who’ve adopted this hair care technique use baking soda followed by apple cider vinegar, or only use conditioner. You can even buy products off the shelf that cleanse your hair but are technically not shampoo.

No poo is such a phenomenon that online support forums exist to help you learn more and experiment with your preferred way to wash your hair.

The potential benefits of skipping shampoo include:

  • healthier hair and scalp that produces a balanced amount of oil
  • more voluminous hair
  • better textured hair and less need for styling products
  • less exposure to potentially irritating chemicals
  • less plastic packaging waste
  • breaking an artificial cycle of shampooing, which dries out the hair, causing you to use products to add moisture back, and then shampoo again to remove product

Experimenting with no poo is relatively low risk. In fact, daily showers and shampooing are only a recent trend.

If you have a history of skin or scalp issues, you should talk with your healthcare provider or dermatologist before attempting it. Otherwise, nearly anyone can try no poo.

Consider the following to determine if no poo is for you:

  • Skipping shampoo might be more difficult if you have fine or thin hair because your hair will get oilier faster. Before quitting shampoo cold turkey, you can try slowly stretching the time between washes for a few weeks.
  • People with curly or very coarse hair may see the most benefits of no poo because the natural oils produced by the scalp can make hair smoother and less frizzy.

Each no-poo alternative will work better for some people than others. The only way to know if you like the outcome is to try it. If you do try it, remember to pay attention to the health of your hair and scalp. Talk with your healthcare provider or a dermatologist if you have any concerns at any point.

Any no-poo method will take you through an adjustment period where your hair may become oilier than normal. Proponents of no poo say this phase is necessary to help your scalp recalibrate and begin creating the right amount of oil you personally need on your head. Anecdotally, your scalp will produce less oil over time because it’s not being stripped by shampooing detergents every day. There aren’t any scientific studies to support this claim, however.

Baking soda followed by apple cider vinegar


  • Baking soda makes a good paste for scrubbing, and many people say that apple cider vinegar makes hair shiny.
  • The ingredients are cheap.


  • This method may irritate your scalp or disrupt your head’s natural pH.

Coconut oil


  • It repels water, which means your hair will be sealed to maintain its natural oils.


  • It may be difficult to rinse out.
  • It may leave your hair heavy and greasy.

Just conditioner or a specific no-poo product


  • These are less likely to disrupt your scalp’s pH.


  • They may weigh down your hair if you don’t rinse them out thoroughly.
  • These choices don’t decrease money spent or plastic used.

Washing only with water


  • This is the cheapest option.
  • It’s completely chemical-free.


  • Your hair might not feel as clean or look how you’d like it to.

The health of your hair is often a sign of your overall health. A healthy, balanced diet and eating enough food is essential for growing healthy hair. Find out how a healthy diet and proper care can keep your hair healthy.

Other ways to keep your hair healthy include:

  • Use shampoo only on your scalp, not down to the ends.
  • Always use conditioner after you shampoo, and concentrate your conditioner application on the ends of your hair.
  • Shampoo as often as you need it. Oily hair may need to be shampooed more often. But if you’re older or have color-treated hair, then you won’t need to wash as often.
  • Protect your hair while swimming by applying conditioner and wearing a swim cap before getting in a chlorinated pool.

There are many reasons to try the no-poo method of hair washing. There are also many methods of no-poo washing that have different benefits.

No poo will work better for some people than others, but it’s relatively low risk if you want to give it a try.