Restoring My Long, Healthy Hair after the Baking Soda No ‘Poo Disaster

Years of baking soda no ‘poo caused severe damage and extensive breakage to my hair. Gentle and moisturizing hair products, along with lots of time, have restored my long, healthy hair after the no ‘poo disaster.

Baking soda no 'poo destroyed my hair, but with time and some TLC it's healthy once again!

Remember my story of severe hair damage from longterm baking soda no ‘poo hair washing? Turns out my story is just one of many.

I get so many comments and emails from ladies (and a few gents) who’ve experienced the exact same brittle, breaking hair that I did. Though some no ‘poo enthusiasts are still convinced I just did it wrong, I think most of us have realized that the whole baking soda no ‘poo craze was an awful, horrible natural living disaster.

And it has left a lot of us wondering what to do now that the damage is done.

I’m glad to report that the damage my hair suffered from baking soda no ‘poo wasn’t permanent. My hair has recovered, and though I still have to give the ends lots of TLC, it is quite healthy once again. By using a natural and moisturizing hair care line and sticking with other gentle styling habits, I feel like I have my long, healthy hair back.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links to products I use in this post. Your cost is the same if you purchase through these links, but my blog is supported with a commission. Thank you!

How I Found a Healthy Wash Routine

After I gave up on baking soda no ‘poo, I tried one other DIY natural hair wash method using clay. It was a total, complete, horrific hair disaster that made my hair break so much more. I probably did it wrong, but there was no way I was going to try it again!

I used a shampoo bar for a while, but I often had this yucky film left over, even with an apple cider vinegar rinse. It was still an improvement over no ‘poo, though. My hair became much softer using it.

Next, I switched to the Acure hair care line, specifically the Ultra-Hydrating shampoo & conditioner formula. It was another massive improvement, but for some reason, it left my scalp dry and itchy a few days after washing. Other ladies love it, though, so it’s definitely a brand to consider.

Baking soda no 'poo destroyed my hair. Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner has helped strengthen and moisturize it, and it rates well with EWG's Skin Deep

Then I learned about Shea Moisture hair products. Many of their ingredients are organic and fair trade, and the company has great ratings on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

Using Shea Moisture was a learning process for me. Many of the lines are formulated for women of color whose hair requires extra moisture. With my very straight and fine hair, some of the formulas are too heavy. I had the best results with the Coconut Water Weightless shampoo and conditioner.

I love Shea Moisture’s deep conditioning hair masques and used them as a gentle mid-week wash when I needed one. I tried many of the formulas but liked the 10-in-1 Renewal System best.

Eventually, though, I decided to switch to different brands that aren’t as heavy in my hair. I’ve had great results with both Desert Essence (Anti-Breakage or Smoothing formulas) and Avalon Organics (Nourishing Lavender and Strengthening Peppermint formulas). These brands also have solid ratings from Skin Deep, and Avalon Organics is now an EWG Verified brand.

Baking soda no 'poo destroyed my hair, but after time and lots of TLC, it's become soft and healthy again!

Other Gentle Hair Care Steps

Finding a gentle but effective way to wash my hair was the first and most important step in restoring it. A few other steps also helped improve my hair and prevented further damage.

Solid Nutrition and Staying Hydrated

Brittle hair can sometimes be a sign of dehydration or nutrient deficiencies. Though my diet isn’t perfect, I do my best to focus on healthy, real foods that keep my whole body nourished. I regularly drink lots of water, mostly because I’m often pregnant or breastfeeding. But it helps my hair, too!

I take a quality multivitamin to help fill in any nutritional gaps, but I never tried a “hair and nails” type of formula since I knew my breakage was from the washing method I used for so long.

Gentle Hairstyles & Hair Accessories

After damaging my hair with the baking soda no 'poo method, I've used Lilla Rose hair accessories to gently style it without damaging it

Though I love Flexi-Clips for how they look and feel, they are also the perfect hair accessory for damaged hair. They are extremely gentle and don’t promote breakage like elastic hair ties, bobby pins, and other typical hair accessories. This drop-bun style is one of the gentlest I do. Lilla Rose U-Pins are another great choice for holding up hair without breaking it.

I also don’t tease my hair and rarely do styles that require heat or hairspray. My hair may lack lots of volume, but it isn’t breaking, either!

Oil Treatments

For a short time (about six months), I did an intense warm oil treatment of castor, coconut, apricot kernel, argan, and jojoba oils from root to tip and left on for a few hours. I gradually washed it out using just a little shampoo, rinsing and repeating until the oil was gone, and conditioned as usual.

Because the oil treatment was pretty heavy, it took about 4 washes to get all of it out. Sometimes I needed an extra rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar to make sure my hair was free from residue. But it’s definitely something to try if your hair has suffered extreme damage.

