No Shampoo

I haven’t used shampoo or conditioner on my hair for 3 months. (Or body wash, shower gel or anything other than soap to clean the rest of me!)

This doesn’t mean I’m a greasy mop-head of dreadlocks and dandruff. As far as I can tell, my hair is identical (except a couple of inches longer).

So what’s my secret? I use a little mixture of bicarbonate of soda for shampoo, and a similar concoction with lemon juice to condition. It works.

It’s not about money. 500ml of Boots shampoo only costs 75p. That runs my Spartan regime close, to be honest.

It’s about why? Why buy another lump of plastic full of plasticky ingredients to do mysterious things I don’t understand to my body?

Presumably, the answer to that question should be: because it gets great results, better than doing something more simple. But, as my experiment shows, that’s not even remotely true.

I can’t tell the difference. Actually, I can a bit. My hair doesn’t smell of fake perfume. It smells faintly of lemons.

From this experiment, I’ve learnt what I always knew: I don’t need my shampoo to contain preservatives, thickeners or additives to make the liquid pearlescent or create a pleasing lather. That’s basically all marketing fluff. Here’s Pantene Pro-V:

Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamide MEA, Glycol Distearate, Dimethicone, Fragrance, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Cetyl Alcohol, Polyquaternium-10, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate, Ammonium Xylenesulfonate, Disodium EDTA, PEG-7M, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

God knows what it’s doing to our hair. I don’t.

But now I do know how my shampoo and conditioner works. The bicarb contains loads of sodium which wicks dirt away from the scalp. The acidic lemon juice is just to balance out that alkaline and really does smooth out the feel of the hair.


Get an old bottle. Put in a scoop of bicarb. Fill up with water from the tap or shower. Shake the bottle and pour onto your scalp. Massage a bit and then rinse.

Get another old bottle. Squeeze some lemon juice in. Fill up with water from the tap or shower. Shake the bottle and apply to the body of hair. Massage a bit and then rinse.

Vary your regime to suit your hair. You can use any acid for the conditioner; some people use cider vinegar. But why would you do that when you can use lovely lemons?

I find a 500ml bottle lasts for about 5 shampoos.

For a great introduction to No Poo Hair, see:

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

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