I've been no poo since 2014*. A badge of honour to some, a bit gross to others.
Why you might ask? My first thought was around the environmental impact of shampoo (and other products we apply to our bodies that are rinsed off). For example, waste generated in the manufacture, distribution, and consumer use of shampoo, such as chemicals in the water that wash down drain to the water treatment plant or into local waterways; plastic bottles to be recycled, dumped, or reused; and, emissions related to production and transport will have an effect on the environment. This article has a helpful figure outlining the possible environmental footprint of shampoo and can be downloaded in full at ResearchGate. If shampoo is optional, then the environmental costs seem to me to be extravagant or frivolous, at best.
My next thought was to wonder whether shampoo was indeed necessary or more a habit based on a cultural norm, kind of like women in certain cultures shaving their legs and armpits. Jack had washed the kids' hair a few times over the years, but it didn't seem to make a difference. They were 2 and 4 at the time of our household no poo revolution and their locks stayed luscious without shampoo. When I shaved my head, I found I didn't need shampoo until my hair had grown to about 10cm long. The sebum (natural oil produced by our skin) seemed to wash away with a rinse under the shower or perhaps it was naturally spread down the length of the hair shaft.
My hair was long again when I last shampooed my hair on October 31st 2014. Then I watched in despair over the next few days as the grease accumulated and I wished for a selection of fashionable hats. That's when I found Lucy AitkenRead's Happy Hair, the authority on going no poo. I devoured the book and began to try some of the shampoo alternatives including applesauce, baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda), and egg. I also tried beer, which isn't included in the book, but recommended by my mum. Still fresh in the transition phase and deeply missing the lather, I didn't find the applesauce or the beer made my hair feel clean enough. The egg wash is my nightmare! Not because it didn't work, just because it requires a cold water rinse. There is emerging evidence for the benefits of cold water showers, but other than the odd dip in a freezing swimming hole, cold water is my enemy #1.
I soon decided on the combination of baking soda for shampoo, apple cider vinegar for conditioner, and coconut oil for deeper conditioning on the ends. One year on, I was a pretty happy no pooer, except I noticed my hair was getting quite dry. I went for a short style to get rid of the long dry ends and began again, this time with just a water wash. Now, every 3-4 days or after a workout, I gently massage my scalp (as you would with sudsy shampoo) with the water streaming out of the shower head. Then I'm done. I've found the longer I stretch between water washes, the longer I can go. For example, if I do a 7 day stretch without water washing, the next wash need not be for another 7 days. However, in the classic way of the vicious circle, more frequent water washes lead to more frequent water washes. There are so many variables that can affect how it might work for you, but hair type and water type seem to be the biggest. Just when you've got your system sussed, you travel somewhere with a different shower pressure and you're back to sorting it out again or drawing on your stash of fancy hats.
Hair dressers are open to discussing no poo and are happy to skip that step of the service. I usually decide on the day after a chat with the stylist, but most often I let them wash my hair and condition it as they normally would*. For me, a trip to the salon is completely out of the ordinary as I don't colour my hair or use any heat treatment, but at the salon they blow dry it straight just to check the cut. Otherwise funny shapes and wonky long bits can emerge a few days later as my wavy hair dries inconsistently. Using shampoo and conditioner 2-3 times per year in this way doesn't have any affect on my sebum production and there is no transition back to no poo - I just leave it for the normal amount of days and resume water washes.
No poo is a process, but I do believe there is a solution for every type. If you're considering going no poo, I urge to you try it.
With that, I'll get out of your hair! And hope that shampoo stays out, too.