The “No Shampoo” Method: Hair Care Routine for Curly Girls

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No shampoo hair care method

Let me just start by saying this: My hair is ridiculously thick, coarse and curly.

I’ve been at war with my locks for years; wearing it natural was never an option, since no matter how much product I used, it would end up frizzy and massive. Straightening was always a lengthy process, and any kind of humidity meant it’d frizz right back up and once again become unmanageable.

It felt like a battle I could never win.

But today, the majority of my aforementioned hair woes are a thing of the past. While I still don’t roll out of bed with flawless locks, thanks to a change in my hair care routine, my hair is now the healthiest (and prettiest) it’s ever been.

How did I change my hair so radically? By giving up – wait for it – shampoo.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but I swear it works, and if you can handle it, you’ll likely get amazing results like mine.

Ready to undergo your own hair transformation? Read on to learn more about the “No Shampoo” method!

The “No ‘Poo” Method

A while back, one of my friends mentioned the “no poo” method, an idea she got from Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl. The basics, as NaturallyCurly explains, are as follows:

1. Either eliminate or seriously limit the use of shampoos with sulfates.
2. Use a clear gel to help keep frizz away.
3. Handle the hair in a very gentle manner.

Why no shampoo or sulfates? NaturallyCurly also explains the three main theories behind the method:

1. Most commercial shampoos contain surfactants that are too harsh for [curly] hair and tend to rob hair of moisture.
2. [Curly] hair tends to be more porous than straight hair, which makes totally rinsing out all traces of shampoo virtually impossible, and that residue causes frizz.
3. Most conditioners contain mild surfactants that, paired up with a little manual friction, are capable of lifting off dirt, debris and excess oil from the scalp and hair.

After hearing about the method from my friend, I figured I might as well give it a go, since I’d tried everything else, even though the idea of cutting out shampoo seemed odd to me. After all, though my ends were always very dry, my scalp had a tendency to get oily if I didn’t wash my hair every single day, and I figured that foregoing shampoo would make this even worse. Plus, wouldn’t no shampoo mean that I would have dirty hair?!

My Experience with the “No Shampoo” Method

So despite my skepticism, I decided I had nothing to lose, and jumped headfirst (ha) into the “no shampoo” world. My friend warned that there would be a “transition period” in which my hair wouldn’t look so hot, but told me to tough it out because the end result would be so worth it.

And, of course, my friend was right – for the first few days, my hair did look a little more dull and greasy than normal, but by the second week, I noticed a definite improvement.

Now that the transition period has passed, I can officially say that my hair is the healthiest it’s ever been, and it’s never looked better! I never thought my hair would consistently look this shiny and soft and be so easy to manage, but following this method has definitely given me amazing results. (And, I promise, my hair is clean!)

My Current Hair Routine

Curly hair woman

To keep my hair looking great, I now wash my hair with a sulfate-free shampoo about once every ten days, condition about 4-5 times a week, and use an oil treatment on my ends such as Moroccan Oil.

(Tip: A much cheaper alternative that gives similar results is One ‘n Only Argan Oil – just be sure that you’re not using too much; a little bit truly goes a long way, and using too much will make your hair greasy!)

Advanced: Extra Hair Care Tips for Curly Girls

If you’re ready to take the plunge into the “no shampoo” method, for best results, I recommend following the rules below, which are a little more detailed than the basic rules listed above. I follow these tips myself, and they work great for me.

  • Either cut out shampoo all together, or sporadically use a sulfate-free shampoo. Not sure if your shampoo contains sulfates? Read the ingredients! Common sulfates found in shampoos include sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, among others. These chemicals will dry out your hair, which will make your curls even frizzier and harder to manage. Harsh shampoos also strip your hair of its natural oils, which makes your scalp start secreting even more oils, leaving you with greasy hair.
  • Instead of shampooing, massage a light conditioner onto your scalp as you would shampoo. Alternatively, you can try doing an apple cider vinegar rinse. Cleansing with a sulfate-free shampoo or with a light conditioner will still adequately clean your hair, so don’t worry about your hair being dirty!
  • Use a silicone-free conditioner to moisturize your hair. This website has a great list of some ‘cone-free conditioners, ranging from drugstore to organic to high-end – there’s something for every budget and lifestyle!
  • Always rinse your hair with cold water to lock in moisture and shine – hot water can damage fragile hair even further.
  • If your hair is curly, stop brushing – it causes frizz! Instead, de-tangle your hair in the shower with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb.
  • Don’t towel dry! Instead, use an old t-shirt, paper towels, or a microfiber towel to gently remove the excess water from your hair. You may also want to try a technique known as “plopping.”
  • If at all possible, stop using hair dryers. Your hair becomes damaged from the heat, and hair dryer + curls = frizz. If you cannot live without your hair dryer, use a diffuser. However, air drying is the best and most gentle way to dry your hair. Remember: Don’t touch your curls while they’re drying – doing so will cause more frizz.
  • Be sure to visit a hairdresser a few times a year to remove any dead ends.

Try the Method Yourself!

