Curly-Haired Girl's Testimonial to No 'Poo

Curly-Haired Girl's Testimonial to No 'Poo (going shampoo-free)

Now that I've settled into a no 'poo (no shampoo/shampoo-free) routine that works on my curly, frizzy, dry hair, here is that follow-up I promised.

*Affiliate links used below. See full note at bottom of post.

No 'Poo Curly Hair Products

Plenty of other sources give the why behind the products used and what they "scientifically" do for your hair and scalp (balancing pH and other things I don't really understand). This is simply what is working for me, I couldn't possibly begin to explain why it works. It just does.

Conditioning: dabs of coconut oil rubbed between fingers to melt and applied to dry hair before shower, then rinsed out in no 'poo method. In addition to coconut oil or in place of it, a good leave-in conditioner could be used after cleaning hair.
Cleaning: 1 TBSP baking soda mixed with about 8 oz. warm water. This shouldn't be done more than 1-2 times a week and may need to be phased out.
Conditioner alternative: 1-2 TBSP apple cider vinegar mixed with about 8 oz. water
Blow-drying alternative: short-sleeved tee for "towel-drying" and long-sleeved tee for scrunching and air drying by "plopping."

Tips on How to Go Shampoo-Free with Natural Curls

No 'Poo Process + Tips for Curly Hair

1. Precondition with coconut oil every couple weeks (optional).

A small amount of coconut oil is scooped out with a finger, rubbed between my palms to melt, and smoothed over hair focusing on ends and notoriously frizzy areas. I avoid my scalp or the hair at the top of my head, because the oil doesn't exactly wash out and can leave my hair looking greasy. (Any oil left in the ends just looks like styling product, not grease.) I do this about every two weeks before washing as a deep conditioning.

2. Massage scalp with baking soda or simple water 1-2 times a week.

1 tablespoon of baking soda into an 8 oz. cup of warm water and stir until dissolved, then pour over my scalp, moving hair aside as I pour, then rub it in for a few seconds with my finger tips. (Imagine how a hairstylist massages your scalp at the salon--that's the rubbing motion that should be used.) Immediately rinse. Allowing the baking soda to sit too long causes extra frizzies on my already frizz-prone hair.

I did this a couple times a week in the beginning, then phased it out to about once a week. Not all skin/hair responds to baking soda the same, and in general it can be a little too harsh for most. Whether or not I'm using baking soda, I only get my hair all wet 1-2 times a week and am always sure to massage the scalp well.

3. Clarify with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) 1-2 times a week.

1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 oz. warm water in a cup. I pour the mixture over the ends of my hair starting about ear level and working down, avoiding direct contact with my scalp. (I read to avoid the scalp and that's been working fine.) I leave it in while I finish showering, then thoroughly rinse and sometimes a final rinse with cool water. I do this anytime I get my hair all wet, whether I use baking soda or just water.

4. Shirt-dry to prevent frizz.

When out of the shower, I gently squeeze the ends of my hair with a t-shirt. For frizzy and curly hair, this is gentler than towel-drying.

5. Style with curly/hydrating styling products.

When I'm not using coconut oil, I use a leave-in conditioner on my hair. I love MOA leave-in conditioner that I found affordable at TJMaxx/Marshalls. I've also been pleased with Macadamia Oil Nourishing Cream that I've found on sale at Target.

I used to follow that up with Tresemme mousse for curly hair; I used and was happy with it for years. Then I started noticing my hair getting even dryer (if that was possible) and not curling the same. Hormones and such can change hair. Also, I learned that styling products with alcohol, like mousse, hair sprays, and gels, can dry out hair, especially as you get older. So, I quit using it and instead upped my leave-in conditioner a bit. The results have been great. My hair refound it's curl and doesn't feel as dry.

