Frisky Q&A: All Your No-Shampoo Questions, Answered!

Last week we published an article called “Why I Stopped Washing My Hair (And So Should You!)” by Rebecca Vipond Brink. The post generated a lot of discussion — and a TON of questions. So we brought Rebecca back to answer all your most pressing no ‘poo questions, from worries about unwashed hair smells to detailed instructions for that baking soda scalp scrub. Read on for the lowdown on the no shampoo lifestyle…

1. Doesn’t your hair stink?

Nope! It does have a smell, but I don’t know — it kind of just smells like hair. I just asked my boyfriend to tell me what it smells like so he took a big, long whiff, stood back, and was like “Nothing!” I agree – it just doesn’t have any fragrance in it. It doesn’t smell like anything.

2. What about after working out or doing stuff that gets your hair dirty?

Well, everyone’s hair stinks after working out or doing dirty stuff. However, we’re forgetting here that sweat and really most things in the world are water-soluble — water is enough to take the stink out. I do rinse my hair with water most days and make sure to really scrub my roots.

3. Does your hair get tangly?

Yes, but not drastically. I brush my hair after I shower.

4. Do you use products on your hair?

No. If I did that I’d need to shampoo it to get them out and I have no desire to do that, obviously! I always used products to get volume in my hair and that’s a moot point now. My hair always has volume.

5. Do you dye your hair?

Very good question! No, I don’t. I had actually dyed my hair brown in December and after I stopped washing my hair it occurred to me that I’d have to get it back to my natural color if I wanted to keep not shampooing it, because dying it over and over would defeat the purpose. So I did bleach and tone my hair once, then went back to not washing it. I used to dye my hair all the time — every color you can think of, and for a long time it was white-platinum with a big black streak in front. I’m pretty done with dying my hair anyway, but more power to you if you want to keep doing it. Henna and Manic Panic are easier on your hair if you’re dying to dye.

6. Do you use hot tools on your hair?

Yes, sometimes. I’m sure I could curl it if I wanted to, but I don’t. I do have a flattening iron that I use sometimes, and I find it much easier to get my hair to behave now than when I was shampooing it. I also occasionally use a blow dryer (it has been a very long, cold winter in Chicago).

7. We want photos!


I Gave Up Washing My Hair

This is how I usually wear my hair. I like for it to look perpetually beachy. Once I grow it out I aspire for it to look like Raquel Welch’s hair in “One Million Years B.C.”

No Shampoo Hair

This is how I can have it look if I have to look nice for something.

8. Can you swim?

If I were to swim in a chlorine pool, I would secure it under a cap, preferably one of those retro-looking swimming caps with the flowers on top. However, I would very much prefer to swim in rivers, lakes, oceans, etc. If I want to do water-related stuff I’d rather kayak, raft, tube, or surf. Anyone want to teach me how to surf?

9. How do you do the baking soda rinse?

OK, sorry I wasn’t more clear about this earlier. So, there are two methods:

The first is to sprinkle baking soda all over your roots, section by section, while your hair is dry, the way you would with a powder volumizer or dry shampoo. Once that’s done, scrub your scalp/roots under the shower head until the baking soda rinses out (bringing any sweat/dirt with it, but — huzzah! — not the natural oil you’ve so patiently accumulated!).

The second is, if your hair is already wet, to make sort of a paste of the baking soda in your hands, then work the paste into your roots and scrub. If you do this, make sure to turn your head over and get the back of your head too.

Basically, you just want to get the baking soda all over your roots and then scrub, scrub, scrub. Keep in mind that the ends of your hair are drier than the roots, and since baking soda will dry the ends out even more and might make them tangly, you want to focus the hard scrubbing at the roots.

10. How do you do the apple cider vinegar rinse?

Put the apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle (I picked one up from Dollar Tree), spritz it all over your hair, wait for 2-3 minutes, and then rinse it out thoroughly. No, your hair will not smell like vinegar! You will smell it while you’re doing the rinse, but once you rinse it out and dry your hair, it’s undetectable.

11. What about short hair?

I have a friend, John, who has short hair (y’know, guy hair) that’s pretty thin. He jumped on the bandwagon when I first started talking about this on Facebook, and he reported to me the other day that he’s not going back to shampoo!

12. Do you get your hair cut at a regular salon? If so, do you let them wash it?

I haven’t needed to yet, but when I do, I’m going to ask the stylist to wash her hands first and just spritz my hair with water to cut it.

13. Will I look like a burnout during those first two weeks?

No! Your hair gets a little flat is all. Just muss it up or put it in a bun or something. I choose the mussing method. Rinsing it with water frequently helps a lot, too.

14. Vaccines, toothpaste, and cancer treatments have been introduced in the last hundred years too, why do you think of shampoo differently?

OK, this is a critique that I wanted to address: I’m totally in line with vaccines, toothpaste, cancer treatments, etc. The difference is that shampoo is not a hygiene product per se, but an aesthetic product. The only health-related reason I can think of to shampoo your hair is if you have lice (in which case PLEASE GO WASH YOUR HAIR). The main point I was trying to make was that shampoo was introduced in the early industrial era, when women were also starting to be told that we must be waif-thin (via corsets), always blushing, pale, modest, etc., etc. Hair products were the predecessor to makeup, which — while it can be fun — is also unnecessary. There’s a difference between contemporary inventions that have saved lives and contemporary inventions that are sort of superficial, and it’s worth thinking about why and how we use them.

Also, bottom line: Do what you want with your hair. I’ve done plenty with mine, and this is what makes me happiest. I always ask people to think about what they’re putting in and on their bodies and why. But more power to you if you want to keep shampooing!

Rebecca Vipond Brink is a writer, photographer, and traveler who’s more than happy to discuss the history of anything you do with you, as you’ve found out. You can follow her at @rebeccavbrink,, and her now-updated blog, Flare and Fade.