I didn’t measure the oils when I combined them, but it was about 2 parts each castor, coconut, and apricot kernel oils, and one part each jojoba and argan oils.

Gentle Combs and Brushes

I use a wide-toothed comb after washing, but through the week, I use either a Wet Brush or a boar bristle brush.

I like the Wet Brush because the bristles are super gentle and thin. They don’t tear at my hair while detangling it, and they really are safe to use in wet hair!

One caveat: the bristles are so thin that lint gets wrapped really tightly around them, and though I’ve tried multiple methods, I just can’t get all of the lint out. It works fine with the lint; it just doesn’t look very nice. When I’ve tried to remove the lint, the bristles come out more easily than other brushes.

The boar bristle brush is great for distributing natural hair oils from the scalp down the hair shaft. It would probably be good if I used this more faithfully, but sometimes often I don’t want to spend a few minutes brushing my hair when little people need me.

Some important products helped me restore my hair after baking soda no 'poo did so much damage to it

Extra Moisture for the Ends

Midway through the week, I like to add some extra moisture to the ends of my hair. A drop or two of either jojoba oil or argan oil does the trick perfectly without weighing down my hair. These oils (well technically, jojoba is a liquid wax) make the ends of my hair feel like I just washed and conditioned them.

I just take a drop or two of oil, rub it in my hands, then rub my hands through my hair, focusing on the ends. When I’m an extra good girl I brush with the boar bristle brush for a bit after I rub the oil through. It helps distribute the oil even more and prevents any spots from actually looking oily.

It’s taken years, but I am so glad to have my long, healthy hair back. If your hair was damaged from baking soda no ‘poo, too, there’s so much hope!

After baking soda no 'poo destroyed my hair, I looked for nontoxic ways to restore it. Here's what worked!

What do you use to gently and naturally care for your hair?

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    1. I’ve been using shampoo, conditioner, and leave in conditioner from Just Nutritive and really like it! Before I used Shea Moisture but I have fine hair and it was too rich for me. I also tried Acure but wasn’t crazy about it. Good shampoo is hard to find!

      1. Thank you for sharing! I haven’t heard of that brand (that I can remember at least) but will go check them out now. My girls and I are all using shampoo bars from Viori now and really like them (they’re not the typical soap-based bars that don’t rinse clean out of our hair). But the conditioner is in bar form, too, and it doesn’t work out well for all of them. We’re having a hard time finding Shea Moisture formulas that stay in stock and don’t change regularly, too. Glad you chimed in!

    2. Hi Kristen,
      last year I switched to shampoo and conditioner bars. The shampoo bars I use are sulfate-free as well as soap-free, so I don’t need to use a vinegar rinse with them. I found that a 4 oz shampoo bar lasts four months for me and the 4 oz conditioner bar I got in July last year will last for another month at least. I’ve used KoshioKrafts shampoo bars (I found them on Etsy) and Ethique shampoo bars and I like them both. I like Ethique conditioner bars, but am still deciding on my preferred conditioner bar.

      1. I’m so glad you shared, Oleksandra! I recently started using a shampoo and conditioner bar set from the brand Viori that sounds similar to what you’re using. I haven’t updated the post with that info yet because I want to use it for longer before giving my verdict. But so far, so good! I’ll check out the brands you mentioned, too.

    3. This has been an ongoing frustration for me. I also had a “no poo” disaster but part of the reason I tried it in the first place is because I have multiple chemical sensitivity and there was literally one shampoo J could use and it just didn’t do anything for my hair. So now I am back to using that and my hair which was once long and beautiful hair looks dreadful. I would love to try some of the other stuff out there but I can’t use anything with fragrance or essential oils so it is so frustrating trying to find something.

      1. Hi Kennedy. I’m sorry you have had such a hard time finding something to care for your hair! I have seen some brands coming out with “free & clear” type shampoos and conditioners. Maybe one will work for you? I haven’t used any so I can’t personally recommend one, but I see the brands Jason and Desert Essence have one and I have had good results with their other products. Hope you find something soon!

    4. My hair is a broken mess and I’m searching to see if Shea Moisture will help.
      I was water washing for a bit and my hair started to look good but then I started washing with a really good castile not Dr Bronner , then I used too much and my hair started falling out and breaking and became so dry , . ridiculously I thought Pantene could save that but its been getting worse and worse , I then tried all natural milk protein shampoo and conditioner which lead to more breakage then pantene again which is so drying for me . I just used dermaveen as it does have cones and sulphates but no alcohols. . I see good Shea Moisture reviews on influester but wanting to make sure before I add to the damage. Is it really amazing?

      1. Hi Emma. I’m so sorry your hair was damaged from castile soap. It’s very alkaline, and can unfortunately cause your hair to become porous and really brittle. 🙁 I understand how devastating it is! I’ve had great results with Shea Moisture, but it can be tricky to find the right formula for your hair if it is on the fine and/or straight side. But I’ve never experienced any additional damage from using it and the formulas are very moisturizing. I hope you find something that works for you soon!

