no-‘poo troubleshooting & common questions

welcome back to NO-‘POO WEEK! today is the last day already. can you believe it?! and sorry it’s so late. i literally just back to my hotel room from orientation for my new job :) woohoo! long day!

well, by the volume of questions i get from y’all, this post is WAY overdue. THIS POST IS VERY LONG, but hopefully this will be a holy grail for no-‘poo problems & questions! i already have a post for things you need to know before you go no-‘poo that you should check out, if you haven’t already!

the ultimate no-'poo troubleshooting guide (& with common questions)

no-‘poo can be pretty tricky. it’s not a one-size fits all type deal. there are different things different people experience. so what happens when something goes wrong?

i’ve come up with a list of the most common no-‘poo problems (& other common questions below).

common problems

A LOT of problems can be avoided by clarifying before your switch, avoiding typical styling products (heavy cream, gels, hairspray, etc) while no-poo, and avoiding heat (even hot showers. heat damage is heat damage,  even if it’s just water).
also,  like I’ve stressed before, make sure you’re deep conditioning.

OILY/GREASY HAIR
– if you’re in the transition period, stick with it! your scalp will calm down.
– invest in a natural bristle brush (like boar). it’ll help pull the oils from your scalp down the length of your hair. keep it clean!
– use a safe dry shampoo sparingly
– try different hair styles to minimize the greaseball look (scarves, braids, etc)

WAXY/GUNKY HAIR
– have you clarified? (#6)
– if you’re using castile soap with hard water- the castile soap WILL react to the minerals in hard water and leave a soap scum film on your hair. that’s the waxy/heavy/gunky/wet-ish feeling you have. double rinse with your acv mix. don’t up the ratio. put it where the waxy feeling is (or all over), let it sit a few mins, rinse & repeat. castile soap NEEDS to be mixed with (and sometimes rinsed out with) DISTILLED water
– if you’re in the transition period- it might be product buildup, especially if you used a lot of product before your switch (or if you still are). try reclarifying & using a natural bristle brush (like boar) to help slough it off
– invest in a natural bristle brush to help get the gunk off while you’re transitioning. and be sure to clean it!
– invest in a shower head filter
– if you’re not using castile soap and you’re thru the transition period, it could be a buildup of sebum. whip 1 large egg yolk into a cup of cool water. use that mix on wet hair from root to tip of hair in the shower. let sit for a few minutes, and rinse out with cool water. voila! (don’t use hot water unless you wanna pick scrambled eggs out of your hair, haha)
– switch to another no-‘poo alternative (more coming soon!) or go low-‘poo

BUILD-UP
clarify (#6)
– invest in a natural bristle brush to help get the gunk off. and be sure to clean it!
– try rinsing your scalp with diluted lemon juice (1/4 cup lemon juice to 1 cup water) and/or add lemon juice to your acv rinse
– you can also whip 1 large egg yolk into a cup of cool water. use that mix on wet hair from root to tip of hair in the shower. let sit for a few minutes, and rinse out with cool water
– rub your scalp gently with warm water only in between wash days

DRY/BRITTLE HAIR/BREAKING HAIR
– lessen the amount of baking soda/castile soap in your mix OR stop using bs/castile soap completely.
– wash less often
– add a moisturizing oil (argan, sunflower, sweet almond, avocado, etc.), raw honey, or organic aloe vera to your shampoo mix
– deep condition often . this could mean every time you wash, or every 4 times you wash. listen to your hair. if it’s dry, condition it! if it’s okay, don’t worry about it!
– switch to a new method like low-‘poo, a no-‘poo alternative (like this awesome clay shampoo!), or use water only
– use a pinky nail’s worth or less of pure, unrefined coconut oil on your air-dried hair (can be used every day)
– combo wash/condition your hair with plain egg yolks (however many you need to cover your hair). let it sit for 15-20 minutes and thoroughly rinse out with cool water

DANDRUFF
– lessen the amount of baking soda/castile soap in your mix OR choose to stop using BS/castile soap completely (and switch to a low-poo or clay shampoo).
– add moisturizing oils to your shampoo mix, like argan, sunflower, sweet almond, avocado, etc.
– add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo mix
– use the acv rinse on your scalp
– moisturize your scalp with pure, organic aloe vera juice/gel (washes out with just water)

ITCHY SCALP
– your mixes are likely too strong. dilute them.
– make sure your scalp is moisturized.
– use pure, organic aloe vera directly on your scalp. apply to dry  hair, leave on for 15-20 minutes and rinse out with cool water. it’ll keep it moisturize and cut down on the itch! yay!
– try rinsing with water periodically between wash days. it’ll help move the sebum and cut down the itch.

