Eco-Friendly Living, Natural Living, Uncategorized

Taking it one step further. Going shampoo-free, for REAL.

Going shampoo free -

Week 1


Internet, I have stopped shampooing my hair.

You: Eww, why?! Wait – didn’t you already do that?

Well yes. Sort of. About five or six years ago I stopped using store-bought shampoo and conditioner and started making my own. But now I’m just…not using anything. Well, I’m using water, I guess. The magical cleansing properties of water.

The impetus behind this new hippie madness is an interview I had last week, where the reporter was doing a story on going shampoo free. (Me: “Mom! I’m going to be in the paper!”,  My mom: “Why?” Me: “Because I haven’t used shampoo in five years!” My mom: “Oh, I am so proud of you, mouse!”)

The reporter was a lovely lady who kindly sat down and heard me out about my lovely baking soda/ACV routine, and didn’t bat an eyelash when, in response to her asking whether or not ACV made my hair smell, I leaned forward and invited her to see for herself.  

This is my life, I invite esteemed journalists into my home and then make them sniff my hair.

ANYWAY! One of the other women she was speaking to was a true no-pooer. One of those totally shampoo-free, no baking soda no ACV no NOTHING types. The reporter too, was trying this out in order to more accurately report on it. And she asked me, “Have you ever tried it?”

And I had to admit, I had not. I have always thought about doing it, but guys, I was/am terrified. I have no idea why. I mean if it doesn’t work then I just have shitty hair for a month and go back to my normal routine.  Big deal! Nonetheless, I have never taken the plunge. Until now.

This experiment is not, as my brother so rudely suggested, a game of chicken, played hippie style. Nor is it a strange sort of one-upmanship (Oh you don’t wash your hair? Well NEITHER DO I)

It’s just that I am always encouraging people to at least try things. Try making your own shampoo! Try ditching the dryer sheets! Try not buying that awesome thing you want to buy! And here I am, not trying something. Because I am scared to become a gross smelly hippie weirdo.

I am fairly confident that at this point, (day 7? 8? I have no idea) I am indeed, a gross smelly hippie weirdo.

Or at least I feel like one.

My hair doesn’t actually look quite as bad as it did mid-week (let’s call that my rock bottom, mmkay?),  but it feels…thick. Like fur. Running my fingers through my hair doesn’t feel soft and sort of slippery like it did before. It’s still soft – maybe even softer? – but it feels…honestly just like fur. i don’t know how else to explain it.

Touching my hair right now is akin to petting a dog. A clean dog. But a dog nonethetless.

God, I am really selling this thing, aren’t I? How about some more pictures? This is the first time I’ve had my hair down all week, it’s been bun-city around here.

Going Shampoo Free-

Gross. I’m sorry. Don’t you dare judge me, I am doing this for YOU.

Going shampoo-free -

I am such a giver. A gross, greasy-headed giver.

Going shampoo-free -

Not quite so bad from the back. Right? I mean, borderline clean…ish?


The Internets tells me it can take five weeks (ohhh god) for my hair to sort its self out, at which point I can be a respectable, normal-looking member of society again. Until then I will answer your questions:


Q: Does your hair smell?

A: I…I have no idea. I am not asking anyone to smell it. I am, generally speaking, just slinking around in the background of genteel society trying to avoid people and not make eye contact. I feel disgusting.


Q: How long are you going to keep up with these shenanigans?’

A: Hopefully this mess will just keep getting better and I will discover the holy grail of self-cleaning hair care, but if don’t eventually get that “clean” feeling back, this will not be a sustainable option for me. Even I have my standards. And my dignity. Despite the photographs above.


Q: Are you still showering?

A: Oh my god YES! Guys?! I’m still showering and bathing and using soap and shaving and brushing my teeth, I haven’t completely given up. I’m just….not shampooing. For reasons. Vaguely earth-related? I can’t remember. 94% of my mental capacity is now devoted to calculating how many people are judging me at at given moment. (Currently: 1. Olive can be so cruel.)


Q: What does Adam think about this?

A: You know what? I don’t want to talk about this anymore so let’s just end this thing here this was a bad idea ugh please seriously look away, LOOK AWAY.


edited to add front shots because why the hell not, and a palate cleanser at the end:

Olive looked at this picture and said "Oooh, ANGRY!"

Olive looked at this picture and said “Oooh, ANGRY!”


You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

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  • Reply Jennifer Razzo September 2, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    Well, I’ll bravely join you in the no-poo adventure in a couple days when my bottle runs out. I generally only wash my hair/ shower every 2 days, so this shouldn’t be too much of a slide for me.

  • Reply Julianna Van Wagner September 2, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    I absolutely adore your blog and humor. Good luck and please keep us posted! If it actually works I am sure some of us will be brave enough to try it.