    5. Wow! Thanks for this article. I have just washed my hair for the third time with bicarb and water mix and it’s like straw! Of course, I realised I overdid the amount of bicarb but got straight onto google and read this. It’s been in need of a trim anyway and I’ve noticed it getting tangly and very dry the last week or two… oh dear!
      I shall do some emergency repair work with a trim and oils and hope that I haven’t done too much damage. I actually did this on and off for a few months a couple of years ago… never thought it could do so much damage.
      Glad your hair is back on track! Best wishes, x

    6. I have seborrea dermatitis on my scalp, and to get some relief, are added baking to some water, and I applied it on my hair and left it on for five minutes For about a week during the summer of 2018. Since then, I lost my waves And volume, i’ve been waiting for them to Come back, but they have not. I applied some coconut oil for 30 minutes the other day before washing my hair, and this brought my waves back a little bit. I use an expensive conditioner, but this has not made a difference on my Hair when it comes to my waves. I would like to know if there are other people who has had a similar experience and who Has gotten their waves back.

      1. So sorry to hear that, Maria! I have very straight hair, but many of my friends with curls and waves all rave about the Curly Girl method of hair care. Maybe that would help recover your hair’s texture?

    7. Thanks for this post. I have been using baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar for a couple of years or more, but I have been rethinking it because I just find the water / paste thing a little tiresome. So before I shampoo’d today I searched and found your blog and opted for castille soap and used the rinse from the set of natural stuff my husband uses. But now I’ve read more closely, I guess I won’t continue with the castille soap.
      In the past I made a shampoo with castor oil and castille, etc, My husband liked using it, but it was a small batch, so I had to make some every other week if I forgot to double or triple the recipe. I may try that again, dread the process of going back to reading labels and researching options. Add to that, I”m sensitive to essential oils, so that eliminates many natural store bought possibility.
      Have you seen the castor oil / castille shampoo I mention? What do you think of that? What are good options for rinse to use with that?

      1. Hi Adele. I’ve seen various recipes for castile-soap based homemade shampoo, but none that solve the pH problem. I personally wouldn’t use a castile-castor oil combination because of that.

        I know this is a difficult area to navigate! Desert Essence has a fragrance-free shampoo and conditioner combo that has good ratings from EWG’s Skin Deep Database. Maybe that would be an option for you?

        Other readers have suggested rye flour washes and fermented rice water rinsing, but I haven’t personally tried either or looked at them in-depth. Wishing you the best as you find something that works for you!

        1. What about if one was to dilute the apple cider vinegar. I generally used one ounce of ACV in a cup and filled the rest of the cup with water, so it had about 10 ounces of water to 1 ounce of AVC and poured that over my hair as a rinse. Then let it sit for a bit and rinsed that out.

          Our water is extraordinarily alkaline to begin with, leaves deposits. Makes washing clothes and dishes an challenge if one doesn’t have a water softener (and we don’t).

          Interesting about using rye flour, I’ve never heard of that, but I couldn’t use rye flour as I’m very gluten intolerant, so that’s not an option for me.

          1. I still use ACV hair rinses. They can be a great way to keep your scalp pH balanced and smooth out your hair cuticles. The amount you use sounds like a good dilution. I use about 1 tablespoon in a cup of water, so that’s very similar. 🙂

    8. Shame on you. Trying to sell this shampoo/conditioner full of toxic chemical crap, and sells for $60 a bottle no less. This is disgusting. And they’re concealing ingredient list, even more appalling….which happen to include: sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate (eww, wow do people put this garbage on their skin??), cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, sodium cocoyl glutamate, fragrance (another toxic chemical), potassium sorbate preservtive, just for starters. You got whole Dow Chemicals toxic panel, and one is absorbing this horrendous toxic soup through the skin. I wash my hair once in 2 weeks, with Dr. Bronners castille baby soap, no oils ever, and I assure you or anyone’d be envious of my hair. Even though I did years of of dye damage to them long ago: avoiding fake garbage “shampoos” that also cost $$$ is the best thing. Where I came from people washed hair with either eggs, kefir, rye bread soak, or henna, and had real hair, not the joke that people get now, when use fakes. Washing with baking soda for years, is this serious?? Don’t they teach it’s very alcaline, in the middle school here, what is the state of education in this country?? Sounds like you fell from one nopoo-soda trap into another, commercial shampoo trap for suckers. Or, you’re for promoting toxic chemical junk for reasons of profit — in this case you should be ashamed of yourself. I will never touch anything by Acure or similar.

