Pooh-Pooh to Poo-less. At Least for Now.


I have something many of you think you want.

I have long, thick naturally wavy hair.  It holds a curl well.  It’s in a hue that doesn’t really need to be colored.  It grows quickly.  And I’ve got volume.

Actually I’ve got too much volume.

Actually, I have Roseanne Roseannadana hair.

Do you remember her?  Played by the beautiful Gilda Radner on SNL?

Big – Bigger – Just Stop

I have been struggling to manage this hair since puberty – just consult my mother’s collage of school year photos for evidence – 12 years of different cuts to find a way that would let it naturally fall in a flattering layer on my head.

In college I found a way I knew I didn’t want to try – wedged between east-coast hippies who had renounced deodorant and shampoo in an overbooked yoga class, I tried to find the instructor through the mass of nasty, tangled Sideshow Bob dreadlocks.  That’s what going (sham)poo-less meant to me a decade ago.

But now the year is 2012 and I’m in Panama with no one but my immediate family to witness the results.  Poo-less is catching on with the mommy set.  Spend less time fighting your hair and more time fighting your children.  I mean making Millennium Falcons out of your PB&Js.  I like the idea because, well, I’m lazy and don’t like to wash my hair, but also, I could stop throwing away shampoo bottles.  A lot of hair = a lot of shampoo used per shower.

The idea is shampoo strips your hair of ‘good’ oil and in response it overproduces to compensate.  Poo-less lets your hair find a nice equilibrium.

So my new shampoo would be a tablespoon of baking soda and a cup of water.  I put it in an old conditioner bottle and shake it up.  The solution is chalky and watery and the first issue arises quickly.  My online instructions say to “rub mixture into scalp” but because of its consistency, most of it has already run down my head or face before my fingers can start to rub anything.  So I decide to work in sections and use a lot.  Pour, rub, move to another location, pour, rub, repeat ten times or so.

My conditioner, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a cup of water mixed in an old spaghetti jar, was much easier to apply as I just poured the apple vinegar mixture on the lower half of my hair.  Ten minutes after my shower my hair didn’t smell like vinegar, or apples for that matter, just hair.
That day my hair seemed a little dry and frizzy but that’s what happens when I don’t use conditioner so no biggie.  Three or four days later when I (or the hubs) couldn’t take it anymore, I washed it again.  This time I poured the vinegar on my roots too, not just the end.  I kept at it for a few weeks.

Until one day.

As close a pic as you were allowed during the No Poo days.

One day, when I couldn’t stop scratching my scalp.  The next day was worse.  It was alleviated by an apple cider vinegar rinse but I started feeling like a junkie – running to the shower, strengthening the concentration each time.
But the worst part was I couldn’t get garden rake through my hair, let alone an off-the-shelf hair brush.  My Roseanne Roseannadana mop was winning the war and shampoo was there, ready to snatch up the postbellum contracts.
As I comb the internet (yep, on purpose) now, I see I could have added some tea tree oil to my soda mix to help with the itching – but at the time tea tree oil was about four hours, two buses and a taxi away so this wasn’t an option.  But quitting was.  And I think I may have been pregnant?  Is it bad that I’m not sure?
Today, my next Zero Waste move is to find some shampoo in bulk so I can stop tossing the shampoo and conditioner bottles.  Although around here they are recyclable.  Instead of bath toys I let my kids play with the empty containers in the shower to clean them out before I pitch them in the recycle bin.
Maybe I’ll try poo-less again.  Maybe I’ll try poo-less + conditioner?  Has anyone else with Dilbert Triangle Hair Girl hair tried to go poo-less?
**For those bold enough to try, here’s a good link.
***For those that are successful, here’s a link for what to do with leftover shampoo.

June 12, 2014

About Me

About Me

I’ve been passionate about combatting blind consumerism since 2008 and joined the Zero Waste movement by starting this blog in 2013, soon after my second child was born. I think it might have been trying to unwrap a toy or someone’s attempt to sell me a butt-wipe warmer that put me over the edge… read more



  1. IronMike

    You've got beautiful hair.

  2. DAB

    Definitely can't imagine not using 'poo, but I just 'poo my scalp, not the rest of my hair, which saves a bit of 'poo, and may prevent some hair dryness. Also I buy the biggest bottles I can find, maybe one giant bottle > several smaller ones in terms of plastic use??

  3. IronMike

    You're welcome. I've always liked your hair (not in a creeper kinda way, I promise). I know other women who would kill for your hair.

    BTW, what is that one picture from with all the beer bottles?

    Also, I forwarded this blog post to my sister-in-law who just started experimenting with alternatives to 'poo.

  4. zerowastemommy

    I think sporting a short hair cut could be the best thing to reduce my 'poo usage, but I'm just not willing to do it (after years of pretty bad short cuts). 🙂 So like you, now I'm trying to use bigger bottles, maybe get the whole family on one type. Just yesterday I started asking around about refillable bottles. We'll see what I come up with.

  5. zerowastemommy

    That picture is from Panama, around the time I was experimenting with no 'poo. I know for sure I was pregnant because that was the hubs' home brew and I was only tasting, not drinking.

  6. zerowastemommy

    And thanks for the forward. I'll be interested in your SIL's results.

  7. Brea

    I have not shampoo'ed in about 4 years except very occasionally. I don't use baking soda. I just use ACV. And I don't even use that every day. I then put a mixture of grapeseed and coconut oils in instead of product.

    That's all I did until last year, when I moved to the desert. Since then, about once every 2 months I've needed to "deep condition" my hair because otherwise I can't comb it in the shower and it's just a nasty mess.

    To condition it, I get in the bathtub and put straight up olive oil on my DRY hair until I can comb it. I put it up in a clip and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then I wash it out – it's the only time I use shampoo.

    It's slightly greasy to the *touch* for a couple days after that, but it already looks fantastic (if a little limper than usual, but no one else would notice because I have so much hair!).

    While it is looking (to me) maybe a little oily, I just don't add any oils to style it.

  8. zerowastemommy

    Okay, let me see if I have this right: you 'clean' your hair maybe every few days with ACV (do you rub it into your scalp?) and afterwards, if needed, you'll use a grapeseed and coconut oil mix to get the texture you want?

    If things are getting gnarly, you'll do the deep condition followed by a shampoo rinse to remove the excess oil.

    How was the transition away from shampoo? I'm thinking a trail of broken brush bristles following me out of the bathroom every morning…

  9. Anonymous

    I am a month into my no poo journey. My hair is thick, course, wavy, with a good sprinkling of gray. Typical shampoo stripped my hair of natural oils until it was frizzy and unruly. Conventional conditioners give a nice slick texture for detangling in the shower, but coat the hair in substances that build up on hair making it heavy and dull. My philosophy has been to strip my hair one last time with regular shampoo, then forgo conditioner altogether, allowing my hair's natural oils to do the conditioning. Excess oil at the roots is managed by running my fingers through my hair to distribute and by a very warm water rinse. That's it. As my dry conditioner-free hair absorbs the oils, it becomes less frizzy. My natural waves are getting better defined. The downside is that it takes a lot of time to work the oils down to the ends. I do it while browsing the internet 🙂

  10. zerowastemommy

    Wow. This actually makes me want to try again. On distributing the oils – you use your hands to get the oil from the roots to the tips – but where does the warm water rinse come into play?


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