Of course, just because this method worked so well for my hair type doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will get the same results. Everyone’s hair is different, and, accordingly, everyone’s hair will respond differently to the regime.

But if you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle with your wavy or curly hair, or think ditching the harsh chemicals will be more environmentally friendly and healthier for your hair, you may as well give it a try! Just remember, there will be a short period in which your hair needs to get used to this new method (how long depends on the individual), but give it time: Your hair isn’t going to magically become healthy overnight, so results won’t be immediate – don’t let this discourage you!

What Do You Think?

Do any of you follow this hair care routine? Do you have a success story, or was your experience more like a horror story? Anyone thinking of trying it out? Have any unconventional hair care tips to share? Let us know!

19 thoughts on “The “No Shampoo” Method: Hair Care Routine for Curly Girls”

  1. I have been shampoo free for 5 months now. It was defiantly a rough road at the beginning (itchy scalp, dandruff, build-up) but I am soooooo happy I did. I have crazy curly and a lot of hair. I have wanted long hair for years and could never get it much past my shoulders. I don’t have the money to drop on really expensive hair products. I mostly use it’s a 10 conditioner, apple cider vinegar, and tea tree oil. My hair is longer than is ever been. I’m at mid-back! I still am working out my routine. I still struggle with itchy scalp sometimes. Any suggestions?

  2. A note on silicones – the actual silicone does not damage the hair, but it can cause build up on SOME PEOPLE. There are some silicones that cause build up on some people and not others, and others who are able to use conditioners with silicones for long periods of time, only needing to clarify every month. It depends on YOUR hair. You need to find what works for you!! Some heads of hair need the conditioner to provide the shine and frizz control they need – some others get frizzier. Some people try the no shampoo method and it works miraculously, and others whose hair doesn’t seem to want to adapt to it. Like silicones, some people have to stay away from products that contain protein, because that can upset their hair as well. The best suggestion would be to start cheap with drugstore products and work your way up, so that you don’t spend too much money on products that won’t work for your hair. There is a serious learning curve going shampoo-less, and it takes some people up to a year or more to find what works for them, if their hair is able to stand up to no shampoo. I currently use Wen, but I have it in a rotation, and it only works for me during certain months of the year (i.e. humid months). The rest of the year I have conditioning cleansers, deep conditionsers, gels, and creams that work. It took me forever to find what works!

  3. I tried this last summer, but the transition period was too long for me. My hair was greasy at the roots for the longest time, but the rest of my hair didn’t feel like straw like it usually does (yay). I have a scalp condition and my head stinks if I don’t wash with a special soap every so often, and I was hoping the ‘no poo’ thing would help somehow. I also go to the gym often, so grease and sweat…I just couldn’t get used to it. But I hope to try it again soon!!

  4. I’m definitely going to try this out… it would be nice to see pictures of this person’s hair to go with her testimony. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I’d like to see what her hair looks like so I can compare it to my type of curls.

  5. What about when your hair’s dirty from swimming (chlorine or salt water) or just being at the beach and the salt air making it sticky? Would you still not use shampoo on that day? I live near the beach and go boating all summer so this is a definite issue for me. Any thoughts?

  6. Sarah,

    Some people have longer transitional periods than others and for a few days your hair will be gunky it just really depends on your hair. I did a little bit of research. It also depends on how much you used to shampoo in the past. If you shampoo all the time then it’s like a really big culture shock to your hair. It will take a longer amount of time to adjust to the fact that you aren’t stripping your hair of it’s natural oils. Just stick it out. I’m sure it will be worth the wait. My hair is an unusual texture so I want something that will be specifically tailored to my hair. If you look around I’m sure you’ll find something specifically tailored to yours!

  7. Hi! I am mixed with african american and asian and i have semi-wavy hair. In the shower my hair is nice, but afterwards, is when the horror show begins. I was wondering if this method will work for me to! I’ve tried all sorts of things but they either make my hair to sticky, to frizzy, to poofy, or have a terrible hard texture (like something you wouldn’t want to run your hands through for fear of losing all of your fingers). I also live in Savannah and we have extremely humid weather.Finally, I was wondering if anyone else has hair like mine and has had experience with any methods that really work such as this, and if you could share them with me so that I can tame the untameable! Thanks,
    -Mamie Lue

  8. thank you so much for posting this! I was bored during my spring break so i decided to give it a go. It’s only been a little more than a week and already my hair looks and feels so much better!! I have wavy hair and this method works wonderfully!!!

  9. I second Brittany’s post, I would love to see a post about straight and very fine hair. Like some other ladies have mentioned, my hair is so greasy if I go more than a day and a half without washing it.

  10. Could you do a post like this for girls with straight hair please? My hair is naturally straight and blonde and I get highlights to keep it looking nice and bright; but if I go a day without washing, it looks really greasy =(

  11. So, I wonder if this would work for girls with coarse, thick, but somewhat less curly hair. Anyway, it sounds like my hair has less curl to it then yours, but my hair does get dry and frizzy often. What do you think?

  12. word. I only shampoo like once or twice a week. but i am a slave to the curling iron. btw, any suggestions for short haircuts for girls with thick, curly hair?


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