      1. I’m not sure where you’re seeing $60 a bottle. Acure sells for under $10 a bottle on Amazon. They don’t use fragrances and have high ratings with EWG’s Skin Deep Database. And for what it’s worth, I don’t even use that brand right now, nor do I sell it (individual people don’t sell it; it’s carried in regular stores), but I think it can be a good option for people to consider.

        I’m glad you have healthy hair, though Castile soap is also quite alkaline and can lead to the same problems that baking soda does.

        I’m also not sure why you seem so angry. A little kindness goes a long way. Best wishes.

        1. I have just had the same experience you’ve had. I only used the baking soda method twice. And started using a Dr. Bronners shampoo recipe and my hair felt like it had a film on it. Also my hair is fine and usually very soft. After using the homemade shampoo it was like straw and a rats nest. This was after two washes with the homemade shampoo. I then washed it with regular shampoo and it is feeling more normal but isn’t there yet. I’m so disappointed someone felt you were making this up. Your site definitely made me feel like I wasn’t loosing my mind lol and to realize do not use the baking soda method!! Thank you! What a disaster with no poo… I wish I would’ve done a little more research lol. But the damage is done.

          1. Hey, Renae. So sorry to hear about your bad experience, too! I hope your hair recovers soon but I know it can take a while. I wish I had done more research on it, too!

            And yes, it’s weird what sets people off on the internet. I get the most heated reactions from this article and one on homemade laundry soap. I’ve even been accused of being a shill for Johnson & Johnson, among other things. You just have to laugh and shrug it off because people are usually dealing with other difficult things when they get overly worked up about something like this.

    9. I was so disappointed when DE brand quit making the shampoo I loved & even my new stylist when we moved several states away complimented my hair for not using a salon brand, as he would have recommended. My hair is color-treated. I do like the DE brand, but switching products even within the same line is daunting!
      Thank you for you stories on no poo & recovery from it!

    10. hi there, i enjoyed your nopoo entry. It really helped show what some natural remedies can do. Not everything on the shelves is meant to keep us poor and slaves to the chemical system or however people put it now days.

      The thing that i have found most important with hair care is daily combing and regular trimming. I comb my hair daily to make sure my oils are distributed nicely and i’ll trim my own dead ends every other week. a 20$ hair scissors is all that it takes, and it cuts salon prices greatly. In fact i get compliments about my hair from my peers and my students, and i have not stepped foot in a barber shop or salon in literally 10 years. Granted i have naturally straight Asian hair, so i do have a bit of an advantage, but still, i’ve seen asians who have let their hair go to waste. I’m male but i have long straight hair. The trimming helps to stop dead ends from splitting further and more importantly prevents said dead ends from knotting with healthy ends and creating even more broken tips. I can’t tell you how many times i’ve gotten large tangles because of dead ends curling up.

      I’ve never done hot oil treatment, but i do find daily oils to help soften and moisturize my hair. My favorite is aproduct from john masters. It is a deep moisture oil that comes in an eye dropper bottle. It is 20$ for the bottle but goes a long awy and works way better than than most other ones. Products like ctirishine and the like, will give that shiny look, but it’s usually just plastic coating your hair and it makes your hair feel very greasy and heavy. Sort of like you just finish running on a humid day.

      also another good tip i’ve found is that while we may sometimes like the look of our hair down, on a windy day, the wind can indeed damage and dry out our ends quite easily. Or if we’re in the sun too much, it’s good to add oil after our day of play.

      my care may vary from yours because i live in hawaii, so we have consistent trade winds and our humidity is noticably higher.

      keep up with the great hair care entries. Your hair is indeed very beautiful, i’m glad it is growing back once more.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Derek! I don’t trim or cut my hair for faith reasons, but am completely with you on the oil. I like to use argan, jojoba, and rose hip seed oils, either alone or in combination. Just a few drops go a long way! I’m in Ohio, so our weather is quite different. I like to keep my hair up not because of wind, but children. They step on it otherwise. 😉 Thanks again!

    11. I just want to say thank you! Thanks for sharing your story and tips on restoring damaged hair. I too can be counted as one whose hair was severed damaged by the “no poo” method. Mine was a gradual, unnoticeable hair loss over a two year period. Mine was compounded when we moved and our well water as it turns out has sulfate, iron, and copper minerals. In reading your story & others stories I was able to experiment and find what is working for me. I also spoke with a cosmetologist. and learned that whole milk (Pet brand) was great as a soak treatment. 30 minute soak in a bowl of straight milk. I have not shampooed or used conditioner for over a month now. Only 1 Tbsp of Braggs Apple cider vinegar in 1 cup water, per shower, milk in a spray bottle, rinse after each. Over night castor oil in a plastic shower cap 1 x every 2 weeks, jojoba oil as needed and dry shampoo Acure brand is what. I’ve tried. I too have long & fine hair. Use a wet brush while hair is wet. And a Pearson brush with the dry shampoo. Always brush my hair from the bottom up. So far my hair at least feels healthier…although I can tell I’m still slowly losing the old damaged hair. And if it starts feeling dry or straw like then I know it’s in need of castor oil treatment or milk soak. Again, I’m very thankful for all the time everyone has taken to write in their own story. Research is your friend in this….as you determine the best course of action for your own hair.

