Home Hair Care No-poo method: washing hair without shampoo

No-poo method: washing hair without shampoo

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 378 views

Washing hair without shampoo – the no-poo method is said to be particularly gentle on the mane and scalp. But how does washing with just water work? And who is it suitable for? Read all about No-Poo and natural alternatives to conventional shampoo here.

Blow-drying, coloring, styling – our hair is exposed to a lot of hardships every day. And when washing, they often come into contact with artificial and often harmful ingredients. The result is usually counterproductive: roots that quickly become greasy and straggly hair.

But it also works without: With the so-called no-poo method, the hair is washed without shampoo, i.e. only with water or a natural alternative. We explain how this works and what effect washing without shampoo has.

No Poo – that’s behind it

The no-poo method, an acronym for “no shampoo,” is an alternative to traditional hair washing with shampoo. Because these often contain synthetic ingredients such as surfactants, silicones, dyes and preservatives as well as perfume. They often irritate the scalp and trigger allergies. In addition, the scalp quickly becomes greasy with conventional hair washing. Not using shampoo should counteract this. The no-poo method involves washing the hair with natural substitutes like rye flour and apple cider vinegar, or just water.

Washing your hair without shampoo has this effect

All the effects of washing your hair without shampoo have not been scientifically proven. However, the no-poo method is designed to prevent irritation. In addition, the hair is naturally cared for by the body’s own sebum. Users also claim a decreasing sebum production due to the so-called greasing.

Helps No-Poo against hair loss, dandruff & dry hair

There is no evidence that the no-poo method helps against problems such as hair loss and dandruff . “People whose scalp is irritated or allergic to shampoo ingredients or who produce little sebum themselves can do without shampoo,” explains Dr. Andreas Finner, dermatologist and member of the German Dermatologic Society. The scalp can calm down during this time.

Does No-Poo Promote Hair Growth?

according to dr Andreas Finner has neither the body’s own sebum production nor a shampoo or conditioner that influences hair growth . The rate at which hair grows is genetic. The frequency of hair washing also has no influence on the hair length.

Who is the no-poo method suitable for?

Basically, the no-poo method is suitable for every skin and hair type. However, if you suffer from eczema or skin diseases, it is better to use medicinal shampoos for washing your hair after consulting a dermatologist. If you have an itchy, severely flaky or extremely greasy scalp, you should first discuss the no-poo method with a doctor.

However, if the scalp reacts to the lack of cleansing with itching, dandruff and unpleasant odors, it can become inflamed and become a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria. At that point at the latest, users should stop trying, according to the recommendation of the German Dermatological Society.

Washing hair without shampoo: This is how it works

To begin with, it is important to degrease your hair. The aim is for the sebum production of the scalp to be able to regulate itself. How long this transition phase lasts depends heavily on your skin type. If you tend to have oily skin , your roots will also become greasy more often and the transition phase can be correspondingly longer. During this time, pay attention to the following points:

  • Always delay washing your hair until your hair starts to get greasy. This can take from a few days to a week.
  • Brush the hair thoroughly every day – this will remove dirt and distribute the sebum evenly. The latter protects the hair and gives it a healthy shine.
  • When washing your hair for the first time, only use lukewarm water. Then delay washing your hair for as long as possible. From the next time you wash your hair, you can use a natural alternative such as baking soda or healing earth.

Alternatives to conventional shampoo

With the no-poo method, you can use different alternatives to conventional shampoo. You have to try which remedy suits you best – every hair and scalp is different. We present the most common alternatives:

Baking soda

Baking soda is a natural degreaser, making it a good choice for the no-poo method. Depending on the length of your hair, add one to four teaspoons of baking soda to 200 to 400 milliliters of lukewarm water. Apply the mixture to wet hair in the shower and massage in well. Then wash out carefully.

Caution: Colored hair will fade faster with the use of baking soda. If you have a dry scalp, you should also avoid baking soda. It can make the problem worse.

Apple Cider Vinegar

An apple cider vinegar conditioner is ideal for keeping the hair soft and easy to comb. To do this, mix half a liter to a liter of cold water with one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before washing your hair. Rinse wet hair with it. You can then rinse the hair again with water. However, this is not absolutely necessary. The smell of apple cider vinegar will dissipate once your hair is dry.

Various essential oils complement the apple cider vinegar rinse: tea tree oil and rosemary oil have an antibacterial effect and regulate sebum formation. A few drops of it in the conditioner are enough.

rye flour

Flour can remove sebum and dirt from hair. Rye flour is particularly good for washing your hair. It contains less gluten than other varieties and therefore does not become doughy when mixed with water. To wash your hair, mix four to five tablespoons of fine rye flour with a little lukewarm water. Massage the rye flour mixture into wet hair in the shower and then rinse as usual.

healing clay

Healing clay is made from loess, a type of clay. It has a binding property that removes excess sebum from the scalp. To wash your hair with healing clay, mix about three tablespoons of healing clay powder with warm water until you get a gel-like mass. Massage this into the scalp and then rinse it out carefully. If your hair is very greasy, you can leave the healing clay on for 15 to 20 minutes.


Clay or lava earth is also good for washing hair. It absorbs sebum and dirt without degreasing the hair too much. You can already buy lava earth as a ready-made washing gel. In powder form, use them like healing clay.

Hair soap

Beginners make the switch to the no-poo method milder by using so-called hair soaps at the beginning. Strictly speaking, these are solid soaps that foam up when they come into contact with water. However, they contain natural oils.

If your hair quickly becomes greasy, wash it with curd soap – it degreases well and is free of dyes and perfume. People with dry, brittle hair, on the other hand, should avoid using curd soap, as it makes the problem worse.

Tips for washing hair without shampoo

If you have decided on the no-poo method, you should consider a few things in the care routine.

Regular brushing

Brushing both detangles and nourishes hair: Comb your hair regularly to brush out dirt and disperse sebum.

A brush with natural bristles is particularly suitable for this. Work your way from the tip to the hairline – this will avoid hair breakage . Whether you comb your hair wet or dry depends on the hair structure.

Greasy approach: how to conceal it

Especially in the transition phase you struggle with a greasy approach. This is particularly uncomfortable in the company of other people. Dry shampoo is off-limits to the no-poo method. For example, how to conceal the stringy hair:

  • Wear hair closed (strict braid or casual bun)
  • Braid hairstyles
  • hat, cap or hairband
  • Apply baking soda to the hairline and brush out thoroughly

Tip: Start with the method on vacation when you are less in the company of other people. Then greasy hair is less uncomfortable for you.

No poo at the hairdresser

At the hairdresser, washing your hair with shampoo and conditioner is usually part of the service. If you would like to remain true to the no-poo method when cutting your hair, please mention this when making the appointment. Alternatively, you can also visit a natural or organic hairdresser.

No-Poo in the pool and vacation

Sun, salt water and chlorine – our mane is exposed to extreme conditions on vacation or when visiting the swimming pool. There is a great need to clean the hair afterwards with a shampoo. Rinse your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water after a day at the pool or beach. If necessary, wash it more often in the following days with shampoo substitutes such as baking soda, earthenware, or rye flour.

dr Finner is a specialist in dermatology, a specialized hair surgeon and practice manager in Berlin at the Klinik am Wittenbergplatz with activities in Leipzig, Dresden and Hamburg. He is also a member of the German Dermatological Society.

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