DULL HAIR
– make sure it’s not product buildup trying to slough off. be sure to clarify before your switch.
– an egg yolk mask, left on for 15-20 mins, then rinsed out well in cool water, and followed by an all-over acv rinse will boost shine.
– use a pinky nails worth or less (I use a pinky nail’s worth and I have longer hair) of organic, unrefined coconut oil on your hair daily or every few days. *a little goes a LONG, long way!!* it’ll not only add shine, but moisturize your hair better than any other oil.
– use a pump or less (I use a pump for my longer hair) of argan oil (or another lighter, moisturizing oil) on your hair every few days. again, a little goes a LONG way. for no-‘poo-ers, less is more when dealing with oils! you can always put more on the next day, rather than struggle with trying to get too much oil back out.
– pure, organic aloe vera gel/juice can be used plain as a hair mask. it’ll add shine and deep condition

HAIR LOSS
– make sure you’re not thinking you’re losing more hair since you’re washing and brushing less often. it’s normal to lose about 100 hairs a day… so if you wash every week, plan to lose 700.
– if you’re losing hair, STOP what you’re doing. please stop. either your hair isn’t healthy enough or something in your routine isn’t correct. ask for help :)

TANGLY HAIR
– if you didn’t have tangly hair before, it’s most likely a ph balance problem….(excluding bed head, etc)
– make sure the tangles aren’t from your hair shaft sticking out like shingles and getting tangled. that’s caused by too much baking soda or not using an acidic rinse after the baking soda. the ph of baking soda is very different from hairs and causes the follicles to stand on end. the acv rinse will close them back up and smooth them out.
– brush with a natural bristle brush (like boar). it’ll help smooth your hair and create less tangles
– remember to get tangles out with your fingers first. only use a wide tooth comb when absolutely necessary. and never use a paddle hair brush with plastic or metal bristles.
– pull your hair up/back/in a braid at night. this will drastically cut down tangles and bed head

SPLIT ENDS
– this isn’t going to be what you want to hear…. you gotta cut ’em off. that’s it. i’m sorry! i know it SUCKS. there is NO magical split end remedy for natural hair. and if you don’t cut them off, they’ll continue to split up the length of your hair. you don’t want that!

common no-'poo questions

how long does it take to transition?

ok friends. I’m not going to sugar coat this. it completely depends on what else you’re doing with your hair, how often you were washing before, etc. if you were an everyday washer, your transition will take weeks…like 2 to 6 weeks. maybe more if you’re still using heat and other products. if you already wash every few days or every week, your transition should be relatively smooth once you clarify. maybe a couple weeks, tops.
the transition can be long and ugly. but the payoff is outstanding. try to keep chugging along and don’t give up. look to others for motivation/inspiration, ask questions, check the no-poo motivation series (once it’s posted), etc. remember you’re not the only one that’s gonna have dreadfully awful  hair days. but you’re doing something amazing for your hair and body. AND when people start complimenting you on your hair and asking what shampoo you use, you can proudly say “this is my natural hair!” it’s a great feeling!

should i use the baking soda/acv method, castile soap, no-‘poo alternative or low-‘poo?

i get asked this all.the.time! honestly guys, it’s up to you, and how much damage your hair has suffered. if your hair is breaking and splitting with regular shampoos and conditioners, you should go low-poo, or use a no-poo alternative like honey, aloe vera, and/or coconut milk. all are very gentle and will help restore your hair.
if your hair is healthier, a castile soap or baking soda (both always with acv) will work.
check out THIS post for a guide on which method to use :)
no matter which method, remember your end goal is to go as long as possible without washing. once they learn how to take care of themselves, your scalp & hair will thank you by being beautiful, healthy, & strong!

can i no-‘poo with dyed/permed hair?