      1. Hello friend. 🙂 I’m sorry to hear your hair fell prey to baking soda no ‘poo, too! It sounds like you’re on the way to having healthier hair again. Wishing you the best as it recovers! Thanks for sharing your experience.

      1. Hi Ariel. I wash my hair once a week now. Rarely I’ll use a little dry shampoo on the last day before washing if it’s been really warm and humid, but typically once a week is perfect for me.

    12. I am wondering what kind of the Shea shampoo you use for your hair! My hair is not very thick and fine as well. Thanks so much
      – cayde

        1. Kristen,stay far away from Monat! If you think the damage you experienced from the baking soda was bad, that’s nothing compared to what woman who used Monat are dealing with! Just google Monat and hair loss or lawsuits. It’s sad! I value your posts too much to let you go down the Monat path!

          1. Thank you so much for your concern, Amy. I saw those reports about a month ago. I feel terrible for those ladies! I never tried the products and am thankful. I wonder if they’ll figure out what happened? Anyhow, I felt a little virtual hug when I read your comment, so thanks. 😉

    13. Hi Kristen! My hair has turned super greasy and thinninn out over the past two years. I thought it was hormones after having my youngest but he’s 2.5 now and it just can’t be that anymore (unless that pregnancy changed it for good!). So I tried baking soda. It’s only been three weeks and while at first my hair felt great, I can already see breakage happening in my already messed up hair. I’m devastated. I have no idea how to solve this. And I don’t want my hair to be greasiest than ever or thinner. Does the shampoo you use make your hair greasy? And did you make your own mixture of those oils for your hair? I’m at a loss! My hair used to be so beautiful!

      1. Hi Becky. I am so, so sorry to hear about your hair trouble! I understand that devastated feeling very well. The shampoo I use doesn’t make my hair greasy. If you want to try Shea Moisture, some of the formulas are very heavy, so you’ll want to look for those that are lighter and geared for straight hair. Another option is to try one of the Acure formulas. I ended up liking Shea Moisture better, but lots of ladies love Acure and it won’t weigh down your hair.

        Have you had thyroid labs run to make sure there isn’t an underlying thyroid problem that’s causing your hair to keep thinning? I always like to mention that because thyroid trouble is so common in women postpartum and can go undetected for years.

        I hope your hair turns around soon! Sending a big hug, because I know just how you feel.

        1. I never even thought about having a thyroid test but thanks for the advice! Hopefully it isn’t that. I appreciate your response!

    14. Hi. I stumbled across your blog one day when I thought I was going to try the baking soda/acv thing and THANK GOD I read it and heeded your advice. I started using Shea Moisture Repair every other or every 2 days (I too have fine hair that has seen its fair share of breakage from normal wear and tear but being Italian gets super greasy easily). For the first time in like 20 years, my hair stylist actually asked me what I’ve been doing because my “hair has never looked healthier!” I just wanted to thank you for helping me avoid a hair crisis with the baking soda/acv and turning me on to the Shea Moisture regimen.

    15. I have very fine, very straight hair. I have never colored or treated my hair outside of my curling iron/hair dryer which I rarely use. I use tresseme but would love something more natural. And didn’t grow up with a mom who paid attention to skin/hair care. I’m looking for a routine that is easy for a mama of 4 littles but also helps my hair stay strong and healthy. My hair is pretty even. I can go 2-3 days between washings, but wet my hair often as I use a hot shower for migraine relief. Also on a budget. What do you recommend?

      1. Hi Heather! I haven’t tried all of the nontoxic shampoos out there, so I can only go by my experience. I really like Shea Moisture, as mentioned in the post. They are more expensive than some of the budget brands, but if you follow them on social media you’ll see they do BOGO offers and sales often, and they’re regularly expanding their formula lines. And while the cost is a bit higher, it’s not as much as salon brands, and it is pretty concentrated. My bottles of shampoo and conditioner last for months, though I only use them once a week. Other friends really like Acure, and I’ve heard great things about Dessert Essence, too. My best advice is just to be very cautious of any DIY natural haircare! I’ll DIY a lot of things, but never shampoo alternatives again! And of course, be mindful of your overall health and hair styling habits like I mentioned here. 🙂

    16. Hi Kristen

      I have been following the story of your hair with keen interest and am astonished at how much the condition has improved, I’m so happy for you, and it looks really beautiful! I also damaged my hair with 2 years of baking soda plus heat styling, and although I ditched the baking soda 13 months ago, the baking soda hair is still becoming more dry and damaged as it grows out. I had to cut my hair into a bob a year ago, which broke my heart, but the ends are still breaking and getting drier, even though I did not think they could! I am going to have to cut even more off as it just keeps snapping and doesn’t even feel like hair anymore.

