no-‘poo troubleshooting & common questions

welcome back to NO-‘POO WEEK! today is the last day already. can you believe it?! and sorry it’s so late. i literally just back to my hotel room from orientation for my new job :) woohoo! long day!

well, by the volume of questions i get from y’all, this post is WAY overdue. THIS POST IS VERY LONG, but hopefully this will be a holy grail for no-‘poo problems & questions! i already have a post for things you need to know before you go no-‘poo that you should check out, if you haven’t already!

the ultimate no-'poo troubleshooting guide (& with common questions)

no-‘poo can be pretty tricky. it’s not a one-size fits all type deal. there are different things different people experience. so what happens when something goes wrong?

i’ve come up with a list of the most common no-‘poo problems (& other common questions below).

common problems

A LOT of problems can be avoided by clarifying before your switch, avoiding typical styling products (heavy cream, gels, hairspray, etc) while no-poo, and avoiding heat (even hot showers. heat damage is heat damage,  even if it’s just water).
also,  like I’ve stressed before, make sure you’re deep conditioning.

OILY/GREASY HAIR
– if you’re in the transition period, stick with it! your scalp will calm down.
– invest in a natural bristle brush (like boar). it’ll help pull the oils from your scalp down the length of your hair. keep it clean!
– use a safe dry shampoo sparingly
– try different hair styles to minimize the greaseball look (scarves, braids, etc)

WAXY/GUNKY HAIR
– have you clarified? (#6)
– if you’re using castile soap with hard water- the castile soap WILL react to the minerals in hard water and leave a soap scum film on your hair. that’s the waxy/heavy/gunky/wet-ish feeling you have. double rinse with your acv mix. don’t up the ratio. put it where the waxy feeling is (or all over), let it sit a few mins, rinse & repeat. castile soap NEEDS to be mixed with (and sometimes rinsed out with) DISTILLED water
– if you’re in the transition period- it might be product buildup, especially if you used a lot of product before your switch (or if you still are). try reclarifying & using a natural bristle brush (like boar) to help slough it off
– invest in a natural bristle brush to help get the gunk off while you’re transitioning. and be sure to clean it!
– invest in a shower head filter
– if you’re not using castile soap and you’re thru the transition period, it could be a buildup of sebum. whip 1 large egg yolk into a cup of cool water. use that mix on wet hair from root to tip of hair in the shower. let sit for a few minutes, and rinse out with cool water. voila! (don’t use hot water unless you wanna pick scrambled eggs out of your hair, haha)
– switch to another no-‘poo alternative (more coming soon!) or go low-‘poo

BUILD-UP
clarify (#6)
– invest in a natural bristle brush to help get the gunk off. and be sure to clean it!
– try rinsing your scalp with diluted lemon juice (1/4 cup lemon juice to 1 cup water) and/or add lemon juice to your acv rinse
– you can also whip 1 large egg yolk into a cup of cool water. use that mix on wet hair from root to tip of hair in the shower. let sit for a few minutes, and rinse out with cool water
– rub your scalp gently with warm water only in between wash days

DRY/BRITTLE HAIR/BREAKING HAIR
– lessen the amount of baking soda/castile soap in your mix OR stop using bs/castile soap completely.
– wash less often
– add a moisturizing oil (argan, sunflower, sweet almond, avocado, etc.), raw honey, or organic aloe vera to your shampoo mix
– deep condition often . this could mean every time you wash, or every 4 times you wash. listen to your hair. if it’s dry, condition it! if it’s okay, don’t worry about it!
– switch to a new method like low-‘poo, a no-‘poo alternative (like this awesome clay shampoo!), or use water only
- use a pinky nail’s worth or less of pure, unrefined coconut oil on your air-dried hair (can be used every day)
- combo wash/condition your hair with plain egg yolks (however many you need to cover your hair). let it sit for 15-20 minutes and thoroughly rinse out with cool water

DANDRUFF
– lessen the amount of baking soda/castile soap in your mix OR choose to stop using BS/castile soap completely (and switch to a low-poo or clay shampoo).
– add moisturizing oils to your shampoo mix, like argan, sunflower, sweet almond, avocado, etc.
– add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo mix
– use the acv rinse on your scalp
– moisturize your scalp with pure, organic aloe vera juice/gel (washes out with just water)

ITCHY SCALP
– your mixes are likely too strong. dilute them.
– make sure your scalp is moisturized.
– use pure, organic aloe vera directly on your scalp. apply to dry  hair, leave on for 15-20 minutes and rinse out with cool water. it’ll keep it moisturize and cut down on the itch! yay!
– try rinsing with water periodically between wash days. it’ll help move the sebum and cut down the itch.

