Free to be Poo Free

When I heard a friend say that she had problems with oily hair before going “poo free” (meaning she no longer uses shampoo), I definitely wanted to learn more. I thought the idea of not shampooing was utterly insane, but if it worked for her, I had to look into it. I’ve had problems with oily hair since puberty. I can wash my hair in the morning, then 12 hours later have it be oily at the roots. It’s very frustrating. I can use corn starch as a dry shampoo to get me by so that I can wash every 1.5 to 2 days, but even that is pushing it.

Or should I say that’s what I used to do, ’cause I don’t have that problem anymore.

My Poo Free Journey

In early September of last year, I gave up shampoo, and started the “poo free” journey. It was so terrible at first. My hair looked like total, greasy crap for about 6-8 weeks. The only reason I stuck with it was because everything I read said that this was normal. It takes a while for your hair to get used to regulating its oils. Eventually, it did start looking good, and I got to the point where I was able to go 3-4 days without washing, but it never looked great. Those who know me know that I like my hair looking good, so this wasn’t going to work for me. I gave up after about 12 weeks.

When I switched back to shampoo, my hair was worse than ever. I looked like a pre-teen with an aversion to showering. I would shampoo my hair, and 8 hours later it would be greasy. So, in January of this year, I switched back to the “poo free” lifestyle, only this time with a few modifications, and I have not looked back. Aside from desperately needing 2 inches taken off the length, my hair looks and feels awesome. And I only wash it once every 5 or 6 days.

Now time for hair pics. It’s really hard, and really awkward, taking pictures of your own hair, so bear with me.

Hair Washing Cycle Day One

Below is a pic of Day 1. I can style it and make it curlier, but I usually just put a little mousse in and let it air dry for the beach wave look. This pic was taken after I left the house with wet hair, and spent a couple hours at the park on a super windy day. Considering, I think it looks pretty good.

Day 1 of my wind-blown dry hair. The front.

Day 1. The back.

Day Two

Usually a loose, messy high ponytail.

Day Three

At the end of Day 2, I add some corn starch to my roots, brush all my hair out really well and twist it into a high bun. Sometimes I’ll do two buns, but usually just one. I dampen the ends slightly before twisting, and then I hairspray it and bobby pin everything into place and sleep on it.  The result is a wavy, full-bodied look that looks like I used a curling iron. In fact, I used to use a curling iron to get this look, and now I don’t need it! The natural oils in my hair that haven’t been stripped away by shampooing help to hold the style in place.

Note: For my local friends, if you saw me at the park this past Tuesday (5/29), I was on Day 3 hair.

The bun on the eve of Day 3.

Day 3. I took this pic several weeks ago for my Buttons and Bobby Pins post. I wish you could see all of the hair.

Day Four

I comb my hair out at night, and sleep with a bun again… sometimes. Sometimes I just sleep with it down, and just comb it out in the morning. If I do put it in a bun the night before, I don’t use hairspray again. Either way, it looks good, and still has lots of volume and body.

Day Five

If I don’t wash on this day (which I usually don’t), I will wear it in a low ponytail. The roots still have some volume at this point, and I still feel like my hair looks nice if I go somewhere.

Why go “Poo Free”?

Shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils. For some people, this means that your hair will overproduce oil in order to compensate, and you end up with greasy hair. For others, it can mean that their hair gets very dry.

Another reason: If you’re a rebel like me, it can be really gratifying to go against a such a deeply embedded societal norm. I mean, everyone uses shampoo since they are little babies. It’s just what we do. But is it really necessary? Question everything!

How Do You Wash Your Hair?

Going “poo free” doesn’t mean you have dirty hair. You still need to wash it. There are different techniques, and if you do an internet search, you can read about all the ways. Some people only use hot water. Some people wash with conditioner, or “co-wash”. If you go on sites like, you’ll read a lot about co-washing. It’s not just for caucasian hair. People with ethnic hair go “poo free” as well.

I “co-wash” my kids’ hair, but it didn’t work so well for me. I wash mine with baking soda in place of the shampoo, and vinegar in place of the conditioner. You just mix about 2 tsp of baking soda with 8 oz or so of water, and scrub, scrub, scrub the heck out of your scalp and the first inch or 2 of hair with it. I leave it on for a few minutes, scrub again, pull to the roots, and then rinse VERY well. I do the same ratio of vinegar to water, but instead of scrubbing, I comb it through and leave it for a few minutes as well. It makes your hair very soft. The vinegar does not leave behind any smell.

What About Deep Conditioning Treatments?

I use olive oil about once or twice/month. I just work a couple of tablespoons through the ends of my dry hair, keeping it away from my scalp. Then, I wrap my hair in a towel, and warm it with the blow dryer. Leave it in as long as you can stand it, then wash as usual. I will use a little bit of conditioner worked just through the ends in the shower before using my baking soda. It gives me more scrub power to get all the olive oil out.

What About When You Go To The Salon?

Just ask the stylist to use conditioner in place of shampoo. They can scrub vigorously with it, rinse it out, then use it again to detangle. She/he might think you’re crazy, but if your hair looks great, who can argue?

Bonus Pic

Bonus Pic: If I style my hair curly, and I sleep in it loose, then I brush it out in the morning… This is what I get.

I love being “poo free”. It saves me tons of money, I’m using far fewer chemicals (I was mostly using natural or organic shampoo, but those still have chemicals), and I feel like my hair looks better than ever. An added bonus is that I get to justify taking more baths since I don’t have to wash my hair every time I bathe now. 😉


10 thoughts on “Free to be Poo Free

  1. Exciting to hear your challenging but positive poo free experience. I’ve been poo free for several years now. I know someone that used to use the anti-dandruff shampoos, the expensive nearly prescription ones, that switched to no poo and no longer had issues with the dandruff.

    Funny thing is, I still run out of ‘shampoo.’ Good thing is, a walk to the kitchen remedies it.

    • I used to have a lot of flake issues. I didn’t even think about the fact that they are gone, but they are totally gone!

      You’re right. It is really nice to be able to go to the kitchen for re-fills!


  2. Well that title is a great hook! I’ve got massively curly dry hair. I’ve tried poo free but don’t think I’ve done it long enough- then I like forget and start using shampoo again. Maybe I’ll give it another go.

    • I have reached for the bottle of shampoo (when my husband was still using it) not even thinking about it and almost used it. When you do it for years and years, it becomes so automatic!

      I’d like to see yours combed out dry. I bet it’d put my little ‘fro to shame! I’ve read on sites like Naturally Curly that “co-washing” works really well for people with super curly hair. They rinse it out, then leave a little in like a leave-in conditioner. That might have been what you were doing before when you went poo free, but if not, it might help.


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