      I now wash my hair with rye flour and do the usual ACV in water conditioner on the ends, and the roots are growing out nice and healthy; unfortunately it is too late for the baking soda hair and it will have to come off 🙁

      How long did it take you to restore your hair to its current healthy state?

      1. Hi Theresa. Thank you for your kind words about my hair. It is a relief! I am so sorry to hear that your hair was really damaged by baking soda, too. It’s just terrible what can happen with that routine. It took nearly three years for all of the hair that had been really damaged to finally finish breaking off. But, of course, since I don’t cut my hair, my timeline was probably more drawn out than others will experience if they cut the damaged length off. Have you tried any oil treatments, by chance?

        1. I have only recently gone back to rye flour washing after a year of the Water Only method, which of course did not allow for oil. The night before a wash, I use castor oil with lavender oil on my scalp to stimulate growth and thickness, and warm olive oil on the rest for damage repair, and sleep with it in. It seems to have helped somewhat. Coconut oil as a leave in conditioner dried the fried ends even more, I’ve read blogs where others experienced the same-strange, right? I am going to try it as a hot oil treatment though and see what that does.

          Because I only wash once a week in order to train a very greasy scalp, I curl my hair on days 5-8 using the no heat headband curls method. This somehow hides grease and I dust a bit of ginger powder (yes, the edible kind!) on the roots to soak up extra oil – it’s perfect for blonde hair and gives a lovely golde hue. I spray my hair sparingly with water and then twist around the headband and let the curls set for a few hours. Because my hair is short now I use quite a tight headband and am wondering if this is doing damage to my already fragile hair. I read somewhere that water is not damaged hair’s best friend, as it penetrates the porous hair shaft, making it swell and stretch, so doing this a few days in a row might not be the best thing for it. I also scritch, preen and brush gently on these days, but even that now feels as though it’s doing more bad than good.

          This is just frustrating as I love the whole crunchy hair care world, and never want to go back to having to wash my hair every day with store bought shampoo and conditioner. Hopefully I’ll get it right, but I seem to have learnt what not to do the hard way!

          1. Right there with you on that one! Learning this lesson the hard way was just awful. I know what you mean about not wanting to washing daily with regular shampoo and conditioner. I hope you find a routine that works well for you soon!

      2. I’ve been using the Shea Moisture brand Raw Shea shampoo watered down about half and half, followed by Hask brand argan conditioner from Walmart. My hair has been really soft. If you have hard water, the 1 tsp. ACV with 1 cup of water rinse seems to do the trick. I’m glad I’ve finally found something that I like for my hair:) Thanks Kristen for recommending Shea Moisture.

    17. I am 55 and my long blonde/white hair is to my elbows. I went from slightly wavy hair to curly in my late 40’s. It has been a learning curve. I tried the baking soda vinegar routine- mostly to find a safe way to cleanse while camping- and immediately realized it had stripped my hair of all the natural moisture. I like Sheamoisture very much but it is a bit too heavy for me as a full time shampoo. So I am currently using DevaCurl products with an occasional coconut, avocado, olive, or Jojoba oil treatment on ends. I use very little. On camping trips or just to cleanse hair around my face and neck I grab a bar of Dr. Bronner’s, or Herbaria bar soap, or Burt’s bees baby shampoo. The DevaCurl cut, which a trained hairstylist will cut each curl for your head… is perfect and I do go in to maintain it once a year right now as I do tent to damage it a bit wearing it up for work.

      1. Thanks for sharing, Suzanne! Are the DevaCurl products best for ladies with curly or wavy hair? I think I’ve heard of the brand from curly-haired friends but never looked into it myself since I have very straight hair.

    18. I have a friend with super curly hair. The curls are tighter than the size of a pencil. She found, that to clean her hair and keep it manageable, she washes her hair with conditioner. She doesn’t need to cut the oil. Her hair and scalp are dry.

      In summer, for me, with fine thin hair, I wash my hair twice a week, but I might rinse it in between for sweat. I also don’t get squeaky clean every time.

      My daughter has dry tangly hair. I put the conditioner on after she gets out of the shower.

      Making my own shampoo? I’m not there yet, but I do buy the most natural brands I can afford.

      1. I’ve heard that from other curly hair friends. They find that conditioner washing is the best thing for them. It can be tricky finding the best thing for our unique hair types! I’m like you with the straight fine hair. I never thought I’d be able to not wash it every day, but I’m glad I figured out a way to do that.

