Ditch shampoo for natural DIY haircare and save $300/year

Here it is, your new shower regimen. Photos by Emma Kaye
Here it is, your new shower regimen. Photos by Emma Kaye

You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: every time you shampoo, you’re essentially stripping your hair cuticle of its natural oils. As a result, your scalp develops a reliance, or even a physical addiction, to being shampooed. Addiction is bad. It’s time for a change. It’s time to stop washing your hair.

It’s not as gross as it sounds. Plus, you will be cleaning your hair still. In place of shampooing and conditioning, you’ll be using two homemade cleansing solutions made from two simple ingredients: baking soda and apple cider vinegar. This method will cost you no more than $10 a year and make your hair feel clean and look great. So, here are the recipes and directions for getting back to basics with your haircare routine. You’ll never want to shampoo again.

As I said before, your hair produces oils in order to compensate for shampoo use. So if you convert cold-turkey—which I do recommend, by the way—it’ll take some time for your hair to adjust. Especially if you’re prone to having oily hair, there’ll be a definite period of adjustment during which your hair will be greasier than usual.

Once you stop washing your hair with shampoo, you’ll also have to stop using product as well. Most gels, anti-frizz creams and sprays contain silicones that are only removable by shampoo, which just promotes a vicious cycle that’s terrible for your hair. But trust me, it’s all worth it: besides being a huge waste of plastic and contributing to toxic landfills, haircare products also contain known carcinogens.


It's no Pantene ad, but hey, not too shabby right?
It’s no Pantene ad, but hey, not too shabby right?

Still hesitant to sign up? How about this: the “no poo” method saves you boatloads of money. Here’s an estimate of just how much money you’ll be saving by giving up commercial hair products:

1 16oz box of baking soda: $1.75= 8 washes= $0.22 per wash
1 16 oz Bottle of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar= $4.00= 8 washes= $0.50 per wash

Remember, you won’t need to wash your hair as often because it won’t be over-producing oils. So, If you use this cleanse once a month, you’re looking at roughly $8.64 per year. Now let’s compare that to the cost if you use normal shampoo and wash your hair daily with organic products.

1 13 oz Bottle of L’Oreal Organix Shampoo: $8.00
1 13 oz Bottle of L’Oreal Organix Conditioner: $8.00

I’m going to guess it takes about one month to go through each bottle. Chances are you’re also going to have to invest in some Frizz Ease serum to accompany your daily dosage of head chemicals– so let’s add another $8.00 to the monthly bill. You’re looking at $288 per year.

That’s a savings of almost 300 bucks a year. Plane ticket to New Orleans, anyone?

Recipes below. Follow the proportions carefully and don’t over-saturate your mixtures with vinegar or baking soda– make sure they’re properly diluted. Then, use these just like you would your regular shampoo and conditioner! Just rinse the cider vinegar out with cold water.

Baking Soda Cleanse (in place of shampoo)

1 cup of water

4 tbsp of baking soda

This amount is probably good for shorter, shoulder length hair. If you have longer hair, double the recipe. Just make sure that you never have more than 1 part baking soda to 4 parts water. Once you have all the ingredients in one container, shake or mix it up. It should just look cloudy at first and then dissolve into a clear liquid.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse (in place of conditioner)

1 cup water
4 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
A few drops of your favorite essential oil*

Use the same proportions as the Baking soda cleanse– 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water.

*Since the vinegar has a strong pungent smell, you might want to add a few drops of essential oil to balance the scent. I recommend tea tree oil for this, which smells nice and planty, and is very gentle on the skin. Try to avoid Peppermint or Lavender, or use the smallest amount, as both can commonly irritate the skin. (If you’re unsure about your allergies, it’s better to avoid essential oil all together.)


Nope, it's not guacamole, it's a hair mask

You can give your hair some extra softness too by grabbing an avocado and using it for a hair mask instead of your famous guacamole:

Deep Conditioning Avocado Hair Mask

1 whole avocado (skinned and pitted)
3 tbs of coconut or sweet almond oil
2 tbsp of honey

Directions: Combine ingredients in a blender, or mix them by hand. Transfer to a bowl. Scoop mask out by hand and apply to dry hair, starting at the scalp and working outward towards the ends. When hair is completely saturated with the mask, tie up and cover your hair with a shower cap or plastic bag. Wait about 30 minutes. Then, rinse it out in the bathtub with warm water. Once you’re done, you might want to pour some bleach down your drain so it doesn’t get clogged.

If the mask makes your hair too oily, follow up with a baking soda/vinegar cleanse.  If you have oily roots and dry hair, cut this recipe in half and apply the mask only to the ends of your hair. If you’re attending an event and you want really amazing hair, do this mask one week prior. That’s the point at which your hair reaches balanced perfection.

And there you have it. Not only will your soft and beautiful hair be the envy of your friends, your wallet full of extra money will also be the envy of your friends. Buy them a couple drinks maybe to cut down on the jealousy.


  1. Binky Melnik

    Mixing baking soda and vinegar together gives you sodium acetate and water. Sodium acetate has no known cleaning properties. This mixture won’t get your hair clean. While there are alternatives to detergent shampoos, this ain’t one of ’em.

    • Emma Kaye

      Hey Binky! The baking soda and vinegar aren’t actually mixing, they’re two separate solutions, meant to be used consecutively, not simultaneously! Neither of the recipes are for Sodium acetate, which can be harmful and irritating to the skin and hair! I’m sorry if that was not more clear.

      The baking soda cleanse is just water mixed with baking soda, which can indeed be used for many types of cleaning, including removing grease and grime from your kitchen, to polish silver and as a general deodorizer. When it’s diluted, it does the same thing for your scalp– it removes oily buildup! The apple cider vinegar is used separately after you wash out the baking soda to neutralize your scalp (since the pH of the baking soda is lower than your skin’s).

      I hope that clarifies things!

  2. saloni

    hi, I recently had my hair done at a bk salon where the colorist/stylist advocated (pretty firmly) that i transition to a shampoo-free lifestyle and i’ve since been really into that so these tips and “recipes” are great, thank you! and i think clear enough to follow/understand. good thing i already own all of these products as they’re my regular go-tos for laundry, facial peel and shower cleaning routines! lol

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