  • Reply Michelle September 2, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    You’re my hero, putting your hairline on the line for the sake of science and humanity! Do you happen to have any natural springs in your backyard? Because I’ve been on long haul camping trips where I haven’t washed for… er never mind… but swam in creeks, and seriously my hair had never felt so soft and lovely. It felt like baby hair! But longer, of course, and without the bald spot. Baby hair: better than dog hair!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine September 2, 2014 at 8:31 PM

      Can you imagine if I did? And every morning I just waltzed out to the spring in my backyard wearing a fig leaf or a hemp shroud and washed my hair?? Seriously, that’s the hippie dream right there.

      (And no. No natural spring. Metrics tons of dog poop however, so there’s that. )

  • Reply knightlizard September 2, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Your dirty hair is really rather lovely, you lucky thing. Hope it works out! I, too, may join you if you give it the Sweet Madeleine Seal of Approval.

  • Reply elizabethjulia September 2, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    Haha that had me laughing out loud, although I was trying to hold back so as not to wake up my little one!

  • Reply joanneaitken September 3, 2014 at 1:28 AM

    Wow, I think that’s great !! my partner doesn’t shampoo his hair, but it’s really curly . My hair is long, and straight. I think I will give it ( no shampoo) a go ,… day when I don’t have to go out 🙂

  • Reply kate September 3, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    i think it’s great you’re trying this! i would love to, but don’t know if it would work on curly hair.. i mean, how would i get hair product out using just water? i am addicted to gel and it’s ability to keep me from turning into a frizz ball! which keeps me washing my hair daily (hangs head in shame) maybe i should start slow with the baking soda/ACV method!

  • Reply Sarah September 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    I have a few questions….
    1) is that your bathroom? If so, are the tiles no longer yellow?
    2) what was the verdict of the gluten free diet?
    3) are you still looking after your friends’ two children?
    I realise some of these topics are quite dated and Im sorry if I missed the posts that answer my questions but, as I have now come out of the woodwork, I seem to be comment/question happy!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine September 3, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      Helloooo! It is indeed my bathroom, but my downstairs bathroom which is a little less jazzy with black and white tile instead of black and yellow bumblebee styles 😉
      I am not 100% gluten free anymore, I didn’t notice significant health changes but I did find it was easier to eat well when you took out the fillers like bread, crackers, cakes etc. Not so much as a result of gluten being evil, but because then you were more likely to choose veggies/beans/fruit in their place.
      Aaaand third and finally, I am no longer looking after the kidlets, I’m currently living the glamorous life of a stay-at-home mom/part-time author trying to squeeze in book promo stuff like doing interviews, writing articles, etc. when Olive lets me 🙂

      I love it when people de-lurk! Welcome!

  • Reply bonniemills September 3, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    I saw a show once where they got two people to test no-washing-hair out for a month or more (6 weeks?), and they did close-ups of their scalp before and after….the flaky, red and patchy results scared me away from ever doing no-shampoo as I think my scalp is already inclined towards the flaky, yucky side. However, I only wash my hair every 4 days or so and could probably stretch it out more than that if I tried…and I love bun-city….

    • Reply sweetmadeleine September 3, 2014 at 8:31 PM

      Ohhh the yucky scalp was after?? I have to say that so far, I am NOT a fan. If it doesn’t seem like it’s getting better by the end of week 2 I think I’m going to call it. I feel so gross!

      • Reply bonniemills September 7, 2014 at 4:13 AM

        Yeah. It kinda surprised me cause I expected some self-regulation to kick in. But their hair looked fine and they loved it – it was just with a close-up of the scalp you could see it. And it was a sample size of 2, so maybe not everyone is like that. Good luck!

  • Reply Sam Pereira September 3, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    My hair looks so rank after not washing for a week (once a week is all I have time for any more) that to go any longer would quite possibly drive me round the bend. Good luck sista! (In the photos your hair looks normal, if that’s any help!)

  • Reply Nikola November 30, 2015 at 6:25 AM


    I tried to find a follow-up, but I couldn’t see anything. Are you still doing this? How did it work out for you? I thought your hair looked lovely; shiny and healthy, not greasy at all.

    Also, I found this site through the Guardian website (even though I am Canadian, too!). I was wondering if there was a way to subscribe to the weekly column you write for them?

    • Reply sweetmadeleine December 1, 2015 at 1:46 PM

      Hi Nikola! No, I abandoned this project a few weeks after I started it, (follow up post here It really didn’t work for me and I eventually went back to making my own, which I still do, and love, to this day 🙂

      I don’t think there is a specific way to subscribe to just my column at the Guardian, BUT, if you follow my Facebook page ( I typically post links to the Guardian articles when they go up, so thay should show up in your Facebook newsfeed! I hope that helps!

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