Shampoo—do you really need it? And, what happens if you cut it out of your routine completely? Beardbrand Copywriter, Mike Lawson, tried the "no poo" method for 14 days and documented his results.
I’ve been letting my hair grow for 19 months.
It’s about shoulder length, wavy/curly, and thick—crazy thick. The biggest challenge I face with my hair is keeping it hydrated. There are a lot of days where no matter what I do, my hair is just bone dry and frizzy.
When you have long hair, experimenting comes with the territory.
I’ve tried a ton of different things during my never-ending quest for better-looking, easier-to-manage hair, and most recently, I decided to give the no poo method a shot.
WHAT IS NO POO?
The "no poo" method is a shampoo-adverse way of cleaning and caring for your hair utilizing just water (or baking soda and apple cider vinegar).
This alternative hair-care strategy gained a bit of a cult following in the early 2010s and still has a solid following today.
The theory behind no poo is that shampoos contain synthetic materials that strip away too much of the natural sebum produced by your scalp. With regular usage, these harsh shampoos create a vicious cycle of rinsing, repeating, and ultimately damaging your hair.
At Beardbrand, we would have to agree that avoiding synthetics like silicone, parabens, and sulfates is generally a good idea for your hair. That’s why Beardbrand Shampoo is formulated without any of the junk mentioned above.
We’ve also long been advocates of shampooing less frequently. For most men, shampooing one to three times a week is plenty—unless you have an overly oily scalp.
My normal routine
Before I get into my experience with no poo, here’s a quick breakdown of how I typically care for my hair.
I wash with Beardbrand Shampoo once (maybe twice) per week and use Beardbrand Conditioner daily. Some days I don’t get it wet at all. I also add some oil and hydration back into my hair with Utility Balm most days of the week. This helps add a little more weight to my hair and helps to reduce frizz.
For the most part, this routine has served me well. That said, I still have days where my hair is more dry and frizzy than I would like it to be. So I was curious to see if not pooing could positively impact my hair.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH NO POO
No poo recommends giving your hair at least 14 days to adjust. So, for 14 days, I washed my hair with only water (or didn’t wash it all). And to kick things up a notch, I also decided I wouldn’t use conditioner either.
I kept a short journal on how each day went.
I tied my hair up and didn’t get it wet when I showered today. This is pretty normal for me. I typically don’t get it wet the day after washing it, allowing more natural oil to build up. I did put a little bit of Utility Balm in it to combat frizz. Overall, my hair is looking and feeling great today. So far, so good, but nothing has really changed yet.
This is a day where I would typically just use Beardbrand Conditioner on my hair. Instead, I washed my hair with just water. In other words, I got my hair wet, and that’s about it. I used Utility Balm as usual, and my hair looked pretty good throughout the day.
I thought my hair looked really good when I woke up on day three—it had just the right amount of sheen and smoothness and had almost no frizz. I decided to keep my hair dry when I showered. Why mess up a good thing?
This was probably my best hair day of the entire two weeks, but it’s not uncommon for my hair to look its best with a few days of oil buildup in it.
On the fourth day, I started feeling like I was getting some excess oil buildup in my hair.
I washed my hair with just water and massaged my scalp with my fingers a bit more than I usually would.
I was hesitant to use more Utility Balm at this point. Even though Utility Balm is fully water-soluble, I was nervous about it getting trapped in the thicket that is my hair. As a result, my hair was a little frizzier than usual throughout the day.
I decided to not get my hair wet on day five. I was still dealing with a lot of frizz, and I figured that getting it wet would make matters worse.
Overall, my hair didn’t look too bad, but the frizz became even more problematic throughout the day.
This was not a good day for my hair.
At this point, I hadn’t used shampoo or conditioner in five days and was entering uncharted territory with my hair. Usually, I would be doing a full shampoo and condition at this point—and I really wanted to.
