The No Shampoo method is similar to the No Poo method, and it is a grooming approach for curly men in which shampoo is reduced in frequency. Rogelio gives you our modified no poo guide for manly curls!
“No poo, you don’t won’t go to the loo, fool”.
That could very well be the slogan for an anti-diarrhoeal drug but, at Manly Curls, we are not here to discuss scatological topics, so the “no poo” I’m about to bring you is something that you will actually benefit from reading, hair-wise that is.
Truth is, if you are not a bit of a hair geek like myself, you will not have heard of the term “no poo”. No poo, or the no poo/no shampoo method, refers to an approach in which one doesn’t shampoo on a daily basis so as to keep one’s hair looking good and well-groomed. If you are a Manly Curls dude, you will know by now that yours truly has been knocking down the conventional men’s grooming dogma of daily shampooing ever since he went on a manly mission to “curlicious” locks. If, on the other hand, you are new to my site, then I welcome you to read my 30 day natural hair experiment as well as my article on all about using shampoo to get an idea of what I am talking about. Oh, and I have just made up on the spot the term “curlicious” as a portmanteau for well-groomed curly hair (curly & delicious). Poo? Not shampooing? Curlicious?
Not freaked out yet? Good, continue reading.
Curlicious donuts you have there, my friend
In all seriousness now, not shampooing daily (i.e. no poo/no shampoo method) or altogether not using shampoo has a following, believe it or not. What’s more is that not shampooing your hair daily has an actual solid basis supporting it. You see, your scalp has thousands of hair follicles (the tiny pockets from which hair grows from) and each hair follicle has a little gland next to it which secretes a special type of oil known as sebum. If you hadn’t already deduced it, this aforementioned gland is called a sebaceous gland and it has an essential role in keeping your hair shiny and strong. The goal of this gland is to secrete sebum so that your hair is coated with a thin film of the oil, strengthening the hair strands.
Conventional shampoos, being the good detergents that they are, literally wash away the sebum from your hair which means that, each time you shampoo your hair, you are removing this precious natural oil which is essential to good hair health. What is a conventional shampoo? One that contains a sulfate-based ingredient, most commonly sodium lauryl sulfate, or in other words, most commercial shampoos available to us men.
Notice above how the hair follicle has a sebaceous gland next to it (purple sack)
Now, before I dig into the details, I will tell you that no poo/no shampoo has a bit of a semantic discrepancy. Some purists will say that no poo means completely avoiding shampoos (sulfate or sulfate-free) to clean one’s hair while others are more lax in their definition of no poo and do include conventional shampooing, albeit with any lower frequency than a daily one. It really becomes a mess and there are forums dedicated to discussing the semantics of no poo and the likes; furthermore, I find the word “poo” both stupid and confusing to newcomers to the hair care world as it is my belief that hair care and hair grooming should be made as simple as possible, for we ain’t talking about performing a brain-aneurism surgical repair.
The above paragraph is why I have decided to simply call what is to follow our No Shampoo method; a method that is based around the premise of not using shampoo daily and finding one’s optimal shampooing frequency. Funky names aside, ingrain in your brain what I have just emphasized in bold because you can call it whatever you want but the point is to find your optimal shampoo frequency, which will vary from one dude to another. In fact, one’s optimal shampoo frequency could be “absolutely no shampoo ever”, sure, but many men find that they do need a conventional shampoo somehow in there, if anything out of convenience, although in much lower frequencies than the daily frequency of conventional hair grooming dogma. For what is worth, this actual method that you’re about to learn is one I learnt (and coined) some years ago as I realized how shampooing every day would make my curly hair uber frizzy while, on the other hand, shampooing every 3 days actually made my hair look much, much better. Thus, this method has already been tried by yours truly and quite a few other poor souls who accepted my experimenting on their hair.
Before I continue, let’s make a quick stop and ensure that we are all still on the same page.
- Our No Shampoo method is a method to grooming one’s hair by shampooing with a lower frequency than daily
- Our No Shampoo method is an approach that benefits hair as it allows for better sebum coating of the hair strands
- Shampoo removes the scalp sebum which is secreted by some tiny glands located next to the hair follicles and you want a good amount of sebum coating your mane for best hair looks
The questions is now: why would I want to go no poo/no shampoo and stop shampooing my hair? What’s in it for me? Well, you can expect the following benefits if you followthe No Shampoo method:
1) Your hair will be less dry
If you ask me, this is reason enough to go no poo/no shampoo. Dry curly hair equates frizzy hair which equates not so cool looking curly locks. By dropping shampoo frequency, you give your hair strands a chance to be coated by sebum, which will pave the way to less dry and more moisturized hair. I know it sounds girly but moisture is your ally as a curly haired man.
2) Less tangles and knots
As your locks are covered in sebum, they will become smoother. Couple that with a good hair routine and you are talking Adrian Grenier mane-awesomeness level. Smoother locks equate less tangles and knots, this being a big problem for men in the higher end curly hair types (III-V), especially when hair reaches medium length and beyond.
3) Better looking hair
Moisturized hair + tangle-free hair equates better looking hair. That simple, folks.
4) You get to know your hair
It may sound silly, but I always stress curly dudes to get to know their curls. No, I am not talking about dedicating a daily segment of your hidden personal diary to them (what, you don’t have a personal diary hidden in the closet…?), I am talking about actually knowing how your curls behave naturally. With the No Shampoo method, you actually get to know how your hair behaves under several scenarios. That’s cool’s in my “personal diary” book.
