The Best No-Poo Shampoo Alternatives to Explore

Your curls deserve some options!

If you have really dry, curly, or natural-textured hair, aren’t a frequent washer, are all about a “greener” alternative, or all of the above, then a no-poo shampoo can help check all those boxes. For the uninitiated, “no poo” refers to “no shampoo.” It also means foregoing traditional shampoo formulas for a cleansing conditioner or homemade cleansing mixtures such as baking soda with apple cider vinegar.

The underlying principle is that regular shampoo contains detergents that are said to strip hair of its natural oils, which in turn makes our scalps overcompensate with more oil. For the curly-haired, the “no-poo” approach is in part a no-wet approach as well, as their hair type tends to be the driest and can afford more days between washes.

We’ve got all the alternatives to the mainstream shampoo options, perfect for those looking to give their dry hair a break or for those looking to be more environmentally friendly in the shower.

There are many potential benefits to going the no-poo route, but these pros can be dependent on how porous your hair is and how long you stay committed to the process. If your hair is more thin and fine, it’s less porous and may become oilier, faster. Those with a curlier texture have drier, more porous hair and will absorb the natural oils and feel less dry. It’s also important to give this process at least a month to allow your hair to level out and become used to the change.

best no-poo shampoo curly hair
There are so many benefits to going the no-poo route.

If you do commit to the no-poo lifestyle, here are some of the benefits you may experience:

1. No more potentially harmful ingredients

By choosing the best no-poo shampoo, you’re effectively saying goodbye to all the potentially harmful ingredients in shampoo, like chemicals that can irritate the skin and scalp.

2. Softer strands and a healthier scalp

Allowing your scalp to produce its natural oils without stripping it with shampoo, you’re allowing your scalp to become stronger and healthier. Your strands will also become softer as they can maintain those natural oils without losing them after every wash.

3. Less dandruff

For those who suffer from dandruff due to a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis, it can be beneficial to lay off of shampoo altogether to prevent further drying out your scalp.

4. More volume

This benefit is simple: hair with more natural oils is more voluminous. Stick with the no-poo shampoo routine and in time you will notice your hair has much more volume than when you were drying it out with shampoo every week.

Co-washing and Cleansing Conditioners

best no poo shampoo for curly hair
Co-washing has been a natural hair care staple for years. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

The “co-washing”—a.k.a. conditioner washing—method has been mainstream advice for some time now, especially in the curly and natural hair communities. It’s recently trended out to include other hair textures as the news of its gentle, non-stripping benefits spread. So much so that designated cleansing conditioners are now available for all kinds of hair types.

Cleansing conditioners can also offer a bit too much hydration and slip for hair that isn’t super dry; it can leave fine or straight hair feeling limp, stringy or oily after several days of continued use. Many say it’s good to keep a regular clarifying shampoo and conditioner on hand, to be used once or twice a week, to rid hair of any buildup that occurs. If this is your jam, we love the moisturizing benefits from, TRESemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Cleansing Conditioner.

Dry Shampoo is a No-Poo Gal’s Best Friend

Tres Dry Shampoo

A dry shampoo is one of the handiest hair care products to have. It’s helpful for those who want to skip washes, but still want their hair to feel clean and fresh. Dry shampoo helps to absorb excess oils on the scalp and offers a water-free cleanse. It’s an ideal option for curly girls who want to extend their no-wash stretches. This product is also perfect for naturalistas of the other sort, i.e. the eco-conscious, who can also pick up non-spray formulations of the product and, save water as well. Win-win!

Our favorite picks for refreshing and revitalizing the hair in between washes include Dove Refresh+Care Detox & Purify Dry Shampoo, Nexxus Between Washes Smooth & Clean Dry Shampoo Foam, and TRESemmé Clean Pro Pure Dry Shampoo. We love these products because they absorb excess oil instantly, helping your hair appear and feel cleaner.

If you’re finding that dry shampoo is also becoming a bit drying, you can also pair it with a dry conditioner spray, like Dove Care Between Washes Go Active Dry Conditioner.

Watch Out for Those Pinterest Trends

best no poo shampoo vinegar rinse
Baking soda with ACV: great for a detox, not so great for every day.

As for those viral D.I.Y. baking soda/apple cider vinegar concoctions, it’s best to take them all with a grain of salt. Baking soda is 100 percent sodium bicarbonate and is an alkaline substance popular for its household metal and plaque-cleaning properties. It’s also said to have health benefits when mixed with apple cider vinegar, including reducing acidity and encouraging weight loss.

But whatever good it does for your digestive tract and water retention issues may not translate to the condition and feel of your hair. Baking soda is a great exfoliant. However, just like all scrubs—scalp is skin, after all—it can get abrasive for everyday use. This is especially true as it’s more alkaline than hair’s natural pH levels. The mixture also doesn’t offer any conditioning benefits to your strands, so what may seem like a squeaky-clean feel the first few days may eventually feel rough, frizzy, and dried out.

A vinegar rinse (which provides the acidity meant to neutralize the whole process) also doesn’t contain any conditioners. Even though it may look shiny and smooth at first, it may eventually start feeling dry and even slightly damaged.

Those are the basics when it comes to trading your regular shampoo for a no-poo alternative. Patience is key for a switch like this as your hair needs to adjust to the change and begin self-hydrating with its natural oils. If you do stick with it, the benefits will be worth the wait!

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