DULL HAIR
- make sure it’s not product buildup trying to slough off. be sure to clarify before your switch.
– an egg yolk mask, left on for 15-20 mins, then rinsed out well in cool water, and followed by an all-over acv rinse will boost shine.
– use a pinky nails worth or less (I use a pinky nail’s worth and I have longer hair) of organic, unrefined coconut oil on your hair daily or every few days. *a little goes a LONG, long way!!* it’ll not only add shine, but moisturize your hair better than any other oil.
– use a pump or less (I use a pump for my longer hair) of argan oil (or another lighter, moisturizing oil) on your hair every few days. again, a little goes a LONG way. for no-‘poo-ers, less is more when dealing with oils! you can always put more on the next day, rather than struggle with trying to get too much oil back out.
– pure, organic aloe vera gel/juice can be used plain as a hair mask. it’ll add shine and deep condition

HAIR LOSS
– make sure you’re not thinking you’re losing more hair since you’re washing and brushing less often. it’s normal to lose about 100 hairs a day… so if you wash every week, plan to lose 700.
– if you’re losing hair, STOP what you’re doing. please stop. either your hair isn’t healthy enough or something in your routine isn’t correct. ask for help :)

TANGLY HAIR
- if you didn’t have tangly hair before, it’s most likely a ph balance problem….(excluding bed head, etc)
– make sure the tangles aren’t from your hair shaft sticking out like shingles and getting tangled. that’s caused by too much baking soda or not using an acidic rinse after the baking soda. the ph of baking soda is very different from hairs and causes the follicles to stand on end. the acv rinse will close them back up and smooth them out.
– brush with a natural bristle brush (like boar). it’ll help smooth your hair and create less tangles
– remember to get tangles out with your fingers first. only use a wide tooth comb when absolutely necessary. and never use a paddle hair brush with plastic or metal bristles.
– pull your hair up/back/in a braid at night. this will drastically cut down tangles and bed head

SPLIT ENDS
– this isn’t going to be what you want to hear…. you gotta cut ‘em off. that’s it. i’m sorry! i know it SUCKS. there is NO magical split end remedy for natural hair. and if you don’t cut them off, they’ll continue to split up the length of your hair. you don’t want that!

common no-'poo questions

how long does it take to transition?

ok friends. I’m not going to sugar coat this. it completely depends on what else you’re doing with your hair, how often you were washing before, etc. if you were an everyday washer, your transition will take weeks…like 2 to 6 weeks. maybe more if you’re still using heat and other products. if you already wash every few days or every week, your transition should be relatively smooth once you clarify. maybe a couple weeks, tops.
the transition can be long and ugly. but the payoff is outstanding. try to keep chugging along and don’t give up. look to others for motivation/inspiration, ask questions, check the no-poo motivation series (once it’s posted), etc. remember you’re not the only one that’s gonna have dreadfully awful  hair days. but you’re doing something amazing for your hair and body. AND when people start complimenting you on your hair and asking what shampoo you use, you can proudly say “this is my natural hair!” it’s a great feeling!

should i use the baking soda/acv method, castile soap, no-‘poo alternative or low-‘poo?

i get asked this all.the.time! honestly guys, it’s up to you, and how much damage your hair has suffered. if your hair is breaking and splitting with regular shampoos and conditioners, you should go low-poo, or use a no-poo alternative like honey, aloe vera, and/or coconut milk. all are very gentle and will help restore your hair.
if your hair is healthier, a castile soap or baking soda (both always with acv) will work.
check out THIS post for a guide on which method to use :)
no matter which method, remember your end goal is to go as long as possible without washing. once they learn how to take care of themselves, your scalp & hair will thank you by being beautiful, healthy, & strong!

