Before I launch into my story of no poo and its benefits, I'd first like to tell you a little of my bad hair history.
Growing up, I always thought I had terrible hair. It was brittle, would frizz up uncontrollably (I’d like to say only in the heat but that would be a lie) and was, most of the time, completely unmanageable.
Imagine my joy when I discovered the GHD, a hair iron that gave me perfectly groomed hair anytime I wanted!
Years of straightening, blow drying and dyeing my hair ensued. My hair started falling out, getting thinning with each passing year. From thick unruly hair to thin (but groomed) hair wasn’t quite what I had in mind.
I went for protein treatments, Brazilian Keratin treatments, bought a shower filter thinking it might be the chlorine in the water, and ate healthier and healthier foods.
The real wake-up call happened when I went to a hairdresser for a cut, and she was horrified at how thin my hair was. She used some kind of scalp machine to reveal (on an unforgivingly large screen) that each strand was centimetres apart, and there were even bald batches in certain parts.
Time for drastic action.
After trying nearly every remedy I could think of, my sister told me about going no poo. After coming to terms with this slightly odd term (at first I thought everyone going no poo was severely constipated), I was extremely resistant.
I’d been reliant on products my whole life, so giving up shampoo was hard for me to even consider.
Nevertheless it kept nagging at the back of my mind; maybe I should try no poo and see what happens.
Going no-poo for the environment
After my interest in the environment and sustainability grew, I increasingly realised that using products at all was not very green, even if they are organic.
Just think about all the energy that goes into making your bottle, putting all the ingredients in, and preserving them. How can this possibly be as eco-friendly as using no poo?
Watch the video below called The Story of Stuff, to find out more about the cost of production.
If you're still using the commercial and salon brands, you're probably not aware of the health and environmental cost of these products. Commercial shampoos and conditioners contain harmful chemicals, some of which are toxic.
And as you massage this into your scalp, it's soaking up these chemicals like a super-absorbent sponge.
And what happens to the chemicals that get washed down the drain? They go into our rivers and oceans, causing untold harm to marine life and polluting our water sources. The (disposable) plastic, even if it is recycled, takes even more energy in recycling than just not using any at all (or less).
What’s more, most commercial and salon brands are tested on animals! Known as vivisection, this means animals are kept in tiny cages in laboratories while shampoos containing harmful chemicals are rubbed in their eyes, massaged into their skin or forcibly ingested.
Separated from any loved ones, these animals live out their short lives in deprivation, isolation, and misery. By going no poo, you immediately say no to animal testing.
If you’d like to find out more, read Animal Testing 101 and educate yourself. Remember, no living animal is exempt. So at the very least, buy organic, cruelty-free alternatives.
Going no poo to save your hair
Then there’s the arguments that shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils, causes hair loss and dandruff and other scalp issues, and of course the evidence staring right back at me in the mirror.
If using shampoo was working for me, how come my hair looked like a badly-constructed bird’s nest?
So decision made, I cut out all shampoo, all conditioner, all gels and mousses and all the other hair products that I’d become so reliant on.
I put away the GHD, blow dryer, curlers and all the other tools I held personally responsible for my straw-like hair.
Ok the first thing you need to realise is that when you go no poo and begin using baking soda, apple cider vinegar, or any other natural shampoo, is that it's not going to feel anything like you’re used to. You’re not going to get lather, and it’s best that you come to terms with this straight off.
This is because commercial (lathering) shampoos contain chemicals to make that foamy lather we’ve all grown to love. These include the nasty-sounding cocamide DEA, MEA or TEA, and sodium lauryl sulfate. They literally only exist to make your shampoo nice and foamy, with zero consideration for the long-term health of your hair.
Trust me, your hair is no cleaner for having harsh chemical additives massaged into it, though it will be more damaged for the experience. So learn to enjoy the natural non-lathering experience and your squeaky-clean (cruelty-free) hair.
Another thing to watch out for when going no poo is detox. Detox is a completely natural process, as your hair is now adjusting and regenerating from its previously toxic existence. Some people, including the author of Homemade Shampoo Recipes and Natural Beauty Treatments, experienced greasier hair.
I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t experience any detox symptoms from going no poo, but my hair has a tendency to dryness rather than greasiness. If you do experience hair detox symptoms, try using the miracle hair shampoo recipe found in Homemade Shampoo Recipes and Natural Beauty Treatments.
This wonderful ‘shampoo’ won’t interfere with your detox, but allows you to enjoy the transition.
What is Homemade Shampoo Recipes and Natural Beauty Treatments about?
This book contains wonderfully conditioning treatments for your hair, face and body as well as exfoliating scrubs, all made from natural homemade and organic ingredients.
You can easily source the ingredients and quickly prepare them at home, before giving your hair the kind of attention it deserves.
What’s more, it contains the Miracle Shampoo Recipe, which I’ve personally tried and tested, allowing me to guarantee its effectiveness. If you're thinking of going no poo or just want gorgeous luscious hair you’ve got to read this book.
Expect photo’s and detailed instructions, in-depth interviews and testimonials, as well as simple all-natural recipes that will turn your hair into the hair you always dreamed of.
Need more reasons to go no poo? Further benefits
I’ve found that (since going no poo) my hair curls naturally without being frizzy, which allows me so much more freedom! Suddenly I can just go out, without any preparation whatsoever. It literally saves me hours every week.
What’s more, I have found that it looks MUCH healthier and shinier, and has more body, so it looks way thicker than it actually is. It’s also stopped falling out.
The above pictures show my hair after only a month of going no poo!
Another big benefit is of course extra money in the piggy bank - by not buying expensive salon products and going for endless, useless treatments; you’ll have gorgeous hair for practically nothing.
Going no poo while travelling
Obviously while travelling you want to minimise how much you carry (both for your sake and that of the environment) and still have enough in case you can't find the products you need.
Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
Eco-travel & Lifestyles
Hi, my name is Melissa and I created this site together with photographer Christopher List to help spread awareness about green lifestyles and travel, so everyone can learn how easy it is to live in a sustainable way. Enjoy!
I wasn't sure what a permaculture design course was about, until I read through Melissa's fantastic blog! I've signed up and soon I'll be a PDC graduate too.
Kelly Richardson - Arizona
The link between personal responsibility and preserving our environment is becoming increasingly clear to me. Reading up on simple ways to be more eco-friendly in my life and travels has really helped me practice what I preach.
Dennis Howley - Namibia
I can't wait to follow Melissa and Chris' adventures in the Middle East and Africa. You guys inspire me!