As someone who is always looking for low-maintenance beauty routines, The No-Poo Method seemed too good to be true: forgo shampoo, fight through some greasy days, and eventually end up with perfect, bouncy, self-cleaning strands for the rest of your life. How pretty and low maintenance can you get?
The central thesis of the No-Poo Method is that normal shampoos contain detergents that strip your hair of its natural oils (also known as sebum). When the scalp loses all of these oils, it goes into overdrive to produce more– and that’s why your hair looks like a greasy mop after a few days or so. By eliminating shampoo, you keep the oil levels on your scalp relatively stable, and that means your scalp will eventually stop producing so much oil. The result is healthy, natural, and less-oily hair for the rest of your life.
As I started considering a No-Poo life, I realized there are many ways to wean your hair off of shampoo. Some people quit cold-turkey; others use a variety of grocery store items to keep oil at bay during the transition: egg yolks, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, and honey, to name a few. (It is seriously crazy how many alternative ways there are of washing your hair with food products. How did anyone even figure these out? Did they just go through and just start dumping everything on their head to see what stuck?)
I decided to test out the very-popular baking soda/apple cider vinegar (ACV) combination. Use baking soda to take all the grease out of your hair, and ACV to rinse. I bought my first set of supplies at a local grocery store and walked back with a little bounce in my step– sure, I had some greasy days ahead, but I was on my way to natural, low-maintenance, beautiful hair. What could go wrong?
My first couple days were actually not too bad. One day was even great– my hair was fluffy and had a ton of volume.
And then came the static.
The static was intense– I could barely touch my hair without the strands floating into the air like a jellyfish. It was so annoying, and nothing seemed to fix it until my hair started to accumulate a massive amount of grease. I mean massive. I was wearing hats every single day. When I couldn’t get away with a hat, I pulled my hair into a tight bun in an attempt to pass off the grease as extremely-slicked-back-hair. The worst part about having greasy hair is that it really brings your mood down; I felt ugly, unkempt, and kind of smelly.
Nevertheless, I kept on with my baking soda/ACV routine because I thought better days were just a day or two away. I troubleshooted my greasy hair and found a whole other litany of things I was supposed to be doing to keep my hair clean, including boar-bristle brushing, and avoiding hard water at all costs. Oh, and scritching. Scritching basically means moving the scalp oil around with your fingers and then brushing your hair with a boar bristle brush to redistribute oils away from your scalp. Not only is this disgusting, but it also takes like half an hour to do it right– the opposite of having effortless, no-maintenance hair.
By the second month, I was firmly attached to my purifying shower head, brushing my hair an insane amount, and stocking my shower with the same things I put in my pantry. I had almost convinced myself that the grease was lifting, and that’s when I went home to see my parents. And let me tell you– if you’re looking like the girl version of Pig Pen in the name of more low-maintenance hair, your mom should tell you. And mine did.
That was about all it took to make me buy a bottle of shampoo. All that worrying about grease, avoiding hard water/detergents, and obsessing on whether or not hair product would ruin “The Method” were too much. In my experience, the No-Poo Method was about the most high-maintenance beauty endeavor I’ve ever tried, and that is the only reason I needed to quit.
These days, I wash my hair with a detergent. I use products that add buildup to my hair. I might venture out again and explore some more natural rinses in the future, but for now I’m all about simple and effective. And for the moment, regular old Pantene is about as simple as it gets.