can i no-‘poo with dyed/permed hair?

can you switch to no-poo? of course! my hair used to be dyed about every 6 weeks or something horrid like that when i first switched. it takes some time for your hair get some moisture and strength back, but it’s very doable! if you choose no-poo, keep in mind it will drain the dye from your hair faster than normal. if you opt for a no-poo alternative or going water-only, your hair (and the color) will be perfectly fine.
as far as dying/perming while no-poo… i will tell you very honestly, the damage you’ll do from those processes will be very apparent since your hair will no longer be coated in silicones.  there are more natural ways to dye hair (like this) you can try instead :) as always, it’s up to you! it’s your hair!

how often should i wash?

when you first start, you should try to go absolutely as long as possibly between washes. go until you feel like your scalp is dripping oil (gross, but great!). some people start at every other day and slowly let their hair adjust. that’s all fine as long as you taper off. baking soda is drying to hair, so the goal is to wash every week or less. I now wash every 2+ weeks. it’s really not gross. your hair WILL learn to take care of itself.
if you’re going low-‘poo, the transition won’t be as greasy, but you still need to wait as LONG as possible between washes.

can i get my hair wet between wash days?

water won’t hurt a thing! it might not be best to get it wet every time you shower (because water makes hair swell and it’s unnecessary stress), but the occasional water rinse really won’t hurt anything.  go for it!

what do i keep my mixes in?

when I was no-poo, I kept my mixes in little plastic squeezy bottles. since the mixes are so watery, it allowed me to put a little at a time on certain parts of my scalp, rub rub rub, and move to the next small sectin of scalp. you can also see when you’re getting low. some people mix in a cup right before the shower. you can do whatever your heart desires! well…I wouldn’t suggest a glass bottle. no one wants cut up feet.

how often should i deep condition?

that depends on your hair. if your hair is healthy, at least every two weeks (at least!). if your hair is damaged, do so more often. some people find they need to deep condition every time they wash till their hair gets healthier. just pay attention to what your hair needs. if it needs to be deep conditioned every time, then do it. if it needs it every 4 times, then do that!

how often can i use dry shampoo?

depending on what  type of hair you have, I’d say don’t use the dry shampoo more than 2 times between washes. one, because that recipe is pretty darn awesome and keeps my hair in tip top shape for about 4-7 days after I use it, but also because you’re going to have a lot of buildup when you wash again. things can get kindy funky and cakey… and your natural  bristle brush is gonna be dirty (read: duuurrrr-tayyy). just watch for buildup and use as little as possible to keep your hair lookin fresh!

can i style my hair?

of course!! with heat? not so much. i mean, you CAN… but the damage done will be more noticeable. try a no heat route (like heatless curls). if you choose to use heat, use it VERY sparingly & protect your hair.

can i use hair products?

again..you caaaaannnn…buuuut. the products will most likely contain some sort of silicone or toxic ingredient.. and the buildup will be way harder to get out. just use them sparingly IF you HAVE to. and try to make your own hair gel. if you’re completely no-‘poo, stay away from oils and silicones in treatments and products.

can i do the coconut oil mask or (insert oil name) treatment/mask?

if you’re no-‘poo, NO. if you’re low-‘poo, Yes. no-‘poo won’t be able to get the oil back out of your hair. but low-‘poo shampoos should be able to. experiment with a very small section of hair first, please!

how can i go no-‘poo if i’m an avid exerciser?

not washing your hair does NOT mean not washing your body. i still don’t understand why i get asked if i shower…haha! really guys? ;)
you can check out this post on how to control the sweaty head without stripping the natural oils on your scalp.

can kids use no-‘poo methods?

i wouldn’t suggest using the baking soda/acv routine with kids. there’s too much risk of the mixes getting in their eyes and burning like a mo-fo. please try an alternative no-‘po (like aloe vera & coconut milk or honey), or go low-‘poo with a completely organic shampoo. you can also make them water-only washers. it’s the best IMHO.
& honestly- the beauty of starting no-‘poo with kids is that their hair most likely isn’t damaged from heat tools, product overuse, and shampoo/conditioner abuse. kids will adjust very well and rather quickly. some kids will honestly only need a shampoo to get ketchup and paint out of their hair. they won’t need it for oily scalps. save them while you can! haha. my kids will definitely be water-only babies (minus the occasional wash for goopy things).

