A month without shampoo

On 1st January 2016, in a moment of madness,  I decided to take my new year’s resolutions to the extreme and made a commitment to give up 1 thing every month for a whole year. Any money I saved by not doing/using these things I donated to a different charity (that was related to whatever I was giving up that month). I documented my experiences in the form of monthly blog posts, one of which I will share with you below…

‘To say that ‘no poo’ month has been a roller coaster of emotions  for me would probably be an understatement.Before you think hold up, you’ve taken this whole giving up thing a bit far mate, I should probably explain that ‘no poo’ is actually what the blogosphere likes to call ‘not using shampoo’.

Going into it, I had high hopes for this month. I’ve been intrigued by the concept for a long time, ever since I heard the urban legend in the playground about the girl in the year above who never washes her hair and now it somehow magically cleans itself. The theory is that your hair naturally produces oil called sebum, which, if left to its own devices will clean and condition your hair for you (sounds pretty handy ey?!) Modern shampoos strip away this oil and can even cause our hair to become greasier quicker.

I’ve always been a washes her hair every other day kinda gal so the idea of cutting down, or even cutting out washing my hair altogether, appeals to me for a number of reasons: a) because I am lazy, b) because I crave super healthy shiny hair, but also mostly for environmental reasons. I won’t bore you with the details but basically cutting out shampoo means less nasty chemicals, less plastic bottles and less water usage. By the way, whilst we are on the subject of the impact that the beauty industry has on the planet, if you haven’t heard of Microbeads then please read this http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/ and  maybe even sign this petition to get them banned in the UK like they are in the US  https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/ban-microbeads?source=wb&subsource=20160115ocwb02.

So come 1st April I was raring to go. I’d consulted my Neal’s Yard ‘Beauty Book’ and spent a fortune in Holland and Barrett gathering all the ingredients to make my natural shampoo alternatives.

Now here is where I made my first mistake. Any sensible person would probably have tried to leave their hair for at least a few days before attempting anything drastic. But I was so excited to try out the things that I had made, I went ahead and got stuck right in with a hair mask made out of avocado, banana and coconut milk.


Here are 4 reasons not to put avocado and banana in your hair:

  1. You’re whole bathroom will become covered in avocado and banana (including your new bath matts that you splashed out on in M&S…not just any bath matts…M&S bath matts)
  2. Your drain will become blocked due to congealed banana avocadoness
  3. Without the use of shampoo afterwards it will prove nigh impossible to remove this concoction from your hair
  4. You will smell like you were in a food fight for around 2-3 days afterwards

To add insult to injury, it turns out that covering your hair in the stuff isn’t any more effective than back in the day when you used to shove food on your face because mizz magazine told you it would give you a flawless complexion (even though you’re about 10 and you don’t even know what a white head is yet).

So like the rational human being that I am,  during the next 48 hours or so I followed up the luxurious avo/banana treatment with a healthy dose of homemade apple cider vinegar rinse,  and egg and coconut oil conditioner. It’s safe to say by the end of it my hair was not the glorious hydrated mane that I had long dreamt of but more closely resembled an oil slick rivalling the BP spill of 2010.

But it doesn’t end there! After having a minor emotional breakdown on my birthday (I should probably point out that at this point I was only 4 days in), I caved and decided to strip my hair of all oiliness using my method hand soap (sorry if this counts as cheating, if it makes any difference I did feel very guilty about it). This worked surprisingly well and I managed to go a while without doing anything stupid to my hair. However, after about 4 or 5 days there was a noticeable build up of greasiness. It’s at this point that we meet the hero of our story…bicarbonate of soda. Turns out bicarb is a wizz at cleaning hair, who knew?! You just have to be comfortable with the odd little white fleck and the fact that it can be quite drying on your hair but otherwise it’s a massive winner.

The only other downside is that it can take a while to rinse the stuff out. One of the reasons for doing ‘no poo’ was because I wanted to cut down on the amount of time I was in the shower but instead my showers were becoming longer than before and I as a result I was actually using more water. On a side note, I had also planned on not having any baths this month (on average having a bath uses about 3 times more water than showering). This ended up not happening because I was given an amazing bath table for my birthday (pic below!), however I have cut down a lot on the number of baths I am taking and have made an effort to have shorter showers as well.


I ended up perseveringFullSizeRender (1) with the bicarb, washing my hair every 4 or 5 days and rinsing with apple cider vinegar afterwards has stopped it from drying out too much. So, this what my hair looks like today (day 29 of no poo), all in all not too shabs I reckon.

One of the main things I’ve noticed is that my hair has become a lot straighter (potentially from the weight of the grease). To combat this I invested in one of those ‘Aurora’ headband things that are being  incessantly advertised on Facebook (yes I was definitely drawn in by the marketing, but when the demonstrator had such immaculate curls and it looks so easy to use, how could i resist!?) To my surprise the thing actually worked!

I can’t deny that I am ridiculously excited to wash my hair on Sunday. I feel a little disappointed that I won’t be adopting the ‘no poo’ life style permanently – perhaps I’m just not hard core enough. In my heart I remain optimistic that the ‘no poo’ method is not just some pipe dream and can actually work if you are committed enough. I will definitely  be washing my hair less now (I’m going to aim for once or twice a week) and maybe I’ll give it a go properly in the future (minus the elaborate alternatives) . My plan is to use up the shampoo I have left and then give this guy a go: http://www.drbronner.co.uk/. It’s a soap made out of hemp that has 18 uses in 1! By the way if you’re a sucker for fancy ‘eco-labelled’ beauty products like I am then TK Maxx is definitely your friend!

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 09.07.00

This month I’ve donated £31 to ‘Just a Drop’ (£1 for every day of the month as I’m afraid I don’t think I’ve actually saved any money this month). If you want to find out more about how the charity help to provide clean and safe water to people all over the world then this is their website: http://www.justadrop.org/ Every 20 seconds a child will die because of unsafe water (that’s probably at least 10 since you started reading this blog) …kinda puts the whole having slightly dirty hair thing into perspective.’

Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in finding out about the rest of my year of givingupness you can check out https://giveitup2016.wordpress.com/ 


-This blog post was written by Jess Willats, an ESD Officer in the Green Academy Team at NTU. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!


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