    19. I know it may not work for everyone; but which Shea line of shampoo do you use? Also which of their styling products? Thank you for this post. No poo broke my hair to dry bits and although it is healing My hair grows very very slow… Maybe I need to hydrate better:)

      1. I’ve actually used a few. The Raw Shea formula is super, super thick, so I have to water it down and be careful to just use a little. But it makes my hair so soft! I use the 10-in-1 formula but find that it often works best for me with a vinegar rinse after using the conditioner. I’ve also used the weightless coconut water formula. There are a few others I want to try, too! I will admit that going back to store-bought shampoo and conditioner is a little fun when I get to play with the different options. 😉

        And yes, don’t forget to work from the inside out with your hair. Hair does grow slower for some people, and that might be you. But good nutrition and hydration certainly can’t hurt! I hope you see progress soon. It’s awful to see the results of no ‘poo.

        1. Thank you so much for answering! I will put these on my list to purchase next time I am out :). Yes… Nutrition and hydration are somethings I am working on improving :). Thank you again for the post and added advice!

          1. You’re so welcome, Rachel. I wish you the very best with your hair! Oh, and don’t forget the jojoba or argan oil. They really are great for the ends and you just need a tiny bit. 🙂

    20. It’s looking nice!

      I tried the baking soda wash for about 3 months, but my hair just oiled and clumped up so badly I switched to making my own coconut milk and aloe vera shampoo. Now I use whatever more natural shampoo I find at our local health food store, only washing once a week also.
      Every other week I coconut oil from ears down to the tips overnight before I wash, and clarify (small amount of baking soda mixed with a good amount of shampoo) every other month or so followed by a deep moisture treatment of honey, conditioner, aloe, and whatever else I think it might need that time.
      Jojoba oil on the ends is so great!

      1. Thanks, Steph! It’s been such a relief to feel the thickness and softness return. Jojoba is definitely one of my very favorite moisturizers now! Just a little drop does so much.

    21. I have knee length, straight hair. I’ve tried various home made shampoos, but I have hard water and eventually end up with a build up on my scalp. The most successful things I’ve tried are egg yolk shampoo (can only be used occasionally) and rye flour shampoo. I’ve even used a very diluted borax solution, because it softens hard water. Castile soap shampoo doesn’t work well in hard water, and leaves an icky buildup after a while. Kirk’s Castile works better in hard water, but my hair got too tangly. For people with shorter hair it could be a good option. Currently, I have fallen off the natural hair care bandwagon because I just got so tired of constantly experimenting with my hair care. Maybe I could afford the products you mention if I’m only washing once a week since my scalp won’t be over producing oil after a while. Or maybe I’ll try home made again.

      1. I totally get that, Trisha! After my experience, I just felt like experimenting with homemade DIY shampoos and hair washes just wasn’t worth the trouble, headache, and potential damage. In an ideal world, I’d wash my hair with just water, but that hasn’t worked for me at all.

        The Shea Moisture products do cost more than drug store brands, but much less than salon brands. You can sometimes find BOGO sales or nice discounts where they’re sold (both in stores and online), so I always look for those, too! Also, they are really, really concentrated. The Raw Shea shampoo that I’ve used is so thick I can cut it in half with water! One bottle of shampoo will likely last me 4-6 months because it’s so thick and I’m just washing once a week. For me, I haven’t found it to really increase our expenses at all.

        I hope you find something you like soon!

        1. My walmart didn’t have many options of the Shea Moisture brand, I got the Yucca & Plantain Anti- Breakage Shampoo. I like it, but I still feel like my hair is pretty tangly after a day or so; maybe I need to use the oils you mentioned and I want to try the Raw Shea shampoo. I plan to try more of their products, I’d like to quit using regular hairspray too.

        2. I also have fine, straight (but super long and tangly) hair. Which of the Shea shampoos do you think would be worth trying? I don’t like my hair to be totally flat, but that doesn’t always work out since I’ve quit blow drying years ago:)

          1. Sorry for the delay, Trisha! A couple of notes. The Shea products are pretty heavy, for the most part. On my fine straight hair, I have better results if I actually water down the shampoo. I might even try putting some in a foaming soap dispenser sometime! If your hair feels tangly after, it might be that too much product is left on your hair. I’ve had that happen before and will do a vinegar rinse to clear it out.

            I think you might like the Coconut Water formula. It’s really light and works well for hair like ours.

            1. Where do you get the coconut water shampoo? My Walmart doesn’t have that kind. I’ve read that acv can also leave a buildup on hair if you have hard water. Hope it works.

            2. Vinegar won’t leave a buildup on your hair. Instead, it helps strip the buildup away. What can happen if you use the vinegar all through your hair, like from roots to tips, and it isn’t very diluted, is that your hair might feel a little greasy. I’m not entirely sure why this is. If I use 1 T. vinegar in a cup of water, I don’t have a problem. But if I do more like 50/50, I have to be sure to only use it on the ponytail section of my hair.