what do i do when i go get my hair cut?

such a great question!! check out this post.

how can i protect my hair from chlorine/salt water?

great question! check out this post. 

how can i make my hair not smell bad?

yet another great question!! check out this post!

some final thoughts for everyone-

you’ll learn what your hair needs as time goes on. your no-poo/low-poo routine WILL change as time goes on. but remember that YOU know your hair better than anyone else. and don’t ever hesitate to ask for advice. I know I’m extremely protective of my hair and I wouldn’t wait a second to ask for help if I thought something was wrong.

no-poo is a commitment. it’s not always easy & not it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all type deal. it can be overwhelming. it’s okay!

ask me and others for help. you’re NOT bothering me at all. I love helping you guys! feel free to email me or message me on fb if you don’t want your questions posted.

AND lastly, if you would like to share your no-poo/low-poo journey so others may benefit, PLEASE shoot me an email . we’ll get ya all set up to guest post asap!

good luck to you all! you’ll be fine! I’m already proud of you for deciding to make the switch to less chemicals!

lemme know if there’s anything else I need to address and add to this post!! let’s make this the ultimate no-poo troubleshooting guide!!

& did i miss something? let me know below!!

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ROUTINE? see this post

and there’s always the no-‘poo resource page! :)

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227 comments

  1. Hi! I’ve recently just started reading your stuff, and it’s amazing and helpful! I’ve been wanting to go off shampoo for a while, but I’ve been too chicken..But you’ve given the confidence to try it! One question I do have is how to “clarify.” I keep seeing that you need to clarify then deep condition, but how do you clarify? Is it just starting with the baking soda, water, & ACV?

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  2. Hi, okay so I am very anxious to start the no-poo. But I also have a lot of concerns. So I have extremely oily hair. I have a lot of hair but it’s also very fine. But I don’t want to ease into the transition. I want to start it right away! I have a clarifying shampoo. It’s by ion and it’s for swimmers hair. Should I use that before I start the no- poo? And when I do start the no-poo do I wash my hair like I would with normal shampoo? Massage scalp with baking soda rinse then apply apple cider vinger to ends and rinse? And do I apply the apple cider vinger on my scalp as well or just on my ends? Andddd what are some tricks to do for when my hair is oily and I have to go out in public? I used to use baby powder but I’m guessing I won’t be able to once I start going all natural. Please get back to me and sorry for all the questions. I just want to know word for word, step by step! :)

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  3. Hi! I’ve been trying to go no poo for a couple of months now, and not really had any luck so far. When I first tried, I did the classic baking soda and acv rinse, which worked well. I only did this once before reading that this can be too harsh on hair in the long run, so then I started using a soapnut ‘shampoo’ and acv rinse. This did not work well for me, so after about a month of playing around with different strengths of the soapnut liquid I started looking at other options. I made a homemade shampoo with castille soap and coconut milk, but my hair still has that gunky, heavy feeling. It’s there immediately after washing, especially on the back of my head, and it’s really all through the length of my hair. Then I read your posts about no poo and today I clarified my hair using bentonite clay, followed by a conditioner of raw honey, acv and distilled water. It might be a bit better, but still not hair I’m happy to be seen in public with! I’m waiting for my boar bristle brush to be delivered, but in the meantime can you suggest anything? Before I would wash and condition my hair about ever 4-5 days, no other products and very little heat-treatment. I have very fine hair, but lots of it. Thanks for a lot of great info!

