The Best No-Poo Shampoo Alternatives

Explore your options.

If you, A, have really dry, curly or natural-textured hair; B, aren’t a frequent washer; C, are all about a “greener,” tree-hugging alternative; or D, all of the above, you’ve probably already looked for the best no-poo shampoo to help reinforce your current regimen. 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.

It’s not all roses: Even the best no-poo shampoo concoctions have their drawbacks. While we certainly applaud the intention, we feel it’s also time to rein in the hype surrounding this viral trend. 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.

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.

Pinterested? Think again

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

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.

The Midway

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.

For an extra boost of body and lift, Dove Refresh+Care Volume & Fullness Dry Shampoo and TRESemmé Between Washes Volumizing Dry Shampoo can transform oily and limp hair into strands that have a freshly washed bounce. All are clever hair hacks and provide an easy, on-the-go and waterless option, instead of spending time, effort and money for the best no-poo shampoo.

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