When I was lucky enough to be cast in a local indie film, my director asked me if I’d be willing to go platinum blonde for the role. I quickly agreed, because who doesn’t want to indulge in a Marilyn fantasy at least once in her lifetime? As excited as I was, I started to mourn for my natural, healthy brown hair as the date of my color-strip approached. This was also the time I started hearing a lot of commotion over the No ‘Poo (No Shampoo) movement.

Now, if you haven’t already learned about No ‘Poo, let me break it down. As we become more educated about the effects certain unnatural chemicals can have on our bodies, we try to find ways to reduce these hazards in many ways, like adjusting our eating and shopping habits. The No ‘Pooers have looked to hair care as an additional step in this process. Many start by reducing the number of washes with shampoo or by switching to a brand that uses less-harmful chemicals (this is called Low-Poo). Some just stop using shampoo altogether. It’s all about what works best for your hair, as everyone’s is different. Regardless of how you go about it, the principle of No ‘Poo is reducing the chemicals to which you expose yourself, resulting in healthier hair (and body).

I did a lot of research before beginning my No ‘Poo journey. I read articles, joined a Facebook group devoted to giving up shampoo, and stocked my pantry with ingredients that could replace my shampoo (apple cider vinegar, baking soda, coffee, cocoa powder). I saw so many women having amazing results giving up shampoo, that it made me curious about whether or not I could pull it off myself. So, I decided to conduct a social and science experiment. I wanted to see if there’d be a noticeable difference in the health and look of my hair. I was also curious about the sociology of it all. Would people look at me differently if they knew I’d given up shampoo? And so, with three months of summer ahead of me, I took the plunge, and ditched shampoo cold-turkey. Here’s what I learned:

The idea that giving up shampoo makes you dirty is a myth

If you have seen stories on the news, or even articles like this, describing the No Shampoo lifestyle, you may have thought to yourself, “Ew! It is super gross to go without shampoo. No shampoo = dirty hair!” No judgment here, this is what I thought before I started my experiment. I thought, “Yeah, her hair looks great, but isn’t her scalp intolerably itchy? Doesn’t she have build-up and dirt all up on her roots?” But actually participating in the shampoo fast was really an educational experience for me. My research taught me all the tools I needed to clean my hair without the use of shampoo. I repeat: you can wash your hair without shampoo!

I would even argue that my hair felt a whole lot cleaner when I washed the No ‘Poo way! Here was my process: I diluted a tablespoon of baking soda into a pitcher of water. I would rinse my hair in the shower, and pour the baking soda water over my head, massaging it into my roots, just like shampoo! The next step is the acid rinse to balance out the pH levels of your hair (again, this is all about getting to know your hair and what works best for it). Lots of people use vinegar or tea, but my personal acid of choice was brewed coffee. I would cool a cup of coffee, rinse that through my hair and then rinse it out. Although I didn’t use this method everyday, it certainly introduced me to a new kind of clean feeling. Plus, I would use cocoa powder as a dry shampoo in between washes, so my hair basically always smelled like a mocha. Yeah, just let that sink in.

A No ‘Poo lifestyle made my hair look amazing!

This conclusion was no surprise to me, because my Facebook group introduced me to gorgeous women from across the globe with gorgeous, silky, healthy-looking, shampoo-free hair. As I mentioned before, I was a brunette at the time of my experiment, and the coffee and cocoa powder I used made my color so much richer. My hair was also much easier to style. It held curl easier (even no-heat curls), and had a shine like never before (shiny, but not greasy). There were some days during my first month of transition that were just not good hair days (waxy, stringy, frizzy). But the majority of my days on the experiment resulted in just lovely hair.

It’s not always easy to go natural

Before I began my research about the No ‘Poo lifestyle, I assumed that giving up shampoo would just make life a little bit easier. But once I really got going, I learned quite the opposite. For me, and the routine I chose, No ‘Poo, was a bit fussy. Now, there are plenty of people who are strictly water-only, meaning they skip the baking soda, acid, yogurt, coconut oil, essential oils—all of it. They just rinse with water and call it a day. But I didn’t choose that routine. As a pretty active person who loves to work out, I knew I would feel better about giving up shampoo if I had a thorough clean at the end of a particularly sweaty day. But my routine took a bit of work. Not only did I have to prepare my baking soda water and coffee in advance before my morning shower, I also invested in a boar bristle brush that had to be cleaned on a nightly basis. Brushing your hair is a pretty necessary step for folks like me who are prone to oil, and if you use a brush, it needs to be cleaned on the regular. I loved my hair during my experience, but I must admit, I longed for the ease of shampoo.

Look, everyone’s hair is different. Everyone has a method for hair-maintenance that they love. I had pretty great success with my No ‘Poo experiment, but not everyone does. There are plenty of natural beauty products on the market for those who just don’t want to DIY their entire hair routine. Or, if you can’t bring yourself to give up your favorite shampoo, I understand! It’s OK. Shampoo choices are extremely personal, and shouldn’t be judged by others. Just do what makes your mind, body, soul, and hair happy, and you’ll be fine!