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  4. Girl! I’m so, sooo glad I found your blog! I only wish I had found it sooner!
    I had started the no-‘poo thing in July, first using sample bars from Chagrin Valley (which smelled lovely) and then when those ran out I began using African Black Soap. I thought my hair should have been done with the transition by September but it seemed to be getting worse. After experimenting with different ratios for the ACV rinse and it not helping I was beginning to wonder if I should keep going. It was waxy and greasy and my scalp was itchy.
    I was really trying to find a solution and figure out what to do with my hair for my brother’s wedding. I was so close to just using my sister’s shampoo and forgetting all this no-‘poo mess but I stuck it out and managed to get my hair to look decent for the wedding. I found your blog Monday and after reading this article I made an egg yolk rinse, got two ACV rinses made, and prayed it would work. Well, I don’t know what the yolk did to my hair or how it worked but I felt a difference in my hair as soon as I rinsed it out. After washing it like usual with my ABS I poured one ACV rinse, let it sit, rinsed, and repeated. My hair felt different, a good different, but I was afraid to get my hopes up. When my hair finally air dried (the next morning because my hair is so thick) I was so happy and relieved to find that I could run my fingers through it! No more waxy, greasy hair!
    Thanks so much for sharing your advice and knowledge. It’s so appreciated!
    What do you think caused my hair to be so waxy? Was it just buildup? If so is the egg yolk rinse something I’ll need to do once a week? Any and all advice is appreciated, thanks!

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  5. Help!

    I think (not sure!) I may be experiencing more hair loss than normal as part of the transition to natural shampoo!

    Basically I don’t use any products on my hair and I stopped using conditioner (mixture of oils instead) a while ago and everything was ok.

    More recently (about 2 weeks ago) I started using a natural shampoo bar and vinegar, as well as a bit of oil at the end.

    Natural shampoo: I bought the bar online.

    My vinegar mixture is 1 part vinegar one part water and lavender essential oil (I may have put too much in trying to cover up the smell of vinegar!). I keep it in a small spray bottle and only spray on a little and then rinse it of.

    I’m not sure what’s causing it but I’m noticing more hairs in the bath as well as when I brush it before I wash it (I don’t brush it otherwise but didn’t do that before switch either).

    I have not changed how often I wash my hair.

    I would really appreciate your thoughts! Thanks!

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  6. Hey! I’ve done the ‘no-poo’ before and was at it a few months but then it started making my hair feel all filmy which totally grossed me out. I have super greasy hair, it will go greasy a day after washing it but I always try to do every other day wash. There is NO way I’m going to wash it every day. Then I was in the shower and hadn’t realized I had run out of my bs/water mixture so I had to use hubby’s shampoo. Well, I’m back to the ‘no-poo’ (I think it’s been 2 weeks now) and again it’s making my hair feel all filmy :( I don’t know what to do to fix it… If it’s still going through transition or not? I haven’t used store bought conditioner in over a year and a half because my hair gets so greasy, it would be greasy as soon as it dried. I’ve read different things about using acv or regular vinegar but not sure which would be better for my hair so I don’t use that either. Any suggestions would be great :) I don’t blow dry my hair and straighten maybe once a month or less.

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  7. I have just started my no-poo journey. Two hair washes in. I usually washed my hair about every three days with shampoo and it’s been that way with my two no-poo washes. The first wash went great but now my hair is so greasy! Lately I have had insane dandruff which led up to my choice to go no-poo as I believed it had much to do with the chemicals in shampoos along with you know growing into a woman. I need SOLID ways to help tame or get rid of this dandruff. I have read so many ways but I want to do it the best. What sort of mixture do you recommend? And also I need easy hairstyles. I’m a young mom and don’t put much effort into my hair or make up but I don’t want to look so greasy. Also if I do choose to use shampoo one day (my birthday is friday) will it affect my hair more negatively? Annnd I’m already having urges to rewash my hair with shampoo. Are there any organic shampoos that you or anyone recommend?

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  8. I’ve been a no-pooer for about a year and a half. I use coconut milk with essential oils as a conditioner when I wash my hair about every two weeks, but lately my hair seems a little drier. Should I switch to using your coconut oil conditioner instead of the coconut milk? Wanted to also thank you for giving me the way to healthiest hair and the benefit of not buying all the hair products, more $$$ for me…

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  9. No ‘poo, no heat, NO VOLUME?1?!

    I have straight, fine hair and even with products, I barely get any volume, especially at the top. When I was younger, I used volumizing mousse when drying my hair which gave me some volume for about a day. Second day was always flat again. I wore it up and then washed the third day.

