no-poo cleansing method

The no-shampoo method is also referred to as co-washing or conditioner washing. Sometimes it's even called the curly girl method (CG) form Curly Girl: The Handbook, a book written by Lorraine Massey and Deborah Chiel which helps people embrace their natural hair texture. With that objective in mind, Massey described a new and revolutionary routine to get healthy, well-behaved waves, curls and coils.

Although the very best way to do this routine is after reading the book, we understand that many people just can’t wait another day because their hair is begging for help. Here are the basic guidelines of the routine to help you get started.

More: Curly Girl: The Handbook

Why No Shampoo?

Most commercial shampoos contain sulfates and surfactants that are too harsh for our hair and tend to rob our hair of moisture.

To make a shampoo free routine work, you should eliminate the use of most silicones (‘cones for short) from your hair care routine since most can only be removed with harsh shampoos. Washing with a conditioner while using them would cause them to quickly build up on the hair, which results in dull, matted hair and poor curl definition.

More: Sulfate Free Shampoos

no-poo method

Choosing a Conditioner

It is very important to choose a good conditioner if you're going no shampoo. Here is what you should look for on the label:


Emollients soften, smooth the hair and give it shine. There are hundreds of them, including such natural emollients as vegetable oils and nut butters. Widely used emollients include glycerides and liposomes.


Proteins temporarily “repair” the hair and/or protect it. Occasionally proteins will build up on some people’s hair, especially on healthier hair. In this case, alternate with a protein-free conditioner. Examples of proteins include silk, soy, wheat, keratin or individual amino acids (components of proteins).


Humectants absorb water and hold in moisture. They are absolutely crucial in a conditioner for curly hair. Panthenol, vegetable glycerin, sorbitol, and honey are just a few humectants to look for on the label. Moisturizers soften and control to curly hair. Amino acids and aloe vera are two great moisturizers.

How to No-Poo

Massey concedes that some people may have to continue using shampoo (hopefully a lot less often than before) because of an oily scalp. This is usually more common in those with wavy hair. To avoid drying the hair, here's the CG way to use shampoo:

  1. Wet hair under a gentle shower.
  2. Take a tablespoon of conditioner, and using your fingers, lightly coat your hair from the ends to the mid-shaft. This hair has been around longer than the hair at the roots and needs more lubrication. The conditioner protects the hair by not allowing shampoo to penetrate and dehydrate the shaft.
  3. If you're using shampoo, squeeze a half teaspoon (no more) onto your fingertips and apply it gently to the scalp and roots only. Don't use your nails. Start at the forehead and work around the scalp, then rinse thoroughly.
  4. Add a half teaspoon of conditioner to your hair and work it through with your fingers. Then rinse quickly, for just a few seconds. Now you're ready to blot-dry your hair.

How to Clarify

Sometimes residue from gels and oils may not rinse off with water and conditioner and result in a little buildup. You might notice right away that your hair feels "gunky," but other times, your hair just stops responding to the routine. It may begin to tangle easily or curls loose definition and shine. Washing with a clarifying shampoo will refresh them and usually bring the bounce back.

Does the no shampoo method work for your hair? Leave your comments below and let us know!

This article was originally published in May 2014 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.