              I know Target, Sally Beauty, and Dollar General also carry Shea Moisture, but local choices will probably vary. You can always find it on Amazon, but I often see better prices and deals elsewhere.

            3. Maybe part of the problem is that i’m still using hairspray and that’s leaving a buildup. I got shea’s detangler spray & i’ll try using that instead.

            4. It might be! So much trial and error with our hair… 😉 I don’t use hairspray, so I’m not sure the best solution, but I’ve always been told that a vinegar rinse can help get rid of any kind of product buildup. I hope you find a solution that works well for you soon!

    22. I’ve been no poo for several years now. But the problem I have is that my uncut hair is naturally curly and very thick. So I’m struggling to find something to naturally detangle my hair to help with breakage.

      In my years of no poo, I just used baking soda for the first time last night. I’ve tried honey “poo”, ACV only, water only, and the TT shampoo bars that you recommended with ACV rinse. I’ve even used lye soap and castille soap at different times. I never wash my hair more than once a week but typically rinse it daily, especially during summer.

      My hair is so dry. I’ve put coconut oil in before, during and after showering at different times to see if that would help. I’ve tried macadamia nut oil as well as olive oil.

      For me, I’m not sure if it’s just the texture of my hair, my age (43) or the no poo that I’m having issues with. I have never liked my hair and only started letting it grow uncut a few years ago. I’m super hesitant to try the Shea Moisture product line due to undisclosed ingredients like fragrances. I am very sensitive to fragrances and really don’t want to put unknown ingredients on my hair. (I bought Shea Moisture for my son a couple of years ago and the scent was overwhelming.)

      Did you try the African Black Soap that someone recommended a while back? Again, I’m nervous about using anything because I’m really trying to be as non-toxic as possible. But I’m at a point where just putting my hands in my hair is painful.

      Again, because I have naturally wavy, uncut hair, I’m just not finding a lot of others with my issues. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I’m having trouble identifying them.

      Thanks for sharing!

      1. Hi MKS! I have not tried the African Black Soap formula. I’ve so far used the Raw Shea, 10-in-1, and Coconut Water Weightless formulas. Another friend really likes the African Black Soap, but I can’t speak from experience.

        I definitely understand wanting to avoid fragrances. Scented candles, air fresheners, detergents, etc. all really bother me. The label on my Shea products say “fragrance (essential oil blend)”, so I’m not entirely sure what is included. But they have an extremely low risk rating with EWG’s Skin Deep rating system, and since they are wash off products, I’m personally not overly concerned. Maybe the formula you used was more scented, as well? I’ll see if I can get an answer from someone at Shea Moisture on the fragrances used and if any formulas are unscented.

        With the dry hair, some of it is probably aging (no fun!), but it also sounds to me like the no ‘poo methods just aren’t providing enough moisture for you and may be causing trouble because of their pH levels. When I was doing the no ‘poo method and realizing my hair was becoming brittle, I noticed that it was so tangled all the time. I know now that all of my hair shafts had become ragged and were constantly catching on each other. I’m not being paid at all to recommend Shea Moisture, but I’m just wondering if it would be a really helpful brand for you because of how much it helps other ladies with textured, coarse, curly, or wavy hair.

        For a natural detangled in the meantime, you can soak some marshmallow root in cool water for 30-60 minutes, strain, and then spray on your hair. It has a lot of mucilage in it which can help coat your hair to make it smoother for combing and brushing.

        I hope you find a solution that’s right for you very soon! I know how awful it feels to see your hair become less and less manageable.

      2. I have uncut bum length curly hair my own self, and I absolutely love Ava Anderson products, they are all Aloe based and don’t weigh down my curls. They feel soft and supple and have great form, I have tried many many other natural hair products and most do not work great on curly hair because they weigh it down. oh and because it’s long and curly I always have to lift my roots a bit so is not flat by my head, but with her products I hardly have to do anything.

          1. of courses you “experienced” disaster after washing with soda, because you want to sell profucts!

            1. I don’t know if you’re talking to me or the previous commenter, but I don’t sell shampoo or conditioner. The commenter above may but there’s no link to a purchasing site. Damage from baking soda washing is very common, unfortunately.

            2. I can tell you washing with baking soda destroyed my hair after one use.this morning I woke up to bald spots. I’m devastated and considering a buzz cut.waiting on a call

          2. Just curious, what do you think of using eggs for washing hair? I think I may have gotten some damage from using baking soda/acv as I have noticed some few inch long hairs on my head when my hair reaches to the belly button. I know that Victorian ladies loved their long hair, and many of them used eggs. What do you think?

            1. Hi Elena! I haven’t used egg washes myself, but I would expect them to be a safe option to try. They have a lot of historical use, whereas baking soda doesn’t.