can you switch to no-poo? of course! my hair used to be dyed about every 6 weeks or something horrid like that when i first switched. it takes some time for your hair get some moisture and strength back, but it’s very doable! if you choose no-poo, keep in mind it will drain the dye from your hair faster than normal. if you opt for a no-poo alternative or going water-only, your hair (and the color) will be perfectly fine.
as far as dying/perming while no-poo… i will tell you very honestly, the damage you’ll do from those processes will be very apparent since your hair will no longer be coated in silicones.  there are more natural ways to dye hair (like this) you can try instead :) as always, it’s up to you! it’s your hair!

how often should i wash?

when you first start, you should try to go absolutely as long as possibly between washes. go until you feel like your scalp is dripping oil (gross, but great!). some people start at every other day and slowly let their hair adjust. that’s all fine as long as you taper off. baking soda is drying to hair, so the goal is to wash every week or less. I now wash every 2+ weeks. it’s really not gross. your hair WILL learn to take care of itself.
if you’re going low-‘poo, the transition won’t be as greasy, but you still need to wait as LONG as possible between washes.

can i get my hair wet between wash days?

water won’t hurt a thing! it might not be best to get it wet every time you shower (because water makes hair swell and it’s unnecessary stress), but the occasional water rinse really won’t hurt anything.  go for it!

what do i keep my mixes in?

when I was no-poo, I kept my mixes in little plastic squeezy bottles. since the mixes are so watery, it allowed me to put a little at a time on certain parts of my scalp, rub rub rub, and move to the next small sectin of scalp. you can also see when you’re getting low. some people mix in a cup right before the shower. you can do whatever your heart desires! well…I wouldn’t suggest a glass bottle. no one wants cut up feet.

how often should i deep condition?

that depends on your hair. if your hair is healthy, at least every two weeks (at least!). if your hair is damaged, do so more often. some people find they need to deep condition every time they wash till their hair gets healthier. just pay attention to what your hair needs. if it needs to be deep conditioned every time, then do it. if it needs it every 4 times, then do that!

how often can i use dry shampoo?

depending on what  type of hair you have, I’d say don’t use the dry shampoo more than 2 times between washes. one, because that recipe is pretty darn awesome and keeps my hair in tip top shape for about 4-7 days after I use it, but also because you’re going to have a lot of buildup when you wash again. things can get kindy funky and cakey… and your natural  bristle brush is gonna be dirty (read: duuurrrr-tayyy). just watch for buildup and use as little as possible to keep your hair lookin fresh!

can i style my hair?

of course!! with heat? not so much. i mean, you CAN… but the damage done will be more noticeable. try a no heat route (like heatless curls). if you choose to use heat, use it VERY sparingly & protect your hair.

can i use hair products?

again..you caaaaannnn…buuuut. the products will most likely contain some sort of silicone or toxic ingredient.. and the buildup will be way harder to get out. just use them sparingly IF you HAVE to. and try to make your own hair gel. if you’re completely no-‘poo, stay away from oils and silicones in treatments and products.

can i do the coconut oil mask or (insert oil name) treatment/mask?

if you’re no-‘poo, NO. if you’re low-‘poo, Yes. no-‘poo won’t be able to get the oil back out of your hair. but low-‘poo shampoos should be able to. experiment with a very small section of hair first, please!

how can i go no-‘poo if i’m an avid exerciser?

not washing your hair does NOT mean not washing your body. i still don’t understand why i get asked if i shower…haha! really guys? ;)
you can check out this post on how to control the sweaty head without stripping the natural oils on your scalp.

can kids use no-‘poo methods?

i wouldn’t suggest using the baking soda/acv routine with kids. there’s too much risk of the mixes getting in their eyes and burning like a mo-fo. please try an alternative no-‘po (like aloe vera & coconut milk or honey), or go low-‘poo with a completely organic shampoo. you can also make them water-only washers. it’s the best IMHO.
& honestly- the beauty of starting no-‘poo with kids is that their hair most likely isn’t damaged from heat tools, product overuse, and shampoo/conditioner abuse. kids will adjust very well and rather quickly. some kids will honestly only need a shampoo to get ketchup and paint out of their hair. they won’t need it for oily scalps. save them while you can! haha. my kids will definitely be water-only babies (minus the occasional wash for goopy things).

what do i do when i go get my hair cut?

such a great question!! check out this post.

how can i protect my hair from chlorine/salt water?

great question! check out this post. 

how can i make my hair not smell bad?

yet another great question!! check out this post!

some final thoughts for everyone-

you’ll learn what your hair needs as time goes on. your no-poo/low-poo routine WILL change as time goes on. but remember that YOU know your hair better than anyone else. and don’t ever hesitate to ask for advice. I know I’m extremely protective of my hair and I wouldn’t wait a second to ask for help if I thought something was wrong.

no-poo is a commitment. it’s not always easy & not it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all type deal. it can be overwhelming. it’s okay!

ask me and others for help. you’re NOT bothering me at all. I love helping you guys! feel free to email me or message me on fb if you don’t want your questions posted.