6. Finish drying curly hair with "plopping."

A long-sleeved tee laid out on the bed, I dip my head upside-down over the tee and wrap it around my head using the long sleeves to tie and secure in place. (It's called "plopping." It looks ridiculous and my husband laughs and says, "I like your headpiece," then assures me my stupidity doesn't bother him. Isn't he great?) I leave it on for 20 minutes or so while I finish getting ready or get the kids breakfast. I untie it and curls are tighter and smoother than the times I let them simply air dry. I've read of people doing this overnight, but that just seems ridiculously uncomfortable and altogether unnecessary. Also, my hair is long, so no idea how this would work on short hair.

7. Finish styling curly hair.

At this point my hair still needs more drying time (the joys of thick hair), but it can easily be put up or lightly curled or left alone to dry naturally curly.

How to Care for + Style Naturally Curly Hair the No 'Poo Way

Weekly No 'Poo Styling Routine

For most no 'pooers, washing happens every 2-4 days or sometimes just once a week. Hair is left dry on the days in between, or sometimes dampened to restyle. Here is my weekly routine.

Day 1 | Clean Hair + Scalp

Clean with baking soda, air-dry, and plop as outlined above. I leave my hair naturally curly on clean days.

Days 2-3 | Restyle Curls

Leave dry and refine curl with curling iron to make softer curls, especially if I plan on going out. Otherwise, I might wet my hair a little and smooth over a little conditioner and/or mousse to freshen the natural curls.

How to Style Curly No 'Poo Hair

Day 4 | Rinse Hair + Massage Scalp

Often, my hair does not need washed a second time in the week. If there is no greasiness or any other reason I need to clean my hair with baking soda, I'll simply wet my hair in the shower and massage my scalp. Or sometimes I'll wet, comb, massage and apple cider vinegar the ends. But I don't always need the full baking soda routine at this point.

Days 5-7 | Restyle Curls

I leave dry and refine curl with a curling iron, or wet my hair a little and freshen natural curls. Day 7 is our lazy day and by then my hair is usually ready for a pony tail or hat.


Start again with Day 1.

Additional Shampoo-Free Tips + Tricks

I'm still learning as I go. Here are a few things I've found to work so far...

Put vinegar / baking soda mixtures in cups.

Use wide-mouthed containers for the baking soda- and apple cider vinegar-water mixtures. When I first started, I mixed the baking soda and apple cider vinegar in two separate squirt bottles. I liked that this kept them from spilling and collecting shower water. However, the mouths of the bottles were small and difficult to add what I needed from a tablespoon. A funnel (which I don't have) could have helped, but still takes longer than necessary. I'm now using 2 plastic cups we had in the cupboard that makes adding the baking soda or vinegar easy and fuss-free.

Mix baking soda and vinegar as needed.

No need to mix a large amount for future use. I like mixing what I need when I need it. I'm only using the baking soda and apple cider vinegar 1-2 times a week, so it really doesn't take too much time.

Give coconut oil a try.

Coconut oil can be beneficial for all hair types. Just keep it away from your scalp and start with a very little amount! If you don't notice a difference, then feel free to try using more. But my hair is thick and always in need of conditioning and a small amount is sometimes too much, so start small.

The first time I used coconut oil, I applied it after my shower in place of mousse or gel. It works really well with curly hair. Then, the next day I used a curling iron and realized that isn't a great combination. The coconut oil remelts with the heat, then sort of solidifies again. It's hard to describe, but it looked greasy and a little "off" at that point. So plan on rinsing/washing it out if you'll be using a curling iron.

Shampoo-Free + Curly Hair Resources

How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo: -- Great information from Tsh on The Art of Simple explaining it all.

No 'Poo FAQ: A curly-haired girl's insight into no 'poo, including pictures of how she styles her hair for a week with only one washing.

No 'Poo, The Nitty Gritties: Love her results and she links at the bottom to more after photos 9 months later.

Curly Girl Method: One girl's experience based on the Curly Girl Handbook with her before and after photos.


what's next?
new? start here...
minimalist makeup bag
10-minute beauty routine
homemade tea tree deodorant
dose of simple

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