First, cleanse your hair one last time with a shampoo that contains sulfates. This will cleanse your hair of any product buildup in your hair, including silicone buildup. Silicones are found in many hair products, including conditioners, styling products, and heat protectants. Silicones coat your hair shafts in a water-proof barrier that seals the hair shaft from ever letting moisture in or out– which is great if you’re trying to battle frizz or protect your hair from heat damage– but if you don’t properly wash the silicones out of your hair before starting no poo, your hair will not be able to absorb any water or any further moisturizing products, and will be left with dry hair. Most silicones are not water-soluble, so the only way to properly wash them out is with sulfates (which is the harsh detergents found in shampoo that are drying your hair out! Do you see how this is a vicious cycle?). So use a sulfate shampoo one last time before you go shampoo-free, and then stop using any products containing both sulfates and silicones.
Traditional soap and shampoo can be replaced with: diluted baking soda, salt water, various herbs, or bentonite/kaolin clay. Powdered herbs (shikakai, aritha/reetha, henna, cassia) and clays can be used as a liquid solution or paste as a clarifying treatment. If you have type 3 or 4 hair, you may not even need these treatments… many people with curly hair can go conditioner-only, or even water-only!
Use one tablespoon(TBSP) of baking soda, or other shampoo replacement (clay, shikakai, salt, etc) per one cup of warm or hot water. You can double or triple the recipe if you have very, very long or thick hair. But do not use more than 1 TBSP, your hair will become hard, dry or feel brittle if you use too much of anything.
You can put this mix in a recycled shampoo bottle, and apply to your hair with warm water. The mix should not feel gritty, and should be a liquid. If you have very short or thick hair, you may find it easier to make a paste with a tablespoon of baking soda, salt or clay (or less) and sprinkle it over very wet hair and massage in. Otherwise, spray or pour the mixture onto your hair and work it in. Let it sit about a minute, and then rinse. I personally find it easiest to make a liquidy paste in the palm of my hand with about half a tablespoon, and then sprinkle and massage into dripping wet hair.
Experiment and see what works best for you, there are no official rules.
Conditioner can be replaced with acidic rinses or moisturizing herbs:
Acidic conditioners : (diluted!!) apple cider vinegar, 100 % coffee, black tea, or green tea
For a typical ACV rinse, make up a solution of one to two tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) per cup of water. * 100% coffee or tea can be just as effective.*
Apply to wet hair, massage into scalp and rinse off with cold water. Please note, you don’t always have to apply a rinse with every wash! I personally find I only need to do a rinse every 2-3 washes.
What do these ingredients do?
Clay cleanses hair by pulling out the oils and dirt, similar to how clay cleanses the skin during a mud mask. It can leave hair extremely dry if used in large amounts. When used in dilute amounts, it is a great cleanser and leaves hair very “moldable”. The texture of your hair will change! It takes some getting used to, but it looks wonderful when styled. You hair will appear to have a lot of “product” in it, without having to use commercial hair gels.
Cleansing herbs include shikakai and aritha. These herbs have soporific qualities; when the powdered herb is mixed with water, it creates a mild froth, similar to soap. These herbs are also quite moisturizing!
Baking soda is the weakest alkali of sodium compounds, it would take using a lot to do damage to your skin or hair when used in small amounts. It has a lot of useful properties like deodorizing, leavening (for baking), whitening, polishing and clarifying. You only need a little bit, regardless of what you’re using it for. Just like with vinegar, a little goes a long way. Plain water can remove almost all the dirt you can get in your hair, but a little baking soda can not only remove the rest, but take care of the build-up from hair products, shampoos and anything else you might pick up. Some people find that over time, using baking soda in their hair will lighten the colour – although most agree that if this happens you’re using it too much, and perhaps not using enough ACV. Once or twice a week is fine, even less if your hair is in very good condition or easy to manage.
PLEASE NOTE: If you use Baking Soda – make sure to use a carrier oil or conditioning herb alongside! Jojoba, almond, coconut, and argan oil are all great options. To apply, place a few drops on your fingertips and rub into your scalp directly, in a massaging motion.
Apple cider vinegar is a mild acidic made from fermenting apples, the acid content is usually only around 3-5% in store-bought ACV. It has a lot of health benefits when taken internally, too! When used on your scalp, it helps promote circulation, acts as a natural antiseptic, and dissolves excessive fatty deposits and reduces scaling or peeling of the skin. As for use on hair, it helps to clarify, detangle, balances hair’s pH level and seals the cuticles. Some people are bothered by the smell, but be assured that the smell should dissipate within a moment or two of rinsing. If it doesn’t, you’re using too much in your solution! Coffee and tea rinses work similarly due to their acidic pH.
Use warm water to wash or clarify, this opens up your hair cuticles and helps your conditioner or rinse penetrate the hair. Use cool water on low pressure to rinse to close the cuticle, cut down on frizzes, soften hair and enhance curls.