AND lastly, if you would like to share your no-poo/low-poo journey so others may benefit, PLEASE shoot me an email . we’ll get ya all set up to guest post asap!

good luck to you all! you’ll be fine! I’m already proud of you for deciding to make the switch to less chemicals!

lemme know if there’s anything else I need to address and add to this post!! let’s make this the ultimate no-poo troubleshooting guide!!

& did i miss something? let me know below!!

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ROUTINE? see this post

and there’s always the no-‘poo resource page! :)

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241 thoughts on “no-‘poo troubleshooting & common questions

  1. Nice post here, some usefull information.
    Though I no-poo with water only. I don’t realy understand why people talk so much about the baking soda and acv rinse(since there are so many ways to ‘no-poo’). I tried it when i started no-pooing, but my hair got realy dry. So i started looking for other ways to ‘no-poo’.
    I bought rye flour and used it once with a white vinegar rince. My hair was not that dry and felt realy nice. He few weeks after i only used water. And now i use ryeflour every now and then (once every two months or so) and was water only every 5-7 days.

    Though my hair brush gets way more dirty than when i used to wash my hair with shampoo… my brush is dirty even after 3 days… (when i washed it and let it dry). I don’t know how I can make sure my brush doesn’tget dirty so fast.. does anybody here know?

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  2. I love all of your tips!! I didn’t get to read all of this page yet but I will print it to keep as a hair bible!!!

    I wanted to add to what I do as a deep conditioner about once a week – I try to go 4 days without washing it. I have very fine, combination hair (a lot of it!!); on the first day, its amazing! Silky & soft. Then at the end of the 2nd day, its starting to get oily at the roots & dry at the ends. 3rd day, even worse! Only massaging & a bristle brush can help me here.

    So for my hair, putting a natural conditioner on after I shampoo really weighs it down, it just shortens the amount of time for my roots to get oily. So when I want to deep condition with almond, argan or coconut oil or your favorite -store bought deep conditioner (usually as natural as I can find), I “pre-poo condition”. I put as much of the oil on my roots as possible and work it up to my ears, lightly touching the hair around my crown since those hairs are usually the first to break & have the most damage. I let it sit for at least 10 minutes up to an hour depending on how much time I have :) When I shampoo, I only concentrate at the roots & rinse through. When I condition, I only do whatever I can fit into a ponytail. This method, definitely gives me the deep condition I need, but also gives me a chance to cleanse my roots! The pretty, softness of my hair usually lasts a day longer after I do this “pre-poo condition”

    I haven’t completely tried doing the no-poo, but I have been starting to add baking soda to my shampoo to start myself into transitioning.

    You’re hair is inspirational!!

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  3. Hi, been on the no poo method for 2 weeks now, i used to wash my hair every two or three days, the thing is that i have long hair and all my life i used consitioner, if not my hair tangles a lot.. i decided to go all in and switched thw shampoo and xonditioner for baking soda and vinegar, but been having problems qith tangled hair… specially when i try to put it on a ponytail, can you help me giving me some pointers… should i wash less often… still washing every two to three days.

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  4. Hi! I began doing no poo about 3 weeks ago. I have long, very thick hair with a little wave in it. Before no poo, my hair would get a little greasy the second day without washing it. Now, 3 weeks in, my hair really does not seem different. It is not any more or less oily. The only change is that it is not as shiny as it used to be. I’m kind of confused, because it seems that most people have a really oily transition period, then their hair is magically soft and shiny and not oily. Should I keep waiting, or will no poo not do anything for me? Someone please help!

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  5. I have been no poo for 4.5 months now and using bs and acv. My ends are super dry and I wash my hair every 3-4 days. I have never gone through a transition period either. Also a couple weeks ago I noticed my head was super itchy and dry so I incorporated some tea tree oil with my bs. Hasn’t helped yet. It’s been 3 washes. Any suggestions? I have no clue what to do now.

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