    My routine has changed and now I wash my hair at night, put it in a bun at the top of my head and sleep on it wet. In the morning, roots are almost dry but the ends are somewhat damp. I rarely use any product (cause I haven’t found something that works) and so I blow dry it for a few minutes. To get any volume/root lift, I absolutely have to tease my hair (which I hate doing). I just bought an aerosol dry shampoo (Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak dry shampoo), and I’m hoping this will give my roots some lift.

    Recently, I’ve decided to try the no ‘poo method and while searching for information, I came across your site and saw that you don’t use any heat to style your hair. Wondering if you have any advice on how to still get volume without heat? Also wondering if I can use store bought dry shampoo as opposed to your homemade recipe? I would give up all heat products if I only I found a way to make my hair voluminous; otherwise I look like a conehead (with hair) and I absolutely hate that! Thanks!!

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  10. Hi! I love your blog and appreciate all your posts. I’ve been experimenting with different no poo methods and just can’t seem to get the results everyone talks about. I have curly hair and use the bs/acv. I also use coconut oil occasionally for my ends and flax seed gel for the frizz. I really don’t like the way my hair feels when I get out of the shower. It really doesn’t feel clean. It feels nappy. I want that silky smooth feeling that everyone is talking about.do you have any advice?

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  11. If I choose to go water only wash for my girls (4 & 5yr old) what kind of conditioning can I do on a weekly basis? My 5 yr old has long hair and it gets super tangly without conditioner. Right now I use my Pantene conditioner.

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  12. Hi Alex, love your blog!
    I was wondering if you could recommend the cheapest shower head filter for a hand held shower that you know of.
    I’m living in Rome and the amount of harness in the water in unreal!

    Many thanks

    Paul

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  13. HELP!! I’m going ‘poo free and it seems to be all going wrong! First attempt, bs/acv for 2 months. My hair was falling out but got to this gorgeous point for 1 week. Then 1week later it was a frizzy dry brittle mess. That’s when I stumbled on your blog. I started from the beginning with a clarify and deep condition. My word the sebum!! After washing my hair was dry, but with some scratching and preening (first time ever and done the second my hair was dry) coated my entire hair with what feels like wax. Persisted. Persisted. Hair like wax wax wax after a few weeks. Clarified again this weekend. A little better but still so waxy. I’ve been on this journey for almost 3 months and I’m seriously considering low-‘poo. Is there something I’m doing wrong? Just ordered some clay? Would that help?
    Help me – very waxy lady x

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  14. Not sure what’s going on with my hair – can’t use anything on my hair at mo as got eczema on my hands :-(

    Great to get ideas of what I might be looking for once I’m up and running again :-)

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  15. I love all of your tips!! I didn’t get to read all of this page yet but I will print it to keep as a hair bible!!!

    I wanted to add to what I do as a deep conditioner about once a week – I try to go 4 days without washing it. I have very fine, combination hair (a lot of it!!); on the first day, its amazing! Silky & soft. Then at the end of the 2nd day, its starting to get oily at the roots & dry at the ends. 3rd day, even worse! Only massaging & a bristle brush can help me here.

    So for my hair, putting a natural conditioner on after I shampoo really weighs it down, it just shortens the amount of time for my roots to get oily. So when I want to deep condition with almond, argan or coconut oil or your favorite -store bought deep conditioner (usually as natural as I can find), I “pre-poo condition”. I put as much of the oil on my roots as possible and work it up to my ears, lightly touching the hair around my crown since those hairs are usually the first to break & have the most damage. I let it sit for at least 10 minutes up to an hour depending on how much time I have :) When I shampoo, I only concentrate at the roots & rinse through. When I condition, I only do whatever I can fit into a ponytail. This method, definitely gives me the deep condition I need, but also gives me a chance to cleanse my roots! The pretty, softness of my hair usually lasts a day longer after I do this “pre-poo condition”

    I haven’t completely tried doing the no-poo, but I have been starting to add baking soda to my shampoo to start myself into transitioning.

    You’re hair is inspirational!!

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