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Illustration by Marisa Papenfuss

Say hello to your healthy, economically savvy and environmentally friendly new mane. If the name “No ‘Poo” repels you at first, its benefits will draw you right back in. Although many of us couldn’t imagine going a couple of days without using commercial shampoo and conditioner, replacing these products with simpler ingredients can benefit your health, your hair, your wallet and the environment. Because shampoo makes hair “clean” by stripping it of natural, necessary oils, your scalp responds by producing a flood of oils to make up for what was lost. This is why most people have to wash their hair every one to two days to avoid their hair looking dirty. Without the harsh ingredients — and possibly harmful chemicals like cocamide DEA, sulfates, and parabens — in shampoo, you’ll cause a lot less damage. And, as an added bonus, you won’t need to wash your hair as often. The No-’Poo method is also incredibly cheap. A two-pound cardboard box of baking soda is $1.24 at Target. Because you only need one tablespoon of baking soda per wash, that $1.24 will give you about 63 washes. Still need more convincing? Think of all the tiny plastic bottles that your shampoo and conditioner come in. By buying baking soda and vinegar in bulk, you can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint.

What you’ll need:

  • Baking Soda
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Water
  • Plastic cup or other container to mix ingredients in

Preparation:

Keep your baking soda and vinegar in separate containers inside your shower for easy access while you’re in the shower. While your vinegar will probably come in a plastic bottle with a cap, make sure you keep your baking soda in a plastic or glass container with a lid to keep it dry while you’re not using it.

How to “shampoo:”

  1. In the shower, measure out one tablespoon of baking soda, and put it in your designated shower cup.
  2. Add one cup of water to the baking soda and stir with your finger until the baking soda dissolves in the water.
  3. Pour the mix over the greasy parts of your hair. Focus on distributing the mix over your scalp and roots. The ends of your hair don’t really get greasy, so you don’t need to pour baking soda there.
  4. Lightly massage your scalp to make sure the baking soda mix has reached all of the greasy spots and has time to work its magic. The baking soda does not lather like regular shampoo, but don’t be scared to work those fingers!
  5. After a minute or so, completely wash the baking soda mix out of your hair.

How to “condition:”

  1. Rinse out your shower cup, making sure to clean away baking soda residue.
  2. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your cup. Again, you can eyeball this once you feel comfortable.
  3. Add a cup of water and stir with your finger until the vinegar and water are evenly mixed.
  4. Pour the vinegar mix over all parts of your hair. This will make your hair feel super silky and happy.
  5. Completely wash the vinegar mix out of your hair, and you’re done!

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t be doing this every day. You can try and space it out between two to three days, but you might be able to space it out even more than that. If you want to wash as infrequently as possible, make sure to continue to wash your hair with water and massage your scalp, even when you’re not using the baking soda mix.