Protect your hair from damaging sulfates and silicones with this popular method for washing wavy, curly and coily hair.

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.
Curly hair tends to be more porous than straight hair, which makes rinsing out all traces of shampoo virtually impossible and causing frizz. Many conditioners also contain mild surfactants which, paired with a little manual friction, can lift off dirt, debris and excess oil from our scalp and hair.

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.

Raquel Aguiar
I did this for months then realized my hair grew way slower than normal. I have seborrheic dermatitis, so I need more cleansing than most people, I think. It did "look clean" and never smelled bad though.

I use the Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan oil Conditioner (I got mine online at beyas) and it's a silicone free conditioner that is based on argan oil to really hydrate and moisturize your hair. I love it :) Although I occasionally use a sulfate-free shampoo too, but with the no-poo method this conditioner is the best. :D

Shampoo should be used but twice or thrice in a week.We should also use a shampoo which is best for our hair type according to texture and natural hair type.Follow blindly others can harmful for us and. Disney

Been doing this for about 4 months now and the results are amazing! My hair is way more moisturized now than it's even been before. Also stopped using heat on my hair and it's made a major difference.

@curlyjille I also have SD with the condition its important to keep the scalp clean so u can cowash I do everydayI wash my hair once a week with a natural soap bar. Also I apply scalpin scalp after I wash it or cowash. Also don't use alot of oil on your hair try to use raw shea butter. Its the excessive oil that is causing the condition.

I am new to this and in the process of transitioning and I am very excited! Thank you for the tips I cannot wait to go to the beauty store tonight to start this process. Thank you for the tips and motivation!

Also, I have seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp and use Neutrogena T Gel Stubborn Itch, which doesn't list ingredients. Is it bad for my hair (fine, high porosity)? And is leaving my conditioner possibly making my condition worse?

I haven't been rinsing conditioner out of my hair after shampooing because it has always made my hair less frizzy and more moisturized. Should I not be doing this?

I can't seem to get beyond 2-3 days of no poo before I get flake build up. It's kinda gross.

I do- I've gone 8 years without shampooing my hair. Scrubbing your scalp with conditioner works well, as does the brown sugar scrub, and it doesn't dry out and frizz up hair like shampoo does. It does take a while for the process to take hold, but once it does you'll love your hair and never look back.

Do you no-poo everyday???

I would like to start the no-poo thing but I need some advice and a little help. We are supposed to avoid products with sulfates in them correct? Do some conditioners have sulfates as well? And if so which ones don't. Currently, I am living in South Korea teaching English, and everything on the back of my conditioner and shampoo bottle is in Korean so that means I can't read it. I am using Pantene pro-v. Can anyone tell me if that is ok. Also I would like to clarify a couple of things. So in the no-poo method you wash your hair with conditioner once or twice a week, so the other days that you are showering, do you just use conditioner regularly? Thanx for the help.

i've been doing the no-shampoo routine for months and loving it

Bummer... the links on this entry are broken. Who can we ask to have them repaired?