5) Less crap gets absorbed by your body
Simply put, the less funky-named ingredients you expose your body to, the better. By doing the No Shampoo method you will be cutting by half, straight away, the amount of chemicals you stress your scalp with. And that’s only if you shampoo every other day. Moreover, the detergent action of shampoos can cause irritation in some men’s scalp when shampoos are used daily and I have seen some great cases of dandruff being tamed by going no poo/no shampoo.
This is the sort of curlicious results you can expect on your hair by finding your optimal shampooing frequency
Still with me? The above beach party picture hasn’t scared you away? Cool.
Let’s now look at how to do the No Shampoo method for men. It consists of 3 essential keys:
1) Drop shampoo frequency slowly
Ease into no shampoo, do not make the mistake of altogether stopping shampoo use. Your scalp is used to daily shampooing so don’t swing to the other extreme of totally avoiding shampoo. This is how you drop your shampoo frequency:
- Skip a shampoo day for the next two weeks, so you are shampooing every other day or what I call 1 on/1 off
- Reassess after the 2 weeks. Is your hair still looking dry and you have only noticed mild cosmetic benefits? Introduce another non-shampoo day so that now you do 1 on/2 off for the next 2 weeks. If, instead, your hair is looking much better, 1 on/1 off is your optimal frequency though you can also try 1 on/2 off to see if it works even better
- Reassess after the 2 weeks (4 weeks by now since you started). Hair still looking dry? Add another off day (1 on/3 off). Hair looking great? Stay on 1 on/2 off. Hair started to look a bit greasy? Go back to 1 on/1 off and stay at it for 4 weeks. Reassess again after 4 weeks and try 1 on/2 off again.
See the pattern? You introduce an extra non-shampoo day every 2 weeks until you find your optimal frequency. This is key. From my experience, curly haired men benefit from 1 on/1 off all the way to once a week. I’ve seen a few exceptions but the vast majority of men, regardless of hair type, fall within this shampoo frequency range, it’s just a matter of experimenting as I stated above. As a rule of thumb, the higher end your hair type is (think coils and kinks), the lower your optimal shampooing frequency will be. I do once a week for most of my time, and I have some beastly coils and kinks protruding off my head.
2) Use your fingers to help the sebum travel
Sebum has a hard time travelling across your hair strands, so use your fingers to help the sebum reach all the way to the tips. I have termed this the Sebum Coating method and it is performed when you soak your hair in the shower on your non-shampooing days.
The Sebum Coating method is done by grabbing one lock of hair at a time and running your fingers gently from the root of the hair (i.e. scalp) all the way to the tip (i.e. end), while water from the shower bulb is running on the lock. You run your fingers once and make sure you use lukewarm water for the Sebum Coating method. For the record and since many people have asked, part of why my curls still looked good by the end of the 30 day natural hair experiment was precisely because I stressed this method, so run those fingers on your lustrous locks, it will pay off greatly.
3) Use an alternative to a conventional shampoo
This is where I leave it up to you. On your shampoo days, you can go with a sulfate-free shampoo or instead use a conventional sulfate-based shampoo. If you use a sulfate-free shampoo, bear in mind that you will have to increase your shampoo frequency a bit, as sulfate-free shampoos are weaker in their detergent action than conventional shampoos. And just in case you don’t know how to discern a sulfate-based shampoo from a sulfate-free shampoo, basically just about all shampoos (i.e. commercial/conventional) are sulfate based whereas those shampoos that are “sulfate free” will state so very clearly in the label. Just like I recommend in my book, The Curly Hair Book: Or How Men Can Now Rock Their Waves, Coils and Kinks, you are better off starting your quest to find your optimal shampooing frequency with a sulfate-based shampoo, and, once you have obtained said optimal shampooing frequency, switch shampoos if you feel like trying another one.
On non-shampooing days, you can either use a conventional conditioner to provide some cleaning to your hair (conditioners have a weak cleaning action) or you can use natural alternatives. I have had success with diluted lemon juice as well as baking soda (one table spoon per glass) and diluted vinegar (with two parts water); for the baking soda and vinegar method, simply use the baking soda first, then the vinegar. You can also not use anything on your non-shampooing days; just do the Sebum Coating method (remember, the Sebum Coating method is always done on your non-shampooing days!). It comes down to preference, but the point remains, you will only use shampoo as per your newly-found optimal frequency while at least doing the Sebum Coating method on your off days!
Troy Polamalu and I agree, conventional shampoos make our curls way too frizzy and dry!
Our No Shampoo method is a great way to allow your hair to naturally do what it is intended to do. By managing your shampooing frequency, you allow your hair to benefit from the coating of sebum your scalp produces while allowing for the removal of excess sebum in a timely manner. As you effectively find out your optimal shampooing frequency, you will end up with smoother, more-moisturized curls, which will ultimately look better, and all while actually cutting down your use of shampoo. It really could not be any more convenient!
All the best.
P.S: the No Shampoo method is explain in depth in both my books, The Curly Hair Book and The Men’s Hair Book. The No shampoo method is key in your quest for great-looking curly hair, so you really must optimize this part of your hair management!