By Terez Howard

No poo.  No problem.  Many naturals have chosen a no poo routine because commercial shampoos strip natural hair of moisture, and shampoos’ harsh chemicals irritate and dry the scalp.  Shampoo can be especially detrimental to fragile natural hair.  Just because you don’t use shampoo does not mean that your hair will be dirty.  You wash with conditioner.

You also can make natural hair cleansers at home to remove any product build-up and lift up any dirt that conditioners might leave behind.  Three major components of natural hair cleansers include apple cider vinegar, baking soda and brown sugar.  Each of these inexpensive items can be found at any grocery store.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Yes, the smell is strong, but the benefits are worth it.  Apple cider vinegar (2.9 pH) can help to balance your natural hair’s pH level (4.5 to 5.5 pH) and remove build-up.  According to, an apple cider vinegar rinse will close cuticle scales that protect and cover the hair shaft’s surface.  A smoother cuticle surface helps your hair to look shinier and smoother.

You can use apple cider vinegar as a natural hair cleanser by combining:

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Pour the mixture over your hair after you co-wash.  The strong vinegar smell will dissipate in a few minutes.

If you would like, you can add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice (like rosemary oil) for moisturizing effects.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a powerful natural hair cleanser.  This clarifier leaves your natural hair feeling squeaky clean.  You don’t want to use baking soda too frequently, however, because it can dry your hair out, especially if you do not follow up by using a conditioner.  I would recommend using this natural hair cleanser no more than once per week.

Many naturals have noticed lightened hair from baking soda over time.  Rosemary can help your hair to darken.  But once again, if you do not use this cleanser too often, you should not get lightened hair.

To make a baking natural hair cleanser, combine:

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 cup warm water (to dissolve the baking soda)

Make sure the baking soda thoroughly dissolves before pouring or spraying the mixture in your hair.  The mixture will be very liquid-like, not pasty.  Then, massage the cleanser into your scalp and leave it on for one minute.  Rinse your natural hair and follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar makes a wonderful scalp scrub.  It rids the scalp of dandruff, flakes and itchiness.  Brown sugar exfoliates the scalp of dead skin cells.  You can add essential oil to this natural hair cleanser to address other hair and scalp issues.

For a brown sugar scalp scrub, mix:

  • 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of conditioner

Put the mixture on wet hair.  Use your fingers to massage your scalp for a few minutes.  Rinse out the cleanser and co-wash.

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