You are probably familiar with the “no poo” (the “poo” as in “shampoo”) method of cleaning your hair. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon, but it is one that is surprisingly enduring. Barely a day passes without a wellness or beauty blogger commenting on how No Poo changed their hair for the better; reading through such praise, it’d be easy to think that No Poo is the hair care solution we’ve all been waiting for.
However, the No Poo method is inherently problematic. So if you’ve wondered about trying it, here’s the counter to all those “No Poo Is Amazing!” posts that are still so common in the blogosphere.
“No Poo” Definitions Vary
For some, No Poo means stepping away from chemical shampoos and opting for “natural” alternatives that are sulphate, SLS, and fragrance free.
For the most part though, when No Poo is referenced online, they’re speaking of what we’ll call “the standard method”. It’s this that’s most worrying.
The Standard Method (And Why It’s Bad For You)
The most common method of No Poo hair washing is fairly simple:
- Use bicarbonate of soda as a shampoo, massaging it into the scalp and then rinsing clear.
- Use apple cider vinegar as a conditioner, then rinsing clear.
There’s an awful lot of problems with this technique. The first and foremost is that it’s going to damage your hair and potentially cause breakage that only tape in hair extensions will be able to make look presentable. Bicarbonate of soda is extremely abrasive. You need some abrasion when doing No Poo, as this is the only option you have for removing grime from your hair — but bicarb is far too severe to be used on a regular basis. The second issue is regarding pH, which is rather complex, but you can learn more about it here.
Combine the pH issues together with the excessive abrasion of the bicarbonate of soda, and you could have a real hair nightmare on your hands… er, head.
Hair Type, Body Chemistry & More
One of the fundamentals of getting your haircare right is to understand that all hair is different. There are women who will respond well to No Poo; predominantly those with dry and curly hair. On the flip side, if your hair is thin and greasy, then it’s unlikely No Poo is going to work well for you. You also have to factor in very individual things like body chemistry and hormones, both of which vary wildly and mean there is no one thing that works for everyone.
So if No Poo suits you and your hair seems to be handling it well, then that’s fine! If it’s not working, however, it’s not worth persisting with something that is problematic.
Whether you’re trying it out or opting for long-term usage, it’s important to remember a few principles for safe No Poo usage. Give your hair a rest every once in awhile if you’re going to be using bicarbonate of soda. There are plenty of natural shampoos that you can use in the rest periods, so that your hair has a chance to recover from the potential breakage.