This is where I was starting to miss using Conditioner to help detangle, soften, and lubricate my hair. I attempted to wash my hair with just water, but it was really tangly, and I had a hard time working my fingers through it.
My hair was starting to feel rougher and coarser than usual but also a bit sticky. In addition to that, it was beginning to look plain dirty.
After my first week of no poo, I really started to regret trying it.
On the seventh day, I tried to brush and comb my hair while in the shower, hoping it would better dislodge dirt and smooth out tangles. It did not. I didn’t put any product in my hair because it already looked very oily.
This was the absolute worst day I had experienced so far. My hair was somehow greasy and dry simultaneously, and I’m not sure how that’s even possible. It looked stringy and dull, and I made a note that no poo had made my hair look and feel like literal shit.
Day eight was more or less the same as day seven, and I strongly considered pulling the plug on this experiment. I couldn’t run my fingers through my hair without hitting a tangle.
Later in the day, I decided to try using a Beard Comb with wide teeth to work out some of the knots in my hair. It worked to some extent, but then I made a bit of an important discovery—the boar’s hair brush.
I’ve never been the type to brush my hair because it generally leaves my hair very big and poofy. But I was at wit's end with my hair, so I decided to give it a shot. The stiff bristles of the boar’s hair really helped to smooth out the roughness in my hair, evenly distribute the oil, and reduce frizz.
As expected, my hair was puffier and straighter than I preferred, but it gave me some hope.
On day nine, I washed my hair with water and combed it immediately after getting out of the shower. Once it was damp, I used the boar’s hair Brush to help reduce frizz.
Typically, when I get my hair wet, it dries with more of a natural curl to it. After using the boar’s hair brush, my hair was less curly and laid flatter on my head.
Overall, my hair didn’t feel quite as bad today as it had the few days prior. Combing and brushing really made the difference, and I understand now why there’s some validity in that old saying about doing 100 brush strokes a day. (note: I did about 10 brush strokes. 100 brush strokes are way too many).
I kept my hair dry on day 10 and brushed it with a boar’s hair brush again. I thought my hair actually looked and felt pretty decent.
Maybe there is something to this?
Nearing the finish line. I washed my hair with water, combed, and brushed. My hair was okay—not great but not terrible—and kind of bigger and more voluminous than I prefer.
I didn’t keep notes on the last three days as by day 12, I was pretty much over it.
I was more than ready to wash and condition my hair, and I’ve probably never looked forward to a shower more than I did on the last day.
MY THOUGHTS ON NO POO
By the end of my second week of the no poo method, I felt like I had seen enough.
Was it a success or worth doing? I don't know. The cover photo at the top of the blog shows my hair before washing it on the final day.I wouldn’t say that my hair looked and felt worse. But I also wouldn’t say that my hair looked and felt better or any healthier.
For me, any positive takeaway from doing no poo was pretty negligible.
What I really disliked was not using a conditioner.
Going no poo made me really appreciate how a quality conditioner makes my hair significantly easier to manage and style. And it also helps my hair look better faster.
Before trying no poo, I had been shampooing once or twice per week. I now think I can go longer without using shampoo—perhaps washing every seven or eight days instead of every five or six—while still conditioning daily.
Still, I wouldn’t call no poo a sham.
There is some sound logic behind it: avoiding harsh synthetics and not shampooing every day.
But I also found myself wondering something...
What's the point of altogether scrapping shampoo when there are so many options that don't contain silicones, sulfates, and parabens? We happen to make one at Beardbrand.
It’s also worth acknowledging that everyone’s hair is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and I think the no poo method could actually be effective for some people.
It all comes down to trial and error. You have to find what works best for your hair and your lifestyle.
At the very least, try cutting back on how frequently you poo. You might just be surprised at the results.
Keep on Growing.
THE WRAP UP
If you are growing your hair out or just want to improve your long hair's overall look and feel, a great place to start figuring out the best approach is by reading these 5 Tips to Help You Grow Long Hair.
Keep on Growing.
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