No-Poo Shampoo: What It Is and Why You’ll Love It

Here's why this new shampoo trend is really great for your hair.

Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Wash your hair, don’t wash your hair. Exfoliate, but not too much. Use dry shampoo, but don’t use dry shampoo too much. What are we to do with these hairs on top of our heads?! In a time when we’re all starting to revert back to the basics in some aspects of our lives, shampoos are following suit, too.

And by “basics,” we mean a shampoo going back to the simplicity of cleansing, sans chemicals, sodium lauryl sulfate (commonly known as SLS), and other preservatives that linger in hair. That’s where no-poo shampoos come into play. No-poo or low-poo usually translates to a formula without foaming agents, thus you won’t get that commercial-famous foaming action. It’s pretty much an entirely different form of shampooing.

Some hairdressers and experts claim those artificial foamers can actually do more harm for your hair than good, due to the higher levels of oil loss from sudsing shampoos. So these creamy, gentle cleansers can leaves hair looking luxuriously quenched, and thus why the claim no-poo can be much better for your hair and scalp in the long run.

“You wouldn’t wash your silks or your cashmeres with a harsh detergent,” says French celebrity colorist and Domino favorite Christophe Robin. “Same goes for your hair. They are fragile and need a gentle shampoo that will gently cleanse all the while nourishing the hair...”

You’ll use no-poo just like a traditional shampoo, applying to damp hair and massaging, but without that satisfying, albeit potentially damaging, foaming action.

The secret to using no-poo successfully is twofold: First, slowly add in water. You’ll add the shampoo to your damp hair and then very generously massage it into the roots. Let it set for a few minutes, and then take damp hands and massage the roots again, adding a tiny bit of water. Do this a few more times (it's a bit time consuming, but so wonderful for your scalp in the long run), and you may have a very mild foam at the end. Either way, your roots will be gently, but effectively cleansed.

The second part of this success is adjusting your expectations. Over time, you’ll begin to adjust to the lack of foaming, and your roots will, too. Hair will, as I can attest after a year of no-poo, not only cleanse more quickly without the foam, but also look healthier and bouncier (I swear, it really does work).

A Domino employee that just tried out a no-poo for the first time thought her hair felt softer and silkier than normal. Plus due to the highly moisturizing levels of the shampoo, she can usually skip conditioner, which speeds up her morning routine by a few minutes.

The desire to cleanse but also protect hair lead Robin’s to create his first-ever product nearly 20 years ago (and still one of his most popular products today)—Cleansing Mask with Lemon ($49). He was way ahead of this trend—so much so that the lab formulating this shampoo said it was the best one they've ever done, but no one would buy it because it doesn't foam. 

Courtesy of Christophe Robin

Unchanged since 1999, this cult formula enriched with lemon peel, St. John’s wort, and chamomile is an ultra-nourishing treatment with extremely gentle cleansing agents. It’s detergent-free (aka sans foaming agents like SLS and chemicals like silicone), but still manages to very effectively clean, while also nourishing and strengthening hair in the long run. And even more impressively, this type of no-poo shampoo works well for all hair types, as it’s so gentle.

Years ago, Robin used to change the color of supermodels' hair three to four times a week. “Imagine the damage,” he says. “There was nothing on the market to provide deep care to hair that were going through so much process and color. So I created my cleansing mask with lemon, one of my very first products, to provide a super gentle cleanse all the while providing deep care, for a super shiny and healthy result.”

Interested in no-poo and looking for a few other options too? DevaCurl No-Poo Shampoo ($10) is beloved for its curl-friendly formula that effectively cleans with peppermint and grapeseed oil. Or the Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash ($32) is a great option. The brand describes the shampoo as “non-lathering” and is perfect for those needing a major hydration boost. Or grab the chic, high-design version with Sachajuan Hair Cleansing Cream ($42), which has a richer, creamier formula.

What do you think? Have you tried no-poo? Yah or nah? Sound off in the comments!

Get more tips for gorgeous hair:
20 Minutes to Your Best Hair Yet
Get Rid of Your Blow Dryer For Good With This New Product
The Hair Product Chrissy Teigen Swears By (and You Will, Too)

Published on May 10, 2018 - 3:40pm EDT

Next Story

This Wellness Mecca Is NYC's Newest Best-Kept Secret

It includes IV drips, infrared saunas, cryotherapy, and a functional food and tonic bar.

Read Next Story
from around the web