No shampoo, “no-poo” hair washing has been quite an easy and fairly straightforward transition for me. I haven’t looked back since I began my new routine 2 years ago when I was introduced to this particular method of washing hair with natural, plastic-free ingredients. The Rubbish Trip mention this at their free Zero-Waste talks and have a recipe on their website as well. I would just like to describe my journey and the method I use to wash my hair, in order to inspire more of you to be courageous in taking the leap to experiment and try new things!
It is important to remember that every person is unique and has different hair and skin types so I encourage you not to give up straight away and to experiment and be creative. Think about what routine might suit your hair and do as much research as you need so that you feel comfortable and hopefully work out what suits you.
There is always a transition period, where your body, hair and skin slowly become used to this new method. The transition may be longer or shorter, depending on how extreme the transition is. For example, before I started the “No-Poo” method, I was using one of the most natural organic shampoos out there that didn’t contain any SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) and other harsh ingredients. This meant that the transition was less noticeable and I don’t even remember my hair getting especially greasy during this time. However, it is definitely down to each individual.
So, what do I use to wash my hair?
For 2 years now, I have been solely using rye flour to wash my hair. Occasionally, I also used an apple cider vinegar rinse (I will go into more details on that below) and have not looked back.
I know! This must sound weird and crazy! Flour in your hair?! However, you don’t just use dry flour on your hair. Rye flour is mixed with water to make a shampoo like “dough” which can be used just like shampoo.
Please note: Avoid if you have Celiac disease and do some more research if you are intolerant to gluten.
What’s so good about rye flour?
- All natural, no more chemicals (on you or down the drain)
- No need to wash your hair as often
- Leaves your hair fluffy and soft
- Treats dandruff and itchy scalp
- No more split-ends!
- Cheap and simple
- No plastic packaging!
Why it works
Rye flour is made up of all sorts of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and proteins, all of which are beneficial for your hair. It can help with hair growth, repairing and restoring dry and damaged hair, reducing greasiness, improving shininess and healthy hair.
One of the main benefits of using rye flour, is it’s natural pH level. It has a pH of 5.0 which closely matches your hair and scalp pH of 4.0 – 5.5. This means that it will not dry out your hair and scalp as it is balanced and doesn’t disrupt this natural pH. (One of the reasons that baking soda is not very sustainable over a long period of time is because of it’s alkaline pH level which tends to dry out hair and skin). Personally, I always had quite greasy hair and would wash with shampoo every second night. I am super pleased that I can now go 3-4 days between hair washes!
Your hair is not stripped of its natural oils such as with shampoo so it is kept hydrated, yet the worst of the oils are absorbed by the rye flour during the wash. This also means that for those of you who dye your hair, the colour will last longer as rye flour is much less harsh and does not strip your hair like shampoo. You can even use it as a body wash or face cleanser!
Before and after
There is often a transition period when switching to any “no-poo” hair washing routine. This occurs as your body is adjusting to this new method. Your scalp and hair will often overcompensate and continue generating the same amount of oil to hydrate your hair because they are used to being stripped regularly of their natural nutrients. Once your body realises it no longer needs to keep producing as much oil it will start balancing out. This process varies from person to person and can be disrupted and drawn out if you resort to a shampoo wash in between.
How do you use rye flour as “shampoo”?
Firstly, I would recommend buying finely ground (organic if possible) rye flour. Definitely avoid anything along the lines of “meal flour”! This will leave you with flakes for days…
- 3-4 tsp rye flour
- water as needed
Making Your Rye Flour Mixture
- Start by finding a container you can take with you into the shower. I have used small old cups and recycled plastic or metal containers. Anything will do as long as you don’t drop something breakable on your tiled floor…
- You can choose to sift your rye flour with a fine mesh sieve to avoid those slightly bigger flakes
- Sift about 3-4 heaped teaspoons of rye flour into your chosen container (this can be adjusted as you become familiar with the amount you need for your hair). I would recommend starting off with more and then adjusting to your needs.
- Next, slowly add some water (I use filtered water) and mix. Make sure not to add too much water straight away as this causes lumps which are harder to smooth out
- Add water as needed to reach a thick and smooth shampoo-like consistency. I like to have mine at a thicker consistency that is quite gloopy so I can always add more water if need be when I’m in the shower.
In the Shower
I’m sure you’ll be wondering what to do now!
- Take your freshly made mixture into the shower with you
- I usually keep the mixing spoon to help with scooping
- Wet your hair as normal
- Scoop some of your mixture into your hand(s) and start applying it to your head just like you would with shampoo
- Make sure it reaches your scalp and it makes a nice layer on your hair
- Obviously, you won’t be dealing with any foam, but it helps to massage the mixture into your hair as if it were to foam like shampoo
- I find that I don’t necessarily need to apply anything to the tips of my hair (they get washed as I’m rinsing out the rye flour anyway) but you can decide what works best for you
- Important: Once you’ve applied and massaged the mixture, rinse, rinse, rinse! The key is to get to your roots and rinse thoroughly so you aren’t left with any bits of flour in your hair that then fall out as everything dries…
- Once my hair dries, I like to fluff it up and shake it out just to allow any extra flour bits to be released. You might find you don’t need to, but it pays to check when you are still getting used to this new method.
Do’s and Don’ts (Reminders)
- Use finely ground flour
- Rinse vigorously
- Don’t make in advance! (You might find yourself with sourdough…). However, preparing the night before works if left in a cool spot
- Don’t experiment with normal flour! (You will end up with dough stuck in your hair)
- Remember, it takes time to get used to a new habit and working out the best routine for yourself!
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
Apple cider vinegar can be used as a hair rinse for multiple purposes. It acts as a conditioner and is known to close hair cuticles, detangling your hair, keeping it healthy and adding shine.
I have used this rinse after washing my hair with rye flour as a conditioner, but have also found it very useful after salt water swims. After swimming in the sea during the summer, I found that it took a few washes with rye flour to get rid of the salty stiffness in my hair. However, I then tried rinsing first with apple cider vinegar and it amazingly washed out all the salt, before I then washed with rye flour!
- 1/3 apple cider vinegar (or kombucha vinegar*)
- 2/3 water
- Mix together your diluted apple cider vinegar hair rinse
- Take into the shower and pour over your hair after your rye flour hair wash
- Leave in your hair for a minute and then rinse out thoroughly
- Avoid contact with eyes and open cuts/wounds
*kombucha vinegar can also be used. This is just fermented kombucha that has brewed long enough to become very tarty and like vinegar.
For more information, check out this in-depth blog about apple cider vinegar rinses.
I would love to hear your experiences and what “no-poo” hair washing routine you follow! Let me know what you think and comment if you have any questions.
All the best 🙂